Saturday, December 11, 2010

Fred's Thoughts on Coming Home

"I have been told that a major milestone after a serious injury is when you are released out of the care of the hospital. I assume this is because you have progressed beyond the immediate and constant care of the hosp staff is no longer necessary and you have healed to a point where whatever else needs to be done can be done at home. Well I reached that point, decided by the hosp care team that we should come home Wed Dec 8. I had weaned myself off of morphine even during the PT sessions which required me to get up and place weight only on my left leg and do a modified hop with the walker down the hall. I could sit at the edge of the bed by myself and transition from walker to wheel chair, wheel myself into the bathroom and take washcloths to wipe down my upper body and face. And with effort get myself over to the portable commode near my bed. These were a few of the points you must reach before they ship you home. So the afternoon arrived. Mina showed up with the mini van and the only point of apprehension was the actual loading me in the an. We felt up to the challenge and after a long wheel chair ride to the front of the Hospital, I managed to get up with the walker and maneuver without too much difficulty into the front seat of the van. Mina had already loaded up some of the hosp paraphernalia and the wheel chair and hosp bed was already at home awaiting me.

As we started the ride home I was amazed at how fast everything outside was passing me. The 3 weeks in the hosp had dulled my senses to motion and I found our speed and the sensation it left me with almost dizzying. (Mina’s note: I had people tailing me and making sour faces because I was so slow!) When we arrived home, our painter’s car blocked our entry. Mina parked at the curb and went up to ask the car be moved. I was starting to reach the threshold of sitting, pain and dizziness began to overtake me. It didn’t take too long and up the driveway we went. Without too much trouble we got me out and wheeled towards the backdoor where there were no steps and Papi had built a small ramp for entrance. Soon I was backing into my bedroom’s own hospital bed, my new base for the next weeks.

It is amazing how some of the simplest actions can wipe out the strength that you have. I was somewhat exhausted as I lay back on my hosp bed as Mina unloaded the car. Looking around I had a visual overload, so many shapes and colors to look at in our bedroom; I had become accustomed to the plain ceiling at the hospital with its fluorescent light and the hoist for bedridden patients. It had become my home and I had grown accustomed to it. Now my real home had become foreign. But with Mina’s good cheer and encouragement we discussed that this was all part of the healing and this could be a chapter of adventure as I learned to function and increase in strength here in my own home. (Fred used to say that, ‘The difference between an adventure and an ordeal was your attitude.’ He told me the other day that he would now modify that to say, 'The difference between an adventure and an ordeal was your attitudeAND your pain level.' )

Our bedroom is rearranged, so I sleep in the same spot as our regular bed, but the regular bed is pushed to the west. I am grateful for all of Mina’s care and patience, she has been a real trooper and now this next chapter will be probably even tougher on her. I don’t always take change easily and even though this coming home should be one that brings familiarity, it still presented some psychological and physical challenges. Fortunately the Presbyterian Hosp stay helped us identify medication so I am no longer plagued by nausea. It keeps the pain in check so that unless I do something foolish I am able to function without pain. Lack of appetite continues. For the most part I force myself to eat. But a few things have SOUNDED attractive as I think of them. Mina is making some protein vitamin conncotions in the blender that as long as they are ice cold actually taste good. ( Not all smoothie recipes are successful, I had one gel up on me the other night. Poor guinea pig Fred.. I do sneak in calories by making his cream of wheat with half and half) Trying to pack the calories on anyway we can, to put back some of the 22 lbs I lost. It is obvious to me now that this is going to be a long road. It seems to me that the progress is so slow its immeasurable. Mina has been a great encouragement telling me how I have improved from one day to the next, but it is not in my nature to be such a wimp.

The day I left the hosp I tried getting back into the bed by myself. Problem is that I don’t have the strength to lift my legs. Once in the bed seated I can’t get my legs up, I lost all my stomach and pelvic muscles. Its not a pretty picture but by grabbing my thighs or shorts with my hands I can pull my legs up. At the hosp. the right side had to be jacked up by inserting it into the wheelchair spokes and then with much effort I was able to pull it into bed with me. At home, Mina and I devised a stair-stepping system with a cushion and a big dictionary to enable the same action. One of my goals is to someday lift those legs into bed without stair-stepping or without using my hands to lift. (The day after he dictated this he was able to get the right leg up with NO help from me!)

Mina’s note: Yesterday, Bob Boatright the in home therapist visited us. He gave us regular exercises and Fred tries to do them faithfully. The getting up and walking is so taxing, but Fred does it well if he puts his mind to it even though the pain and weariness can be daunting.

Today Jason Bonilla brought over a gift from his off-road buddies. Hoorah!! At last an off-road vehicle that guarantees his safety while operating it. Thanks so much guys for thinking of the wife with this gift!

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