On August 2 the temperature in Medford was 109. My husband and older daughter and I escaped the heat to enjoy a friends’ beach house a few hours from home. it was paradise – walking he beach in the ocean breeze, drinking fruity cocktails on the deck while watching the sun set the ocean, sleeping with the sound of waves…
I had a few weird feelings coming back from I’m outing to Paul Bunyan, but thought it was from riding in the car. My right foot felt heavy when I went downstairs to the bathroom in the night, but I went right back to sleep. Then I woke up at 6 o’clock and my right side wouldn’t move as normal.
I joked with my daughter and my husband while we waited for the ambulance. Crossing my arms over my chest, I quipped, “I’m ready for my casket.”
Everyone was kind – the nurse who took care of me as I lay on the gurney and the doctors who visited with me intermittently throughout their shifts. Still, I lay in the emergency room for 10 hours while they decided my immediate fate. A teleconference with the doctor at UC Davis ruled out the miracle shot for strokes. I had a couple of CT scans and an MRI.
I could shakily sign my initials when required. My family, including two sisters and a brother-in-law who had been on their way to join us, were frightened and uncertain. But I was in a protective bubble.
That bubble surrounded me as I left the hospital in an another ambulance bound for the airport. It protected me on the medical flight to my hometown where I was taken by ambulance to the hospital which had accepted me. I was the new commodity, A stroke victim. I did not do things myself. Everything was done to me.
The next morning I understood that it wasn’t over – my right side was completely flaccid. I began to realize the truth of my life being different.
For now though, I was protected. I was fed, taken to the bathroom, kept warm, discussed in my presence. My limbs were bent, placed where they were wanted, massaged, examined, and frowned over. My daughters (in turns) slept in my hospital room and were at my side whatever happened. Voices were hushed in my room. There were doctors, nurses, therapists, and chaplains. All visits were short followed by nods of the head or quiet conversations near the door or in the hallway. My husband looked tired and drawn.
After I was moved into inpatient rehab the protection continued. I received different therapies, each three times a day. There was occupational therapy, speech therapy, and physical therapy. I was fitted with braces to shore up my weakened limbs. Each day was a pattern – rest work eat and sleep.
I had a corner room with view. My meals were delivered. My life was still a bubble.
The nurses and doctors became my family. I heard about their lives, cared about what happened to them, and formed some great associations.
My doctor tried to re-orient me to real life. He was sure that I must have cabin fever and needed to go out. I wasn’t so sure. I left with my husband and drove through the valley which was encased in smoke from left forest fires nearby. I still couldn’t see the outside as any better than inside.
But time came to leave. All my family members of my family had been trained to walk me to help me in the car. Other than hot food and help with my exercises, I was fairly independent. And so with trepidation I left the hospital. They took me home.
The bubble burst!