I've been verry, verry quiet for a long time now but with good reason. It has been a tough several months and my beloved daughter-in-law suggested it would help in processing if I wrote a blog about it. So here goes.
Our bed is high and I am short so if I attempt to get out of the bed quickly in the middle of the night I have been known to fall. On December 29, 11 years to the night I crushed my ankle, I fell forward in a perfect trajectory into the edge of the wall and broke my collar bone. We were going on a trip to see my sister and her husband the next morning and the ER doc said no problem. So off we went driving for 12-13 hours. I ended up in the ER in Mississippi on Saturday because I thought I was having a heart attack, the pain was so overwhelming. They medicated me and sent me on my way. We returned home Monday and snagged an appointment with the ortho on Thursday. He took one look at me and shook his head. Long story short, I should never have traveled, the clavicle was crushed and I had to have day surgery where he inserted a plate and several pins along with bone grafts. That incident knocked the stuffing out of me for a while.
Towards the end of March I began feeling distended, bloated and having a lot of abdominal pain. I had an appointment with my regular physician who sent me to the day hospital for a CT scan. The radiology tech told me that I would have to drink a bottle of the usual nasty stuff, wait 1 hour and drink another bottle before she could do anything. I fell apart. I mean I was almost hysterical. So it was decided that I be taken to the ER. The nurses there tried 5-6 times to insert an IV. I am not fond of needles but I am also not a noise maker. You could probably have heard me on the West Coast. This was on Wednesday. And that is all I remember until two Sundays later.
My husband has filled me in on all of the details. It has taken this whole time for him to remember all of them. On Thursday they tried shots in my belly and another of those awful drinks but nothing was working. So on Friday they decided I needed surgery. Butch was waiting in my room when the surgeon came and told him that he did not believe I was going to make it. It was pretty good odds that I would die. I can't imagine how Butch must have felt. Especially as he had to drive back home to take care of the furbabies. My blood gas level was 82 on 100% oxygen . . . very bad odds. I was then placed on a ventilator.
I was on that ventilator from Friday, 03/23 through Monday, 04/09 being given Propofol (Michael Jackson's downfall) and kept in a pseudo coma. I ended up with pneumonia in one lung but that was cleared up in a day so the weaning off of the ventilator wasn't delayed very long. I had a dream that I had had a stroke and Butch and the furbabies found me in the den. In fact, my sigmoid colon was only scar tissue and the digestive system was completely blocked. The surgery done is called a sigmoidostomy where the bad colon is completely removed and the rest of the system is run through your abdomen. Think Sigourney Weaver in "Aliens" when that thing protruded out of her.
I started coming to on Sunday and couldn't figure out what was happening. Butch had been there every second possible. He actually went through 3 very large books while sitting with me, worked 1/2 days and drove back and forth, 45 minutes one way, to take care of the puppies. He was a rock! I know that he kept many, many people informed through Facebook and I know for a fact that a lot of prayers and strong positive energy went up in my name. For that I will be forever grateful!!
On Easter Monday Butch showed up and I saw him for the first time. I tried to talk to him but I didn't realize I was ventilated and taped all over my face. So even though I tried desperately to get him to read my lips, he couldn't actually see them! He just kept reassuring me that it wouldn't be long. When the ventilator was finally removed, I could only have little sips of water, could barely speak and couldn't use my hands. They had forgotten what they were supposed to do. Liquid meals were introduced and I fell in love with popsicles. I think I actually scared a nurse when she started to take my tray on which there was still refreshment. I said, "DON'T take my food!" She turned around and stared at me and she said she could bring me more.
Tuesday I was taken up to the 3rd floor and installed in a room. By Friday I was ready to go home, walker, bedside commode and anything else be damned. It took them all day to discharge me but when we hit the car and I saw the outside for the first time in 17 days, I was in heaven. The puppies were thrilled when I crawled through the door! And so was I.
On the 17th of July, Tuesday, the ostomy was reversed. It took about 3 hours and I was in the hospital until Saturday morning. I discovered that I have a horrible reaction to morphine involving hallucinations, nightmarish dreams, paranoia and on and on. Not fun and it is now a huge red flag in my chart on my insistence.
Because of the surgery and the pain killers my system blocked up again for about 2 weeks. Finally went to see the surgeon on the 9th. He promptly admitted me again and started aggressively treating the problem. The CT scan was clear of any blockages, the blood work was good and I was home on Friday. However, since then it seems as though my system still needs retraining. Lots of fiber, Fiberchoice, Activia and Miralax are staples in this house now.
It boggles my mind that I actually came so close to death. Say that out loud. It doesn't feel real. I've always believed in miracles and prayers and strong thoughts. This episode proved to Butch and me that it is true. My husband was incredible. He stayed in touch with all of my loved ones on a daily basis and has been uber wonderful as usual but in a much bigger way. No more bag but I have several pretty major wounds on my abdomen so the dressings have to be changed and he is right there.
On a much lighter note but not one to dismiss, I have lost 35 pounds since this whole thing started and it is NOT going back on! My diabetes is better. And there is no place like home! We will be going to Asheville at the end of October to play, eat delicious food, and check out the fiber festival that our dear friend, Kathleen Prater Taylor, will be teaching classes for. When she is finished on Sunday, the fun will begin. And we are going to San Diego for Christmas. I will consider each of those trips a celebration of life for sure. But waking up each day is a celebration all it's own.