Part 4 of this week’s blog series, #YouCan’tMakeThisStuffUp, picks up after the construction of our handicap ramp. What happens next has nothing to do with the ramp; that’s just where I ended Part 3 yesterday.
In case you missed Part 3, here’s a link to it: #YouCan’tMakeThisStuffUp Part 3 of 5.
I start noticing a slight pain under my left shoulder blade. I figure it comes from using muscles I haven’t been using until I started having to hop on my left foot and get around with a walker. I quickly develop a new appreciation and awe for people who are permanently physically handicapped.
A few days later
I wake up on February 26 with stabbing pains throughout my left rib cage and in my back – under that shoulder blade. I can’t get comfortable. It hurts to breathe. It really hurts to take a deep breath. Marie and I decide this time I need an ambulance.
There’s a whole other story regarding the ambulance, but I’ll spare you the details. It’s my first ride in an ambulance as a patient.
Keep in mind that it’s the middle of flu season and there’s talk that COVID-19 is coming to America. The waiting room at the emergency room is overflowing with sick people. Some of them are very sick. I try to remain calm, not touch anything, and not take a deep breath.
Diagnosis: Pulmonary Embolism
It’s finally my turn to be seen. I’m sent for a lung x-ray. I’m told I might have pneumonia in my left lung, but a CT scan is needed for a diagnosis.
The diagnosis is pretty quickly made. I have a blood clot in my left lung! A blood thinner is injected into my stomach and I’m monitored. The hospital is full. The hospitalist says I might have to spend the night in the ER.
Much to my surprise, a room becomes available and I’m admitted for observation.
The next day I start taking a blood thinner in pill form, and will continue to for three or four months.
No, I can’t do that
Physical and occupational therapists come to my room to assess my mobility capabilities. I cannot be discharged before they see me. Hospital rules. We have a ramp at our house now. The only remaining barrier is the threshold in the doorway from the porch into the house. I never should have mentioned it.
One of the therapists demonstrates how I should be able to hop up steps and hop backwards over our door’s threshold. Since the industrial strength leg brace weighs a ton (that’s the only exaggeration in my story) and I’m not a healthy 67-year-old – I have my doubts that I can hop up steps or over the threshold forwards – much less backwards. I can barely get my left foot an inch off the floor when I hop.
When I put all my weight on the handles of my walker in order to hop, it feels like electricity is running through my hands. I’m not having fun with my walker if on a flat surface while going forward. I decline the therapist’s offer to take me to “the gym” where I can learn how to hop up stairs on one foot. (Call me a chicken if you so desire.)
Her next suggestion was that I could sit down on the floor and scoot myself backwards up steps or over the threshold. When I inquired of her how I might get up from the floor, she said I should just scoot over to a chair and pull myself up. She sat on the floor of my hospital room (not to worry… it had been mopped that morning — GAG!) scooted over to a chair and pulled herself up to a standing position.
Before I could protest, the other therapist in the room pointed out that with a broken leg it was going to be impossible for me to pull myself up using a chair. Neither of them had explained how I was supposed to sit on the floor in the first place. The only way I can see myself sitting on the floor is if I fall backwards while using my walker. That seems a little drastic to me, just so I can scoot over an exterior door threshold.
Not to be defeated, the first therapist said I needed to go home with a shower chair that doubles as a bedside toilet. Not wanting to come across as totally uncooperative, I decided to accept. The chair is ordered. My lunch is cancelled because I’m being released at 10:30 a.m. Trust me, it’s already been a long day.
Marie stops shopping for a threshold bridge ramp and comes to pick me up at 10:30 even though we know this probably isn’t happening. Lunchtime comes and goes. 10:30 release turns into 2:00 p.m. release because the shower chair has to be delivered to the hospital and I, of course, can’t go home without it.
An hour or so before the shower chair is brought to my room, the nurse whips out her cell phone, calls someone else in the building and asks, “What’s the status of Ms. Morrison’s shower chair/portable toilet?” The response on the other end of the line was, “I’m on it.”
Let that settle in for a minute. Marie, the nurse, and I all simultaneously realize how ironic, “I’m on it” sounds and we all have a good laugh.
To be continued . . .
Since my last blog post
Sadly, the first two deaths attributed to coronavirus-19 in North Carolina, have been reported in Cabarrus County.
You’ll be glad to know that we’ve had no calamities at our house in the last 24 hours.
I’ve been listening to The Litigators, by John Grisham and almost finished listening to Long Road to Mercy, by David Baldacci.
I’ve worked on a historical short story. If I’m ever to have a collection of short stories to publish, I need to start spending more time writing and less time thinking about writing.
Until my next blog post
Take care of yourself and those important people in your life. Seek out someone who might be alone and scared. Contact them in a safe way. Listen to their concerns and try to reassure them. We’re all in this together.
Tune in tomorrow for #YouCan’tMakeThisStuffUp Part 5 of 5.