This is the fifth part of my story. Read the first, second, third and fourth parts.
At last, the long-awaited day of my release dawned. Barely able to contain my joy and excitement after being hospitalized for nearly a month, I eagerly awaited the resident who would remove the staples from my incision.
He finally arrived and all went well until he got to the fourth staple, which would not come loose. He messed with it for a while and finally got it, than taped me up. Armed with a list of foods and aftercare guidelines, plus a fist full of prescriptions, I waited as my sister and a nurse prepared to take me to the street.
I had one of those four-wheeled walkers, which can escalate a person from age 58 to 119 in about ten seconds. Grateful for the support it provided, I wasn't concerned about how old anyone thought I was. I was going home!
My sister drove us, stopping at the pharmacy along the way. This was when I learned one of the side benefits of using a walker. There was no need to stand by patiently as customers exited the store, because when they caught a glimpse of me and my device, they parted like the Red Sea. Debilitation had its perks. By the way, no one would look me in the eye, so now I make a point of doing so whenever I see someone with a walker, in a wheelchair or using a cane (side benefit no. 2).
We entered my house and I parked in the living room, while my sister went into the kitchen to prepare something special. After about five minutes, looking down at my shirt, I noticed a growing red spot. Uh oh, the incision had begun to leak. My sister ran in at the sound of my alarm call, quickly grabbed some gauze and began trying to staunch the flow. It didn't work and the bleeding kept up. We removed the wound covering and could see the blood pulsating, right where that pesky staple had refused to budge. Thankfully, there were no vampires on the premises.
The first call was to my primary doctor. She wasn't in, so I told her nurse what was happening. The nurse said she would find the doctor and call me back, after asking what we were doing to remedy the situation. She called back and said the doctor had advised that we should keep doing what we were doing, and if things progressed, to contact the surgeon who had performed the operation.
Well, the bleeding not only continued, it intensified, so I called the surgeon's office. She wasn't in, so I asked for her nurse, who also was unavailable. When the nurse returned my call, she asked what we were doing to remedy the situation ... then she said keep doing what you are doing and if things progress, call us back (a now-familiar refrain).
Two strikes and the bleeding had progressed to a blood stain on my shirt the size of a dinner plate. My sister and I exchanged the kind of look only two people who have known each other all their lives can comprehend. She said, “keep the blood shirt on,” and grabbed the car keys as I pulled myself off the chair and headed to the door.
We drove to the local hospital where the whole thing had started, my sister gripping the wheel as I envisioned being hauled back into a hospital bed and going through the original scenario all over again, or something similar. I had so desperately wanted to just go home and stay there.
We reached the hospital's emergency department and before she parked the car, I climbed out and strolled right into the hospital, sporting my 'gunshot victim' shirt. Bingo, there were no questions or requests to complete any forms. Again, the Red Sea parted and in I went.
A male nurse was very accomodating and I immediately knew I was in the right hands. When the doctor checked out the wound, he decided to try a bandage that would act like a bridge across the opening. It didn't hold, so he chose to redo my staples instead. His eyes opened wide when I told him I was on Coumadin for stroke prevention, which had made a valuable contribution to the bleeding event. He gave me some vitamin K to counteract the Coumadin, took my vitals and did an excellent job closing the wound.
One new shirt later, I was heading home and ebullient that they had let me keep my freedom.
Two nights after that, with the weather still hot, I craved sleeping back upstairs with the air conditioner, so I started the upward journey on my hindquarters, one step at a time. It was a lot harder than it sounds, because I was basically a burlap bag full of bricks, receiving very little cooperation from any of my limbs. When I finally reached the top step, Buster, my cat, caught sight of me and his tail blew up like a bottle brush. The poor thing didn't understand what this odd, "Night of the Living Dead" creature was, or why it was inching toward him in the dark.
Standing up was not an option and my sister was left with the unenviable task of hoisting my dead weight into the nearest room, where she somehow deposited me onto the bed, face down. I eventually managed to turn myself over, with her help, and settled there for the next two weeks.
"Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home."
Next: Moving back into the light ...
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