OMG I’ve become an elder and am telling a dread hospital story.
My six month chronic cough is intensifying to the point of doctor visits, both M.D. and holistic, drugs, natural remedies, X-rays to fight the pneumonia with which I’m finally diagnosed. My quick Christmas trip to Florida is extended by an onslaught of a new virulent strain of Australian stomach bacteria attacking my weakened body. It knocks me flat two days before my intended return to Costa Rica. My stomach churns, cramps, stabs and explodes. I induce my brother to drive me to the doctor. He takes one look at me, opens the windows and wishes he’d worn a mask.
“Back again?” The doctor prescribes more antibiotics and as an afterthought, “Drink lots of water”. Nothing about dehydration. My best friend, Lynn, picks up my drugs and the pharmacist says Gatorade is a must. Nicole’s doctor says Pedialyte. I buy them all and postpone my trip to Costa Rica once, twice. Stop eating solid food. Shudder down gallons of sickly sweet electrolytes, canned soup, slithering red jello, all tasting like rat poison. I’m alone. Terry and Lynn drop by with food and drug fortifications, jumping back from the door upon its opening, fearing to contract my disease.
After steady improvement at least in my head, I set a third leaving date for Costa Rica, pick my rental car, drive to Orlando with only one rest stop, jump on the plane already wiped out. Oh shit! My gut rebels again and again. My false sense of being okay vanishes as I push past the seatmate and pace the aisle to the head. The 2 ½ hour flight becomes the longest of my life.
I’ve totally relapsed. My son, Ray, has arrived before me on his first vacation to Costa Rica in 12 years. He’s on his own and takes full advantage of driving my car to every possible tourist destination in our area. I’m down fifteen pounds, and end up in a San Jose hospital. Nicole becomes a super nurse, drives me to the hospital, stays there with me until I’m stabilized and under doctor’s care. Jose takes the kids.
A sulfa allergic reaction sends me into anaphylactic shock. My lips to go numb, tongue and mouth swell, throat closes up so I can’t swallow and sound like the mammoth from Ice Age. After 3 days of IVs and drugs to let my blown-out intestines rest and heal, the vein collapses, my arm inflates to elephant proportions and hurts like hell. Next my muscles start screaming in defiance of their inactivity and lock into spasms in my back and opposite hip. Painkillers are added to steroids and antibiotics.
After five days of an intravenous life, my doctors judge me ready to be discharged, though the aches and pains I contracted in the hospital continue. If I have one more bout of diarrhea I’ll board a plane with Ray on his return and try my luck with the US healthcare system.
I spend my first week home flat, still with muscle spasms and wishing for a big hatpin to deflate my arm. Champion nurse Nicole watches over me and schedules my pill regimen. Ray leaves after a month and I never get to play with him. Sigh. The grandkids don’t know what to do with the sick grandma who used to romp with them.
I feed, medicate, nurture my sore body and stressed mind back to health. Patience, not my strong point, becomes my constant incantation as I end this month long saga with a return to health.
Kicked low by pneumonia, low enough to catch the first flu
That flew in from Australia and knocked me flat.
Childbirth cramps bend me double to stare at my toes.
No solid food for a month, I shrivel.
It’s all too sweet, too salty, too hard to swallow.
The hospital gets me
Imprisoned by IV’s and pain.
I convalesce watching cooking shows
Dreaming of pesto shrimp in fettuccine.
I eat a fresh sesame seed bagel thick-knifed with butter.
Savor each mouthful – the chewiness, crunch, salt tingling my tongue.
Ruby clear Jamaica tea shades my glass and mouth with divine pleasure.
I’ve come full circle on the road to healing.
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