Saturday, November 23, 2013

Three Years Ago (Part 3)

Here I am standing in front of a St Lucia sign, this is one of the last pictures taken while I still had my left leg.
As we traveled down the expressway toward Rush Medical Center, my mind was racing, my emotions were all over the place, and yet there was a calm practical aspect to all of this. I had to remember to pack things like my hairbrush, razor, and cellphone charger, after all I knew I would in the hospital for quite a while and despite the costs of a hospitalization it is certainly is not a hotel.

My assistant Frank, not a very comforting type of person, meant my conversation in the car was relegated to the practical aspects of what he was to do at my place in my absence and not much else. I could not look to him for any emotion support, his approach is much too clinical for such pleasantries as offering comfort. 

When we arrived at the emergency room, Frank offered to come in with me but I declined his offer as I knew he was much too hyper a person to play the waiting game and his being there served no purpose. In medical emergency situations I have found it to be one of the most alone periods one can endure. No one can have the surgery for you, no one can recuperate for you, no one can even genuinely comprehend what you are actually going through. 

At this stage of the game things begin to get a little foggy. I know they put me in an emergency cubicle and I was given a tranquilizer, Ativan, I definitely needed it at that point to help me cope with what was about to transpire. I do not recall whether or not they attempted to do a TPA procedure or whether is was determined to be a fruitless effort. 

At some point I called my sister, Rhonda and either she or I called Marguerite and Marguerite called Bill. Those were the only people whom I alerted right away, the others, Ruthie, Steve and others came later. Fortunately under such dire circumstances you are administered a plethora of drugs which of course drape your memories in a heavy thick fog. 

One of the last recollections I have is being in a pre-op area which is the last stop before you are wheeled into the operating room. I know Rhonda was there and either Justin, my nephew, or Erica, one of my nieces, were there and for some reason my friend, Shawn may have been there. Forgive me for not knowing exactly what occurred, if I am not retelling this exactly, those who were there can correct me and I know their account would be more accurate than mine.

I remember feeling loved and being surrounded by those who cared about me, it was a feeling of comfort and warmth. The next thing I remember is being in intensive care. The intensive care units are designed to be just that, intensive care. They are curtained off partitioned areas in one large room, void of telephones or televisions, hot, and very noisy. It is next to impossible to get any rest despite the potent drugs that were coursing through my veins.

I think at this point Christmas had already passed or was within a day or two. My sister, Rhonda had given up her Christmas to be with her brother and I hope she knows how much her sacrifice means to me even to this day. I do recall her only grandson, Max, was celebrating his first birthday on New Year's Eve and Rhonda wanted to be home for that, I insisted that she go. She had already done enough.

Normally a post-operative person without complications should only remain in intensive care for a couple of days, however, there was a shortage of available rooms in the regular part of the hospital and I was forced to stay in intensive care well beyond what was necessary. This posed a problem because as I said, it is very hot, very noisy and no privacy whatsoever.

Eventually I was given a private room on the eighth floor of the hospital, a place where I had been many times before, everyone knew me from all of my previous stays. A few things happened that really stand out in my mind.

I remember calling my dear friend, Ruth, or maybe she called me, I told her that what I had hoped would never happen, did in fact happen. I had lost my left leg above the knee, thereby making me a bilateral above knee amputee. Ruth cried. She does not normally cry, I have known her for over twenty years, we are dear friends and maybe she has cried once or twice in my presence. She cried because she knew how much this would change my life. I will never forget it.

Another incident happened after I was moved from the regular hospital to the adjacent rehab center. A friend of mine named Patrick, visited me, he and I had become friends at Cheetah gym. I remember he used me as an example to some of his less dedicated friends  about not making excuses for not working out. Anyway he was not prepared for what he saw, and I guess the full magnitude of what had happened to his friend hit him pretty hard.

I told him I would bounce back, but it was too much for him seeing me like I was, he had to leave the room. I think maybe he went to gather his thoughts, perhaps cry, I am not sure. He did come back more composed and apologized for leaving the room, I told him there was no need to apologize. This was an emotional situation for all involved, not just for me but also for those who love me.

To be continued.....

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