Kage Baker always said that it didn’t matter where you started, as long as you did, actually start. But today being the first of September, it just seemed like a nice, tidy place to pick up this utterly unravelled skein of a blog.
First, Dear Readers, I apologize for the quality of this entry, and for any moth holes in its fabric. It’s been literally months since I tried to type two-handed; my right hand is still pretty numb (explanation later); the equipment is brand new – my brilliant nephew Michael found a way to instruct me how to add a real keyboard to my Kindle; and I am constantly interrupted by medical staff requiring my blood or attention.
Second, it’s gonna take days to explain the many weird twists and turns of the last 6 months. but I can start with a brief recap of my adventures in the maw of the medical system.
On March 16th I went into Glendale Memorial Hospital for repair of my mitral valve: as close to a minor open heart surgery as there is. And the procedure went flawlessly – I should have been home within a week, and pretty much back to normal by May. However …
I have a condition called delayed response to anesthesia. It means I wake up late, slowly, and usually fairly insane. Kimberly knows this, and has for years accompanied me to my surgeries, to ease me back into consciousness and protect everyone else from my amiable hallucinations. But, with the city in the throes of Covid 19, Kimberly was not permitted to be with me. (Later on, she and Michael would not even be allowed in the hospital. This has been a tragedy for many families, and damn near was for us.)
I didn’t wake up when expected. In fact, I didn’t wake up for the next 3 weeks. Somewhere during this, my panicked anesthesiologist determined that my breathing tube was actually beginning to damage my mouth. I now have a new scar at one corner. I rather fancy it enhances my sneer. But in order to prevent further damage – my throat was beginning to swell – they gave me a tracheostomy, stuffed my esophagus full of plastic tubing, and stuck me on a ventilator.
For 3 weeks, the hospital staff kept telling Kimberly – who was still not allowed to see for herself – that I was “gone”. As in, no longer at home, nor ever would be. They told her I had had a massive stroke, though my EEG was clear. But my darling little cardiac surgeon insisted that I was responsive, at least to her: my eyes opened, I squeezed her hand. I apparently had a grudge against the Glendale Memorial staff.
But thanks to my doctor’s careful monitoring, and Kimberly’s intractable refusal to pull the plug on me, I finally returned to the world.
I don’t remember anything about this, except for many violent nightmares. In fact, I’ve also lost most of early March and all of February. Retrograde amnesia is not uncommon in cases of coma, I am told.
Some things of which I am sure though, Dear Readers. Always try to engage the sympathies of your surgeon; they may end up fighting for your life long after your incision heals. And, if at all possible, make sure you have a loving, stubborn sister (or relative of your choice). She will have your back. And your medical Power of Attorney.
Well, that wasn’t very brief. And there is lots more to tell. I am only just now to the point where I CAN tell it, and stay awake long enough to do so.
But I’m alive. And I’m back.