I could have found far better ways to avoid February 2015 (the coldest February on record) but my fate was to be confined to a hospital for the entire month, hooked up to all kinds of equipment and for most of the month not aware what was happening. I know now how wonderful people were to me and thank them sincerely for standing by me (often literally) including so many I am unable, at this stage, to acknowledge after such a long time off line and without checking all my mail. Ann lovingly supported me throughout, including many nights at the hospital at the earlier critical stage, while Daisy patiently waited at home waiting for walks and the good times to resume. If you were expecting to hear from me during February or waiting for a response to something, I apologize. I am now working to get thing back in order – normal service will be resumed as soon as possible!
HOSPITAL STAY ILLUSION
It was a strange experience, particularly at first, hovering between consciousness and the deepest level of sedation and with reality and dreams that felt real, blending to provide a composite explanation about what was happening, but not really accurate as I later discovered.
The strangest persistent delusion was about the location of the hospital. It was actually only about 10 minutes from our home, but in my mind it was remote on a waterway that was somehow linked by treaty to Norway and although freezing, still host to water sports at an annual event I recall attending voluntarily on an earlier occasion. Like my mind authenticating and also linking to some other related festive events. My hospital room (in my mind) was in a towering building overlooking the waterway.
As I progressively gained consciousness and learned why I was in hospital there was one strange link that persisted between all the medical attachments and a work perspective. I saw the medical hook-ups as workplace limitations placed on me and translating into a restricted area (precisely 10 feet square) within which I could freely move but not necessarily going where I wanted to go e.g. a door into another area. This was incredibly frustrating as I attempted to leave workplaces (imaginary) or access others.
They tell me that in those early days, when I was so heavily restricted and medicated, I was fighting constantly and trying to unhook all the attachments and get out of bed. Certainly not smart to do, and fascinating how the link between hospital and workplace restrictions developed. I cannot remember any of the earlier incidents, just my sanitized dream version and explanation.
HOSPITAL LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT
In some ways, the experience was like a role reversal, with me now the person needing to learn new skills or relearn in some cases. I cannot thank the staff of Sunnybrook Health Science Centre and St. John’s Cardiac Rehab enough for their support and for dealing so capably with my medical crisis.
As I started to recover, emphasis was placed on learning to swallow again. I did not feel there was a problem, but until I was fully checked out, my food was pureed with a mound of green (vegetable) brown (meat) and white (potato). So incredibly bland, but very nicely presented.
I also had to learn to walk again. I was very proud when I was given a green tag certifying that I could walk unaccompanied, using a walker. By the time I was discharged I had also earned the right to walk with a cane unaccompanied. Such tiny steps and handled in conjunction with other training including exercises and nutrition and other health and safety aspects handled in much the same way as in industry. The Rehab Unit even provided safety inspections of residences to help discharged patients avoid slips and falls after returning home.
Certainly February 2015 was like no other month I had ever experienced. I faced very serious medical challenges but in many ways it made me so thankful to professional staff, family and friends for their constant support and encouragement. It may have been difficult at times to distinguish between reality and illusion, but the greatest reality is my appreciation of all and my continuing confidence in our international caring society.
Very best wishes and sincere thanks to all,