At 3:30 a.m. on Friday, October 16, I awoke unable to breathe. CFD paramedics stabilized me, and took me to Swedish Covenant Hospital, where I spent the next 25 days recovering from a variety of medical problems and their complications, including a blood clot-induced heart attack. The clot was in my left leg; parts of it had traveled to my lungs; these pulmonary emboli had prevented me from breathing and triggered my heart attack. Complications included kidney damage, blood loss severe enough to require a transfusion, and an infection from an IV. Along the way, I had an angiogram that located two blocked veins to my heart, and had two stents placed. “Old plaque,” the surgeon said; twenty years spent eating lots of veggies, cutting down on fats, and eliminating salt had been worth the sacrifice.
I’ve always been healthy and strong, and this was my first hospitalization since I’d had my tonsils removed sixty years ago. I was ambulatory throughout my stay, and on my first night in the hospital asked my family to bring my bath oil, two pairs of red pajamas, my soft green robe, and make-up. I might be sick, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to look like it. Being in my own clothes, with my face straight, my hair combed, and the fresh scent of Skin-So-Soft in the air, made it easier to face a day of needle-sticks, every-two-hour vital sign checks, ultrasounds, X-rays, and physical examinations. In between, I watched Law & Order marathons and waited for the delicious meals produced by the hospital kitchen: mashed sweet potatoes, roasted turkey breast, lasagna with meat sauce, chicken Caesar salad, and the best veggie wraps I’ve ever had.
I cannot thank the CFD paramedics or the physicians, nurses, nursing assistants, phlebotomists, ultrasound and X-ray technicians, transport teams, dieticians, and food service workers at Swedish Covenant Hospital enough for all they did for me.
But after 25 days, I was eager to go home. I crashed on my first day.
So much had been done so silently for me while I was a patient that I overestimated how well I was. I found myself unable to walk more than two blocks; the first time I tried, it took me more than half an hour to walk the last two to get home. I could make myself a sandwich and some coffee, but tired almost immediately after eating. The first week home I slept as much as twelve hours every day. Now, at the end of my second week, I can walk eight blocks. I still have trouble with the stairs, but it’s getting better. All my bruises have healed but one. Taking medicine several times a day has become routine, and I often reach for my pills before the reminder alarm goes off.
I’ve been catching up on what’s happened while I was away, and beginning next week I’ll be posting again on a regular basis. I missed the meeting on the 2016 community market, and the Friends of the Library book sale. I missed the seminar on “Transforming Government Transparency” sponsored by the Illinois Coalition for Political Reform, a group that is performing invaluable work toward the goal of eliminating corruption in Illinois government. If you haven’t yet signed up for access to its Sunshine Database, you can do so here. The database provides up-to-date information on political contributions to and expenditures made by all candidates at every level of government in Illinois, and is searchable by candidate and political committee.
It’s good to be back home, and back to writing.