I realise I’ve been missing in action for a few months. Where did Nanette go? Well, in my last post I talked about going back to have more surgery to relieve the pain and tension I feel in my body and flap that limits and prevents me from living my normal life. I had the surgery but there were some complications post operatively and….. I’m still in hospital. It’s been a challenging time with lots of bumps along the way. I was quite flat for a while but I’m feeling much better now.
I’m not going to give you a blow by blow description of the past 4 months but a quick overview of some of the challenges I’ve faced includes a week long post op stint in ICU following a very long and complicated surgery. It was difficult for the doctors to wake me, as my blood pressure kept crashing. My poor brain was so addled with drugs I thought I was in a parallel universe. Everyone looked weird – sort of robot like. Not a time I like to dwell on. That was just the beginning.
I developed a bowel obstruction and that’s what keeps me here today. There has to be more surgery somewhere down the track to correct that obstruction. However, that can’t be done for about 6 months or until the bowel inflammation has settled. Really, it’s just a matter of time. But then, my poor old heart said, “That’s enough” and went into atrial fibrillation. I was quickly transferred to the cardiac ward and spent about a month there while they stabilised things. I’ve had drains put in for all kinds of reasons (Doug says I have more drains than the Brisbane City Council) but ……I’m still here!
Initially, when I came back to the ward where I’d spent time recovering from my first surgery, I was delighted to recognise many of the nurses who were still here. They are a great group who are willing to have a laugh, show great compassion and help out with anything I need. Here we are having a beauty day. This lovely nurse helped me into the shower where I had a long soak…. It had been a while since I’d had a good shower and washed my hair. Then she blow-dried my hair. We had a lot of laughs and I felt like a million dollars.
My job was to start getting out of bed and mobilising as quickly as possible. Surgical complications meant that I now had a numb and somewhat swollen right leg. I couldn’t move out of the bed without assistance from the nurses. That darn leg was not really responsive when I tried to walk either. Lots of physio exercises were given to me and I was back to walking with a large rollater and then later, a wheelie walker. I’m so used to being independent and living life at a good pace….. Even though I’m usually positive and able to manage challenging situations, I had to have a long think and a chat with myself about expectations and managing my feelings.
I resolved to stay cheerful and positive. This was just another challenging period of life and I was going to meet it head on.
The doctors were confident that if I did the walking and exercises I would regain full or almost full use of my leg again. This initial period was hard work. I was trying to walk as much as possible but not always succeeding. The exercises aggravated the pain I still experienced in my flap. Then this was interrupted with that trip to the coronary unit.
It’s always interesting to me to recognise (belatedly) that I was so much more unwell than I realise at the time. I slept a lot…..when I had visitors, when I was alone, when Doug was with me and like a log at night. They say sleep is healing time… well, once again; I had a lot of healing to do.
I’m now feeling strong and generally well in myself. I regularly do laps around the ward (wearing out the carpet) and go for walks outside to the courtyard with my IV pole and array of pumps and infusions. I’m trying to do the exercises as much as I can and am seeing really good results with my leg. Thank goodness!
So what does someone who is in hospital for 6 months do to pass the time? When I wasn’t so well, the best I could do was watch some TV (and go to sleep while watching). Now, I have my guitar with me, some cross stitch to do, books to read and my laptop to write on. What a choice. I also love to watch cooking programs. The staff all laugh at me… someone who cannot eat watching cooking programs. I have intravenous parenteral nutrition providing all my nutrition needs, as I’m unable to have anything but clear fluids until this obstruction is resolved.
The TV I had didn’t receive all the free to air programs and the Nurse Manager of the ward organised me a new TV so I could watch my favourite programs. I was very grateful and felt a bit spoilt. I also have a room with a fabulous view of the river. It all sounds pretty good doesn’t it? I don’t spend time thinking about how much time has passed or how much time to go, but rather I mentally try to stay in the day and keep my focus on that.
There were some special holidays during this period. We had Christmas Day and New Years Day. Here’s a pic of my room all decorated out for Christmas. I had lots of comments on how festive it looked. I had my family to thank for that. Doug and Emily and her husband all pitched in and helped to put up the tinsel and little decorations. We decided that they would all come into the hospital on Christmas day for a picnic lunch. Emily put together some Christmas meats and made some salads and we had the best time together. For me, Christmas is all about family.
On New Years Eve I went down to the lounge area of the ward where we could see the fireworks display a bit further down the river. Quite amazing. I didn’t see the New Year in but I’m looking forward to it being a good year.
And so, time passes and I continue to be the “patient” patient.
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