June 21st was a Thursday. My last morning to be woken up at 5:30am by the nursing staff. My last morning to be wheeled to the breakfast room except that I hadn’t been wheeled to the breakfast room for about 5 days. Since I got my AFO, I had been walking. I walked with the nurse or tech by my side, hand at my gait belt. It felt so strange to sit in a regular chair at the table. I almost felt like I would fall out of it since it didn’t have armrests like my wheelchair did. I also didn’t have the strength to move my chair closer or to push it back if I didn’t like how I was positioned, but that was a small price to pay for no more Lovenox!
That last morning, Germaine, the Rehab tech, made a big deal about NOT giving me a menu for the following day. I was given a modified schedule and was told I would have one last session of each therapy while my discharge paperwork was processed. I would also see Dr. R one last time. I think Tracy came to see me first. I had completed my last official session the day before with my lecture, but Tracy and I had one last task to complete. As part of my Speech Therapy, I had been completing “Power of One” forms for hospital employees, including nurses, doctors, therapists and techs. I had filled one out for pretty much every nurse I had on the Rehab floor and a good number of techs as well as my therapists, Dr. R and the Social Worker. My last session with Tracy was simply walking these forms to one of the drop boxes. I don’t know if anyone actually read these forms, but I’m glad I did them anyway.
My last OT and PT sessions were characteristic of the two therapists. My OT Jenny cautioned me not to do too much and warned me to be careful. She went over the checklist, ensuring that Matt had purchased and set up all of the required equipment. She warned me (again) against getting a pet anytime soon (too late, we were picking the puppy up on July 20th, but I managed not to tell her that). My PT Cheryl, on the other hand, pushed me to do more. She balked when I told her we had rented a wheelchair. “You’ll never use it, ” she said as she tied a pretty scarf on my head.
“What if we go to the zoo? What about the Ohio State Fair?” I asked.
“You can stop and take breaks. You don’t need the wheelchair.” But I was sure that if I didn’t have it, I would need it, so we rented it and put it in the back of the minivan where it sat for a month. Cheryl was right, I never used it. Eventually, the company came to get it.
I had a final meeting with Dr. R. I remember I had one major concern weighing on me. I wanted to talk about “it.” You know. It. The resumption of marital “activities.” “When can we?” I asked.
“Whenever you want.”
“How can we?”
“However it works best. Whatever is comfortable and feels good.”
I told her my cycle was completely off. I hadn’t had a period since the day of my first surgery. She said it would probably take a while to get back to normal with the weight loss and trauma. She asked what our plan was. Oh, here we go. The question. The Birth Control Question. I braced myself the way I always do with any medical professional other than my OB/GYN. “We use the Creighton Method of NFP.”
“Ok, well you’ll need to be careful in your charting until your cycles get back on track.”
That’s it? No head shake? No eye roll? No “what’s your backup method?” No “well, you’ll need a different plan now?” No, “your husband should get a vesectomy?”
Have I mentioned that I love her?
By late morning, I had a stack of paperwork a mile high. The social worker had contacted the outpatient Rehab facility at the YMCA in Gahanna and had even arranged for me to take advantage of the child-care room if I needed it. I also had a stack of prescriptions and a list of follow-up appointments I was supposed to make. I had a list of instructions including “no driving” and “no being left unattended.” The driving prohibition was until I met with the neurologist, the not being left unattended was unclear. Until I talk to my outpatient therapists? Until I see my GP? Ever?
Finally, about lunch time, there was nothing more to do. Matt was there and I could leave. I can leave. I said my goodbyes. I don’t think Lydia or Amy were on that day. Jourdain wheeled me down with my bag in my lap while Matt got the car. Matt got me loaded into the minivan. We waved goodbye to Jourdain and drove away. 52 days later. We drove away. It was an odd feeling.
I seem to think our kids were split up. The eldest and youngest were in Clintonville, but the middle was on the east side with whoever was dropping him off at Safety Town in Gahanna that week. Getting me discharged had moved quicker than expected, so Matt took me to lunch. What an odd, normal thing to do when you realize you have no children with you. We went to some Chipotle-like place near the hospital. Then we picked boys 1 & 3 and headed across to Gahanna to pick up boy #2 from the school where they were having Safety Town. I stayed in the minivan during all of the kid pickups. I wasn’t ready to see anyone yet. Also, it took for-freaking-ever to get me in and out of the car. We finally got home late that afternoon. Home.
I only wanted two things: a shower and my bed. I think someone from the church brought us dinner, but I don’t remember it. I remember carefully going upstairs at bedtime to say prayers and tuck the boys in as best as I could. Back then, they actually all went to bed before 8pm! Matt showed me my fancy new shower bench. What a contraption! Two of the legs actually sat outside of the bath and gave me a perch from which to sit and remove my clothes. Then, I very precariously rotated myself forward and scootched little by little into the tub, lifting each leg over the tub rim. In case you’ve gotten the impression, that I was all healed up by my release, let me assure you that this process took like ten minutes. Then I yelled for Matt. He came in and turned on the water and then adjusted the curtain around the legs of the bench (he’d actually had to cut slits in the curtain), so the bathroom floor didn’t get drenched. I had my soap, shampoo and razor (woo hoo!) at hand. Turns out I still didn’t have the mobility to do a good job on my legs and I couldn’t lift my left arm high enough to shave under it, but that also meant no one could see what was growing under there. When I was done, I turned off the water and called for Matt again. He supervised as I got myself to the edge of the bench and gave me a towel. I don’t quite remember how much of my dressing I could do myself at that point, but I was so exhausted that evening, there was zero chance of any of those activities discussed with Dr. R happening that night.
Without my brace, I was supposed to only walk with Matt near me and he took me to bed. It was hard to get situated in a normal bed after all those weeks, but once I did and Matt turned down the lights. I zonked out immediately. I NEVER zonk out immediately. NEVER. I woke up 12 hours later. I NEVER sleep 12 hours without waking. NEVER. I guess being hospitalized for 51 days will take it out of you.
There is more to tell. I will keep blogging as I can: Outpatient Rehab. A puppy. Driving again. Getting my kids back in school. Follow-up MRIs. Anxiety. Moving. Falling into my kindle for six months (or 2 years). Trying to parent a toddler when you can’t pick him up ever again. PTSD. Going back to work. Clintonville. Facebook friends. Facebook enemies.
Thanks for reading this far, everyone. It has meant a lot. Watch Facebook, Twitter or sign up to “follow” for future posts.
Thank You for sharing your story….letting us read it…..I do hope you will continue its like reading a book that has not ended yet and we are waiting on the last few chapters…..I look forward to reading whatever you post..
You inspire me.
Press on. Write on (as you can). Live on.
You. Are. An. Amazing. Woman.
Katie I have enjoyed reading this. The humor and human-ness in the way you write really speaks to the strength of the human spirit. The fact you came out the other side with such a positive attitude is quite amazing. Thanks you for sharing.
Love your blog! Looking forward to the rest of your story, as time permits of course!