We are home!!!! The day we came home from the hospital was one of the happiest days of our lives. It was also a somewhat unexpected turn of events.
Two weeks before being discharged, we were told that we might have to go to the spine institute in Minneapolis for a while and then three months at a nursing home swing bed. Then miracles started to happen and we were allowed to go home and come back to the hospital for outpatient therapy four sessions a week while also doing therapies at home.
On our coming home day, the colors of the trees were more vivid than we could remember them. The gravel in the driveway looked perfect – each stone where it was supposed to be. Even the weeds in the flowerbeds had a beauty to them. There were butterflies everywhere! They flew up as we drove into the yard as if they were sent here as a greeting.
We were scared, though. So many uncertainties and adaptions to make, at least for a while. Things that had been easy before the accident now carried some risk and difficulty and adjustments. I think my spouse was scared because he was now left with a “nurse” that was part Lucille Ball and part circus clown. It turns out that he had a right to be scared. Good intentions don’t always convert to successful outcomes.
Take for instance, the compression stockings that patients wear to prevent blood clots. He has to wear those for a while yet. If you don’t know anything about those (and I hope you don’t), they are made of tight elastic and are difficult to put on because of the tightness. There is also a hole at the end of the sock that is supposed to be placed on the ball of the foot.
My first attempt at putting them on was a bit awkward. Not wanting to disturb my patient, I tried not to inconvenience him in the process by crawling under the chair he was sitting on and trying to put them on from a crawl position.
“Why don’t I lay on the bed while you put those on?” my patient said quietly and with a hint of sarcasm.
That seemed to make some sense. Helping him to the bed, I tried to roll the sock in my hands and then stretch the toe area to get it over the end of his foot and I resolved to use all my muscle to do so. As I slid the sock on like a baseball player sliding into home base, I hear a gut-wrenching scream.
“What’s wrong?” I ask.
“My little toe is facing south and all the others are facing north.”
Oh. I guess I’d missed one as I shoved the sock up to his knee.
I try to tell him that my driving to therapy is part of the therapy because he has to grip things on the passenger side as I turn corners or pass other cars. I don’t think he is believing me, though.
It has become a joke when I make a mistake that I’m still better than the nurse I saw at midnight on the surgical floor in the third week of our stay in the hospital. It was midnight that night when I saw the unique nurse, and my husband’s pain pills and sleeping pill had kicked in. He was finally resting comfortably when I decided to sneak across the hall and get a cup of coffee.
As I stepped back toward my husband’s room, coffee in hand, a large man about 6 feet 7 inches, 300 pounds and with shoulders that would put a professional football player to shame, came walking toward me. He was wearing a flowered dress, white high heels and a beautiful long, wig. His red lipstick glimmered under the hall lights and his generous eyeshadow shined like the blue sky of a sunny day. He was wearing a badge of sorts on the left side of his dress, similar to all hospital personnel. It was clasped with a large safety pin, though. The rectangular piece of paper said “RN” written in green and red color crayons. I couldn’t read anything below the letters “RN,” but I’m sure it was important and official.
In a matter of seconds, three security guards swept in behind him and because he was wearing high white heels, “she” just didn’t have a chance of running. I never saw the well-dressed “nurse” again, but I stood inside the door that night for quite a while to make sure the nurse with the high heels and flowered dress and the love of Mary Kay cosmetics didn’t come in to do any catheterization or administer any medications.
Even though I’m not always the best nurse in the world, it is so good to be home, surrounded by friends and family, enveloped in prayers and good wishes of many kind people, and learning how to care for my husband as he heals, with good intentions if not expertise.