“You know what my usual breakfast is? Coffee and a cigarette.” Lilian adjusted her oxygen. Just another morning in Rehab with our Keppra, Lovenox, mysterious pink and brown pills and now my giant, moisture-sucking Urecholine. Oh my God, the pills just sucked up all my coffee. I really needed that caffeine.
This is probably about the time I first met a young nurse named Jourdan. I remember her nametag and the unusual spelling of her name. She was pretty unforgettable anyway. Imagine Barbie personified with all of the sweet midwestern charm you always hoped Barbie would have, but people trying to imitate Barbie never do. Jourdan was the real thing. I was suspicious of the very beautiful, very young nurse the first time I had her. Surely she must be a bitch. Or she’s stupid. Jourdan was neither, but it took me several days of having her as my nurse before I viewed her with anything less than skepticism. Jourdan was so stunning, in fact, that one morning in the Breakfast Room as they were passing out Lovenox, she went up to an older gentlemen hunched in his wheelchair who I had never heard speak and suspected couldn’t speak (some stroke victims suffer something called aphasia). Jourdan told him she would be his nurse that day and he said in a perfect imitation of Homer Simpson, “Woo Hoo!”
In other news, I was keenly aware of the fact that my accursed staples would be coming out in 24 hours. Woo Hoo! Unfortunately, that knowledge appeared to be directly tied to my nerve endings and now the damn things itched more than EVER!
No one goes into the hospital thinking they are going to be there for seven weeks. I had gone to emergency with nothing. My husband had brought me a small bag a few days in and I had worn a gown in the ICU, but there’s a reason why all of my early Rehab memories seem to feature my yellow university sweatshirt. It’s pretty much all I had with long sleeves and my new 92 pound frame could not control its body temperature. I was always cold even though it was almost June.
My friend Karla came to the rescue sometime during that first week in Rehab, bringing three important things. First, she brought me several bags of clothes from Target. Second, she brought me an electic razor. Woo Hoo! Third, she brought me Taco Bell. Best. Friend. Ever. A few days later, a box arrived from my mom with more clothes in it. Double Woo Hoo! It was very strange to be wearing all of these XS clothes when I had been a M before all of this started. Ah, the Brain Tumor Diet, I suspect everyone in Hollywood will be clamoring for tumors and brain bleeds.
Therapy normally wrapped up by about 2pm each day and after Karla brought me the razor I remember sitting there with it one afternoon trying use it. It was a lot harder than I thought with a dead leg and a dead arm to maneuver, or not, as the case may be. Lydia was on one afternoon and came in (probably to cath me–no Woo Hoo there) and saw me struggling with the razor. “I’ll come back and help you out in a bit, Katie-girl.” I didn’t really expect her to since nurses have a way of being pulled eighteen different directions, but sure enough, Lydia came back late that afternoon and sat next to my bed. Then she did the most amazing thing. She shaved my legs that hadn’t seen a razor since May 7th-ish. She did my underarms, too. I might have cried. Woo-sniff-hoo!
My legs weren’t silky smooth, you need a straight razor for that, but those were forbidden for the Lovenox set. No razors (or even nail clippers, although my friend Melissa smuggled me a set) until you can “ambulate at least 400 feet.” Considering I had little independent movement in my left leg, that was likely to be a while. Or never? That little niggling part of me would question.
Starting May 31st, I have the luxury of being able to look back at my Rehab Journal for a tiny snippet (usually just a few words) of what I did in each session that day. It looks like Cheryl had me practicing with a cane that day. I do have a vague memory of a near-disastrous session with a cane in the therapy room and remember Cheryl saying that she really didn’t want me using a cane when I got out. But the mysterious Lily who I haven’t talked to uses a cane, why can’t I?
It also says I met with Dr. C, the psychiatrist, that day. That I remember pretty clearly (although I met with her at least once and maybe twice more). I remember thinking she looked like a displaced New Yorker with her animal print blouse and cats-eye glasses. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to talk about, so I talked about everything, probably all at once. I told her about being a professor and my desperate fear of being “dumb now.” I told her how guilty I felt for doing this to my husband, mother and children.
With some trepidation, I even told her about the hallucinations I thought were caused by the tumor and my “elaborate ranking system.” This was an a-ha moment because I told her I thought I had been having those hallucinations for months because of the tumor and she said that she doubted it. She suggested, instead, that it was probably the meds immediately after surgery that caused the hallucinations. Oh shit. Really? So, you mean that all happened just a few days ago? It was already beginning to feel far away, something that happened months, a lifetime, ago. It took me a while longer before I was really able to accept her timeline, but it was, of course, the correct one. As I mentioned in a previous entry, Dr. C thought my elaborate hallucinatory ranking system was actually a good sign, a sign that I hadn’t ever succombed completely to that “other” world. By the time I had finished with our first session, with the promise of more to come, I had to admit that temp-therapist-Andrea-bitch had been right. I DID need to talk to the shrink. It was a great weight off of my subluxxed shoulders. I’m not crazy. Woo Hoo.