Monday, February 15, 2010
A week ago the Super Bowl was just over. Winners were celebrating. Losers were commiserating. And life was going on. In the past week the Olympics started, a new Afghan offensive was launched, a blizzard visited much of the East coast dumping copious amounts of snow on the countryside, and in upstate New York a young man loosely connected to my family was murdered.
All of that occurred at a distance for me, though. I had my own crisis to deal with, much of the time without my family at hand because of that previously mentioned blizzard.
On Monday, after suffering all night with abdominal pain, I went off to see my doctor who promptly sent me to the hospital for a cat scan and evaluation. She truly expected it to be a diagnosis of appendicitis. The answer that came back wasn't that simple. As I sat in the ER, a doctor gravely explained my diagnosis and options. I had a serious abscess in my colon. The first step would be massive doses of IV antibiotics. If that didn't work, then they would try surgery with the real possibility of a colostomy.
And just that quickly my life narrowed down to the world contained in my hospital room. Funny how you adapt to new circumstances when your life is at stake.
The hunk made it back to the hospital with some of my essentials right before the storm. I think it's telling that my computer wasn't one of them. Urging him to get home before the snow hit, I sent him off and settled down to sleep through the next three days, distantly aware of the outside world. Inside my room where the nurses and aides came and went with brisk efficiency, where doctors appeared in a bewildering array, where I struggled to get comfortable in a very uncomfortable bed, life out there stopped.
As I think of the last week, there are a series of snapshots of the people who worked to keep me going.
The surgeon who drove into the storm--sliding his car in a snow bank and finishing the journey in a police car--so he would be there if things went bad and I had to be rushed into surgery.
Towanda, the aide who held my dignity in gentle hands as she cleaned me from waist to ankles after I had an accident at six AM, repeatedly assuring me that "these things happen".
The wonderful technicians, Rose and Lauren, who performed the same service after a truly awful test that combined an enema with an x-ray. They even gifted me with a plastic pool that I sat in on the wheel chair on my way back to my room--just in case. They called it the Barbie pool.
Murdoch, the young man who wheeled me back and forth to the test. He told me I was the best thing that had ever happened to him. Knowing very well, I was a true thing of beauty, I asked him why. And he said, "You're smiling. I wasn't so happy this morning, but you're smiling. I'm gonna go home to count my blessings."
Konstantino, my young nurse who came in on the night shift. We talked about how he liked America. Then he slyly shared the fact that his mother-in-law who still lived in the Philippines had arrived a little over two weeks ago for a visit--because she was curious about snow. We had a belly laugh about that while thinking she must have her curiosity well satisfied with fifty-plus inches of the white stuff on the ground!
When a state of emergency was declared in Baltimore (and NO ONE was permitted on the roads) the hospital staff bedded down on army cots, rotating through shifts as necessary. In difficult circumstances, it's easy to lose tempers, but everyone I dealt with was kind and patient. My hat is off to them.
Late Friday afternoon my surgeon came in and asked if I would like to go home. You may imagine how excited I was to get back to my family and my own bed. It turned out it wasn't going to be quite that easy. I had one more IV antibiotic to take--and it was the four hour one. So I didn't get home until nine PM. But I was home!
There are still challenges. I have a yeast infection in my mouth. My "diet" is severely restricted. I sleep all the time. And I'm on two oral antibiotics. It was a pretty scary week. But the sun is shining. And the snow is very slowly melting. And I can take a shower whenever I want to...
I have a raft of wonderful friends and family who kept my spirits up, calling me from across the country and around the world, because they knew the house hunk couldn't possibly be there. They sent flowers and balloons and encouraging messages that my daughter read to me over the phone. Two friends who concluded a missing blog meant I was in trouble called my house in alarm. I want to thank every one of you. You don't know what your loving attentions meant.
Life is good.