Sunday, August 23, 2009

As the world churns...

When last we visited, the KrippledWarrior was moving from the dream world into reality. Rather than drag this out as a daily soap opera. I will cut to the chase and provide details as necessary.
Doctor "S" had promised me I would ride a motorcycle again. This was an anchor point I used to hang on to sanity! When I became fully aware of my condition and my surroundings, this was my personal assessment.
1. I was paralyzed.
2. My arms were so swollen it was no wonder I could not lift them.
3. Everything hurt. Everywhere.
4. My feet were covered in bandages and I could not feel them. (I didnot fully understand why).
5. My Leukemia was "Cured."
6. The Doctors and my wife were concerned about my feet.
My wife and two wonderful physical therapists that assisted with me were surprised to hear that the neurologist (I could not recall a name to save me. I could pick her out in a line up. But one was never organized) had told me I was a quadriplegic. And in spite of that assessment they persisted and helped me to retrain my hands and arms. they would help me move my arms and hands and wiggle my fingers. It was physically and mentally exhausting. It was the hardest I had ever worked. But, with their insistence and assistance, I was able to wave hello and give a thumbs-up with my left hand. God bless those angels, all three of them.
Then one day while I was unusually alert and focused, a nurse came in to change the bandages on my feet. I have always had extremely muscular legs. Not Tom Platz or Arnold Schwarzenegger legs, but very muscular indeed. I could stand flat-footed under a basketball goal and jump straight up and grab the rim with both hands. Without benefit of a running start.
My feet were not exceptional other then they perfectly fit my frame, and had done everything I had ever asked them to do. But after the bandages came off, my heart sank and I instantly became aware of why the doctors and my family were concerned. And I also understood why I was being attended to by an orthopedic surgeon. My feet were something right out of a horror movie. They were purpleish black, shriveled and and alien. My mind reeled as I tried to comprehend the situation. The medical term for the condition was dry gangrene. Technically it meant my feet were dead. Mummified. It was evident that they would have to go. Everybody was very careful around them because there was a very serious possibility of breaking one off and letting loose a new round of infections that were sure to be disasterous. When Doctor "S" had told me his good news, He was referring to after my amputations. Something I would have to wait for. And to get physically better to be able to survive through it.
Phobia number one looked plausible. There was a very good possibility a wheelchair was in my future. But I had other hurdles to jump before that ever came around. At the beginning of October the hospital decided they had done everything for me they could do, and decided to discharge me. I could move my legs left and right. I could raise both hands off the pillows and wiggled the fingers of my left hand. I could turn my head left and right. But not lift it off the pillow. Fortunately there was a nursing home near where I lived, and we prayed they would have room for me. They did! And I moved in. My wife visited every day. she would stay with me until bedtime. The day staff were wonderfully kind people. Fully attentive to all of my needs. My bed was right beside the picture window. Another patient had placed birdfeeders outside and I would watch beautiful finches and hummingbirds gang the feeders. Since I was unable to move my hands the only method of gaining attention from the nurse was to yell. Nobody liked it, especially me. But the nurses and my 96 year old, hard of hearing roommate did not complain.
But when the midnight shift came on, everything changed! At first I was unsure of my circumstances. Was I still riding the Dragon's tail? Or was I in jeopardy? For a while I was unsure. But because the new incidents only occurred during the midnight shift I was sure things were not right. They always kept the curtain between me and my roommate drawn. Personal privacy was the explanation. But it made the situation sinister because the actions taken by the mid-staff were never directly witnessed by anybody. It was your word, or more accurately, my word against theirs. And everyone knew I was hopped up on narcotics like a junkie at a Woodstock reunion. On one particular night one of the night staff and myself got into a verbal confrontation and both of us were using our outside voices. Fortunately she had gotten loud enough for all of the other patients to complain the next morning. And their versions of the confrontation supported mine. That particular person was forbidden to come near me. But no one else would come assist me in her place. I won the battle but lost the war. Phobia number two fully realized. Confined against my wishes and making it worse with my own mouth.
The next Dr. in my life I will call Doctor "D." as in Donald duck. You know, quack! he was a doctor in charge of patient care. My heart breaks for the people left in his care. He refused to allow me to participate in a fully staffed gymnasium and physical therapy sessions. His reasoning was "you are here as a hopeless quadriplegic. Your care is strictly custodial. There is no need to waste our resources on you."
Phobia Number 1, Fully realized. I was now 2 for 2. What on earth could be worse? It was not all bad there. My wife would come and the day staff would put me in a wheelchair and Joan would wheel me around the complex. Rain or shine. It was the highlight of my day. I was never physically abused. But I was uncomfortable there and would be glad to leave.
Next time, my homecoming...


Amber said...

Wow, I don't even know what to say ...

Kelly Combs said...

Waiting with baited breath.

Blasé said...

Is Tom Platz still alive?

AmyK. said...

Wow....I have seen the nursing home horror stories on tv. But you lived it. I am so sorry...

KrippledWarrior said...

Tom terrific, The golden Eagle, is alive and well. See: