I finally stabilized enough that I was extubated for the last time, the first week of December. I’m in a private NICU room with doctors, nurses, therapists galore, family and my ex. I’m up, but don’t really understand what’s going on.
I remember one of the nurses asked me if there is something I needed, and I remember responding with a voice that was unrecognizable to me, “McDonald’s McNuggets and Sweet Tea”. I was speaking as if I had a small bag of rocks in my mouth. This was moments after being extubated (none of that I remember). They found the request amusing, but I didn’t. I was hungry. I was told I wouldn’t be able to eat any hard food until the speech therapist tested my swallow skills. I had just been extubated. I was looking at juice, apple sauce and jello. Whatever.
I remember my attention turning elsewhere. I tried getting out of bed. I told my body to get up, swing off the bed, and stand. My entire left side betrayed me. She just lay there and wouldn’t move. My brain asked, begged, yelled and screamed; but my left side, particularly my leg — wouldn’t budge.
I remember just staring up at everyone in the room, trying to formulate my thoughts and figure out what was going on. One of the doctors explained what happened and what I had undergone. He began to test my physical and cognitive function. My coördination was pretty bad. My brain couldn’t figure out which way was what. I was confused about how to place my finger to touch his nose. When he would ask me to lift a particular leg a certain way, I would do the opposite. I was given three simple words to remember and would be asked to recall them in one minutes time. He checked my heart, lungs, and pupils. Asked if I was in any pain. I said No. He asked me to repeat the three words. I couldn’t remember a single one.
He explained the “residual effects” of the stroke on my body. This included the aphasia, left-sided weakness, the memory loss, difficulty in finding my words, slurring of my speech, coördination issues and emotional turmoil.
If you go by my memory, I can tell you I was in the hospital for all maybe a week. The truth of the matter is, I was in NICU for a month. All I can remember are fragments. I suppose I’ve put all these fragments together in my mind and made one big memory. I don’t know.
But I do know it wasn’t fun. I had to have slipper socks tied to my hands to keep me from trying to scratch the stitches out of my head.
I distinctly remember people at various times brushing my hair. I don’t know who it was. Several of my female friends came to visit and took time to brush out my hair since it was so long. The neurosurgeon made the incision along my natural part, so he didn’t have to remove that much hair; but it was still a mess. My friends did their best to try saving it. :’-)
I had another port inserted on the left side of my chest for the TTP treatment. Plasmapheresis was what my treatment was called. I had it at least 3-4 times a week while in NICU. 10-12 bags of donor plasma is infused into my body (via some dialysis type looking machine) and my ‘bad plasma’ is removed and discarded. The entire process takes about three hours, including patient, blood type check, etc. No fun.
I was taken down for CT scan about 430am almost every other morning. I’m sure I slept through most of it.
Being that I couldn’t move on my own, near the end of my stay in NICU, physical therapy came around. They were wonderful ladies. Since I wanted very much to be able to sit in a chair and maybe read a book or magazine, I thought physical therapy was the answer. It sure was. I couldn’t even walk with help. In order for the team to get me into the lounge chair, I had to be hooked up to this hammock looking contraption that basically picks me up off the bed and the team maneuvers it to the chair. From there, they adjust me, and undo all the doohickeys. Definitely no bueno.
After nearly a month, I’ll be released from NICU to a regular room, where I spend the next two days before my next adventure at the Inpatient Rehabilitation Hospital. Yup, I remember more from there. . .
Stay tuned for Part 3, which I will probably post next week because I have my Insecure Writer’s Support Group coming up this week also.
Thanks again for always being here for me. . . 🙂
Love you guys!!!