I actually paper crafted!

I have been doing a weekly art journal page, and some knitting, since my last hospital trip but haven’t really had the energy for paper crafts. I miss it and know doing art is good for me – but the thought of packing and unpacking and just *doing* has been too much. Until today…

I only managed three cards, but that feels like quite an achievement. I used my Stampotique stamps on Stampin’ Up cardstock, and for one I used a Distress Oxide background. The hare was originally on a plain background but I stuck some text on, didn’t like it, removed the text and tore the card base. I was going to throw it out, then thought better of it and just kept going – I think it turned out ok. Are they fairly basic? Yes, but a good feeling all the same.

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CMP17 week 28

I’m right back on track with my CMP art journaling and it feels great. Now to get some crafting time in, because that’s part of me being truly well again. I’m not physically 100% yet but I’m getting there – and tending to my mental health is part of the healing process. If I’m not doing art and craft, there’s no way I am totally well…

This page screamed out for glitter, but I don’t use the mucky stuff. What I do have tucked away is some Pipe Dreamink Opals embossing powder – perfect!

week 28

 

Turning into Darth Vader

A few days after I got out of ICU and HDU my voice became very quiet and husky for no apparent reason. If I try too hard to get real volume, or say a lot at once, or even talk too fast, I can get a bit dizzy. The doctors didn’t seem too concerned and thought it would come right in a few days.

My own Doctor thought it was inflammation from being intubated and said if it wasn’t right by the end of the month I’d need to see a specialist.

When I saw Mr Glenn Farrynt, to get the results of the MRI of my bowel, he strongly recommended more surgery otherwise there is a chance of another obstruction. I wanted to wait until I felt stronger but he said it was much riskier to operate with an obstruction because it makes me so sick.

His only hesitation was my voice; he wanted me to see an ENT urgently to ensure my airway was safe. In the meantime, he set a tentative date of 19 June for exploratory surgery and to fix whatever they found at the same time.

I saw the ENT, Mr Wayne Butt, on June 6. He put a camera up my nose and into my airway – which was as awful as it sounds. I’d said I wouldn’t let them do that, but he was so nice and gentle I didn’t feel I could refuse! My left vocal cord is totally paralysed, which explains my voice. He said even with heavy sedation it is rare to aspirate so he feels my airway can’t be trusted for now, especially as we also don’t know what caused the paralysis but have to assume it was damaged during intubation. He wants to see me again in three months because he’s hopeful my airway will heal on its own. There is nothing they can do it repair it but, if it doesn’t heal, they can improve my voice.

One thing we haven’t explored yet, which might explain a lot, is that since I came out of hospital my left foot sort of thumps down, particularly when I’m tired. I also tend to rest my left hand in my lap some of the time. There’s been some talk of a small stroke, but I didn’t want to explore the possibility. I might need to now, if it explains the vocal cord paralysis.

All I can say is, I have earned every single kilo I have lost. If anyone thinks surgery is an easy way out, I have news for them…

orange jersey

 

 

One week post-surgery

I had my weight loss surgery last Friday in Wellington. Dr Dhabuwala and I had planned on a Roux-En-Y Gastric Bypass (REYGB) but we knew scar tissue from a difficult hysterectomy 20+ years ago might be an issue, and it was. I ended up with a Single Anastomosis Gastric Bypass. It’s popular overseas for a number of reasons but not in New Zealand yet. The good news is that he was able to undo some of the old adhesions at the same time, which should relieve some of the ongoing pain.

They made 6 ports (holes) and because of the scarring there was a lot of pushing and poking but I have experienced little pain, mainly discomfort. I was up the next morning and in the shower, then walking the corridor from time to time. My blood pressure kept dropping and at one stage they thought there might be a leak but it came right – I am still on only half the blood pressure medication I went in on.

Ailsa was with me for the surgery and spent 3 days at home with Tony and I helping me get the food organised as there’s a lot of fluffing around initially. She also exercised her stomach muscles getting the anti-clot stockings on me each morning! We could not have done it without her and I’m so grateful. My best friend Sandra was, as always, there with me in spirit.

For the first two weeks I can eat 4 teaspoons of high protein food three times a day. Initially I was only managing two teaspoons and couldn’t finish ½ a Cruskit. At week 3 the food increases slightly, and again in week 4. So far all the foods I’m supposed to try have been fine, except for the vanilla yoghurt in the hospital which made me feel awful. Oddly, I don’t want anything that has much flavor at all. I am *not* hungry at all – my appetite has totally been turned off which is a huge relief.

dinner

A typical meal. The cup is a tiny espresso one.

 

I lost 10kg in four weeks’ pre-surgery, which was essential, and have lost 4.5kg this week. I’m a bit tired, but other than that I’m good.

changing-face

Two days ago on the left, with flowers from work, and in June on the right.

 

Forced downtime

I have to keep this short as I am typing with my left hand only. I have severe tendonitis in my right wrist and probably a rotator cuff tear in my right should from my accident back in May. I have been to A&E twice and the Doctor once. I’m on 4 hourly pain meds and anti-inflammatories. I can’t use a mouse, write, paint, use a knife, do up my bra…  Tony has been brilliant, despite some difficult moments. Most of the things I do to relax, such as write letters, paint, stitch, blog, etc, are impossible.

Mum died mid December and I had this whole ‘thing’ in my mind about how life would be from now on; how I would organise myself, what I would do with my time, and so on. Now I m having to rethink the rethink! I guess I need to see it as an opportunity, but I’m not sure what the opportunity is yet…

 

My hand all strapped up -the tape work on my thumb was painstakingly done by one of the nurses.

My hand all strapped up -the tape work on my thumb was painstakingly done by one of the nurses.

My mum

As many of you know, until May of this year my Mum was being cared for at home by Tony and I, and had been for 14 years. She had a stroke and decided to go into a rest-home as she no longer felt safe alone when we were at work. In the months since her health has got progressively worse, despite the wonderful care she has been receiving. Her kidney and heart problems were reaching end stage.

Mum spent 3 weeks in hospital recently and we decided, along with medical staff, that Mum would return to the rest-home and never go back to hospital. If she got sick we would use comfort care only, and if she got an infection such as pneumonia we would not treat it. Mum had simply got too sick.

Friday last week her health deteriorated rapidly overnight and the palliative care nurse was called in. We got to the home at 10am and basically never left again. We had a quite rough afternoon and evening but by midnight Friday she was comfortable. I went home for 3 hours sleep, and Ailsa went for off for a bit when I got back.

Ailsa and her family were down because we had already planned an early family Christmas, so both Ailsa and I and our husbands, and most of her grandchildren were able to spend time with her. The rest-home manager, Judy, sat with Mum for an hour while we had Christmas lunch – Judy said Mum would be proud of us for doing the family thing for her.

Mum slept all afternoon with us stroking her hands and hair, and talking to her. She passed away peacefully late afternoon Saturday with Ailsa, Tony and I right with her.

I am glad she found the peace she needed to be able to let go and join Dad. I will miss her terribly but I am grateful she is no longer in pain.

I want to share some of the things I wrote to say at the funeral: I ended up only saying part of it, for various reasons, so here it is:

In the 14 years ago Tony and I looked after Mum the Hawera ED staff got to know us on a first name basis…  We’ve had amazing care from medical and ambulance staff over the years. On Mum’s behalf, I have to say a special thanks to Dr Bok and ICU Nurse Simon – she remembered you both right to the end.

My sister Ailsa has provided endless support, coming down from Auckland most months. She’s been the patient recipient of many “hey, we’re just off to ED” phone calls, providing support, and a sounding board.  In turn, she could not have done it without the endless support of Jim and their children.

Finally my husband Tony. We’d only been married 3 years when Mum got sick; for most of the years we have been together we’ve been caring for Mum. You haven’t just used your ambulance skills with Mum, you’ve been patient and kind; you made her laugh and taught her to do the fingers! You’ve supported me when I had to make difficult choices and never once suggested a particular path just to make life easier for yourself. Those things are part of the reason I love you; thank you for having taken this journey with me.

I have worked full-time throughout the years Mum’s been sick. Sometimes, particularly when Mum was very sick and I was truly nursing her – feeding her, dressing her, tucking her into bed at night –people have asked if I was tired or whatever. Yes, I was; tired as all hell sometimes. But few daughters get to spend the quality time with their ageing mother that I have had, and, as I have written on her coffin, the journey with Mum was worth every second. 

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