Archive for October, 2011

On the evening of Friday Aug 26, I fell ill most unexpectedly, even as I was eating my dinner.  I was seized by nausea and and abdominal pain such as I had never experienced. Within the hour, I had called 911 and was on my way to the hospital, writhing in pain. My neighbour and good friend J. stayed with me until the ambulance came, and stayed with my dog until my daughter came to pick him up. Meanwhile, in the ambulance, I was moaning and crying, “Take this pain away!”

My daughters met me at the hospital, and stayed with me for the night in the ER. I was getting sicker by the minute and it became clear to them that I was quite close to death. At last all the tests were done, I was admitted, and within hours (but the next day) I had major abdominal surgery for a twisted bowel.
There was a small resection of the colon, but the incision was huge and deep. It is still being cared for by visiting nurses.

After the surgery I was in a morphine haze for several days and I remember nothing of that time. After the morphine was stopped and my head began to clear, I began to realize what a close call I had had. My daughters filled me in on how close I had come to death (they did not expect me to recover) and showed me photos they had taken of me at the worst of the crisis. I sure looked close to “the end.”

As I began the long road to recovery, I quickly realized two things: I could not even get out of bed, let alone walk, and I was weaker than I had ever been in  my life.
By the third week of September, I did not require intensive hospital care any more.

I’m a cardiac patient who had a quadruple bypass 3 years ago.
At this time in the hospital, shortly after my abdominal surgery, I had spent some days in the cardiac division because of arrhythmia, and then had been transferred to the general surgical floor. There I wanted only to stay in bed and sleep, but was warned over and over by staff and family that I had to start getting up and moving, or I would develop bedsores that I surely would hate and they would complicate my recovery. I began by getting up and sitting in my chair when the meals came.

At this point I would have preferred to just sleep away and never wake up again. But my daughters came and gave me a long lecture/pep talk about how I was too young to die, and how much they needed me to stick around. I listened to them. And then they (the staff) put me on anti-depressants.

Now I was deemed  ready for the next stage, and shipped to the rehab hospital. The physiotherapists there went to work with me and; I went to physio every day. I was (and still am) weak and dizzy. I learned to move around the hospital in my wheelchair. My girls took me outside to sit in the hospital garden in my wheelchair, enjoying the late September sunshine. A month had gone by since I fell ill. I had little appetite (hospital food can really turn you off eating) but was taking a smorgasbord of pills to attack my many infirmities.

Eventually I graduated to a walker, and learned to walk the halls with that. I also attempted to regain my balance by standing at the balance bar in the physiotherapy gym.
I reached a point where I just could not eat any more hospital food, and asked to be released. My children, at my request, had sold my condo, and emptied it. They had also found me a good place to live (a seniors’ residence) and leased a one- bedroom apartment for me, moved all my furniture in, and set up the place the way they knew I would want it
This residence is just that, not a care centre, altho there is a nurse here 24 hours a day (3 nurses doing 8-hour shifts each.) So there is help here if one needs it. My rent includes dinner in the dining room each night, and I just signed up for a one month trial of the lunch package too.
My 1-bedroom apartment includes living room, large bedroom that is big enough to accommodate my computer station, bathroom equipped for the handicapped, and a small kitchen that does NOT include a stove. (A stove is probably the most dangerous appliance for a forgetful senior.) Small appliances are acceptable (e.g. a microwave.) Now that I am taking 2 meals a day in the dining room, I don’t care that there is no stove in my kitchen. There is a good-sized refrigerator, which gives me a place to keep yogurt and cold drinks.

Even though it is now 55 days since my surgery, I am still slow, weak and dizzy. I move around only on my walker, because I have no balance at all. I have already had one bad fall, which taught me a lesson. I did have my dog Spike here with me for my first week (what a joyous reunion we had!)  but caring for him was too much for me (2 short walks a day exhausted me, but were not nearly enough for him) and so he is back with my daughter for a while, God bless her!

I truly think I could take a year to recover from this surgery. Certainly recovering from the bypass was much, much easier. I’ve lost my appetite, am eating like a bird, and still taking way too many pills.

This week I will buy a new walker to replace the ancient one Anne found for me for free. I need one that fits me and has working brakes!

So here I am, in a seniors’ residence. My car is parked outside but I am not ready to drive it (maybe never, who knows?)
I have no energy to go anywhere anyway! My family visits often, and as my kids say, “Just think, you never have to cook dinner again, and you never have to houseclean again either!” (Both are included in the price.) All in all, I feel weak, and wobbly, but grateful to be here in a nice place with fabulous forest views out my windows–in the heart of the city!

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