Monday, February 13, 2012

Here We Go Again

My apologies for my long absence. It was not by design. Shortly before Yule, I realized that my foot felt “crunchy” whenever I took a step. I had my suspicions that this didn't bode well, and so it was off to the podiatrist.

My foot was x-rayed and the dreaded news was confirmed: my Charot was back, and my foot was broken once more. My brother drove me out to Langhorne PA to see my surgeon, who confirmed that my situation was not good. Surgery would be needed once the Charcot went dormant. Meanwhile, it was back to using the roll-about.

That was a Thursday. By Friday, I was running a fever and had to literally crawl to the bathroom. My legs would not support me. By Monday, I was shaking so badly that I called my friend Ellen, who called 911. It was off to St. Peter's University Hospital ER. I was admitted with a leg that was crimson, hot and painful up to the knee. Test after test confirmed that I had staph in my bloodstream. I had Sepsis. The next few days were a blur. I had almost bitten through my tongue, and could not sleep at night. Bag after bag of antibiotics were pumped into my system, while a copious amount of blood was taken to the lab (I ended up needing two transfusions later).

Leg - not looking good...

Meanwhile, my brother and I decided that I could not safely return to my house. Brother is a realtor for a retirement community, and so he started arranging for a new house – handicapped accessible. That's when the family discovered that my finances were in ruin. With the aid of my loving nephew, Keith, the money was made available to purchase a nice co-op. However, at the time, I felt like I was slowly loosing the battle. My siblings visited and sat around me, asking about credit card debt, balances owed, minimum payments required etc. yet, in my head, all I could see were three death ravens. They were all speaking at once, and I had the thought “I'm dying, and these birds are asking me to do math problems.” I still crack up when I think of it.

Thankfully, the sepsis passed, and I was sent to Aria Health. That first night, I had a conversation with my surgeon. Tests at St. Peter's determined I had an abscess and the foot was full of osteomyelitis. I had a 10% chance of saving my leg. Was I willing to try? Well, of course! I'm rather attached to “lefty” and would like to continue the association. I was hoping for a miracle, and I think I got one. Further tests, and surgery to drain the foot and remove the old hardware, showed no abscess and no infection.

                                                                foot after clean out

The next step was to be transferred to a rehab center in Langhorne. If I had any sense of modesty or problems with body image, I lost them here. I had as many male aids as female, no part of my body went untouched, and I was even showered by Kim the “shower queen”. (I promised not to mention her but..oops!). My room mate was 92 and hard of hearing. She was also demanding, especially at night, so the lights went on and the nurses shouted to her all through the wee hours until morning. There were also characters like Walter, who sat in the hall shouting “Help me! Help me!” and who would try to roll into my room at night. THAT was an experience. I will NEVER go to a nursing home in my old age. Never. Mine was one of the nicer ones and, even at that, I damn near lost my mind!

                                                     Gary visited me at the rehab
The one saving grace, beyond the support of my family and friends, was writing. As I lay in the grip of the sepsis in New Brunswick, Ellen came to visit me. “I can't even work on my book,” I moaned. “I have no way of doing the research.”

Write something else,” said she.

Like what?”

Give me a premises.”

What if Sherlock Holmes had an older sister who once was in love with John?”

I'll get you some paper and a pen.”

That began our collaboration. I have the pen, and she has the mystery plots in her head. I wrote every possible waking minute, calling her at odd times for plot discussions and changes in direction.

At one point, I had to go to the ER for a cast change. While I was sitting on the gurney, I got a call from her.

Look, I'm in the ER. There's blood coming from my cast and they have to take a look. I just have one question. How are we killing off Dominic (One of our characters)?”

Ellen burst out laughing. “Can anyone HEAR this conversation?”

I looked up, and three interns were standing in the doorway, mouths agape. “It's a novel,” I said as they half smiled and walked away.

Pretty soon, the hospital and rehab staff knew I was a published author. Some started calling me “The Sherlock lady” while others went on line to Graven Images Oracle to get free readings. It was the only bright spot in nearly two months of hospitalization.

                                    My new home in Monroe Twsp. My co-op is downstairs.

So, here I am. I will keep the blog going until I'm ready for the next surgery, at which time I'll have to take another break. 

Fingers crossed, everyone.