Monday, May 08, 2006

Brush with Death - Part 8

The LOML tells me that he was at the hospital every day. So was our dear friend Dr. L. Also, the LOML’s eldest brother, Phil, came down from Chicago to see if he could help out. Evie also visited repeatedly while I was in the NICU and brought a poster drawn by her daughter. She was comforted that I could read what was on it. Flower arrangements arrived in droves. I don’t remember any of these events.

The following day, May 8th, the hospital staff decided that since I was so frisky, I would be taken on a walk. A cute, burly and fun physical therapist put me on a waist leash and let me roam around the hospital, or so it seemed to me. (My hospital physical therapy records indicated that I was taken on such walks every day; I just didn’t remember them until this day.) I felt so free. We did some stairs and ran around the floor. He was amazed by my excellent physical condition. My lack of memory seemed to amuse him also. But I didn’t mind. He used to say, “What is my name?”


And we would laugh.


And we would laugh again. He was a lot of fun.

Evie says she was there when we returned to my room. She has since told me that she thought he was a cutie pie too.

That day, I was moved to a private room in the neurology unit since I was doing so well. Actually I was their star patient. From this point on, I remember a bit more of what was happening to me.

I remember the first time I looked at myself in the mirror in my new room and saw that the front half of my head was shaved. I could also see my ear to ear incision closed with staples. It was a bit shocking at first, but I remember thinking, “Okay, this is how I look now.” Later on, when I was walking around the hospital, and I saw other patients with shaved heads, I felt proud, like I deserved to wear it like a medal or something. I survived brain surgery and here was my medal.

I also was wary of the bathroom. I was still a bit paranoid about the biological samples thing and didn’t quite remember what to do in there as far as washing up. But a kindly, experienced and understanding nurse came in and helped me through all of the steps. She was quite comforting and reassuring in a way that was exactly what I needed. It’s a funny thing when you lose such basic knowledge and have to relearn it. Then, she helped me back into bed.

Later that day, one of my surgeons, Dr. W visited me. (I had never met him before, even though he had been inside my head.) He was dressed in a kind of punk style, all in black, a belt with studs in it, etc. His black hair was up in spikes. He was so positive and upbeat that I could not help but feel better. He said that I was doing really well and that he would try to get me into the very best recovery step-down institution in the state, to speed my recovery. I told him thanks, but that I just really wanted to go home.

On Monday, my boss Dr. M telephoned me and wished me well. She then proceeded to tell me that it was my obligation to let her know if and when I would be returning to work. I felt that this line of questioning was very inappropriate and it bothered me, I mean, gee whiz, I had just relearned how to wash and was still in the hospital with my prognosis generally unknown. So I flippantly trumped her by saying that I was still trying to get accustomed to the huge crack of a scar across the top of my head.

Her response was, “yeah, I was going to tell you Sue; no more short hairstyles”. This remark was highly insensitive and inappropriate. As I was absolutely lacking anything near whatever it took to confront her on it, so I decided to agree with what ever she asked next. She requested that I ask my surgeon when I could return to work next time I saw him. I knew that I had an appointment with Dr. W a couple of months later, so I agreed. She became the evil Dr. M in my book at that time.

The next day, my ex-boss Dr. R visited me. I tried to sit up for him and found it difficult to operate the bed. He was very kind to me, a real human being. He brought me a book, Uppity Women of the Renaissance. He asked if I intended to visit work during my convalescence, to make sure to let him know. I gladly promised.

I now became driven to be discharged. But I had a fever that came and went. No one could figure out what it was from. I was treated with endless regimens of antibiotics. There was a plan to discharge me on May 14 and when I spiked a fever on that day, I was so pissed off that I refused to do my physical therapy.

One day, a doctor came in to remove my staples, and central line. I looked at my chest and noticed some rash there. I asked the doctor to look at it, but she misunderstood and thought I was talking about the holes from the central line which she remarked would heal. Perhaps it was the aphasia, my post surgical inability to produce words, but I did not have the wherewithal to make her understand me.

My sister gave me a hat and two scarves from the GAP to cover my head when I was discharged. I appreciated her thoughtfulness.

I was discharged the following Saturday morning, May 15. It was agreed that I could go home instead of to a step down institution since the LOML worked from a home office and would be available 24 hours a day. The Occupational Therapy Notes stated that I had been assessed as needing supervision and or cues for bathing, dressing, ambulation on level surfaces and stairs, home management, hygiene, eating, toileting, and getting out of bed. All I can say is picky, picky, picky. Sounds to me like somebody was making sure they wouldn’t get sued. You lose all of your rights as soon as you are a patient. I was also noted to have mild balance, mild endurance, significant complex problem solving, memory, slowed comprehension and mild cognitive deficits as well as mild aphasia. (With brain injuries some of these may heal within 3 - 6 months while others may take longer or not heal at all.) The LOML and Phil had to build a bed on the ground level of our house so that I would not have to climb stairs or “Architectural Barriers” to get to our room. An outpatient service was going to come by and inspect my living situation soon. Oh joy! But the most important thing of all was that I was free.


Stay tuned for the convalescence...


Ryan said...

i been reading everyone of these and i so wished we live close by so i could give a hug so i give u a cyber hug (((hug)))

Sue said...

(((Ah))) There, I feel it now. Thank Ryan!