Monday, May 21, 2018

nowhere to go but up. (Part II)

Dear Diary,

So, I’d been admitted to Presbyterian hospital with a Clostridium Dificile infection and resulting colitis Friday afternoon, on the 13th.  The staff couldn’t have been nicer. They had a white board in my room and each shift change they would come in, introduce themselves, and write their names on it. One of the techs snapped a bright yellow band around my right wrist, signaling to everyone that I was infectious and if I left my room, I needed to have a mask, gloves, and gown on. 

But I wasn’t to leave my room, because I was on “fall precautions.” I had to be escorted any time I wanted to get out of bed. I was given morphine in my IV, and assorted other drugs.  I still had problems eating, and couldn’t sit up straight because my colon was so inflamed.  I struggled to eat macaroni and cheese and soup – it took me nearly 3 hours to eat that dinner; my inflamed colon was crowding out my stomach or something like that. I drifted off the sleep.  At 2 am they ultrasounded my liver, which involved the tech coming into my room because they didn’t want me leaving and infecting the rest of the hospital.  At 4 am another tech took one of many blood draws that I would get frequently during the day and night.  Otherwise, I was able to drift off into a nice morphine-induced nap. 

But that was just at night. That’s when the pain was the worse. The next morning, I was still pretty tired, but they discontinued the fall precautions, and the pain wasn’t so bad.  I napped on and off all day.

I also was relieved when I realized I had bought an Aflac policy the previous fall.  Throughout this ordeal I’d missed a week of work, was likely to miss another, and had no more PTO or sick leave left. I hadn't had more than a half day off for illness in the 6 years I'd worked at my job. I hadn’t taken multiple days of sick leave since having a baby in 1987. I worried that they hadn’t really needed me at work. 

I had time to sit and reflect, between episodes of Fixer Upper, et al. I realized I had fallen into a bad habit of self-care.  I'd been restricting and binging food.  I'd been skipping workouts.  I was stressed out, and way more invested in work than even they work required me to be.  I talked with Sweet Baboo about it, and he agreed that I'd been pretty stressed the past couple years.  

I deleted the work email app from my phone.  

That night, on the 14th, I took what was to be my last dose of morphine.  The pain was finally leaving.  I continued eating maraconi and cheese, soup, and peach tea.  

Baboo visited  frequently and taught me to play canasta.  He was busy washing everything at home with bleach, trying to get his long runs in, and looking after his mother, who had now of course, been diagnosed with C. Diff . That night, I requested one last dose of oxycodone, just in case.  But slept through most of the night.  It was my last dose of pain medicine, and the first full night of sleep I'd gotten in weeks.

On Sunday the 15th, I got to take a shower.  There’s nothing more amazing than a shower.  I also had a cheese omelet with a little bit of sausage. My liver enzymes were returning to normal.  I had a chicken sandwich and more soup. I was getting pretty tired of watching HGTV but it was really all that was on. I was getting antsy and was tempted to don the gown and gloves just to walk a lap around the 3rd floor.

On Monday, the 16th, the doctor said he was inclined to let me go home, but he wasn’t 100% sure.  I told him that if I went home Monday night, I could wake up in my own bed, go sit in the sunshine and walk on the path behind my house. They delivered my prescriptions to me bedside, a very cool service they have there at that hospital, and Baboo took me home about 8:00 that night. 

The next day, I struggled to walk a mile on the trails behind my house. It wore me out.  The following day, I walked 2 miles and slept for a couple hours afterwards.

I saw my family practitioner on Thursday the 19th, and she signed off for me to return to work. I was weak.  My PCP said, “you’ve burned through all your reserves.”  The 15-lb weight loss in less than a week wasn’t fluids, and it wasn’t muscle; it was an imposed fast that probably sucked all the glycogen out of my muscles.  I really felt like I was starting all over. My fitness had been eroded away.  

The first two weeks were tough, especially the day I set out to walk 6 miles and had to bag it at 5.5 miles. That was tough on me emotionally.

But, as long as I eat carefully and rest, my progress has been steady.  Last week, I started actually jogging longer lengths on the trails and did an 8-mile hike.  I had a brief setback this weekend, partially related to allergies, and maybe partly due to the increased mileage, but I rested this weekend, and then this morning I did a 4-mile hike-jog that felt pretty good.  I will never take strength for granted again.

Every time I get the slightest cramp in my stomach or gut, or feel tired, I worry that it’s coming back.  I take probiotics at least 2x a day and my post-workout smoothie includes a banana and kefir.  I search the internet way too much looking for assurance that this won’t come back.  

I’m afraid of lettuce because of all the E. Coli recalls.  I use a filtration pitcher at work.  I’m weirdly paranoid about germs and bugs now.  I won't eat stuff from the sample bowls at the store.  Obviously, there’s no guarantee that it won’t come back.  But hopefully, I can beat the curve.

I had to slowly add food groups back because nobody knew what kind of shape my gut was in, what good bugs were left, and what enzymes I might or might not have left. I am the probiotic queen.

I bought myself an Apple Watch, a little tech bauble to mark my new life devoted to good self-care, and to mark the end of this particular grueling experience.  I love all the kudos and chimes it gives me.  I also bought a laptop, which I haven' had in years, possibly why I haven't been blogging.  Blogging from my phone is a bitch.  

With respect  to my fitness, I am starting over.  I’m working my way up again.  I’m following a training plan that Himself and I devised. 

I canceled 3 planned endurance runs this past spring.  My next trail race will be more of an energetic hike, in Montana, called the “Rail Trail Run.”  It has a generous cutoff and I plan to take my poles and plenty of water.  It’s flat with a slight net downhill loss of elevation, and I’m really hoping I’ll be back close enough to finish it, even if I had to stop and rest every now and then. 

So that's it.  That was my spring.  And this is where I am now.  Starting over, from rock bottom.  

Nowhere to go but up.


1 comment:

  1. If anyone can beat this thing, you will. Take good care of yourself though and know when to just let things go. Self care is the most important thing.


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