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Archive for March, 2008

This post is easy as I am writing it from home. I am not home permanently. I am allowed out for a few hours at a time. I got to be home for Friday night dinner, which was great. The only difficult part is going back.

I realized that there has been no clear explanation of what happened to me. Well, let’s just say narcotics are bad, bad things. I was taking narcotic painkillers for the fibromyalgia. I figured out several months ago that the stupid things don’t work and it was time to wean myself off them. It’s not a quick process, but I had made significant process. What I didn’t know was that my colon was becoming impacted. (I don’t want to go into too much detail, given the nature of the topic, but turns out you can get a great big clog while still pooping, sometimes even regularly.)

So, I ended up with a little hole in my colon. This is bad. The evening it happened, I developed a really, really bad pain in my abdomen. I have regular bouts of excruciating pain caused by my irritable bowel which I deal with by getting a really hot bath until it passes. Thinking this was what I was facing, I got in the bath. The pain kept getting worse and worse. I’ve had two kids without any medications and that pain doesn’t hold a candle to how this felt. I finally asked J to phone 911.

The ambulance people were awful, but maybe I’ll complain more about that later. At least I got to the hospital. I was in the ER for about 12 hours while they figured out what was up and sent me to surgery. They missed the hole at first and by the time I went into surgery, they were facing fixing a 12 cm tear. Needless to say, those 12 hours were among the worst of my entire life. The pain was extreme and (correctly) they wouldn’t let me have anything to drink. I believe at the end I was literally begging them to just make the pain go away.

The surgeon came and explained I had a hole in my colon and needed surgery. He also told me that he didn’t know if he could pull me through in front of my mother. Ah, that famous surgeon lack of bedside manners. I was in so much pain I literally didn’t care. I was just waiting for unconsciousness. But my poor mother just got to deal with the extra fear that added during my surgery.

It didn’t go well. Actually, that depends on your perspective, since afterward, the surgeon apparently told my family he was surprised I survived it. So in that regards it went well: I lived. But I went into septic shock and my organs began to fail. I ended up in the ICU on every kind of life support imaginable.

I was in a coma for the next 18 days. It was touch and go for a while. It is bizarre for me to contemplate because by the time I knew about it, I was on the mend. All my friends and family were clearly traumatized by the experience and even though I was at the center of it, I emerged emotionally unscathed. The body is pretty scathed though (how come that is never used at the opposite of ‘unscathed’?). But I’m trucking right along in physio and can even walk, very slowly, up the stairs. My tentative release date is April 9th, months earlier than initially estimated.

I’m a lucky woman.

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Waking up

Obviously, I’ve been away a bit, having a little nap. Okay, big, big nap. I’m back … ish.

I don’t have internet access. A friend printed off all the comments for me to read and I really appreciate all the good wishes coming, even from complete strangers. I’ll get him to post this. Waking up was quite a shock. I have absolutely no memory of anything before having the breathing tube removed. The first thing I remember is understanding I’d need blood to have it removed.

When I first awoke, I could not feed myself, scratch my own nose, walk or stand. Comas aren’t like on TV. Every day, you lose 10% of your muscle mass, which means you wake up quite helpless if you’ve napped for almost 3 weeks, as I did. My hands shake and I can’t write by pen. I have a colostomy. I had several IVs and drainage tubes. However, once I became conscious, things moved very quickly. Every day, it seemed, they pulled out another tube or discontinued a medication. I got stronger too.

Now, having been awake 13 days, I can walk several steps with a walker. I can feed myself and (very importantly) type. I still have a very long way to go I cannot get myself from sitting to standing without help, for example. The nurses keep raving at the speed at which I am progressing, but I don’t know how they can look at all the photos of my kids (and my dog!) and be surprised at how hard I’m working at getting moving again.

When I first realized what had happened, that I wasn’t just waking up from surgery that morning, my primary emotion was enormous gratitude. Not only am I alive and getting stronger each day, but I am amazed by the number of people who helped and supported my family. It took me days to fully realize the scope of the support.

Actually, I’m not quite sure I’ve absorbed it yet. After several days, J started giving me the emails. I still haven’t made it through them all. I can’t even begin to list everyone who made a difference, but the people who helped my children in some way are obviously at the forefront of my thoughts.

I want everyone to know that the awareness that there are so many people out there who have kept me in their thoughts really does help as I get past the relief at being alive and start into the real work of rehab. It’s tough in here.

The kids are coping remarkably well, in part thanks to all the support J is getting. Maya is being her typical mature self and Boo continues to be her happy self. Asher has also shown remarkable maturity. He turned 9 while I was unconscious and really enjoyed the huge party he was thrown.

He had a biopsy for celiac disease (no official result yet) and swore off gluten the moment he walked out of the hospital. He hasn’t had a moment of complaint over not being able to eat what the others eat, and hasn’t even complained that I have been unable to fulfill my promise of baking GF challah.

Because I can’t bake, J went to the GF section of our grocery store and bought $75 worth of GF snacks pretty much one of everything to try with Asher as time goes on. The next morning, Asher woke him up before 7 am to inform him that he didn’t like the bagels or bread, but all the other snacks were good. He’d gone through and sampled the entire thing before breakfast.

I’ll continue to update this blog through my friend, wishing I had internet access, as often as I can. Getting my life back is going to be a long, hard job. I don’t want to get all maudlin, but please appreciate your lives. It can all disappear in a moment and you can wake up in someone else’s life, struggling to get your own back.

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