Over the past few weeks I can't help but reflect on where I was a year ago. I wonder if this disappears when you are years away from a big event? A year ago from today, I was departing the ICU for PCU on my way to Rehab. I remember those last few days in ICU very well. Ripping out my nose tube during a dream, having my stomach tube placed and the pain that accompanied it, my constant hiccups, no sleep, my upside down hair wash with Joe & Shari and the Princess Leia buns that resulted. I got one of my favorite nurses on that final day, Dee. Dee is awesome and she touched my heart so deeply. She saw me in the beginning and tried to get me to swallow small drips of cranberry juice., she was there when the Picc Line insertion went haywire and stood strong on my behalf with my family to fight injustice, and she was there throughout to say HELLO and STAY STRONG. She even promised me girl scout cookies once I could eat them, who knew it would be the next season for them when I started eating :0) Dee was one of many incredible nurses I had. Joe was another one. Him and his wife Kim where in ICU and I had the privilege of his care one night in PCU. He washed my hair after surgery (few days later) and left me with my first set of Princess Leia buns. Man was I HIP - well on that wing I was. He later on my last night tipped my bed high in the air and again washed my hair with my Step mom's help. He challenged me to breath tests with my spiromometer (sp), a smoker who time and time again blew me out of the water. Ha! I learned to plug my nose with his help and there was no stopping me. He did the night shift so I saw a lot of him because of my inability to sleep. He explained the medication to me, shifted me in bed, ran the potty chair to me several times a night... ask my family for that story, I was notorious for many bathroom breaks during the night hour ;0) I of course missed their company and because I needed assistance in all that, I called on them often. It became a joke and a text update when I moved to Rehab, since I no longer needed nursing help. Let me tell you about embarrassing... having to have someone in the bathroom with you. Ugh! That humbled me quick. Then there was Linda, who I had early on and then at the end of my time in ICU. She saw how nervous I was about moving to PCU and she explained to me that they were only moving me because they knew I was getting better and that it was a risk to me to stay in ICU where I could come in contact with stuff I didn't want to contract. She also held my hand and stayed with me throughout a CT scan I needed to verify my Peg Tube (stomach) was functioning fine because it was so painful. She disclosed to me that ever since she had met me, she had been praying for me, so in the moments before I was wheeled down for my CT scan, she again prayed on my behalf, with me. This was a moment I will always cherish and never forget. I believe this moment is what changed it all for me, it changed who I decided to place my focus on. Then there were other ICU nurses who were younger than me, in the prime of their life, who were so full of energy, compassion, and encouragement. Thank you Krista, Jessica, and Sarah! I had awesome care while there at ICU. I would change a few moments, but what great people God surrounded me with. Thank you also to Dr. Delgado. Dr. Luna, Dr. Kralick, Dr. W & M Downs, and also Joyce, the respiratory therapist who stopped by a couples times a day with smiles, encouragement, and to find out how my babies were. I was only in PCU a few days so I didn't forge many relationships with my nurses there. but I appreciate Dr. Delgado and Dr. Counts coming to visit me too.
I moved to Rehab on the 16th of March and barely had time to settle in before I was whisked off to therapy. Talk about intense! When they came and talked to me about Rehab a few days earlier, they mention the schedule off the cuff. Monday thru Friday, I had Physical Therapy (pt), Speech Therapy (st), and Occupational Therapy (ot), twice daily for 45 minutes each. The therapists I had wasted no time, especially LeAnne. She came to ICU and started working with me. My first memory of her is calling me out. She told me I better show up ready to work, with my big girl panties on, or she wasn't gonna work with me. Well LeAnne is not the timid type, quite frankly, she intimidated me at first. Now I know different! Her pet name for me was Veruka off Charlie and the Chocolate Factory because I would often stomp my feet during therapy and say to her, I want it NOW! She got me walking with a walker, without one, jumping, biking, and falling with grace. She began a good foundation for Heather to work with at outpatient rehab. Then there was Lisa, my speech therapist, who had me spitting mints across the room and into a hospital tray to work on pressure. She continued to drill particular letters into my head, was my advocate for my initial injection to my vocal fold, and endured my first attempt at a Barium Swallow test. What a joy she is. Her smile is contagious and I appreciate so much the note she sent with my new/current speech pathologist to me during my first week home. She recommended Anne to me and began a firm foundation for Anne to work with. Then there was Terry. What a sweet and quiet soul, who always encouraged me and noticed my progress even when I wasn't aware. Terry helped me work on balance and posture as well as coordination and many other things. She always came to get me for therapy and in those beginning days, didn't push too hard. The skills she worked with me where complimented by those in PT too. When I moved to out patient care and therapy, Katy & Kristy, my new OT therapists worked on many new skills that would prepare me for life at home, driving, cooking, and caring for my children. I also had the privilege of working with their doctoral intern Stormy and we did Zumba, Wii, and many games/puzzles together. I started out patient OT with the thought of, what good will this do for me. well it was quite helpful in a variety of ways. Then there was Heather, my out patient PT therapist. I had her twice on the weekend when I was still in Rehab and I thought she was a hard but focused therapist. When I joined out patient, I hoped for her as she was familiar to me. Heather has become one of my favorite people. She didn't let me slide or slack off, she always expected work. She let me have "I hate tumor days!" She really listened to what my goals where and pushed me toward them. She noticed differences in me no matter how subtle they were. She accepted my suggestions and incorporated them into our workout. She listened to me and genuinely cared. It was hard to say "goodbye' to treatment with her, but she gave me great knowledge and taught me a lot! Then there is Anne, my dare devil speech therapist. She is amazing! She really works hard to find where you are and help you succeed at your dreams. She is creative in therapy, which is a breath of fresh air and she truly believes in your ability to better your situation. She makes no promises on what you will accomplish, but she is a giant cheerleader when you overcome a barrier.
What an amazing group of people and I haven't even mentioned my family or Jitana, my nurse case manager, who has become just like family. I get them in my next post.
Thank you also to all those who have and are praying for me. God is and has been listening. Thank you for being an intercessor on my behalf.
p.s. including a picture of me in ICU.. my many cords... a few days before I got outta dodge (my mom's tem) sitting on a chair, being goofy... side note: they were pumping me full of drugs... I was a little loopy