Part 3 – That Space Between
My first few days on the nuerosurgery recovery unit felt like a paradise when compared to my ICU prison.
Not only did I have a very attentive nurse (who also happened to be a fine-looking Brazilian man: true story), but more importantly I felt that I had finally returned to the land of the living.
It was weird to not be hooked up to a bunch of machines. I didn’t know what to do with myself so I used my new freedom to do a whole lot of nothing. Just sitting there seemed like all the “doing” I could muster anyway.
The best part of moving to my new hospital unit was feeling more like a human again. One quiet Saturday afternoon my nurse Jen, placed her laptop at my bedside, and we shopped the Macy’s one day sale together. Feeling like a person again was just as important to my recovery as my pain management or rehab. Thank heaven for good nurses! (Notice I didn’t say all nurses? – Yeah, you know who you are…)
It was a nice to feel whole again too. What I mean by that is when I was really ill I felt sort of apart from my body. Like if I had to make an quick exit – because my body had stopped working or something – I would be all packed up and ready to go. I’ve never felt that way before, so…. separated.
I have always believed in life after death. I believe that the human soul is eternal so this experience just reinforced that belief. Even when my body was very poorly I didn’t feel diminished as a person, or as if I was moments from my own ending. My body felt more like a favourite pair of pants. I would sad to leave it behind, but it definitely felt more like a rental. As they say: ‘I am not my body.’
The one downside of this new full awareness was coming to grip with my now completely botched hair. The surgeons hacked up two large sections of my hair, and the mess they made was really something. You would think they could squeeze in some haircut basics skills in their surgical training!? I loved my surgical team, but I’m going to have to just give them 3.5/4 stars due to this oversight. Afterall, there is always room for improvement!
After of few days of lying around I was introduced to the Physical Therapist who was assigned to get me on my feet. This was exciting and frightening since there was no guarantee I would be able to walk indpendantly after surgery.
I started with a walker. I was pretty amazed that after a short practicie I could stand and walk a short distance on my own. I am not sure why people avoid getting walkers. My grandma is dead set against them (I don’t think she likes how they look – she’s very fashion conscious for an 91 year old), but I think they are awesome! I was so pleased when I could walk to the unit fridge to get a drink of water all by myself. It’s the little things…
My PT was active military. She kept her hair in a neat bun, wore army attire, and was definitely a no nonsense kind of person. She had the best posture I have every seen in my life! Now I don’t typically notice posture, but her’s was so perfect it demanded your attention.
She shared with me that although I had lost my vestibular nerve (the body’s main system for balance) it was up to me to teach my body to find another way to stay upright. The body has many redundant systems so I would simply have to tap into those systems in order to stand up on my own.
It sounded reasonable, and I wasn’t about to contradict her (she was a tad scary) , but it’s a strange thing to forget how to walk. Apparently it’s not at all like riding a bicycle.
She was effective, and the following week I was released from hospital without a requirement for a cane or walker. Woo hoo!
I knew I would be released when I was starting to almost “enjoy” my hospital stay. I mean the food service alone!?
I was nervous to travel so far but, the worst part for us was that while I was transported from the hospital to the Canadian boarder I was uninsured. Due to some unpleasantness with our public health care system, and even though I had saved them $50K by getting my surgery at a research hospital in the US, in this ‘window’ I was technically without medical insurance. I promised Rob that if I had a stroke I would be sure just to go all the way to help minimize costs. I think he appreciated it but, he never said so out loud.
There was no need to worry. It all worked out! We were delayed slightly out of Washington DC by Obama though. At Regean Airport all air space is cleared for Air Force One landings and take offs – Can you imagine the same protocol in Canada?! I am sorry but you r flight is being delayed since we have to make way the Harper Express….um, yeah)
Once safely in Canada (Toronto , Ontario) we took a sigh of relief, and then I jumped in an courtesy wheelchair. Since I was still deemed medically fragile I travelled with this assistance. I loved traveling by wheelchair in the airport.! It’s totally VIP. I highly recommend it! No stress and front of the line everywhere you go. It’s like a Disney Fast Past. Two euthusatic thumbs up! Seriously, you gotta try it…..
Part 4 – Closer to Fine Brain Surgery Memoirs Part 4
The art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.