Sunday, 2 June 2013

Let all things now living ... a song of thanksgiving ... and learning out of necessity

Hoping this works. One of my favourite hymns - and how I'm feeling at the moment.

I'm learning all sorts of things, not expressed herein in any particular order of importance or on a neat timeline. 

Firstly, the staff on every level at the Montreal Neurological Insititute is kind, compassionate, and there is ample evidence that many have a sense of humour. The number of beds at the Neuro is smallish - maybe 40 - and there's a sense of family.

I have many wonderful friends and a wonderful family, with the distinction between them being less than clear. :-) Knowing an amazing network of people all 'round the world is (Sorry, Mrs. Tudor, I had put 'are praying' - but it's one network, right?) praying for you, thinking about you (or however they would define their activity), is awf'ly comforting.

Mary Klinck offered to take me in and Stella met me there. Sandy Miller called me at 4:30 so I could call Mary at 4:30 to make sure she was gettin' ready to pick me up at 5:30 to be in by 6:15. I was relieved to be first on the list for surgery, and didn't have to wait around to stay calm til the second shift in the OR around 11:30.

By the time we get to my age, most of us have had some kind of surgery, so this may sound familiar. One minute I was in the hall with my anaesthetist, a med student and a couple of other people. Next minute, zip down another hall, around corners and into the operating room. Some friendly, masked faces came up, introduced themselves by first names, and each told me what his/her role was. Others had their backs to me on the left, arranging instruments, I'm guessing.

The orderly showed me the strangest looking contraption imaginable (see picture below) where I was to be placed, after being knocked out for the surgery. I can't for the life of me figure out how I got from prone on the stretcher to this position, but apparently they knew how to do it. Funny navy-blue contraptions were also to be put on my legs over the white elastic stockings to pulse and help prevent clots. I only saw one, so asked if they went on both legs. Everyone laughed. Had my sense of humour til the last! :-)

Dr. Maleki arrived, stood masked and solemn at the foot of my bed and announced what the surgery was. "L4-5 bilateral laminectomy and right discectomy." The student had tried unsuccessfully to insert the IV line; the anaesthetist took over while explaining the procedure. Someone was holding the black mask just above my face while they chatted softly and reassuringly. Breathe deeply, they said. I remember saying my nose was itchy and scratching it. They said that often happens. ?? 

Next thing I'm in the ICU, Stella's holding my hand, and I'm squeezing her fingers. I remember asking her if she has arthritis - in case I was squeezing too hard. Grounding. 

There was a window on my right. A nurse came to my side and I asked in Creole if she was of Haitian origin. She was - and we chatted away in probably my best ever Creole as I didn't have the wits to try too hard to get it 'right.' Marie-Medelline asked questions, I answered, and explained my connection to one of my heart lands. I could feel myself rising gently, out of the mists into reality. She was so delighted (not to say shocked), she called two other nurses over to tell them I was speaking to her in Creole. :-) It's an actual visual, misty sensation - concentrating on seeing this person, trying not to sink back, and communicating ... 

Sandra (my friend) told me yesterday that the anaesthetist is actually the most important person in the operating room, because effectively, we're dead on the table. OK. I'm kind of glad I hadn't known that beforehand.

Bladders are finicky. If it doesn't function after surgery ... well, I learned other new things that I am also not going to dsecribe on my blog. My bladder chose not to work on its own steam until Friday afternoon, so I had to stay until Saturday.  

I had a day shift and a night shift from Thursday to Saturday. Stella was the day shift; Lori the night shift. When Doris found out that Lori was staying on Thursday night, she arranged for Kathryn to come stay over with Kayla, and arrived in my space at midnight. The staff moved a folding chair/beddy thing, a pillow and blanket and they each got a little sleep. Not much.

There is always something to laugh at. Lori, Stella, Doris, and I laughed like fiends at various and sundry - not all of which I will put on a blog. Humanity. It hurts to laugh, but it's also healing! 

After my first surgery for breast cancer, apparently I came out of the anaesthetic anxious and asking repeatedly if I was going to die. I don't remember it, and Nolande and Stella won't tell me any more than that. This time, Stella says I kept asking if the cats were ok. ? :-) And then I remember saying a fair number of times "I feel like I'm in a dream." And, "This doesn't feel real." 

Back surgery leads to bans on bending, twisting, and lifting . Therefore, out of necessity, you devise new stuff:

If you ever want to pick up a small piece of paper from the floor without doing any of the above, if you're right-handed/footed - lean against something solid, lick your left index finger, carefully lift your right foot and wet your big toe, place said toe on paper, lift foot, remove paper and put in recycling. Of course, if you are younger and more flexible than I am, you might be able to skip step one and go directly to licking your big toe. Urrgghhh. I doubt mine would taste as good as it did when I was a baby.

For banana peels and other objects that fall to the floor that you don't want to leave until someone comes to visit, you can get a squeezy picker-upper at Jean-Coutu or some other pharmacy. Your friend can get it when s/he buys the toilet seat riser and has the prescriptions filled. 

Home with my kitties. I had a short walk this morning, and about to take another. For two weeks, I can go as far as I can safely walk and RETURN. Then short distances in the car - with someone else driving leading to ... 

Last night, to add a little excitement, we had a thunderstorm. Cousin Steve had called and we were chatting when there was a blast and flash of blue-white-yellow light right across the street in front of Rilstones' old home. The phone, internet and cable (modems were blown out) went where lightning sends Videotron's whatever. All was restored this afternoon. (Well - update as of June 3rd, the TV was actually fried as well, but it had a few last gasps first, so it wasn't immediately obvious).

I get absolutely no sympathy that when I didn't die on the operating table, I may now die of boredom. :-) Can't sit for too long at a time. Lying down isn't high on my normal agenda. People having lovely meals at their homes when I can't get there to share them isn't fair. ;-)

In fact I go back to Sister Marjorie Raphael's wise counsel when I retired, that now I may get back to the contemplative spirit that is mine - and that in some ways I gave up when I got so BUSY at the mission and in the parish. So, the advice from all quarters is relax. Breathe. Take it easy. Give it time. And while I am complaining in fun - in fact, I'm relieved at the opportunity. I sat on the swing on the porch. Annie jumped up and purred beside me to her heart's content. It takes no energy to swiff the laser pointer around on the back bed for Maggie to get her fun and exercise. (on the bed so she's not gallumphing on the floor and disturbing the neighbours.) The breezes are heavenly. Flowers are growing as well as lettuce, parsley, mint, and tomatoes in pots on the front verandah. 

All shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well. And it's time for supper.

Maggie Muggins in the top of the kitchen window.
Don't ask how she gets up there. I don't know. She can, however, get down.

ASSO Operating table - FYI if you're interested
Assume there's no pun intended in the name ;-)
It actually wasn't quite like this -  the front was a bit different, and face was down, I think.


  1. Sending healing happy thoughts. =)

  2. I've been reading through your blogs and love the poetry there. I absolutely love Blake and Wordsworth, most especially Blake's "The Chimney Sweeper." I wish with all of my heart that the church would hear their voices as he wrote so long ago.
    Get better.

  3. Great account!
    Best wishes from Mar, Mike, Ruth, Minnie, Scruffy, and Balto.

  4. Thanks for sharing your story Ros. Take good care of yourself. I keep you in my prayers.

  5. Your writing, Ros, is delightful - even on surgery! Got a real laugh out of the name of that contraption pictured! Haaaa!!! Sending Gentle Healing Breezes of the Spirit your way! xo

  6. Dear Ros;
    I can hardly wait for the day you publish a book! you are such a good writer- Having had some surgery myself recently- eg double knee replacements, I giggled through your account. Luckily i didn't nee to resort to a Picker-upper stick!! Bless you - I am praying for a swift recovery- meantime enjoy all the time you have with maggie Muggins- she looks gorgeous!! Lots of love and prayers Anitra