I guess I have been pretty lucky finding myself well insulated from experiencing the death of close relatives. Oh, of course, I lost my beloved Grandparents on each side when I was in my thirties. Even then, because of the longevity in our family they had lived well beyond the norm. Right now my Dad is 94 and my Mom is 90...and actually pretty healthy living at home with my sister and BIL.
My beloved Joe died in June, 2010 - my cousin Millie just passed a few days ago, my second cousin Evelyn died last month, we are fighting for my BIL Larry life as I write this, my other cousin in Washington Tina is doing the same for her husband Fernando...I pray to God that a total cure for all cancer could be found and please God now.
Life started on a downturn with my getting pneumonia when I flew up to New York in December 2008......Of course, I don't remember anything but they tell me I died and had to be coded 6 times before my heart would return to normal. Everything else had shut down too, so I had to undergo blood transfusions, and also dialysis every other day for weeks. My kidneys never did recover completely...they only process at 2/3 the rate they should, so I have to be careful what I eat, drink and do. I also suffered heart problems too so they put me in the cardiac unit to be watch...I was hooked up to so many lines that I could not move too much - the only things on my body that I had control over were my feet and ankles...so I kept moving them up and down and sideways. I was in intensive care for over a week, mostly unconscious and the doctors kept telling my family that I most probably would not come out of it because I had been oxygen deprived for so long.
The first vivid memory that I have is opening my eyes to see my lovely daughter Alisa..saying "Mom, Mom..Mom's awake!" to all the others in the room...she ten put her hand up in front of my face and asked how many fingers do I have up? I answered her...then her next question was "Mom...do you believe in Vampires"...I know I shook my head yes...Alisa started yelling..."Mom's Back! Mom's Back!".....oh, but what a road was yet to come....
Poor Joe never left my side, he had to be pulled away to go home to take a shower, eat.....he massaged my feet, my back, rubbed what he could on my arms trying to keep my circulation going....it helped. They had really done a number on me with all the lines put in and had actually blown a hole in the top of my hand - my arms and hand were like huge balloons and extremely hot. Alisa had brought in some heavy hand towels so we soaked them in cool water and applied them to my hands and arms...I did this repeatedly...it helped so much I was able to reduce the swelling a lot.
I had also caused damage to myself when I awoke in the ICU with the breathing tube still in...in my delirium I thought I was drowning and some alien was trying to get down my throat...so I reached up and yanked the tube out...not a good thing to do. I hurt my throat so that for almost a month I had to use ice chips to soothe it...as a result I now have a soft growth right where I did the damage by my thyroid.
I was in that hospital bed for over 35 days and they only got me to sit up two times, as a result I lost most of my muscle mass so I could not stand or sit up or walk on my own. I felt like a newborn baby. They decided I was well enough to be transferred to a rehab place...well, the place was actually horrible...it was dead of winter arrived by ambulance cold and tired. The attendants there insisted as soon as they got my coat off that I should strip for a shower...I told them I was freezing could they wait till I felt a little warmer? The answer was NO! So the two of them bullied me into the shower in a special wheelchair, started the water - it was not even warm.....that's the last thing I remember...I evidently passed out, scared the crap out of them...they had to get the paramedic's back in and I was transferred to a lovely Catholic hospital...again ICU. Turns out I was coming down with another bout of pneumonia...oh all through this I have been on oxygen too.
The doctors at this hospital were wonderful, they had me diagnosed with COPD within two days, and cured of the pneumonia in eight days. They also, even with all the lines in, had the nurses get me out of bed into a chair and a side potty...the joy of even sitting up is unexplainable unless you have been paralyzed you would not know..
The only scary part was my hand were still bad, it was difficult for me to use a fork or knife...one day trying to do it I dislodged a main line that was into an artery....I kept pressure on it but could not reach the button to call for help..so I lay there screaming for help...luckily a man was visiting next door and went for help for me....I had visions of bleeding out in the bed....still scares me now. The nurses were able to control it and I got yelled at for it...but the shunt wasn't put in properly I think. In the first hospital, my youngest son Joey came every day to feed me and he would stay till dinner time and he did this for thirty day, bless his heart such a good son. My daughter Alisa came and brought me special foods that she thought would help me heal better...nothing tasted better than her Italian Wedding Soup!
After I healed a bit, they wanted to send me back to that awful place where I passed out...I absolutely refused to go there. I felt the attendants should have at least listened to me instead of rushing me into a cold shower. Thankfully my daughter found a wonderful Jewish Nursing Home on Long Island...it was old but comfortable and clean. The nursing staff and attendants were loving, caring people and I cannot say enough for the rehab staff. I arrived (with daughter following me this time) late one night and they took their time to get me settled into the room. Yes, I did need a shower but the attendant asked me if I was up to it, did I feel alright? And the water was warm/hot makes such a difference. All I can say is I arrived there unable to sit up or turn over...and three days later they had me up in a wheelchair do strengthening exercises with the rehab staff.
I arrived there on February 4th and was determined to be back home at my daughters by her birthday on March 9th. It was an uphill battle but I was able to walk, using a walker, out of the nursing home on March 6th..in time for her birthday....it was great to start to feel a bit normal again.
I had some strange experiences in the hospital and the nursing home...In the hospital the first roommate that I had came from Clearwater Florida just above where I had been living. The nurse came from a section on 49th street in Pinellas Park just a hop-skip from where I lived. Then when I got to the nursing home...there was an elderly lady in the bed next to me, she had dementia. The next day a middle aged couple came in to visit her and they looked vaguely familiar to me. They introduced themselves and said they came from Richmond Hill, I said that's where I was from before moving to Florida...110th St...they looked at each other and said...we live on 110th St off of 109 Ave....turns out they lived three doors from me..their daughter was our newsboy..the man was the guy who used to put all the block parties on...so of course they looked familiar! For some reason the elderly woman could talk to me, she remembered her daughters name and told me stories from years ago. It was around Valentines day so I asked Alisa to bring a stuffed bear for her...she had nothing in her bed to amuse her or to hold on to. The bear worked like a charm, she would sing to it like it was a baby and it calmed her down too. She had fallen at home and broken her hip, she was recuperating but her daughter was afraid that she could not be on her own at all anymore...both of them had to work..before the fall they had hired a sitter to come in for part of the day and look after her...but her condition was getting a lot worse. But I thought what a strange thing to happen...I move away from a place for 24 years only to find myself in a room with an ex neighbor - where does that happen? I felt comforted in that I was able to make this lady's life a little more happy....
This has been a rambling entry - sorry folks...but life sometimes just rambles....