We’ve been home from the hospital for almost 48 hours, and I’m just now okay enough to write again. Nick has said that those seven days were worse than the initial two months we spent in the hospital. It was one of the most frustrating ordeals I’ve ever been through. I felt helpless, unheard, angry, extremely fatigued and just plain crazy. Sleep and food deprivation will do that to you. Nick didn’t eat anything (but a shitty Jello cup, which is a disgusting non-food anyway) for 7 days. And here I am complaining that I didn’t eat dinner for three nights in a row. I’m a very hands-on person with Nick’s care, so I usually do as much as I can when he’s in the hospital, trying to rely on the nurses and nurse assistants as little as possible. But there were moments where I just could not drag myself up out of the chair to help him. There were also moments when my help alone just couldn’t get the job done. There were lots of those moments.
The last 36 hours of our hospital stay was quite possibly one of the most disgusting experiences I’ve ever had. It’s a good thing I am so unbelievably in love with this man because it was in those last 36 hours that all of the blockages finally gave way. And for the sake of our friends and loved ones and Nick’s dignity, I’ll just leave it at that.
We didn’t drive away from the hospital until 11pm that evening. This, of course, was after sitting and waiting for the doctor to sign the discharge orders for half the day And in our new efforts to eat a healthier diet, I had to stop for some groceries on the way home. This put us home right at midnight, as I suspected would happen.
We each slept for about 11 hours, and spent the entire next day in bed. I only got up to make some juice and serve some soup a friend brought over in a Crock Pot. It felt like the world punched me in the face, then kneed me in the gut. I could have sworn I was sick all day yesterday. Seven days of peaked-out stress and exhaustion, mixed with a little panic and a lot of disdain, just hit me all at once. So, we didn’t end up losing 8 days of our lives, we lost 9.
Now, that’s enough of the whining and bitching. Let’s move onto what we learned. The biggest thing we both took away from this horrible experience is that we NEVER want it to happen again. EVER! It is clear that immediate, long-term action is required on our part to assure Nick’s health and sanity is never compromised in this way again. Although given no significant help or advice from any doctors or nurses in this arena, we have decided to dramatically change Nick’s diet. No more steaks, no more burgers or cheese, no more all-you-can-eat anything, no more processed foods. His (and my) diet will revolve around raw (and cooked) veggies and fruit, fresh juices, whole grains and fish. I don’t care how much effort and planning this takes or how much it affects our social life, it will be worth it. He was so clogged up, and he just can’t afford to ever let that happen again.
Today we woke up ready to take on the world! We both felt great. It took us ages to really get rolling, but there was nothing to be in a hurry for anyway. Since Nick’s stumps have finally healed, we decided to celebrate today, the first day of the rest of our lives, by going swimming. I think we have found Nick’s wonder drug. I’m not kidding. After two hours of paddling and kicking around in the pool, swimming slow laps and ”walking” in place, he felt loose and healthy. In fact, for the first time since his accident, when we came home he hung out with me in the kitchen in his wheelchair while I made dinner. His pain level was only a 1 out of 10, even though he was sitting upright. The most incredible part of this all? He only took two pain pills about an hour BEFORE we left for the pool, and took none during or after. Once we finished dinner, he immediately showered and was still only at a pain level of 1, even though he was on the uncomfortable shower chair. We are both in awe of this beautiful phenomenon. It is completely unusual and unheard of. It appears as if Nick just needs to decompress in a neutrally buoyant environment and get his blood flowing. See, swimming is his wonder drug!
We’ve been waiting months for this moment today, when Nick could get in the water and be free. And sadly, swimming was nearly compromised for him when he took a nasty spill from his wheelchair on the way to the pool. It scared the shit out of me. He approached a dip in the road wrong, tried to catch something from falling off his lap, and went face first onto the hot asphalt. Actually, it was stumps first, then knees, hands and a beautiful PLF (parachute landing fall) onto his back. That hurt him so bad. A terrified onlooker came running and helped me pick him up and put him back in his chair. Once we all gained a bit of composure, I pulled down his stump shrinker sock to inspect the damage. Sure enough, a huge piece of skin, directly over the end of the bone, along the scar line, was scraped off and bleeding. How did this happen through two layers of socks? Nick was certain it was worse. I guess it felt much worse. Imagine if he hadn’t been wearing the shrinkers, the bone may have gone right through. That would have been a 3-4 month set back. Even with just the minor damage, this might still prove to be a set back. He has a fitting appointment for his prosthetics this coming Tuesday. We will still go, and just hope they can still do the fitting even though he has some open skin. I saw the entire fall, and there was nothing I could do. It happened so fast, and my hands were completely full. That’s why Nick was helping me by carrying my purse on his lap. Guess we won’t be doing that again either. We are just so grateful it’s not worse. It’s not so bad escaping a fall like that with only some broken skin, a bruised ego and a moderate amount of pain.