Search This Blog

Monday, March 6, 2017

In The Blink Of An Eye - Part 3

The saga continues after I woke from surgery. Crazy things ensued as I started to piece together a new way of life.

The aftermath of surgery brings lots of hazy and crazy thoughts and images. It's sort of like being in a dream...or maybe under water.

When I woke up that Tuesday after my surgery, I was convinced my friend Lisa King had been my doctor. Lisa is a very talented woman, but as far as I know she isn't a heart surgeon. I remember wanting to call Kris Welte and have her convince Mitt Romney to be Secretary of State. Another example of the many delusional things I thought and said for a few days after surgery. My children found my foggy musings hysterical and do what they always do at my expense...write them down for future torturings.

Several times I would get a rush of memory and realize where I was. My mind would start racing as to things I needed to do or people I needed to call..but then anesthesia brain would take over and my sentence would sound like...."Would you call? Would you call?? Would you call?? ........" they would all lean in to hear who I wanted them to call and I would go back to sleep.

Mikey decided to quiz me about the paramedics/firemen at the beginning of the aortic adventure. He wanted to see if I remembered. I remembered all right. They, the firefighters, started off being cross with Raymond, Karla and Matt for calling 911 and reporting I had chest pains (which I did) but when they asked me about the chest pains I said I didn't. Instead of taking the word of the lucid folks surrounding me they decided the woman who had the current brains of a goose, laying on the bathroom floor was the better resource. So they made me walk to the gurney because I said I wasn't having chest pains. I.  walked.  to.  the.  gurney! From what I have read being upright with an aortic dissection could be fatal. Remembering amounted to..."Those Bast**ds". My children found this description very entertaining. Karma took care of the firemen/paramedics a few weeks later when Karla had dinner with someone who was influential in the life of the Captain of that particular station. From what I understand everyone involved received a bit of education. Nothing more was needed.

According to "The Book" on Wednesday afternoon, it was time to start recuperating, just because I had about 15 tubes, a million staples and 5 IVs meant nothing to Nurse Cratchit. 

At 3:33 I drank water, sat up on my own and practically signed up for CrossFit. 

At 3:39 someone walked into my room and said, "I hope you make it" to which I responded, "holy sh*t"

Wednesday night my surgeon (No it wasn't Lisa King) came in to see me on his rounds. He noticed the room was full of people and remarked how happy he was to see that. "you have lots of support. you will be fine". Before he left I wanted to thank matter what we were to each other, mostly strangers, he saved my life. That meant something to me and I had to let him know how grateful I was. He is famous for not having a bedside manner, but I didn't care at all. He performed the surgery that allowed me to live. I put out my hand and simply said, "thank you." He took a moment, looked me over and then shook my hand, simply saying, "you're welcome."

I obsessed over the tube in my neck. Its very presence was annoying on every level. I asked anyone who came in my room to take it out, including the person who brought my lunch, 2 of my friends, the cleanup crew and my husband. None of them would do it. That particular obstruction to physical peace didn't come until Friday.

Once very late at night a nurse came in to see how I was. He wasn't my nurse but had read my chart and wanted to meet me. He asked if I knew how rare it was for people to live through an aortic dissection. All I could muster was, "I'm starting to get that." Then he repeated what became almost a mantra."I hope you find out why you lived, because you should have died." I told him "I rarely do anything I should do...I should lose weight, I should exercise, I should be nicer...but I do all the things I have to do. And I guess I had to live."

The book my children got for me is also filled with little things friends wrote while visiting. And lots of silly things I said. 

Like the discussion Mikey and I had about football.....he was wrong I was right.

Trey and Heidi arrived from their unfinished honeymoon in Italy. (something I still feel terrible about) Trey reminded me of something my Uncle told me several times when I was faced with hard things....."Donna you are made of better stuff" I know that sounds simplistic, but just remembering my uncle, who never gave up, never saw a situation he couldn't overcome was reassuring to me.

My reaction after they took out the lines in my stomach - which hurt more than the surgery - cannot be repeated here. But let's just say it was a brand new adventure in pain.

Raymond slept next to my bed the first night and the kids took turns sleeping next to me every night after that. I was not ever alone.

Wednesday the book reports I sat up and then stood up 

Thursday I walked from my chair to the hallway. Trey told me to "walk it off" which is something I would tell little Trey. Oh how those things will come back to bite you since at that moment walking amounted to a painful and abbreviated effort to the bathroom and one time down the local speedway known as the hallway.
Dear friends brought an entire Thanksgiving dinner for all of us. So we fed every person that was working. Can you imagine on Thanksgiving day stopping to bring an entire dinner to the hospital? Not to mention dinner every night...every single night I was in the hospital including a week following that friends brought us dinner. I will never forget that.

I have been asked many times if I had any "experiences" during the time I was unconscious. Only one, but it wasn't otherworldly. It was a gift though and exactly what I needed. Even though I only remember one thing from the time I walked to the gurney Sunday night to Tuesday afternoon I must have heard everything that was being said. I believe I heard every nurse and every doctor commenting on my condition. I know I heard my husband's prayers and felt him rub my feet for hours while waiting for test results. I didn't see it but I know I felt my son and daughter's pain as they heard the diagnosis and then prognosis. Our minds are always awake and that explains my one memory...a friend of my sons came in late at night to see me, he walked in during my unconscious time, touched my hand and I woke up,
he said, "hi Donna its Kevin"
Me: "I know who you are Kevin"
Kevin "I just wanted to stop by and see how you're doing. It looks like you're doing well. I'm not a heart surgeon (he is an orthopedic resident) but I know enough about medicine to read these monitors and see that you're going to make it"
Me: "you think so?"
Kevin: "Yes, I think so. You have a great group of doctors taking care of you and have a lot of people here that love you."
Me: "Thank you so much for coming. I love you Kevin."
Kevin said I reached out to him to hug him, but he didn't want me to move so he kissed my hand.
Kevin: I love you too, you need some rest, and I'll let you get some. I'll try to come back in a couple of days and check on you again. You are going to do great."
Me: "Thank you for coming."

Why would I remember that and nothing else? I believe it was a gift, just a gift of comfort, information and direction from a voice I would recognize and trust. A tender mercy. It was a part of my healing.

There were lots of tender mercies on this ride and they keep coming up. One I only found out about last Sunday was from the ER Nurse who coincidently was a former student. As we were talking she said you don't know very much about what happened to you do you? I told her I didn't have a lot of medical details and then she told me one that still has my attention. When we checked into the first ER they found 2 blood clots in my lungs, the protocol is to give the patient heparin.......but they didn't. We dont really know why, but if they had I would have bled to death. A lot of celestial planning went into making sure I lived...I am grateful for that plan.

I have thought endlessly why did I live and so many others don't? Finally, I realized it is nothing more than I am needed more on this side of the veil than the other. And the most important thing I can do on this side of the veil is to be kind, to comfort and to serve anyone I can. What does that look like? I have no idea, because it will be different all the time. Earth life can be a tough place and we have no idea what other folks we come in contact with are going through. It has been said, treat everyone as though they are having the worst day of their life and you will be right 50% of the time.

Maybe that's why they cut you off on the freeway or stepped in front of you in the grocery checkout line, maybe that's why they didn't return a call or the product you ordered wasn't what you thought it would be, or they were late with a payment....People make mistakes and I intend to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.

It will be good for my heart....right?

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

An idea for Lent

Although I'm not Catholic I love the idea of concentrating on a bad habit for "release" so Lent is a doctrinal idea I am embracing this year. As some of you may know we have had our share of health issues lately and with any challenge it can rob you of your peace. So this Lent I am avoiding the small things and some of the big things of life that rob my peace. Not easy to be sure, but certainly worth the effort. These are some of things I am going to "release".

Arguing for the sake of argument. No one on Social media is beating down my door for editorial comments. My commentary is best shared with my ficus trees.

Reading inflammatory comments and absorbing them. No one gets up in the morning with the intention of personally attacking me. No reason to take anything personally.

But most important is to stop the personal focus on myself. There will only be unhappiness when we focus on ourselves. Of course personal care is important, self love and acceptance are so vital - but when I spend time thinking about my problems I get afraid. Fear is my biggest vice, and I get most afraid when my energy is low....positive thoughts, positive people and positive pursuits give me energy. And that energy helps me overcome the fear.

Writing helps me cope with fear. I didn't know where this was going but as I let the words lead me the next 40 days are clear. I wanted help with my fears, and now I see this is the focus I need to concentrate on.

Lent got very important for me this year and I would love to hear how you have overcome fear in your life. Maybe your favorite saying, song or idea...anything that gives you hope and conquers your fears. 

Thank you