Monday, August 27, 2012

53 -Couchridden


Although I was no longer in the hospital, where I was provided with 'round the clock care, I continued to have a small tether to professional health care.  On November 18, 2011, it had only been a month since my liver shut down due to my destructive love affair with vodka.  A home health nurse was assigned to me, and when she first arrived, I wasn't sure what to expect.  Meeting someone new was embarrassing, unlike when I was in a hospital setting, and had given up all humility.

On the previous day, the first at my mother's house, I caught a real look at myself in the mirror for the first time since I fell into the coma.  There was a mirror in my hospital room, but I made sure I only caught glimpses of myself.  I knew that I did not want to know how frightening my deteriorated reflection was.  It was my belief that the least I knew about how dire my condition was, the better.  Otherwise, I feared I would begin to dwell on the negativity of my situation, and become more prone to accepting death.

Like most bathrooms, the one at my mother's house has a mirror over the sink.  It encompasses most of the wall running sideways along the right wall, directly across from the shower on the left.  I had to struggle to hold myself up on the sink counter to make my way to the toilet.  During that endeavor, and pausing to suck the oxygen out of the room, I was standing in front of the looking glass.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

52 -Pharmacon

It was November 17, 2011, and after four excruciating weeks at MUSC Hospital in Charleston, I was on my mother's couch in Beaufort, South Carolina.  At 38 years old, my heavy drinking, and constant partying, had come to a screeching halt.  I was not ready for last call, but my liver was fatty, and scarred from the vodka, and my irresponsible days were over. I recognized I needed patience, perseverance, and tremendous care if I was to hope for any improvement in health.

I laid on the sofa, soaking in the familiar room in my reluctantly, handicapped state.  When I attempted to focus on the large, flat screen television in the opposite corner of the living room, my eyes bounced as if I had been dancing in circles.  The dizziness only added to my mouth watering nausea, and I was unable to manage a comfort zone.  The excess fluid in my abdomen was wreaking havoc on my insides, and did not allow pain-free movement.  On the contrary, my gut felt like a medicine ball, rolled in shards of glass.

The hospital sent me home with a deluge of medications to keep up with.  Of course, I needed help, but to not sway from the norm, I was stubborn as hell about it.  I could do it myself, I insisted.  I was to manage varying dosages of eleven different medications, and supplements.  My encephalopathy was already increasing, so my thought patterns were completely out of whack, and I could barely focus on the small print on all of the bottles.

Monday, August 13, 2012

51 -Alcoholic Remourse

After a lengthy, difficult, and unexpected recovery, I am once again, a resident of Charleston, South Carolina.  In October of 2011, my excessive drinking, which had grown into a physical dependence to alcohol, caught up with me.  My esophagus ruptured, my liver failed, and I fell into a coma.  I spent 30 days at MUSC Hospital, and once there were no more tests they could run on me, I was released.  I was forced to move into my mother's house in Beaufort, South Carolina.  I could not care for myself.

The amount of knowledge I have gained in the past ten months has been extraordinary.  I now realize that when I left MUSC, the physicians did not presume that I would survive this ordeal.  As a matter of fact, when they signed my release, the hospital staff was sending me home to die.  According to my mother, I was not expected to make it through the holidays.  When the time had come for me to leave, my health was not much better than it had been when I arrived.

Two weeks ago, on August 2nd, I had an appointment at MUSC to have an endoscopy, and capture some images of the current state of my throat.  The nurses, and anesthesiologist were obviously confused about my reason for the procedure.  The only information they had about me was from my first scope in January.  Numerous alerts, and warnings were appearing in my records for cautions against a weakened immune system, diet recommendations, and a mixture of problems due to encephalopathy.

Friday, August 3, 2012

50 -Untrodden Territory

November 16, 2011

Finally, the nurses have me sitting up on the right edge of my hospital bunk, and my upper body is uncomfortably exposed to the frigid, air conditioned room.  They pull a t-shirt down, over my torso, and I feel a twinge of pain when the wrinkly fiber scrapes my nipples.

When I peek down, I realize I am wearing sweatpants that could qualify as "one size fits two".  They swallow my legs, and cling tightly around my midriff.  The waist, and legs are definitely suited for those with American girth.  I, in contrast, appear as if we are in the midst of famine, with my skeletal frame, and inflamed abdomen.

A smiling orderly arrives with a wheelchair.  My wheelchair.  The words echo in my mind, and are hard to swallow, but I will not be in the wheeler for long.  I cannot, and I will not let this end with disability.  Instead, I intend to surpass my previous fitness level, and not to be doomed to an inability of walking correctly, as my physical therapist has suggested.  First, I have to stand up, turn around, and sit my decrepit ass in the man-powered, trolley rocker.