Friday, March 16, 2012

The Land of Counterpane

When I was sick and lay a-bed
I had two pillows at my head
And all my toys about me lay
To keep me happy all the day

I never intended to let a full 13 days pass by before posting my next entry.  No, not at all. I envisioned typing away furiously while lying in my hospital bed, in the ambulance on the way home and in between walking around the apartment and running up and down the stairs upon my return home.

But a curious thing happened.  I am somewhat unwell.

That's never really happened before.  I had perfect attendance at work for more than a decade.  I never think of myself as being sickly or even being compromised in any way. If I am not unconscious with a fever, which is hardly ever, I'm working or running errands or taking care of one thing or another or all of the above and sometimes even when I am unconscious with a fever.  That's just the way I am.  Always have been.  Please don't misunderstand, I have been known to spend  my Fridays doing absolutely nothing, but mainly it's because the rest of the time, I'm running around like a lunatic.  It's not just me.  My whole family is like this.  I inherited it.  In fact, the rest of my family make me look like the Dalai Lama!

So after spending 7 luxurious days in Assuta hotel, uh, hospital, I was ready to come home and get started on the business of getting well.  Assuta was lovely, not your average crumbling Israel public hospital with Gestapo nurses.  No, this was an entirely different experience.  And we took V's dad's brilliant suggestion of getting a private room, making the week a real pleasure. The staff were fabulous.  And it was wonderful having M sleep there with me every night. Everyone should have a personal servant for a week: 

"Oh daaahling, I've dropped my (insert here anything superfluous at all) toothbrush/kindle/ iphone charger/ knitting needle/ self-image.  Would you be a dear?!"

Do this 15 times a day. Smile sweetly.  M has been a trooper.  Better than a trooper.  He's been amazing.  Running to Kupat Holim, arranging the insurance forms for refunds etc, making food, walking me.   He must be more exhausted than me!  I should buy him a ticket to Thailand when this is all over so that he can just vegetate on the beach over there.

While in the hospital, they got me up the day after the surgery to walk.  It was painful but not unbearable.  It felt (still feels) like the way you feel the morning after you've done a really really intense workout at the gym and its painful to move your muscles. Times a thousand.  But not a bad pain.  Not an unfamiliar pain.  And on the Friday after the surgery, Daughter M & SIL Y took me out to the park for a walk.  It was so nice that we did it again with some friends on Saturday too.  So I have been moving around from Day 1 - which is a good thing.

However, Prof Palmtree decided to keep me in the hospital for an extra 2 days because my blood pressure and hemoglobin plummeted (plus my railroad track wound was oozing but that's a story for another blog post).  I lost a lot of blood during the surgery, I was tired but not walking or exercising was not an option.  And most of the time, when I was just sitting, I felt fine.  Finally they brought me home in an ambulance (whose ingenious robotic chair schlepped me up 4 flights) on Sunday afternoon.  It felt good to be home again.

By Monday afternoon, I had navigated the stairs and by Tuesday morning I had conquered all four flights and was down on the street walking.  People are always amazed that I managed to get up and down all four flights.  But honestly?  It's harder for people who don't do it every day.  I do.  Even when my hip was bad and I was hobbling along, I could run up and down the stairs.  So it really didn't feel like a huge accomplishment to do that.

But Tuesday after both a.m. & p.m. walks,  when I got to the top floor, I thought I was going to vomit or faint. Or both.  BP dropped again.  That is a scary feeling. Apparently I think I am stronger, well-er, than I really am.  Dr. Muchacha (I say that with love, she has called me Gringo) gave M some iron pills and told me to drink gallons of coffee and eat bucketfuls of salt.  Very medical advice, I know.

As a result, Wednesday I didn't go out.  I was afraid.  My dear friend  came to babysit in the morning, as M went to work and the PT lady arrived.  She gave me the same exercises that they gave me in the hospital and said she'd come back next week.  I walked around the apartment but mainly I just sat in the recliner.  I haven't been watching any daytime TV.  Even reading has not been my primary activity.  Frankly, I'd be happy just staring out the window.  The thing I find most enjoyable is knitting.  The repetitive, meditative motion is surprisingly soothing.  I've never really knitted anything  before and when I am back to my old self, I am not sure I would be able to find the patience for it.  But for right now, it is keeping me sane.  I just don't have the gumption for much else.

Yesterday, I was determined to get moving again.  After doing my morning exercises, M and I went down for a walk.  We got as far as the Makolet and had a coffee.  I felt somewhat flushed while we were there.  But we sat for a while and walked home v-e-r-y slowly and even more slowly up the stairs.  I felt fine.  Relief.  Then I sat down in my recliner and promptly fell asleep for 3 hours.  I literally could not get up.  I spent the rest of the day knitting.

It's funny, before the surgery, I imagined that it would be difficult moving afterwards, but physically, muscularly, I am actually capable of walking.  Instead I've become an anemic Victorian heroine in one of the Bronte sister's novels. Huh?!  How did that happen?  I suppose I just need to get used to the idea that I am still quite weak and readjust my pace accordingly.  Hopefully, I'll be feeling up to writing more often and keeping you posted on my progress.  But for now:

I am the giant great and still
Who sits upon the pillow-hill
And sees before him dale and plain
The pleasant land of counterpane.

- Robert Louis Stevenson

p.s. apologies for the font schizophrenia, I'm still trying to figure this whole blog thing out.  :-)

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