Thursday, December 6, 2018

Health Update: Home

Cathy in repose. Taken during her last night in the hospital.
Part of my journey into wellness (and I know how fruit-loop that sounds, okay?) involves taking my negative emotions, my dark thoughts, my little grievances that crop up every day, and instead of tamping them down into my stomach like an emotionally-stunted garbage compactor, I process those emotions and thoughts and, well, expel them. Yeah, that's a word that doesn't sound like poop, sure. And I have been doing pretty good with that strategy, writing a lot more on this blog and turning my family's struggles into something less than poignant and a little more than maudlin.

Even so, I was not prepared for Cathy's stay in the hospital. Not at all. It was a clothesline maneuver from the get-go. We walked in to get blood work done, and then she got an oxygen tube in her nose, and then they ordered a chest X-ray, and then here comes a second doctor, and suddenly, they are admitting her for pneumonia. Onetwothree like that. Oh, and in the midst of her dealing with pneumonia, here comes this whack-a-do muscle spasm that is locking her body up like a rictus, shooting agonizing pain through her with every breath, every sneeze, and oh, hello there, pneumonia, every single cough.

Done with this nonsense!
I want to say right up front that from the time she was admitted to the wheelchair ride out the door, Cathy and I were treated very well. We received excellent care at every level. When we asked for a nurse, we got a nurse. When we asked for a doctor, we got a doctor. We didn't have to wait very long after a call. There was a parade of people checking on my wife, taking vitals, administering breathing treatments, drugs, bags of drugs, IV drugs, and hey, did I mention the drugs? Every time I was in the room, they checked on me, too. "Do you need anything, sir?" In a couple of instances, I did, and they were just as prompt with me and my wonky requests. We're still getting good care and I'm very happy with the outcome and everyone at Wilbarger General.

Okay, now that I got that out of the way, I'm beyond relieved that Cathy is home. She's still weak, and now she has paraphernalia and equipment to manage (she'll be on oxygen for at least a week, thank you SO much, pneumonia). But, after we got her all squared away, she found that she was better able to move around and yeah, it still hurt, but she knew where she was and where she was going. She's still kind of groggy from the morass of pharmaceuticals she's been carpet-bombed with in the last five days, but that will run its course in the next day or so.

This is how I feed myself when she's not around. Look at
that; it looks like a crime scene in Chinatown.
I'm looking forward to having my wife back. Not just here, although that's great, and both me and the dog think so. Mentally, Cathy hasn't been present in my life in the past few days. She's been so out of it, trying to deal with the pain, or sleeping, or both, and it's been difficult to communicate with her. Of course, those dark thoughts kept bubbling up and I found it impossible not to think about if she never left the hospital, if she kept getting worse, if this is going to be the new normal, and on and on and on like a record with a scratch on it.

Thankfully, this is all temporary. The doctors are being extra careful about stamping out the pneumonia and making sure it doesn't come back. We both agree that's important, and so it's worth the oxygen tanks and the cool racing walker she's got at the moment. She may need some physical therapy, too.

We had budgeted our GoFundMe campaign with a little bit of "In case of emergency" money; or more specifically, "to cover the one thing we didn't anticipate." Well, thanks to bloody, sodding pneumonia, we have not only found the one thing we didn't anticipate, but we have blown right through the cushion of funds and blown a hole out the back wall of the barn. We are going to have to bump our end goal number to cover the hospital costs. It will not be pretty. and it also sets our goal way back. I hate this. I hate having to do this. I feel weak when I have to ask, and helpless when I look at my wife. This sucks.

On top of everything else, now that Cathy is home, my "Batchin' It" days are done. No more eating Spam and Eggs with the dog in the morning. Cathy, for all of her broad-mindedness, is surprisingly plebeian when it comes to Spam:

Honestly, I don't know how I married such a philistine when it comes to acknowledging the pleasures derived from canned meat product. But it means that me and Sonya are going to have to clean up our acts a little bit. No more eating out of cartons and cans. We have to use plates and forks again. If you ask me, it's a perfectly good waste of a thumb. Hell, look at my dog; she doesn't even have a thumb, and she's doing just fine. The other day, she was giving me the sad-eyes over some food that she felt was rightfully hers that kept going into my mouth instead. I put up with this as long as I could, and then I jerked my head in the direction of her bowls of really expensive dog food and water, and said to her, "Go eat."

Quite possibly the saddest dog on the planet. No mama.
Without missing a beat, she got up and walked away. A few seconds later, I heard crunching. Unbelievable. Without Cathy around, we were forging new neural pathways. She'd never done that before, and didn't seem to, up until now, know what "food" was. Oh, she knows "treat" and "bone" and "squeakers" and a bunch of other specific vocabulary words, but nothing so all-encompassing as "food." It was pretty cool.

Incidentally, Sonya was understandably excited when Cathy came home, and it took some time to get everything set up for Cathy; oxygen, heating pad, new meds, ugh. It was like building the world's shittiest batcave. Through it all, Sonya waited patiently in her crate. Once everything was settled down, I let her out and she didn't bound over to greet Cathy like she usually did. Instead she approached very timidly, and was really gentle with Cathy, even though she was super excited. Later, when Cathy got up to put her pajamas on, I found Sonya with her in the bedroom, sitting, just watching her. I have no doubts that if Cathy fell or cried out, Sonya would have let me know.

Best dog I've ever had, hands down.

For everyone who has donated to our GoFundMe campaign, thank you so much. I do not want you to give more than you already have, but if you wouldn't mind spreading the word about the campaign, that would be outstanding. Here's the page: Cathy Day's Cancer Fight on GoFundMe.

To everyone who has said nice things about us, and offered thoughts, prayers, words of comfort, offers to help, or simply commiserated with me, y'all were keeping me afloat through all of this. We are not out of the woods, yet. Cathy is still sick. But she's home now, and I am in a position to help her in more familiar surroundings, which is good for everyone. We will resume fretting about the cancer once the rassin'frassin' Pneumonia is licked for good.

As for me? I'm trying not to get sick and trying to get my medical needs covered before the end of the year. So much for starting over in 2019. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go sleep for a week.

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