On August 8, after being a hospital patient for 100 days, I was released back into the free world.
No more 5:30 AM visits from the blood lab techs. No more blood pressure/temperature/O2 measuring every four hours. No more being restricted to my chair or to my bed for fear of falling. Also, no more meal delivery at 8, noon, and 6, but now I was free to raid vending machines or rest stop fast food joints or the junk food next to checkout registers. I still had about 15 pounds to go in regaining the weight I’d lost in the Amsterdam ICU. https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/raisedintheforeignservice.blog/5647
My husband drove us the 300 miles from Gainesville to Palm Beach County in a rental car, in the rain, in the dark, and on a highway under mid-repairs. Still, we were alone together, and that was heaven. As we pulled into our neighborhood, we each breathed a sigh of relief: we were home. It had been a long four months.
The first couple of weeks were a bit rough. I was still learning how to use the cane I received at Shands Hospital. Things were a bit more stable when we rented a four-wheel walker, a less glamorous version of my jazzy Amsterdam Rollator, that gave me the confidence to get walking on the neighborhood sidewalks.
And I’d come down with a bacterial infection in my colon while I was at Shands, the dreaded c diff, as in Clostridium Difficile. Thank you Latin for making the point: it’s no fun and difficult to shake. We’d picked the medication up at the Shands pharmacy as I’d need a dose before we got home; noting the “must be refridgerated” tag, I nestled the medication under the car’s foot-level AC all the way home. For the next 12 days, I took the drug every six hours, including a 2AM trudge to the fridge. I also kept myself isolated in the guest room and guest bath, heeding the nurses’ warnings that c diff is easily transmitted to others unless hygiene is under control. [The good news: we are both now in the clear.]
The infection didn’t much diminish my appetite. In fact, I took full advantage of having stomach troubles by ordering up a carton of sugary Ginger Ale, developing quite the taste for the soft drink. Empty calories? I had room for them as I worked to add the pounds. I let myself indulge in other treats including café con leche and guava pastries from our local Cuban bakery. And Häagen-Dazs, the Bronx-invented fake Danish-named high fat ice cream.
I began physical therapy at a place just five minutes up the road with a philosophy I can, and do, live with. It feels great to get more mobility and strength under my feet every day.
This past Friday, we went back to Shands Hospital for a follow-up with the vascular department. The checkup revealed that a pocket of blood near my May 5 incision had grown. I knew I was in good hands when, despite it being the end of the day on a Friday in August, Shands mobilized a crack team to successfully perform the clotting procedure.
A quiet night was all it took for me to feel fine, and we were treated to a Saturday breakfast by Victoria and her boyfriend Christian, who are finally getting to go on the Mexican vacation that was postponed by my Amsterdam illness.
We get Pancho for a few weeks, too!