On Thursday evening I was released from the hospital after a 4 day stint.
When one lives alone, the mind concocts various scenarios about that day in the distant future when you might be summoned to the hospital. One wonders what they will do, attract the neighbor’s attention with an ambulance? Call an Uber? Drive oneself? Fortunately for me, an ambulance wasn’t required. I hadn’t fallen and I was still upright, but I was losing blood from some mystery source deep within the cosmos of my body.
Oh my body, why art thou bleeding?
Hemoglobin, why art thou dropping?
All through the weekend I was experiencing extreme fatigue and having difficulty moving about without my heart racing. Each thing felt like a climb up a steep mountain. Breathless, heart-pounding. Getting up to visit the bathroom at night felt like I was competing in an iron-woman competition. So finally on Monday I notified the school that Ms. Moss was unable to report for duty and I headed off to see the nurse practitioner. By afternoon she was advising me to check myself into the hospital via the emergency room. A blood transfusion was imminent.
Wait. What? No direct admit to the hospital? Nope. Frustrating, but without recourse I told myself not to panic. Keep calm, pack the bag, get the journal (!) don’t rush, no tears, no phone calls. Just do it. I packed a bag, put out extra food for the cat posse, climbed into my chariot and off I went.
I had the presence of mind to puzzle out the location of the emergency room, find parking, park, and carry my market bag packed with provisions and good pillow through the double doors. I had arrived. For the next 5 hours I was up and down with my collection carrying it from location to location for various tests. Slow and steady wins the race. Finally a room came up in emergency. Oh sweet relief! A place in the triage unit out of the way to hang my hat for a bit. By midnight, a room was readied for me upstairs.
Camile and Josie welcomed me into my room. They buzzed with efficiency. They sent out their lines and reeled me in, securing my veins to the IV machine.
Clamps were clamped, tubes were flushed, pumps were started, piggybacks were set up, plugs were plugged in, beeping commenced.
Is the IV pump a sentient being? It seemed so, staying with me through the night. Sighing, dripping, breathing, beeping. I started to think it was a great lumbering beast sent from a storybook world. In my sleepy dream state it was a kind of elephant that sat beside me. The sounds it made were comforting, as was the bed I lay upon. A sea manatee that swam beneath me settling and rising. Moving and shifting shape.
This is why, boys and girls, we read stories. so that your imaginations grow rich and strong. In your awesome and turbulent futures, which you can’t begin to imagine now, your inner world will open and the stories you read as a child will fill your hospital room. The ease with which you will manufacture comfort will astonish you.
It happened to me. Just like that.
By the next morning, my hemoglobin had dropped precipitously low. I had entered transfusion territory.
By the time I was discharged Thursday evening I had undergone a double blood transfusion, endoscopy, colonoscopy, and complete change in heart about hospitals.
I came home, threw out all the NSAIDS in the house. Ordered some curcumin, glucosamine, and chondroitin supplements, cuddled with the cat pose, made nectar for the orioles and hummers, sat on the porch, wrote thank-you cards to the wonderful nurses of Huntington Hospital.
I won’t soon forget the funny, kind orderlies who ferried me around the hospital, the nurses aides, my awesome attending physician, the endoscopy team who were like a cast of SNL, and most especially – my nurses. Not everyone was a peach, but overall I felt lucky to have landed in such a warm safe cocoon of care. And those nurses…no worries at all with them around.
Now I am here. Several days out. Sitting in front of the window on a drizzly LA day. I checked the tides this morning then left the house early. Off to my favorite tide pools and misty shore just inside Santa Barbara county line. What medicine! The photos in this post were taken today on my beach walk. Last Sunday I was barely able to walk across Moss Cottage without my heart racing, but here I am. Restored. Getting stronger by the day. The cause of my GI bleeding still unknown, but as with most things, not everything is knowable. I’ll swallow a capsule sometime this week so a little camera can circle the vast galaxies of my body and take zillions of pictures that will then be strung together into a video for someone somewhere to look at and decide something.
I’m okay with the unknowable. Information will only get one so far in life.
As for me I will be here. Sitting on the porch, reading stories, watching birds, expanding my imagination, walking, getting more blood drawn, swallowing tiny cameras and getting back to work in a few days.
To all of you who will never read this I’m sending a psychic message of love.
Pushing the button on my heart bubble machine and sending clouds of gratitude. To those who checked on me daily from afar while I was in the hospital, sent me Marco Polo video chats, offered to bring me my favorite sandwich, watched the cat posse, sent that enormous thing of flowers, and so much more. You are good eggs. Thanks for showing up. Thanks for being there when I was up a creek without a paddle. Thanks for teaching me how to be a better human. I was taking notes the whole time.