Friday, June 27, 2014

The Duck Whisperer...

Mama and Rabbi work really hard to keep PT interesting and helpful and fun.  I truthfully could not ask for a better group of people to help me through this time of strengthening.  The entire staff at the Rehab facility is like one big family.  Constantly cheering all the patients on with their successes and lifting them up when they are struggling.  And it's not just Mama, Rabbi, and Mr Miyagi that I'm talking about either.  There's DuckLady, LittleBit, Irish, Ace, and N.

As promised, Mama and Rabbi added new things to my session during our next visit.  Mama had been on my business fb page to get an idea of what types of things I work with on a daily basis and they coordinated my rehab around that.  So after walking with the Rabbi (our walks are getting smoother and quicker but I'm still afraid some of the time because even though I'm moving my feet and legs the way they are telling me to and it's moving me forward, it does not feel natural and I have to use a ton of concentration), he told me to stop at this one spot near a bunch of equipment that was in holders on the wall.  These are all weighted lengths of multi-colored pipes.  Starting at ones as light as a twig and going up to 5 pounds.  But they aren't just weights.  These are all in various lengths from about 2 feet long to 4 feet long.  I was told that my task was to take them down out of their holders first.  Once I had done this, I was told to hold them all.  Fortunately I could bear hug them.  Then we walked some more. Me holding onto this crazy mix of long and shorts rods in various weights and Rabbi holding onto my leash.  Truth be told, I really just wanted to drop all but the longest one and then start twirling that one like I was back in color guard.  After all, I was glide stepping...I might as well finish out the halftime performance, right?

  After we had made a lap and a half like this I was told to take them back and put them in their holders.  I kinda sucked at this.  The holders weren't labelled so I just had to figure out where each one went.  It was like a bad game of Memory.  Then we walked some more.  I was starting to think we were just gonna walk the whole time but then I got another surprise.  They brought out this huge 2 foot stuffed white duck (DuckLady had won it at a conference) and I got to practice picking it up (to simulate picking up soft items without defined handles) and then carrying it around a couple laps. Did I mention the duck squeaked Aflac when it was squeezed?  This was great fun!  I loved this crazy spin on things.  But as much fun as it was I do have to be honest here and admit that both carrying the rods and carrying the duck were extremely difficult.  At this point in my recovery I was having to concentrate on moving my feet and legs properly and that was a challenge.  Throwing in additional items (balancing extra, uneven weight) while I walked without dropping them was extremely difficult.

LittleBit is another one of the physical therapists that works at this facility, but not necessarily with me.  However, she is a great cheerleader and always smiling and offering support.  I found out that she had battled Hodgkins Lymphoma just 2 years prior and was now cancer free.  I think her great faith and having been on the side of a patient needing lots of support and positivity allows her to bring that added exuberance to work and to the folks going through rehab.  I desperately needed that right now.

After PT, I had speech therapy with Ace.  even though I seem to be talking better, it still wasn't my usual ninety-for-nothing pace that I had previously had and my inflection and tone were off.  Not to mention the weird cottonmouth affect that sometimes came over my voice as if I was just leaving the dentist after having novocaine.  Besides I still couldn't feel around my lower left lip and was drooling like an English Mastiff most of the time.  Hopefully Ace could help me overcome these things.

The first thing we did was I had to talk to her.  I don't like talking now.  Can I text or sign language?  Perhaps I can write a note.  Anything but talk.  It's awkward and hard and frankly I dont like it.  (by the way, anybody that knew me pre-stroke should mark that on a calendar.  The first time I haven't wanted to talk.  It may become a national holiday.). So I talked to her and answered her questions.

Then she read some article to me that reminded me of the Achievement Tests that we used to take back in elementary school.  You know the ones that are a couple paragraphs of some scientific something or other that is supposed to be interesting but it's written so you just want to poke your eye out with a crayola and move on?  Yeah, that kind of article.  It transported me straight back to Mrs.
S's third grade class.  After she read this article on hydroponic something or other, I had to answer some equally mundane questions about it.  Next I had to read a different article to her.  I hoped she was going to have to answer the questions this time but there were no questions.  We went through a variety of other reading and comprehension questions during this session and she finally agreed that I might only need a couple more sessions and then the rest of the speech therapy could be done on my own at home.  I was super excited when I heard that.  I needed to get my old voice back, I had people to talk to and things to say...besides, our anniversary was coming up and I didn't want to tell The Warden "Happy Anniversary" in my choppy, 5 year old garbled voice.  I had to get this voice thing figured out as soon as possible.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

You Can NEVER Quit Your Job...ever....but I love you.

Other than letting my mind rest, the doctors keep preaching about Reducing Stress.  They (the doctors) are funny creatures, aren't they?  How on earth do you reduce stress as a female small business owner in the America  that we live in currently?  But I won't chase that rabbit down that hole, so on with the point.  I blame the doctors for a large chunk of the stress I'm feeling lately.  After all, I went to the Emergency Room.  Wouldn't it be easier if I got a bill from The Emergency Room?  Not separate bills from EMSA, Dr. F, Wheelie, the lab, the MRI, and so on and so forth.  Goodness it is overwhelming.  We are very fortunate to have extremely good health insurance.  For that I thank the Lord and remind Tommy that he can NEVER quit working at his job. 

Just the other day the mail arrived and we had one of those bigger than usual envelopes in it that is the Explanation of Benefits for the insurance.  We have been getting a couple a week now since I've been home and I just have to wait until we get the medical bill that goes with it, match them up and then pay it.  I learned the hard way after last year's stroke to wait until I have both items in hand before paying.  I got overzealous in my attempt to stay current on things in 2013 and paid a bill before the EOB showed up and they did not match, I overpaid and getting the excess back was like breaking out of Alcatraz with a spoon.  Virtually impossible.  Being the good wife of an analystic accountant, we have a worksheet set up now.  Complete with columns for "service provided", EOB received/amount, bill received/amount, and paid date.  Then it gets filed into the accordion folder in the EOBs received awaiting Bill section.

So when this EOB envelope came in the mail, I got the worksheet out and set up to log it in.  What I did instead, was, I am sure, cause my heart monitor to go into overdrive.  I opened that envelope up and slid the EOB out of its bright white encasement and carefully unfolded it.  THIS was the BIG one.  It was for the hospital stay...coded politely as Accomodations and Board.  The establishment had charged $118,000 for that stay at the ICU resort and spa.  I looked at the number again and had to count where the decimal point was and where the commas were out loud to make sure I was reading it correctly.  I'm sure Shadow thought I was insane when I let out the gasp. 

Now this is where I am so grateful to God for allowing my husband to have an amazing job that provides the outstanding insurance that we have.  I honestly cannot imagine living through these 2 strokes without insurance.  Heck, I can't imagine living my daily life without it since one of my RA drugs is $4000+ each month (without insurance). I pray continuously for the folks that do live without insurance.  When I see bills similar to this, I understand full well why they say that a bulk majority of the bankruptcies in America are due to medical bills.  It's mind boggling, really. 

Reading the EOB closer, I see that they did, indeed, bill the insurance for $118,000+.  However, there is always that column on the explanation that the insurance can fire back and say, "hey, you cracksmokers, quit being greedy.  We aren't paying that amount so you have to write off THIS much."  The write-off amount was roughly $87,000.  Leaving a payment from the insurance company of about $30,000 and some change.  Now $30,000 seems more reasonable for a hospital bill but it is still CRAZY EXPENSIVE to me...either that, or I'm really a bigger tightwad than I have ever realized.  Which meant we were going to be getting a bill for $996.09.  (of which we already paid a $100 as a co-pay when we rolled into the ER because God forbid we forget to pay that RIGHT NOW...not like we weren't gonna be there for a while, but that intake person was very efficient at getting that payment from us. 

Somehow I don't see how dealing with the avalanche of paperwork, multiple streams of billing and everything is supposed to be easier, more helpful, or less stressful, but this is just one of the crazy battles being fought on the road to recovery.  Tomorrow I hear that we are adding new fun-loving events at PT, so maybe that will help reduce stress. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Praise the Lord and Pass the Pizza

Dogs are amazing aren't they?  Shadow, who after last year's stroke became even more loving and protective of me than she had been previously, has been on ultra high alert this year with me since I've been home.  The first couple days of being home she would crawl up next to me wherever I was and sniff my chest in the area of the heart monitor and then lay her head right on top of it.  It became our resting position.  And she's started barking more at the people that come into our home.  She used to never bark, but after this stroke, there have been more folks in and out of our home, bringing food, helping Tommy with this or that, delivering things for us, just general daily helpers.  Shadow does not care for the intrusion but she's warmed up to a handful of them.  The rest she uses her ugly, BIG DOG bark to greet. 

Speaking of helpers, if you remember I was moving my storage unit when Act 2 occurred.  It was still half-moved.  The manager at the storage facility had told me when I told her that I wanted the larger unit (back in April) to just wait and pay for the month of May when I had moved everything over, so I hadn't yet paid for any storage for May.  She was there the day the ambulance hauled me off.  She had even told my friend's husband that I WASN'T there (fortunately he insisted on looking for himself) and so she had granted not only him, but the firefighters, the ambulance and my husband access to the area.  She was aware of the situation.  Shortly after we returned home from the hospital, Tommy had to go up to storage and grab something that I had promised to a friend for her to use during her daughter's graduation party.  When he got to the gate at the storage facility and entered the code, it said in its ominous green letters ACCESS DENIED.

He went into the office and asked the manager about it and she said, "I wasn't sure what you were doing so I put it on lockdown."  Excuse me?  What we were doing?  Well, Shadow and I are napping and playing tiddlywinks...FILTER, FILTER, FILTER...Tommy reminded her of the situation, of which she seemed totally clueless.  Guess the blonde doesn't come from a bottle after all in her case.  She granted him access but during the conversation it was somehow deemed that the old unit needed to be vacated the upcoming weekend and that Tommy could then come back in on Monday and pay the prorated amount for the new unit and whatever was due on the old unit. 

Since there was a considerable amount of stuff to move and it was more than Tommy could do on his own, he sent a text out to 7 of his friends who had called recently (when they heard about the stroke) and asked if we needed anything or if there was anything they could do to help.  (Be careful what you ask or volunteer, my husband will take you up on it!).  He simply asked if anybody would be available to help him move the unit on Saturday afternoon.  He'd provide pizza and soda after the work was done.  We figured maybe 2 or 3, at most, would be available.  We are extremely blessed.  We had 5 of the 7 confirm that they would be there and could help.  Tommy arranged for Big Sis to come over and babysit me while the guys went and moved storage. 

I should admit that I'm a little bit OCD when it comes to my supplies and stuff.  I have, in my head, a vision of how it all is displayed, stored, used, and so forth.  So of course I had a definite idea of how things should be put into the new storage space.  I drew a map.  On gridpaper.  Complete with a legend and measurements and detailed instructions on how it should all be put away.  I wasn't holding my breath that it would happen this way though.  But a girl can hope, can't she? 

Saturday came around and the guys showed up right on time.  There was an accountant, a financial planner, a dental manager, a dentist, an insurance rep, and a state worker.  This was a motley crew for sure.  I gave Tommy the map and asked him to please use it.  Big Sis and I hung out at the house waiting for the pizza to arrive (we had pre-ordered it online) and just chatted (my speech was beginning to come back the more I talked so I was forcing myself to talk more and more, but I really preferred to stay silent.  And if you know me, THAT is a miracle in and of itself!). 

I knew how much HEAVY stuff there was in storage and just the plain abundance of stuff.  I figured it would take them a good 2 hours to get it all moved IF they paid attention to what they were doing and didn't just throw it in the new unit like a lot of people do when placing items in storage.  50 minutes later, the whole crew of them pull back in the driveway.  How on earth could this be?  I told Big Sis that they probably had to use the bathroom or something.  Nope, they came rambling into the house and informed us that the entire unit, all 100+ pieces of gridwall, all of the cabinets, and supplies and furniture had been moved to the new unit.  They even alluded to the "map" and said they casually glanced at it but may have made a few adjustments.  This made me nervous but I knew this group, or at least hoped that I did, and prayed that their adjustments were not too drastic. I'd just have to wait and see.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Operation Rest Your Mind....

Mama and Rabbi announced that we were going to do a few new things the next day at PT in addition to all of the things we had done the previous day.  So after I was walked by Rabbi, they added hurdles!!  Yes, my Olympic track dreams were still alive.  Positioned back between the parallel bars with my leash on, they had set up these yellow hurdles every foot or so apart.  Cue the Chariots of Fire music because I was gonna breeze through these.  They were 8 inches high.  woohoo.  Go me.  Actually 8 inches was a LONG way to lift my left leg.  Felt like I was trying to step over a mountain.  Most normal, average, everyday people when they see something like this, just automatically lift their leg and step.  No big deal.  I had to concentrate and tell my mind when to lift.  It was not automatic.  So when I did step, it was this weird, clunky, gripping the parallel bars for dear life, knees pointing this way and that, flamingo-walk type step.  Down and back 5 times.  Might wanna turn the music down a bit, I guess I'm not quite at full beach-running mode just yet. 

The other new thing they introduced was THE LADDER. It isn't a vertical ladder like most people envision.  It's a plastic fold up ladder laid flat on the ground.  It kind of reminded me of the thing that you see on ESPN that football players are running through at the combine.  Schweet!  I was gonna go all NFL on this bad-boy.  Well, as NFL as I could go with a leash on anyway.  It turned into more of  a strange dance-type thing.  I had to start on one side and step into the center square (between the rungs) one foot at a time and then out at a diagonal on the opposite side.  Then go back the other way until I had made a zig zag pattern working my way "up" the ladder and back down.  Doesn't sound hard, but my left leg still wanted to drag, especially when I get tired, and by this point in the therapy session it was TIRED.  So, it truly was hard work (and I don't mean like the Gatorade commercials). 

PT and OT wear me clean out, as a general rule...drained, physically exhausted.  But this horrible thing called insomnia has been plaguing me lately too.  So, my body is tired, my eyes are tired but my brain will not shut off long enough to allow me to fall asleep.  If I do happen to doze off, the dreams are of a quality that only the best movie theaters would produce and promote.  They are in color, highly detailed and very action packed and generally I can tell you about my dreams days after they occur.  So even if I am asleep, I wake up not feeling rested because I've had an adventurous "rest".

When I was working constantly (pre-stroke), I would listen to books on CD as I worked.  After all, who really has time to sit down and read a book?  At least that was my belief.  I saw pretty much any type of activity that was sitting AND not working on something in conjunction to the sitting, as a waste of my time.  So I was "up" on several authors just from listening to them. Post-stroke I had a couple books to listen to, but since my cd player was in my work room, and I wasn't allowed to work/couldn't work (the Warden's rules and my body's inability) it made no sense to me at all to sit back there in my work room just to listen to a book.  So Tommy tried to help me out by bringing the cd player into the living room.  That was horrible.  Now I felt even lazier.  I was just sitting and listening to a book but not doing anything.  THAT, in my opinion, was worse than actually sitting down and reading a book and not working.  So, he lovingly went to the public library and checked out some books for me.  Actual, physical books.  The first day he brought home 3 or 4 books from my favorite authors and I was going to attempt to read them instead of listening to the CDs.   Operation Rest Your Mind was about to get started. 

Now keep in mind, I have a Master's Degree in English.  I CAN read.  I USED to read constantly.  I just replaced reading with other activities several years ago and have never gone back.  The first day, Tommy got me situated on the sofa (we have the most comfortable sofa in the world) with a book, my phone and charger, my 28 oz mug of water (McGruff would be so happy that I'm continuing to drink water), and a book.  I was really apprehensive about this.  But I obliged and went along with it. Amazingly, it worked!  I found that when I was physically holding the book and reading it, I had to concentrate on what I was reading so the rest of my brain shut off.  It no longer went a million miles an hour while I was reading.  I don't know if my brain has always worked like this or if it is just post-stroke brain having to remember what each word is and such, but I actually could concentrate on Just One Thing.  Within the past two weeks I have read 38 books.  I  put books on hold using the Library's website and as soon as we get the notice that they are available, Tommy picks them up.  I've read practically every James Patterson, Stuart Woods, and John Sanford book the Metropolitan Library System has in its distribution list.  Starting on a few new authors now.  I think the library workers are starting to wonder what Tommy is doing with all of these books every few days.  One day I read 2.5 books from the time he went to work until dinner time.  I still feel like I'm wasting time.  This is not acceptable. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Warden battles Chewbacca...

My schedule was set that I would have Physical Therapy 3 days a week and Occupational Therapy 2 days a week.  On OT days, that means a really long day because they are back to back.  I equate it to going to the gym for a 2 hour work out on those days.  

The official OT sessions started with resting my hand on a padded incline and using a 2 pound weight, lifting the weight by moving only my wrist.  Imagine palm down and lift up...palm up and lift up...then sideways.  Each direction 10 times 2 sets while holding the weight.  Now, that doesn't seem like a lot, but you have to keep in mind that #1, I have rheumatoid arthritis and my wrists and hands are weaker than most anyway, and #2 Just 2 weeks ago I couldn't even lift my arm up more than about 12 inches by itself for more than 10 seconds.  So, 2 pounds felt like I was training for The World's Strongest Man contest. 

Then we had to take the 2 pound weights and do bicep curls.  The whole time I was doing these I kept thinking of my cousin whose husband recently returned from deployment and while he was gone she got totally ripped and now looks like something out of the Iron Man magazine.  I keep laughing to myself because I know that she didn't start with 2 pound weights, but everybody has to start somewhere.  So if you guys see me in 10 months and I'm ripped, just know, it started with these 2 pound weights.

And of course it wouldn't be OT without the Wax On/Wax Off exercises.  These really do work the shoulders and upper arms.  There are other exercises and stuff in there that I'm forgetting but I'll get to them another day.  But the session ends with a fun little game that really is a game.    It's this pegboard thing.  Not like the one at Cracker Barrel or that we had at Grandma's house, but I really believe that those "trained" me for this game.  Keep in mind EVERYTHING is done with the left hand.  But this game is a plastic board that has little bitty holes drilled in it in 2 rows.  Then, there are 3 cups.  One for little rods (like when I say little, I mean maybe 1/8 inch wide x 3 inches long), one for washers (that barely fit over the little rods) and one for nuts.  You have to take the rod and put it in the little hole, then put a single washer, then a nut, then another washer on it...then move to the next one.  And repeat.  Seeing how many you can do before the timer goes off.  My first day, I got 7.

My first real PT session was just as grueling.  First thing they do is tie a leash around your waist (in the name of safety) and the Rabbi holds on to one end.  I now know what Shadow feels like when she wants to run and play and we have her leashed.  This sucked!  Of course I couldn't run and play anyway...unless you count falling and not being able to get back up as running and playing.  First part of the session I got to "walk" around the facility.  By walk I mean, wear my leash and push my walker in a circle around the room with my Rabbi following closely behind with leash in hand.  Also, by "walk" I really mean, glide step...for the band nerds reading this (of which I am one).  My body's natural tendency was to point my toes out and to slightly drag my left foot (to help stabilize and balance) but Mama told me I had to learn to walk, heal to toe, rolling my foot.  Both feet.  even though my left side was the one that was hurt, my right side had taken up some bad habits to compensate for the left side being down. 

After walking I was pretty excited because I had visions of being a world class gymnast.  NOT.  I was put between two parallel bars (for safety) and had to stand on a squishy thick gym mat thing without holding on.  Didn't happen.  I had to hold onto those bars.  Then, the funny people that Mama and Rabbi are, asked me to stand on my left leg only, ON the squishy thick gym mat, without holding on to the bars.  Didn't happen.  But I was able to stand on my left leg for a little bit..I just held on to those bars with the Fear of God in my hands because I honestly didn't trust that leg.  It felt horribly shakey.  But my visions of world class gymnastics didn't end just yet.  THEN they put a squishy thick mat that was really long like a balance beam between the parallel bars and asked me to walk, one foot in front of the other, on it.  Down and back 5 times.  Woo-Hoo!  Watch out Team USA. 

The Warden during this time was dutifully standing on the sidelines cheering me on.  Honestly, he has been a godsend.  I know when folks get married, they take the "for better or for worse" vow but man, he's sure getting a lot of "for worse" and he rolls with it like it's no big deal.  I worry that he needs rest.  After all, he's been keeping up the house, taking care of Shadow and I, going to work at his job, keeping track of and making sure that I make it to all of my doctor's appointments.  He's gotta be tired.  But when I ask him he says, "I'm fine"....and right now, because I don't have the strength or ability to push that envelope, I have to accept that he truly is fine.

One of the many things that The Warden does for me is to help me in the shower.  At this point, my balance still sucks, is non-existent, lacking...however it is phrased, it means I'd fall flat on my butt if I tried anything.  Our house, remember, was built when builders were streamlining and putting up a bazillion houses at a time in the mid-80s.  So we have the standard bathtub and no walk-in shower.  I frankly will likely never be able to sit down in our bathtub again and enjoy a nice hot bubble bath.   I had a hard enough time before the stroke because it was too hard for me to get up out of because it sits so low and there is nothing to help me grasp ahold of when I try to get out to help pull me up.  Knowing that that was the case pre-stroke, bathing post-stroke would have to definitely be modified.  A friend of ours loaned us a shower seat (one of those plastic chairs that you sit in the bathtub to sit on when you take a shower), but still reaching up to wash my hair was a challenge my arm hadn't completely reached yet and don't even think that I could wash my back on my own, or have the stability and balance to bend over to wash my legs without falling completely over head first.  The Warden put on his swimsuit and climbed into the shower and helped me.  I even got my legs shaved for the first time in several weeks...I was starting to look and feel like Chewbacca!

For Better or For Worse...and until tomorrow...

Friday, June 20, 2014

Doogie, Mama, the Rabbi and Mr. Miyagi...

We finally got to go see Doogie (my cardiologist) for the follow up appointment and let me just say, I am, at this point, convinced that there is a general rule among doctors that specialize that they DO NOT talk to each other.  They may very easily share an office, share a receptionist, but God forbid they actual share the same air and speak to each other.  Dr. Pooh Bear had done the TEE and implanted the heart monitor when I was in the hospital and here I am 3 weeks later in Doogie's office, an office that he shares with Dr. Pooh Bear,  and he comes in and the first thing he says to me is, "Another stroke?  Really?"  Yes, really.  Not my first choice of post-Cinco De Mayo activities, but it seemed to fit, so why not?  (I was told by Dr. M that the stroke affected the part of my brain that controls my "filter".  It has been extremely difficult to keep some things unsaid.  I think my Warden is working overtime sometimes because I will open my mouth to say something and get The Look--parents know what look it is.  The one that you give your kids in "grown up company" or at church.  The look that says, Shut up or you will be forever grounded!--and close my mouth again without speaking.  But man it would really feel good to get all of this out.)

Then Doogie starts looking at the chart and asked, "Where was I?  Why didn't they call me over to the hospital?  Was I on vacation?"  Again, my Warden had to give The Look because I really wanted to say, "Gee Doc, I don't know.  Where were you?  Didn't see ya at all during the whole stay even though we were just right over there next could've walked over, even...and we told them who my cardiologist is."  But The Look told me to shut up and just let The Warden talk.    We informed him about the heart monitor implantation and he looked puzzled and said, "Well, I'm gonna have to figure out how to get the data from it."  My first thought was, "uh, yeah, that'd be nice."  I just smiled and nodded instead.  Doogie did have nice socks on though.  They were a cool Notre Dame navy and gold argyle pattern. 

We left Doogie's with a new prescription and orders to wait for the Pacemaker Group to call us about the Heart Monitor.  At this point, I was starting to feel a little unsure of what I had implanted in me, which just went back to the New World Order microchipping theory I had held previously. 

The next day we got to actually go to Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy at the Jim Thorpe Rehab facility in Edmond.  We had no idea at all what to expect.  What exactly was Occupational Therapy anyway?  But, we got there and our first appointment was with the Occupational Therapist.  Mr Miyagi tested my strength in my hands and fingers and the sense of feeling in my hands and the strength in my arms.  I thought I was rocking awesome up to this point.  After all, I had been working hard at home for the past 2 weeks on the exercises they gave me at the hospital.  Nope. I still sucked. 

There's this machine, its called a handgrip dynamometer, that you squeeze and it measures, hand grip strength.  They also are used to give a general index of a person's overall body strength. Hand dynamometers are also used to test comparative strength in the left and right arms.  My right hand gripped 68 pounds.  My left hand...10 pounds.  Yep.  I was super weak.  (Did I mention that my left hand should have been able to do at least 50-55 pounds since it was my non-dominant hand?)   After the testing and measuring to get Baseline measurements, I was put through a series of upper body workouts.  The one I absolutely hated was the Wax On/Wax Off.  I still hate this task, and I'm still forced to do it every time.  I'm sure that it is beneficial, but I don't like it.  Imagine a large, 10" or so bouncy ball from Dollar Tree.  Now put the weak arm up as you are facing a wall and hold the ball with your palm flat against the ball and hold the ball against a wall, keeping your arm straight but not locking your elbow.  Now move your shoulder and upper arm slightly so that you are making the ball move in a clockwise position.  Do this for 2 minutes. Just like the Wax On part of The Karate Kid.   Then change and do counterclockwise. Wax Off.  Then change so you are facing with your body facing 90 degrees away from the wall but your arm is stretched out straight and repeat the whole process.  It is 8 minutes of pure agony!  My arm hates me when I'm done.  I'm sure I didn't use those muscles before the stroke, but man, they are gonna be ready to be used when this is all done. 

So, after Mr Miyagi gets done abusing me, I get handed off to Mama and the Rabbi for Physical Therapy.  I was definitely not sure what to expect from this dynamic duo either.  I found out that Mama had just recently returned from having an adorable little boy and that the guy following her around and being her helper (the Rabbi) was from a local university and was "paying his dues" so to speak in this facility.  I don't know if he is or is not Jewish, he is just a great scholar (always pulling out unknown terms for things that nobody has ever heard of) and looks like (I know, I'm profiling) he should be wearing a kippah.  They quickly set about starting their testing and measurements.  Now remember, I've been working at home for 2 weeks, surely I'll be able to do whatever it is that they want me to do with flying colors, right?  WRONG...again. 

One of the tests that they did required me to sit in a chair, get up, walk 10 feet.  Turn around, come back and sit back down in the chair.  No problem.  I got this.  Charlie (my walker) and I had been zooming around our house for several days...what's 10 feet? was 30 seconds is what it was.  It should have been 10 seconds or less, unassisted.  Charlie was offended, I think.  Then, they asked me to stand on my left leg only and just stand there for 5 seconds.  I'm sure they had smoked some of that wacky weed at lunch because my left leg didn't feel like cooperating.  I just kinda held hands with Mama and attempted this one.  (by the way, I'm not supposed to hold on during this little game).  I barely made the 5 seconds, holding on to somebody else.  Yep.  I sucked at this too.  After they got all of their measurements and baseline gobbedly-gook that they needed for their reports, I was finally allowed to go home.  I'd have to come back the next day though for more therapy (actual therapy, not testing and measurements).  That evening I was exhausted.  Just doing those few random things wore me out.  After a 4 hour nap, I got up, ate dinner and went back to bed.  Strokes suck.  But there's always tomorrow..That's when the REAL therapy begins. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Customer is NOT always right...

The phrase the Customer is Always Right has been floating around since the early 1900s.  It supposedly makes people feel like they are going to be treated better because they can carry that banner around and flaunt it as they wish.  I have built my business on pleasing customers and people; often times at the detriment of myself. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my customers.  I adore them.  And many of the "monsters" have been created because I was too afraid to say NO early on.    I am a small business owner. 

When I first started out, I bent over backwards sometimes to make customers happy.  I've been known, quite often, to deliver stuff to kalamazoo and the boondocks for customers because they didn't want to pay shipping or come pick it up.  I did all of this in the name of Customer Service.  And my customers loved it...and some, started taking it for granted that I would jump at every whim they had.  But the past several years in small business has been tough, it finally has started making a turnaround, but I felt like I couldn't say "no" to anybody for fear of losing the sale and the business. 

Looking back I realize I was not doing anybody a service at all.  I was doing a huge disservice.  I was tired.  I was ran down.  I was stressed.  I was hurried to get tons of orders done.  At one point a couple years ago I was so extremely sick during the holiday season.  The doctors weren't sure what was going on and I was getting sicker and sicker.  They were testing for tuberculosis and whooping cough and everything under the sun because they couldn't figure it out.  I was just sick. But I had 184 orders to get out for holiday gifts and business could not slow down.  Did I mention that I am a ONE PERSON small business?  I handle everything.  The creating, the supply-buying, the marketing, the stocking of the stores, the shows (I do have a couple helpers at the shows, but preparing for them I don't), the correspondence...all of it. 

I think that's when God decided that He was really gonna take the controls back from me and make me realize that He was in control of this and I would slow down.  I fully believe that the stroke in 2013, the first stroke, was His way of forcing me to slow down.  I did, as I mentioned in an earlier post, slow down.  For a bit.  But I still had not learned the hard lessons that I needed to learn.   And stroke #2 a year later is forcing me to learn them, like it or not. 

Tommy had posted on the business FB page that we were closed due to a stroke.  There were tons of outpourings of prayers and good wishes.  But what wasn't seen by everybody was the messages and texts pouring in from the other side. 

One particular customer kept inquiring about when I'd have more "every day" wreaths in one of my booths.  I had told the woman in late April that I was going to try to get stocked up on them for Mother's Day.  Then I had a stroke.  The woman didn't seem to understand that having a stroke kinda knocked me out of commission.  I mean, really?  Can you imagine if I'd have tried to drag everything into ICU to start making wreaths?!?!  Don't worry Doc, I'm just making wreaths for the persistent lady that will hopefully like one of them well enough to buy it.  Nothing to see here. You can keep on with your testing and rounds.  Can you imagine McGruff's reaction?  Oh good grief it'd have been a nightmare.  IF I had even been physically able to do it.  Every other day though, at least, she was texting asking if I knew when I would have them.  When she texted the first time, I was still in ICU.  Tommy responded back with this, "I'm sorry Susan has had a stroke and is currently in ICU.  I don't currently know when she will be able to do this as I have had to close Wags until she is better."  And yet, I got 5 more texts on different days asking the same thing.  I know she saw the FB post that Tommy made because she was one of the folks that "liked" his update.  I know that she read the texts back because we got the read receipt.  She just was persistent.  And I was worried that I'd lose her as a customer because after all, I had said that I was gonna get them in the booths before Mother's Day. 

Another customer had contacted me back in March inquiring about possibly getting a custom (painted to match bedding) growth chart done for a gift.  I LOVE doing custom growth charts!!  I told her that it would be no problem as long as I had about 2 weeks to paint it because this time of year was generally slower in the custom order department.  I never heard back.  Then early last week, I hear from the woman.  She tells me what she needs and that she needs it to be done and shipped to Fort Worth by June 20th.  First off, when I quoted her the 2 week turnaround, there was no mention of shipping.  That takes at least an extra 4-5 days.  And second off, I am closed.  I explained, very politely (I know it's hard to believe that I can be polite AND politically correct when I need to be) that I was sorry that I had had a stroke and was unfortunately closed for the time being and would not be able to meet her deadline.  I thanked her for the opportunity to do the order and even sent her a 20% off coupon to be used when we reopen.  Her response was less than understanding.  She told me that my "customer service is deplorable.  You told me you could do it and now you are backing out.  I will let everybody know that you are unreliable and lie to your customers."  It upset me for several days that she was so angry.  I think dealing with her was one of those lessons that God put in front of me.  I had to tell a customer "no".   And it sucked. 

Remember I mentioned that I had started a little thing called The Wreath of the Month club?  It is great fun creating all the different wreaths and seeing everybody's faces when they get theirs every month or send me pictures of them on their front doors.  Shortly after Tommy posted that we would have to be closed indefinitely, I had one member of the club message me and ask if this meant that her June wreath was going to be late.  It was mid-May.  I was hopeful. I told her I'd have to see, but I couldn't make any promises at this time.  When I finally got home and was realizing my capabilities, or lack thereof, I sent messages to all of the club members explaining that unfortunately I would be unable to do the June wreaths and was hoping for a July wreath, but at that time didn't want to promise it, but I'd definitely let them know when we were starting back up and that I'd make it up to them.  Every single member was very supportive in their responses and totally understood.  No rush.  But the lady that was worried about her June wreath being late responded back with, "Cancel my membership.  I signed up for a wreath every month.  Not when it was convenient."   Ouch, that sure stung me a bit.  But then I got angry!!  Does she really think it was convenient for me to have a stroke?  

I truly love my business.  I adore my customers.  When things get ugly, it hurts me.  I feel like I have failed, not only the customers, but the business.  However, through all of this I now realize that there are some people who are just bullies.  It is NOT okay for people to be rude. It is NOT okay for people to throw tantrums.  And it is okay for me to say, "no thank you."  Some people are going to be sadly surprised when we do reopen because I am being forced to make some drastic changes.  They are all good changes, but they are different  than the way we used to do things.  The changes will result in a better product...more unique and customized.  But I will be forced to say, No to some things.  But it will make all of the Yes things even better.

After this second stroke, I had no choice.  I was closed.  Indefinitely.  And it really sucked.  It still sucks.   I will come back.  But when I do, I have learned some of those hard lessons.  I just hope my customers appreciate them.  And those that don't, well, in the words of Herb Kelleher (CEO of Southwest Airlines) to one particularly cranky customer, "Dear Mrs. Crabapple, We will miss you.  Love Herb"

Now off to Rehab...

The Warden and the new job....

Monday arrived and so did the laundry list of Must-Dos and Need-To-Dos.  The first thing on the agenda was to call and get follow up appointments with everybody that was needed according to the discharge paperwork the social worker at the hospital gave us. 

Tommy, aka The Warden, by this point in the journey was not allowing me to do diddlysquat.  Sit at the kitchen table and work on my exercises.  My mind really wanted to get back into my work room and start creating some stuff that had come to me while I was resting (laying quietly in the hospital).  But NO!  No work for me.  Not happening.  The Warden gave me a new job description.  Rest and work on getting better.  "That job sucks", I told him.  "I am no good at it.  Fire me now."  Seems as if I was stuck with it.  In reality, I couldn't have done the work that I wanted anyway now looking back, but dadgummit, I thought I could.

While I was busy working on my exercises, I can squeeze that Play Doh with the best of them now, Tommy started making the calls to the doctors for the appointments.  The discharge paperwork said to see the neurologist within a month.  Have you ever tried to make an appointment with a neurologist?  It's like trying to find Big Foot in the desert.  He called the number on the paper and got the doctor's receptionist and told her that Wheelie had seen us in the hospital last week and wanted to see us for a follow-up within a month.  (Keep in mind, this is early part of May.)  She tells him that we can come in on June 30th.  He was like, "uh, that's longer than a month. Don't you keep a block of appointments open for folks that he's seen in the hospital and ER?"  I guess the answer was no, because we are going on June 30th.  However, and here's the tip of the day, it seems if you request to be put on the "first available" (must say those words) they will call you when they have a cancellation or something.  I found this out by calling back a week and a half later to see if they had anything sooner come open and the lady said, "did you ask to be put on the First Available list?"  I told her I was sure that we didn't know that the list existed.  She said, "Well if you ask for that list, then we immediately call when there are openings.  Wish you would have called a couple days ago, we had one open yesterday."  Are you kidding me?  So we are holding strong on the June 30th meeting with Wheelie. 

The next call was to the cardiologist for the follow up.  Again, the notes were within a month.  We got in within that time frame.  The rest of the calls weren't as easy.  The calls to set up physical therapy were like watching the Keystone Cops!  Tommy called the Rehab facility and was told that he would need a prescription from the doctor.  He called Dr F's office (since she was the one that saw us in the hospital) and was told that we would need to get that paperwork from our family physician.  The family physician was under the assumption that they would have given it to us at the hospital.  It was a nightmare.  Back and forth and back and forth.  Nobody seemed to know what the stink was going on and who was doing what.  All we knew was that we were supposed to go to physical and speech therapy at the Edmond location and nobody seemed to understand this.  It took 2 weeks for everybody to get things straightened out.  Yep, I played with Play Doh and stress balls at my house for 2 weeks before we actually got the chance to even set foot into the Rehab facility.  By that time, Shadow and I were walking with Charlie (the walker) around the house pretty well.   

As frustrating as the waiting was, it seemed that this whole experience was a bunch of waiting, I kept having this verse in my head.  I don't know if somebody had said it to me in the hospital or if I heard it on a late night program as I was cruising the channels on the non-HD tv in ICU one night when I couldn't sleep or what, but I'm choosing to believe that the ladybug brought it to me.                  
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!   Psalm 27:14.  I just knew that things were going to be ok.  Not when I wanted them to be, obviously, but in due time.  In God's time, they would be.  I just had to wait.  Now if only my customers would understand this. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

When inches matter most....

I generally like our house.  I call it The Doghouse (because my business is Wag's Creations, so it kinda fits).  It's homey and it is also where I run my business which is quite obvious as it often overflows into the main parts of our dwelling rather than staying contained in the back 2 bedrooms and garage.  Coming home to the familiarity of the mess that I've created was comforting.  But not realistic.  As a general every day rule, I often have boards for various projects leaned against the wall in our hallway drying after a first coat of paint, or frames for the little kids tables and chair sets in the living room leaned against the end of the sofa waiting to go to the paint shop, or customer's orders sitting on top of the dog crate waiting to be delivered and any number of a million other projects scattered throughout the space.  I'm a messy creator.  I've tried over the years to be more streamlined and I have improved on it, but just not completely accomplished in this area yet.  I think it is because my brain goes so quickly from one project to another and I always have several projects going at once that causes me to spread things out (and now in retrospect, spread myself too thin).  Whatever the reason for my enterprise to take over our home, it was unacceptable and definitely not ADA compliant!  Tommy has always been a packrat so it doesn't phase him.  He just piles his stuff wherever he wants and we are two messy, hoarding ragamuffins living in harmony. 

So, when I came home and my mobility was limited to moving with a walker, it was time to change the freestyle organization techniques that we had grown accustomed to.  Tommy busied himself that Saturday morning with cleaning and moving and picking up laundry and reassigning Wags to its proper place in the backrooms and making our house accessible to me.  He did a great job in a little amount of time.  But there was one area he could not fix.  The bathroom.  Whoever designed houses in the mid-80s (when ours was built) must have been smoking some pretty serious stuff because the hallucinations of the well-designed home I'm sure they thought they were creating missed the mark. 

Our master bedroom adjoins to our master bath.  The doorway from the bedroom to the bathroom is an acceptable size and leads into a dressing and sink area that is about 10 feet long.  Then, you have to enter another door to get to the toilet and tub area.  The most important area.  The first time I had to use the bathroom, I traversed the great distance from our bedroom to the bathroom.  (Did I mention that when you have a stroke you may need to anticipate things like bathroom trips because when the urge hits, you are not gonna get there any time soon?)  Cleared the first doorway, no big deal.  Negotiated the 10 feet through the dressing area to the inner sanctuary and was stuck.  Yep.  Seems as if the cracksmokers that built the house made this doorway about 6 to 8 inches narrower than the other one.  I was not going anywhere on my own.  Seriously?  What is the purpose of this?  So my dear husband had to come help me make the journey the last 5 feet to the toilet for the first several days.  But that's not where the fun and games ended.

3" to 4" makes an amazing difference.  I know some of you are going to run that straight into the gutter...go wherever you want with it.  I'm taking it straight to the toilet.  You see, regular height toilets are between 14" and 16" tall.  Ours at our house are 14" tall.  A regular handicap toilet is about 17" to 19" in height.  As weak as my legs are, getting down to that 14" level was extremely difficult.  But the law of gravity helped me because once I started to sit down, my butt was pulling me the rest of the way.  So getting down was not the issue.  It was the getting up part that made it nearly impossible.  And don't think we have the lovely assistance bars on our walls, or even a cabinet or countertop ANYWHERE near the toilet to aid in this process.  Nope, we have to have a quacky house with the toilet sitting over in the Siberia area of the bathroom while all other  fixtures are mounted in a sane and totally acceptable position.  Poor Tommy had to help me up every time.  I am sure he was thinking, "for the love of Pete, what did I do to deserve this punishment?"  We'd conquer the shower another time.  It was just too much to deal with at the current time. 

After making our house as accessible as possible that morning, it was finally time to go get Shadow.  I couldn't wait!  She came running out, pulling the leash like a crazy dog and hopped up in the window to give me a ton of kisses.  We missed each other so much.  But she loves daycare and "camp" so I'm sure she didn't miss me while she was there. 

Back at The Doghouse, the yard still needed mowing and laundry and dishes needed done (I was planning on doing the Monday night dishes when I finished at storage on Tuesday so they had just been rinsed and were sitting in the sink.).  I really really really (yes it needs 3 of them) wanted to be able to help do some of these things.  Our house had a stale, musty smell.  Like when you come home from vacation and its been closed up too long.  Unfortunately I just couldn't do any of these things.  I had no strength, no stamina, and frankly, I was doing a great fete of balancing well enough to walk with the walker.  Tommy relegated me to sitting at the kitchen table (I didn't dare sit in one of our living room chairs, I'd sink down into it and they'd still be trying to pull me out of one of those things, and I hadn't worked up to our super cushy sofa yet) and working on the hand and arm exercises they had given me when I was discharged.  He needed to do yardwork but he was afraid to leave me alone.  They still had not determined what had caused either of the strokes and he was just fearful a third stroke would occur, or that I'd try to get up and fall or who knows what goes through a guy's mind.  Needless to say, I wasn't even gonna stay inside by myself while he was doing yardwork.  So his buddy, Slim, came over to babysit me. 

Slim is honestly at least 6.5 feet tall, I think, and I swear you could read the Sunday comics through him because he's so thin.  He came over and watched golf and played with Shadow while Tommy started working on the yard.  Slim isn't very talkative for the most part, which was fine with me, because I still couldn't talk very well and wasn't sure what I'd say to him if he did want to talk.  So we sat in silence.  Me at the kitchen table playing with Play Doh (it's what they suggested I use since nobody in the metro area seemed to have TheraPutty) and him in the recliner watching golf.  About an hour into the babysitting (our yard honestly takes at least 2 to 3 hours to do from start to finish since we live on a corner lot and if you are running the weedeater too), Slim had to leave and he was relieved of his babysitting duties by BigSis.  She's another of Tommy's friends that if I had an older sister, I think she is what I'd imagine her as.  She's smart with numbers like Tommy, but she has a personality too.  Some of the smart numbers people are b-o-r-I-n-g!  She was NOT going to sit there and watch golf.  Nope.  Not happening. 

She immediately started doing the dishes and cleaning up the kitchen.  Tommy came in and told her to stop because it would make me feel uncomfortable for somebody else to clean.  And normally it would have made me very self-conscience and upset that an outsider was seeing our mess, let alone cleaning it up...but ya know what?  I think that went away when they stripped me of my clothes in the ER.  I have had to accept over the past week that I cannot do things on my own and that it is okay to ask for help.  And that people truly WANT to help (or most of them do).  I have long lived with the thought that I need to do it all on my own because asking other's shows a sign of weakness.  Besides, why should somebody else be bothered with my crap?  BigSis knocked those dishes out in no time flat and had the kitchen looking pretty clean.  I was impressed.  And I'm just as impressed that Tommy & I have managed to keep it that way for the most part. 

With the yardwork done, the dog happily back at home, and the kitchen cleaned up, the weekend wasn't turning out too bad.  Except now we had to figure out what to eat.  I hadn't been grocery shopping before the stroke and Tommy was so busy with everything else that it was all he could do to get the minimum done, so he had no time for the store or cooking a complete meal.  So it was pizza.  PapaJohns to the rescue.  They were running a special on their large pizzas so we ordered 2 large pizzas thinking we'd have leftovers.  And we did...for the next 4 meals.  The next day was spent eating pizza, doing hand and arm exercises, and loving on Shadow.  Monday would start the great rehab advernture.  So we thought. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Dr. Pooh Bear and the amazingly horrible cherry spray

Thursday night I slept decently.  Okay, I'm lying.  I didn't sleep worth a darn but what do you expect when you are constantly being tested and evaluated throughout the night?  And the silly silly nurses would always say, "now get some rest".  I'd LOVE to get some rest, but it's a bit hard when you keep waking me up every hour.  We were fully expecting, from the way they (the doctors) had talked on Thursday that the TEE was going to be Friday morning.  7am came and went.  No orderly wheeling me down.  8am came and went.  Nothing.  9am came and went and Tommy asked Auntie about it and she said she didn't know, but she'd find out what time it was supposed to happen.  10am came and went.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.  11am and noon came and went with no information or tests.  What the stink was going on? 

Well, I'll tell you one thing that was going on.  My dear loving husband had had contraband snuck in to him from a family member and he was trying his hardest to hide the fact that he was eating lunch.  When I noticed what he was doing, turning his back every so often and trying to keep up the conversation in between bites hoping that I wouldn't realize, I asked him what he was eating.  He tried the old, "nothing" routine that I'm sure he had used a million times as a child (I mean, come on, don't we all do that at some point?  have candy in our mouth in school and tell the teacher through puffed up cheeks and forced swallows that "really there's nothing to see here!").  Then he told me.  He was eating Ann's Chicken Fried Steak.  For anybody NOT from the Oklahoma City metro area, you wouldn't know what I'm talking about, but those local folks know.  I couldn't really be upset with him, after all, it wasn't his fault that I couldn't eat anything and he had been such a trooper, sleeping in the horrible recliner in my room every night where I'm sure he didn't get much sleep either.  But here it was a good 18 hours since my last meal and he was trudging that in the room.  And we still didn't know when this goofy test was taking place.  What the heck?!?!?

Finally Auntie came in the room a little after noon and told us that the test was scheduled for 4pm.  Great.  At least we had a time to look forward to, but I was afraid that since it was so late in the day, that that meant another night in the hospital and yet another day away from my beloved Shadow.  Shadow, for those that don't know, is usually with me everywhere I go, except when she's at daycare.  She's my 3.5 year old female lab.  And she is the absolute best therapy dog for me that I could ever wish for.  She isn't a "certified" therapy dog, but I swear she knows when things are not right in my world because she will stay within inches (literally) of me the whole time and she has even been known to sit down right in front of me so I can't proceed until I have at least stopped and either eaten lunch, taken a nap, or whatever it is that needs to be done.  She was at daycare on Tuesday when I had my stroke and Tommy had gone to pick her up, then taken her back to daycare on Wednesday and had them keep her overnight for the time being.  She loves being at daycare.  I missed her something fierce. 

Remember how I mentioned earlier that I was self-employed and had an all-consuming business that occupied pretty much every minute of every day for me?  Well, that business really had not stopped much while I was taking my little forced sabbatical in the ICU.  Yes, Tommy had posted on our facebook page that we would be closed indefinitely, but that did little to stop the inquiries and customer contacts.  Last year we made the mistake after the first stroke of giving too little information and just saying that we would need to close due to an illness.  Figured it was really nobody's business what was going on.  WRONG.  Within a week of posting that , I was bombarded with messages and calls asking about orders and stuff.  We found out that ILLNESS to most folks is like the flu.  Within 7 days you are better and life goes on.  I was not better within 7 days of the first stroke and life wasn't going on.  So this time, he put it all out there to folks.  We were closed due to a stroke and being in ICU.  You'd think that would be good enough to let folks know that "hey, as much as we'd love to help you right now, it just isn't happening." It wasn't. 

But, I digressed, 3:45 came around and I was rolled down to a great big horrible room that had sections curtained off and there were patients between each section of curtains and visitors in various stages of support to their loved ones visiting them and doctors and nurses swishing around here and there.  This was the first contact I'd had with a "non-quiet" zone since I'd left the emergency room.  It was overwhelming.  All the lights and noises and people.  Like a bustling little metropolis of heart patients waiting at Grand Central for their turn on the Pacemaker/Heart testing train.  My mind couldn't keep up with everything that was going on around me.  As much as I was starting to detest the quiet of my hospital room, I wanted to escape back to its safety after seeing the mess that was this area. 

Shortly before 5, a guy in scrubs bearing the name "St Jude Medical" came around and started talking to us about the loop heart monitor that they would be implanting after the TEE.  I had had a TEE before in the past so that was no big deal but I was a little leery of the implanting of anything in my chest.  I was sure this was the first step in the New World Order's agenda to have everybody microchipped for total control.  Especially when he starts talking about how it is no bigger than a flash drive for a computer and it'd just sit right under the skin above the heart.  Then he showed us this little contraption that resembled closely a pager from the early 1990s and how it works with the monitor.  At that point I trusted that Tommy was listening because my brain checked out.  Too much information.  All I kept seeing was the St Jude's logo on his scrubs and thinking of those stinking telethons and commercials.  Who was the latest spokesperson, Jennifer Anniston?  I couldn't remember but that was what was going through my mind as I was pulled from my space between the curtains and taken back into a very cold room with tons of contraptions and a staff of at least 6 that I saw. 

One of the women told me that she was going to spray my throat to numb it.  This was standard, camera down the throat procedure.  Then another lady told me that she was going to wait until the second spray and then give me an injection that may sting a little bit.  True to their words, the first lady sprayed this horrible, worse than Robitussen spray down my throat and I couldn't spit or gag or cough it out.  Then less than a minute later she asked me to open again and she sprayed it again.  THIS was supposed to be the cherry flavor too.  I don't know where they are getting their cherry flavoring but I had a good mind to tell them that they needed to get with Sonic or Braums to find a new manufacturer of cherry flavoring.  Just as the second spray was sprayed my arm felt a pain like a lightening bolt shooting down it and then I don't recall another thing.  At least until I woke up back between the curtains with Tommy standing over me asking me how I felt.  There was a foreign man standing there as well and I swear he said his name was Dr. Pooh Bear.  I now know it wasn't, but in my heavily medicated state, that's what I heard.  He said everything went well and that I would be going back up to my room.  My safe haven on the 8th floor.  I could care less.  Really.  I was drugged.  Life was good. 

Sometime between that conversation with Dr. Pooh Bear and getting back to my room I fell asleep.  A deep sleep.  I wish I could sleep like that all the time.  When I woke back up a few hours later, it was getting dark outside and Auntie was telling Tommy that as soon as I woke up and was checked out that I could go home.  I was sure that I was dreaming, but I tried to pry my eyes open as best as I could and focus on who and what was being said, "I'm awake." I volunteered.  I didn't care what happened, I wanted to go home.  And home we went...with a stop at Taco Bueno on the way. 

Arriving at home at 10:30 on a Friday night with Taco Bueno that I couldn't eat very well because my left side of my mouth was still not working properly and I kept biting my tongue, lip and cheek and drooling everywhere every time I took a bite, was absolute nirvana.  I would be sleeping in my own bed tonight.  But tomorrow the adventures of post-hospital would start.  After all, the grass had to be mowed (the City of Edmond is kind of particular about how tall they will allow the grass before they send a "love letter" and yard work had not been a concern of Tommy's the past week), Shadow had to be fetched from daycare and prescriptions had to be filled.  Also, as part of my discharge paperwork they had given me exercises to do at home until Monday came and we could get therapy sessions started.   But the first order of business was going to be figuring out how to navigate throughout our house with a walker.  So navigation, therapy and dogs, were on the agenda for the weekend....

Sunday, June 15, 2014

To wash, or not to wash...there is NO question

So the little Hispanic woman that was all of 5 feet nothing had promised me a shower.  She came back to my room a couple times in the next few hours saying, "just a little bit" or "few more minutes".  It was kind of mean, really, like she was taunting me.  I was beginning to wonder if I was really going to get a shower and my hair washed or if I was just going to have to live with the icky hair syndrome for the rest of my days.  But, finally, true to her word, Tiny (I mean she was so short and small I feared if I fell she wouldn't be able to help me up!)  did return and it was SHOWER TIME!  woohoo!!  I should have been concerned when I noticed that she had 2 bath towels (that's for my hair and one for my body, I presumed) and SIX wash cloths.  I mean, I knew that it had been a couple days, but I didn't think I was a 6 washrag kind of dirty.  oh well.  I'll take what I can get. 

A little preface here is due.  My speech was coming back slowly and if I was retelling an experience or story that was from long ago, it seemed my speech was unaffected.  Newer experiences or words I hadn't used in a while, not so much.  Or, when I got tired or frustrated my speech was garbled and stuttered and my voice was still a lovely 5 year old high-pitched thing most of the time. So it was like long-term stuff was safe in my mind but new stuff was affected.  And Tiny spoke English, but it was obviously a second language for her as it was a broken English.  So I'm sure anybody listening to our conversation as she helped me out of bed and into the shower was laughing their butts off because we were quite a pair.  But we managed to get in the shower.

The showers on the stroke floor are really huge.  I suppose they have to be in order to get wheelchairs or walkers or the likes in there also, but I was in awe of the size of the shower.  So, Tiny gets me in the shower and stripped down to my birthday suit.  I had learned during my band days and changing on the bus that modesty was overrated, and any modesty that I had regained during the years since were stripped away with my clothing in the emergency room a couple days ago.  When Tiny turned on the water it was glorious.  Nice, warm spray coming down.  Didn't matter to me that the water pressure was horrible, I could get my hair wet.  I could stand under it and just soak.  And I did, for about a nanosecond.  I wasn't very good at standing.  Correction.  I sucked at standing.  I couldn't stand.  So I did this weird half-lean thing against the shower wall.  Imagine the cartoons you have seen of the drunk guy leaning and sliding down a wall.  That's pretty much what I looked like, except I didn't slide down too far...just to the seat of the shower.

So here I am, being soaked with water and once my hair was thoroughly drenched Tiny holds up a bottle, but with the label turned away from me so I can't see it (not that I could read it in the shower because something weird was happening and my eyes were kind of cloudy) and says, "Wash hair?" like there was any question whether or not I wanted to wash my hair.  I emphatically said, "Yes!" So she commenced to dumping the whole little trial bottle on my head and said, "wash".  I still couldn't get my left arm up there but I ducked my head down and with my right hand, I scrubbed every inch of my head.  Then I scrubbed it again.  Kneading my finger tips into my scalp and just rubbing the dickens out of it.  But, and the women reading this will know what I'm talking about, not sure if the men know how you can feel the shampoo bubble up in your hair and come through your hands and if you look at your hands there are bubbles on them.  This wasn't the case.  It smelled okay so it must be okay, right?  I passed it off as some sterile hospital brand of shampoo that doesn't foam or some craziness.

As soon as the hair washing was done, Tiny grabs one of the six wash rags and dumps some body wash of some sort on it and hands it to me.  I begin to wash my left arm, and body.  Then, Tiny grabs it away from me, places it on the seat next to me and hands me a second wash rag with some kind of liquid cleaner on it and says louder than I have heard her talk to this point, "wash pee pee".  I give her a weird look and took the rag.  I mean, I was getting down there but I kind of like to start at the top of my body and work my way down.  Ya know, hair, neck, back, front, arms, stomach, etc...Guess Tiny liked to work her way UP the body.  So I obediently took the second rag and washed the nether regions.   Then I picked up the first rag again and started back where I left off scrubbing and washing my body.  I had managed to wash my hair, my neck, my arm before she had requested this change in order, so I started back on my chest and stomach.  I had gotten to about my belly button when she took the rag away again and shoved a third rag in my hand and yelled this time, "WASH PEE PEE".  I looked at her and said, "I did" and she said again and pointed, "Wash Pee Pee".  I was like, "ok, ok..." so I obliged again and washed down there with the rag.  I mean good grief, it wasn't like I was entertaining down there or anything.  A single washing would have been sufficient, I'm sure.  So we have now been through 3 of the 6 wash cloths.  I pick up the original wash cloth that I started with again and tried my darndest to wash my back with my right hand, stretching it in any direction I could get to try to thoroughly get it scrubbed, because trust me, Tiny wasn't washing my back. She was preoccupied with her little bottles of cleaner and her pile of wash rags.  So I get my back as good as I can and start on my legs.  Left leg, leg ankle, left foot.  Making sure to get between the toes and stuff and just as I start washing on my right leg, she snatches my rag away again and for the THIRD time, puts a new rag in my hand and yells at me to "WASH PEE PEE".  I looked squarely at her and I was frustrated as all heck now, and I said, "I did."  She didn't care.  I thought she was gonna take the rag from me and do it herself based on the look on her face, so I was like, "ok, ok....I'll wash pee pee".  So for the third time, I washed down there.  My private areas were probably wondering if we were preparing for a party or something as much cleaning and attention as they were getting.  With that done, I finished up washing my right side and I was done. 

Tiny turned the water off and I carefully stood up holding on to the safety bars.  I was doing the weird half-lean against the wall thing again as I put my hair up in one of the towels.  The second towel Tiny was using to dry my back (NOW she wanted to help!), but then I realized her help was not so good when I got a wedgie as she was trying to ensure that my bottom was thoroughly dried.  Yep, you have not lived until a 5 foot tall Hispanic woman gives you a bath towel wedgie.  I was beyond thankful to be getting dressed. 

Back in bed, I still had my towel on my head and was content to leave it there to soak up some of the water and help it dry since I didn't have a blow dryer handy.  When I finally took the towel off, my hair was an absolutely icky slimey mess.  In looking at the little bottles of various cleaners that Tiny had left in the tray near my bed, I realized why.  She had used Johnson's and Johnson's Head to Toe Baby Wash on me.  This was not made for color-treated hair, not that I expected that they'd have a shampoo in the hospital that would be, but this was made for people with virtually NO HAIR, BABIES!!  So of course it could be weird and slimey.  Tommy helped me pull my hair back in a ponytail where it would just have to stay for the time being.  At least dinner would be coming soon. 

We had mastered the art of picking what we wanted for dinner and the time schedule as to when to place the order for the next meal and such and I really didn't think that Turkey and Dressing was going to be edible so I had requested a hamburger and French fries.  It was on the "approved list" so why not.  Well, let me tell you why not.  When it arrived, I'm not really sure what was sadder looking...the spongey brown piece of meat between the two incredibly dry wheat slices disguised as buns, or the absolutely burnt so hard they wouldn't even break French fries.  Of course they had to monitor all food and liquid intake (by the way, I still wasn't drinking enough water they informed me).  I took about 3 bites of the tasteless sandwich and deemed it unfit to eat. It had a not quite right taste, but I don't know what the taste was.  I had been told that they were going to perform a TEE on Friday (transesophageal echocardiogram) which was short for, "we're gonna knock you out and run a camera down your throat and look at your heart" and that I couldn't have any food or water (again!) after midnight.  This spongey burger was gonna be my last meal for a while.  Fortunately, I knew my parents were coming up to visit me so asked them to please stop at Braums and get me a burger. I'm a picky eater so it was an easy order.  Just a burger, plain and dry...meat and bread only and small French fries.  THAT, my dear friends, was HEAVEN!  Of course Auntie came in and had to determine how big the burger was and how many French fries were eaten so she could record it, but I didn't care.  I ate that burger with so much happiness that I would have smiled all night long, if only my face was working so my left side could smile instead of the weird Joker-esque smile that it currently was allowing.  That would hold me over until after the TEE, I thought, and did I mention that they were implanting a heart monitor at the same time? 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Tomorrow, tomorrow, if only tomorrow....

So I'm hanging out in ICU... wanting for a shower, a hairbrush, pretty much anything (because really, what else am I gonna do?  They've cut off my connections to the "real world" in the name of rest which I've now determined I totally suck at) and McGruff continues her regularly scheduled interruptions of my day with her laminated cards and another test that absolutely was maddening.  This test was one that I call "let's see how big a failure you still are, k?"  The constantly remind the patient of what they CANNOT do.  Oh, and to properly play the game, the administrator has to bark orders in a drill sergeant tone that just makes the patient want to throw that big 28 ounce mug of water at her.  Here is how it goes (keep in mind I'm in a hospital bed when we are having all of this fun)...after the pink card drill, McGruff would lift up my left arm to heights equal to ABOVE MY HEAD, command me to hold it there for 10 seconds and then release my arm...It would fall to only a couple inches off the bed, every fricken time.  But I would try my hardest to hold it up and even try to elevate it some more while she counted in what had to be the slowest voice she could muster.  Yep, I was pretty much helpless on this side.  Then McGruff would move to the end of the bed and lift my left leg up at least a foot and repeat the fun and games.  Each time, the extremity would fall helplessly back to within an inch or two of the bed and it would take every exhausting ounce of energy I had to try to hold it for the requisite time even a couple inches off the bed.  Talk about defeating, this game was not for the weak in spirit.  It kicked my butt.

They did a ton of tests and lab throughout the day on Wednesday and I truly was hoping for an upgrade to a regular room because they promised when I got to a regular hospital room, not an ICU room, that I could have a shower and wash my hair.  But, after all was said and done, I was stuck in intensive care for yet another day.  No relief on Wednesday would happen.  The tests did go from every 15-30 minutes to every 30 minutes only though, so that was a bit better.  Now I could at least catch a quick catnap between tests.

Angel reported for duty her usual perky self Wednesday night and I was beyond glad to see her.  Even though it was her job to perform the same tests that McGruff did every 30 minutes, she at least smiled when she did them and we laughed and joked about things while we went through the exercises.  It made it all that much more bearable.  Attitude is everything when you are in a room with no windows for days on end. 

Wednesday night overnight at some point there was a ton of banging around in ICU.  They were bringing a new patient in and they had to move some chairs and stuff to get the bed situated.  That was the excitement for the night.  That and I actually got to sleep for an hour at a time because they had reduced the frequency of the testing. 

Thursday morning I was hoping and praying that I would get out of intensive care and the hospitalist, Dr F said I might get to, but wasn't promising.  Had to do some more tests and they were waiting on results from my echocardiogram.  McGruff was back with Wifey and when they showed their dull, glassy-eyed faces in my room for the 11:30 (she was back to every 30 minutes because I guess somebody had forgot to tell her that I had been upgraded to hourly torture instead of every 30 mintues) testing,   Dr. F was with them and announced that I was moving.  HipHipHooray!!  I was getting a regular room upstairs on the stroke floor.  Still not home clear, but it was better.  There would be windows and more room and light.  The intensive care unit was sort of dim and very quiet and overly boring.  Even the television stations seemed to be showing things in non-HD just to match the level of dullness that was required for this part of the hospital. 

So around noon my caravan loaded up and wheeled me up to the 8th floor.  McGruff and Wifey were making their final walk with me (thank you sweet Jesus!) and I was introduced to Auntie.  The new nurse that would be taking care of me.  Auntie was like every kid's favorite aunt who spoils them rotten and spends way too much time doting on them.  But she also liked to eavesdrop and interject her own opinion in your personal conversations you were having with people.  Before McGruff handed me off she told Auntie, "she doesn't like to drink water and she eats slow, watch her".  I tried to stick my tongue out at McGruff but she thought I was just trying to see if I could do it, she didn't understand the gesture.  Clueless!

Auntie got me all settled in and lunch was served, not even sure what it was but Auntie reheated it for me and I got a very small cup of Dr. Pepper too.  Goodness it tasted TERRIBLE.  Like cough syrup.  I thought they had tricked me.  There was no way that this could be my beloved DP.  But, it was.  My heart was broken.  The thing that I had longed for, was not what I thought it was.  It was a sad, sad day.  But on the brighter side, I was told by a small Hispanic woman that I would be getting a shower later in the afternoon.  If only I had known then, what I know now.  I would not have been so excited. Showers are overrated.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

McGruff and her shadow...

The previous night in the ICU it was determined that I had dysphagia, a fancy schmancy way of saying that I was not getting any food or drink until later.  Much later. I was so thirsty.  I was thirsty when I was hauled into the ER.  I was thirsty when I was being tested.  I really just wanted a Route 44 Dr. Pepper from Sonic.  Badly.  But, since dysphagia can cause the food or liquid to go into my airway or lungs because I had a reduced sensation in my throat and limited control over my swallowing, I was getting nothing.  Angel, on the nightshift, did give me a wet swab to swab my mouth but that was it.  I wanted to EAT the swab, except it tasted terrible...but man I was hungry too.  I swore my liver was biting my spleen kind of hungry, to borrow from a Tyler Perry line.  So no food or drinks (not even water) for me until they did further testing.

As the overnight shift ended and Angel wrapped up her work, the daytime crew came on duty and what I knew about nurses ended.  I always thought that they were to be kind and compassionate and caring and helpful.  Man, was I ever further from the truth on Wednesday.  My daytime ICU nurse was an older woman, or at least she had had a hard life up to this point that caused her to look older, and she immediately made it known that she was "all business".  No chit-chat, no nothing.  Just get the information and tests and whatever else criteria had to be met done and move on.  This was McGruff.  The first time McGruff came into my room she had a younger, prettier nurse with her.  Actually I thought I was seeing things because I swore the younger nurse was my cousin's ex-wife, only nicer and way saner (is that a word?) (Wifey).  She wasn't, thankfully.  McGruff wrote her and the younger nurse's names on the whiteboard in my room and told me that Wifey was new to the hospital and therefore would be shadowing her for the next couple days. 

So the every 15-30 minute checks for internal bleeding (guess that is one of the possible side effects of the stroke drug) were started by McGruff and Wifey.  One of the things that they did was to test my understanding and recognition.  They had 3 laminated 8.5" x 11" pink papers.  The first one had a horrible drawing (like something I'd draw) of a kid standing on a tilting step stool trying to get cookies off of a top shelf, while another child stands below to receive the cookies and it had a woman with her back turned to them, looking out the window at some very poorly drawn trees, supposedly washing dishes and the water is leaking out of the sink.  I had to tell them what was wrong with the picture.  The first few times it wasn't too bad.  Then I became bored with the picture (keep in mind, they are showing me the SAME picture every 30 minutes or so), so Angel let me make up stories to tell about the stuff.  But not McGruff!  No sirree....if I didn't tell her verbatim what was on that sheet, she noted it.  And it wasn't a good note either, like, "Patient has full range of knowledge" or "Patient is bored out of her very well working mind".  Nope.  McGruff noted things like, "Patient is testy."  When were they going to understand?  My mind was working just fine.  My ability to operate was not working though.  I just couldn't verbalize or move correctly.  My mind, though, never stopped working.

The second of the 3 pages had a set of very random pictures on it.  Like a hammock, a grouping of cactus, a feather (that I kept wanting to say, "hat" on for some reason!), and other odd items.  They'd point to the picture and I'd have to tell them what the item was.  By the way, the acceptable term for hammock is NOT that thing between two trees that you take a sleep in.  Yep, the first time or two I could not remember the word hammock to save my soul.  I was lost.  And of course you can't keep telling them that the feather is actually a hat.  They just don't buy it.  But gradually I got those words back in my mind and reserved for the next bazillionth times they would ask. 

The third sheet of the 3 sheets was a list of words.  I don't know why they have these particular words on the page, or what the significance of these words are, but I'm sure it has to do with if I could pronounce certain things.  Some of these were hard the first day or two.  It sucked!  The words included things like Mama, Baseball, fifty-fifty, huckleberry and a few others that have slipped my mind (I'm sure it is my mind's way of blanking out the trauma of that horrible pink piece of  At least every 30 minutes from the time I was brought into ICU until I left ICU I was given this test, along with a couple other tests. 

The shifts for the nurses change every 12 hours in ICU.  So McGruff and Wifey were my entertainment from 7am to 7pm.  Because lets face it, even though ideally I'd be sleeping or at least trying to, I was not going to get any sleep if I had to partake in this spectacle every 30 minutes. Keep in mind at 7am, McGruff had introduced herself and Wifey.  When they came in for the 3pm circus, McGruff says, "this is Wifey, she's new to the hospital so she'll be following me the next couple days".  I looked at Wifey, wondering if I had lost my mind because I could have sworn that she had been there for the past several hours already.  Wifey rolls her eyes behind McGruff's back and I just nodded in understanding. 

About mid-day another specialist comes in and tests my swallowing and stuff and deems it ok for me to start getting food and water.  I was so thankful. The first thing that McGruff did was bring in this big 28 oz plastic mug with a lid and straw full of ice cold water.  I was grateful!!  That would be the last time I was grateful for McGruff's water assistance. 

Now, I am not normally a water drinker.  I will drink it if it is really cold or I am extremely thirsty, but its just not a thing I usually imbibe.  I know, I'm bad that way, but its the truth.  I drank as much as I could immediately and once my thirst was quenched I just left the mug sitting on the little bedside table.  That was not acceptable to McGruff.  She expected me to drink at least one of those 28 ounce containers every 2 to 2.5 hours.  Was NOT happening. 

Since lunch had already been dispersed by the time that I was deemed "able to eat", McGruff called and got whatever food was available brought down.  It showed up just as Wheelie came around for his mid-day checks.  Of course, I wanted to hear and listen and talk to Wheelie (and frankly find out what the heck was going on) more than I wanted to eat (I was pretty sure my liver and spleen battle had already ended badly for the spleen, lol), so I was going to wait for him to leave before I ate my food.  It's not polite to eat in front of strangers, is it?  But McGruff insisted on pointing out that I was a slow eater and drinker.  To which Wheelie instructed me that I had to improve in this area.  He wouldn't listen to the fact that I had just gotten my food within the last 5 minutes before he rolled in the door.  McGruff was a tattletale.  This would not be tolerated.  

The food was scrumptious though when I did eat it.  Reminded me of the old Hensley's chicken and noodles (was supposed to be chicken and dumplings or something).  And even though it sounds weird, I had applesauce jello that was delightful.  It was no five-star dining experience, but then I wasn't exactly dressed for a 5 star experience either.  Let's face it, my hair needed washed (brushed would have been nice too), I wanted a shower, and I'm sure that I probably looked a total mess!  Not exactly fine dining attire.  But I didn't care.  I was eating real food finally (I hadn't eaten since Monday was now Wednesday mid-day).  If you learn nothing else from this blog, learn to eat a midnight snack or at least grab a donut for breakfast because you never know when you will eat again.  Or shower.  Or shampoo your hair.  Could I at least get a hairbrush? 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Lights and Sirens and Oh MY!!!

So off in the ambulance we go

...lights and sirens and... God bless the paramedic in the back who was trying furiously to get an IV started...He just could not find a good vein.  They rolled and hid and slid and did little acrobat maneuvers under my skin every time he tried.  And he was trying so hard not to hurt me but he had to do his job.  Then he decided that he would try the neck.  He asked first, and I honestly thought he was out of his mind, but then I was kinda going in and out of reality so I don't think he really was waiting for me to answer.  He was just doing what he had to do.  I don't even recall him putting it in.  He was really good.  And he had the same name as my husband so I think that immediately made me trust him (goofy I know, but hey, in times of crisis you hold on to whatever brings comfort). 

At one point during the ride, I had a conversation with God...much like my ride in the ambulance the year before.  That conversation will remain private but I will say that when I opened my eyes from that conversation there was a ladybug sitting on my chest...a huge fat lady bug.  I have no idea where the lady bug came from.  It was the biggest one I have seen, ever.  I looked at the paramedic and said, "hey, there's a lady bug" and he said, "yes, there're gonna be fine" and he went on doing his work.  I focused on that lady bug the rest of the ride.  It stayed right there on my chest. 

The hospital we were going to was about 20-25 minutes away (in normal traffic as a regular driver...not sure what the ETA was for us in the ambulance).  But you turn off of a major highway onto a main thoroughfare in Oklahoma City, go about a block or so and turn onto an access road, go down and into the Emergency Room area.    But as we turned off of the main thoroughfare to the access road I heard a not so good noise...the noise nobody EVER wants to hear..the growling of the know the sound...the one when your battery is dead and you keep turning the key in hopes that it will somehow find life and turn over and pop to life.  I looked at my fearless helper in the back and said, "Did the ambulance die?" and he said, "yes, it did but don't worry, you are are going to be fine."  That's right folks, the ambulance I was riding in during my stroke DIED...dead.

My mind didn't know whether to panic or start laughing.  The back doors of the ambulance were thrown open and suddenly I'm looking out and across this major highway at the Panera Bread across the road and the driver was standing there.  He told the other paramedic that he had called for relief but it'd be 10 minutes and that we were close enough he thought that we could make it.  I had no idea what that meant at the time.  But I soon found out.  The two paramedics, who were relatively shorter in stature, pulled the gurney (is that what they are called?) out of the back of the ambulance and down onto the road and started pushing me across what was possibly the worst pavement ever.  Bumpity bump bump..  Down the access road we went.  Cars were coming in the opposite direction and never even stopped to think twice.  Like our little parade was a normal siting.  The guys were very good about keeping me calm because trust me, there is nothing calming about being pushed down a road with cars driving by.  Across a parking lot  (which seemed HUGE) and jumping the curb, they got me to the emergency room.  Those two guys were awesome.  (Note to self: write EMSA and tell them how great they were). 

They were holding a room for us since they had called in and told them that they were bringing in a possible stroke patient AND let me tell you, they don't mess around at this hospital when a stroke patient comes in the door.  Unlike the year before at a different hospital, this hospital had a whole swarm of doctors and nurses and specialists there and the minute I hit that room, they were bustling about working.  One doctor, who I called Barbie seemed to be directing the craziness of it all.  There was a male nurse (I presume that was his position) was busy calling out medications and stuff that I was on as he was pulling up my chart on their network (all of my physicians are in their network so they easily had on hand the current list of data).  Another nurse, the Bride (she was getting married the upcoming weekend I found out), was assigned to stay with me through the entire process.  Barbie told her never to leave my side.  And she didn't.  She wheeled me down to the MRI where Super-Mom (the MRI technician and mother of 9 month old twins...I overheard her telling Bride about them) where they got me situated into the horrible monstrosity of a machine that is the MRI.  I hate MRIs.  But at this hospital, it is kinda cool.  Normally you only see the top of the machine, or maybe a cheesy mural that they've paint on the ceiling for you to look at.  But not here.  They have it situated so you can actually look through this little window thing and see in the room/office area where they are, so it's like you are standing there with them.  And you can hear them talking (at least when the machine isn't rumbling its angry grumbles) so its just like they are right there with you.  It was the quickest MRI I have ever had.  EVER.

Bride wheeled me back to the emergency room area that was my "holding" pen and my dear husband, Tommy, was there.  He was talking to male nurse about this or that or something and I could tell that male nurse was not wanting my husband's information that he was trying to offer, and it was frustrating Tommy to no end.  The minute I got back in the room, the whole crew was right back in there and immediately began undressing me.  Goodness all modesty goes out the door when you have 5 people pulling and tugging at your clothes, stripping you down to your birthday suit and once again the commotion of everything was so overwhelming.  Barbie was back there in my face talking to me about some drug that I couldn't understand a word about and then this little black man in a wheelchair (Wheelie) rolls in and starts talking about some drug and some process that they need to do and I just looked at Tommy and Wheelie and kinda wave off whatever they are saying.  I was done, my brain was in overload and I could not make any decisions.  I desperately just needed my husband and doctor to do what they thought was best.  I trusted them.  I had to at this point.  I couldn't do anything for myself.  But I could look at my lovely lady bug that was still on my arm this whole time.  Bride came over to ask me a question and I showed her my lady bug.  She said, "it's lovely, but we have to take it away."  And she did. 

During this whole time, my friend that I had called to come help me, had posted a quick prayer request out on facebook just stating that I had been rushed to a local hospital (she didn't know what hospital and she only had the details that her husband had given her).   This dear friends, is where the good and bad of facebook rears its ugly head.  My friend, just innocently requesting prayers, posts out there in a group that we are both in.  A mutual friend saw it and contacted a relative or some crazy chain of events, but somehow my poor parents were notified that I was in the hospital.  God bless them, they didn't know what was going on, but they wanted to get to me.  My poor husband was trying to work with the doctors and get me the best, immediate care that he could, and contacting people was the furthest thing from his mind at that moment because he knew that time was of the essence and he had no clue that anybody other than my friend and her husband was even aware of the situation.  But, my parents, in their eagerness to find out where I was, started calling his cell phone and my cell phone continuously.  Since Tommy had no idea where they were/what they wanted or any of that and he truly was talking to Wheelie about side effects, circumstances of the medicine they wanted to give me and all of that, he quickly shot them a "call ya in a bit" type of text.  In their worried state, they begin reaching out to whomever they can find, by posting in a local facebook group asking if anybody knows any information.  Patience was not a virtue being practiced by anybody that day. 

So here I am lying on a bed in an emergency room trusting Bride and Barbie, while my husband is working with the doctors and trying to gather all the information that he can before he returns a call because he knows that my parents are going to want as much detail as he can give them and he hates being unprepared and having to say, "I don't know" and my parents are (I later find out) driving like crazy banshees to an unknown location because all they know is that I am in a hospital somewhere in the city and they want to get to me as quickly as possible.  What resulted, from my point of view, is my parents feeling like they were being given a cold shoulder from my husband since he didn't immediately call them and my husband trying to get as informed and prepared as possible before contacting them but in return feeling like he was being placed under the firing squad by all of the calls and texts before he could catch his breath and figure out which way was up.  And Bride and Barbie telling me that I just need to remain calm, my brain "needs as little stimulus as possible and to not think about any of it".  Yeah right!  Obviously they had never met my brain.  It never stops.

And this night was no different.  Finally my parents make it to the hospital and are allowed a quick, "hello" before they are whisked back into the waiting area of the emergency room.  Within an hour, Bride is wheeling me up to the ICU where I was still put on a "no visitors" regiment to minimize stimuli and allow my brain to rest.  The night did end with an absolutely amazing ICU nurse that worked the overnight shift, Angel, who prayed with me and tried to make me laugh and answered every question I asked in my garbled horrible high-pitched voice with love and patience.  Even if she did have to wake me up every 15-30 minutes to check for internal bleeding and other things...she was still an angel.  And then she handed me off to McGruff, the next morning...ugh!