A year ago tomorrow I was preparing to come home from the hospital at Mayo Clinic. I had finally gotten rid of my tracheostomy. I was down to one chest tube that would be pulled the day that I left. I was able to walk to and from my bed to bathroom without a walker which was about ten steps, I could get out of bed and to my chair without assistance. I could walk in the hall with a walker. I had just been able to start eating soft foods.
I was sooooo ready to get the heck out of there! I still did not realize how close to death I came multiple times and no idea of how far and how hard my recovery would be. I was still on a lot of pain meds at this point. My only thoughts were going home. I called Dale and told him when he got there on Saturday that I would be able to go home. He did not believe me. Just a week earlier I had been very critical.
He got there and much to his surprise I was getting to come home that day. The remainder of my tubes, drains, etc were removed, we were given prescriptions to fill before we left and orders to follow when we got home. I cannot explain how exhausting it was just to get the tubes out, get into a wheelchair, sit in the wheelchair waiting for prescriptions and then waiting for Dale to get the car. The nurse helped me into the car and we were on our way. FREEDOM!!!!! The first ten minutes were great.
We had planned to just go as far as I could and then stop and take as much time as we needed to get home. I made it an hour and a half…we didn’t even get out of the state of Minnesota. I was in pain, nauseated, dizzy and on the verge of passing out. This was really going to be a lot more difficult than we had expected. We stopped and got a hotel room and I immediately was in bed, drugged back up and Dale left on a mission to find some way of making me a bed in our Tahoe for the next day in hopes that I could be more comfortable and that we could travel farther than an hour and a half.
He brought me food, I tried to eat and nothing would stay down. I couldn’t get comfortable in the flat bed. I was miserable and he was feeling helpless. We made it through the night with very little sleep. He purchased a twin sized air bed and was trying to make me a makeshift bed in the Tahoe. I made it to the bathroom by myself to pee and could barely finishing peeing before I was on the nasty bathroom floor. On the verge of passing out, sweating like I had ran a marathon and questioning if we needed to go back to the hospital. Dale came in to find me laying naked on that gross floor with all of my incisions, some that were still open and needing to be kept sterile.
He picked me up, got me back to the bed, changed my dressings, gave me more medicine and continued trying to load up the car and get me in a place that I could tolerate the drive. The air bed was perfect. He only air it up about 3/4 of the way and it just kind of conformed to my body and cushioned me. He bought snacks, drinks and kept me medicated and we finally made it home that day. I have never been so happy to see my house in my entire life. I was very emotional. I had seen my daughter once, my oldest son once and had not seen my youngest son at all while I had been in the hospital….almost two months. There are no words to describe how I felt seeing all of them and being back in my own home. The best feeling in the world. At the same time I was terrified. The trip home had given me just a small taste of what all I was up against coming home.
Up to this point in my life, I had over 50 surgeries already and thought that I knew what to expect. I had no idea. I had started having panic attacks while in the hospital but thought that they would go away as soon as I was out of there. I was wrong. I thought that I would be able to get my strength back in a week or maybe two. Wrong again. It didn’t take me long to realize that my fight was far from being over and I was not sure that I was going to be able to continue fighting. The reality of my situation was hitting me hard.