My view has changed again! 

I guess you are wondering what is happening? 

Well not a lot really.  I’m still in hospital and today is 5 weeks on from my doctors appointment that resulted in me being admitted. 
Progress has been slow and steady. It feels like it is iceberg slow or is it glacier? I’m not sure, but it is happening, slowly that is. 

I’ve managed to hang on to my sense of humour despite causing someone rather a lot of paperwork a few weekends back when I took a fall on the ward. I had just done my 3rd walk on the Sunday. Physio is off your own back at the weekend and I got back to my bed needing the bathroom, so sat into the wheelchair rather than straight onto the bed. It was the transfer from the wheelchair to the bed that was the problem. It didn’t happen but I only established that when all my strength failed half way through and the transfer is an uphill transfer (the need if higher than the wheelchair, even on its lowest setting). I managed to scrape my back on the bed and wheelchair going down to the floor and landed rather hard on my butt to say the least. Extra painkillers were needed because the pain war interfering with my breathing, x-rays ordered and an afternoon spent worrying about a possible fractured vertebra which thankfully a CT scan ruled out. But it did file in a bulging disk at T10.

I have been waiting for a bed in rehab for most of my time on the ward (12 days, ICU was a 19 day stay) but on Tuesday I finally got a bed on the ward (12B). The inpatient rehab ward had its own gym and set up to get people back to where they were before being admitted into hospital.  You would think that’s just physio for me, but a whole load more had been included such as pain consultants, a social worker (to see what services can help out with hospital appointments, outpatient day physio etc), an occupational therapist, and other staff I have yet to see (I should be able to get my orthopaedic inner soles adjusted etc).

In rehab, we all eat in the dining room, in theory.  It is possible to eat in your room, but it’s not the preferred option. My room is now on the ground floor rather than the 8th floor and I no longer have a view of the mountains, the sunrise or the sunsets (which I only saw briefly). Instead I have a view of the rehab courtyard which is set up with various physio obstacles for walking practice. It’s reasonably large and there’s no access to anyone other than patients from the dining room or the gym. This morning I had a King Parrot knocking at my window trying to gnaw at the window with its beak. 

Meals are still the hospital food by the same catering but we now get metal cutlery which means I can eat the orange I get with my meal! Previously it was plastic cutlery only. 

Currently I can more or less get around in the wheelchair, and walk short distances with my crutches. I can’t do steps easily (need supervision), can’t balance or stand still, but I’m slowly getting stronger.  There’s a noticeable difference in strength between my two legs and my right is prone to giving up on me rather more often than it was previously. But I’m making progress and I’m allowed day release at the weekends…  

An early morning photo of my view, 

And one of the better sunsets we have had. 

We had a few days were we had numerous rainbows. The water has been much appreciated. This one was probably the best and longest lasting. 

A few cards have arrived… 

And a friend brought in some flowers 

I’ll add a photo of my courtyard view in the next update. 

So that’s my update. 

My view has finally changed 

What happened? 

It is so hard to work it all out.  But from what I have remembered and been told the events in the last fortnight are now a touch clearer. 

On the Sunday I took Stuart to the airport for him to go to Adelaide. 

The Monday I didn’t feel great, by the evening I was feeling really bad so had to ask Stuart to come home.  He came home from Adelaide on the Tuesday evening and by then I want well enough to pick him up from the airport so he had to take a taxi (just under $100 before you ask). 

Stuart made an appointment for both of us to see our doctor on the Thursday midday. Neither of us was very well by then. I just don’t think either of us was actually well enough to know how unwell we actually were. 

Thursday came.  I didn’t really have the strength to stand out walk into the doctors surgery so Stuart had to push me in the wheelchair. I could barely talk more than a couple of words by then before needing to pause for breath.  Our doctor did some tests, repeated the same tests with different equipment and I gather rang for an ambulance. The paramedics repeated the same tests and got the same results.  I was very ill. Stuart tells me that my oxygen saturation levels were 38%. Luckily the ambulance had actually been passing Bungendore when the call came through so they were there very quickly.  I was transfered to Queanbeyan.  The list thing I remember was seeing the ambulance where our car had been parked. I don’t remember much began that and waking up /coming round in ICU in Canberra hospital.  The ambulance took me to Queanbeyan hospital initially. I have no memory of that other than a vague memory of a pressurised oxygen mask but when that happened I have no idea.  I found out last night that in Queanbeyan hospital I was put into a respirator. I was then transferred to Canberra hospital ICU by air ambulance.  I’ve absolutely no memory of being in a helicopter! I’ve also very little memory of the first day in intensive care.  

I do know that initially I was in an isolation room until they knew what they were dealing with.  In my case that was double pneumonia (bacterial).  Obviously oxygen and breathing was the most immediate problem.  

As time went on communication became an issue.  Answering questions and getting basic information across was exhausting. Pen and paper was the best option, though some of the staff figured out my sign language. It was good when the same member of staff was on for several days in a row.  I was moved out of ICU bed 2 (isolation) and into ICU bed 9 where I was to stay for over a week before being moved to ICU bed 5.

Learning what to do, and how to do some things when you have so many tubes sticking in or out of you took time and guidance.  There’s no dignity in an ICU bed despite staff doing their best to try to maintain it for you.  Adult nappies really leave a lot to be desired. Tubes in and out everywhere cause problems and even turning over initially was impossible by myself. I was just too weak. It took a nurse and two wardsmen at first, then a nurse and one wardsman until after all my tubes are removed and I was just on pressurised oxygen when I was strong enough to help a single nurse roll me onto my side.  It’s small victories, little ones like learning how to do my own teeth whilst on a respirator that made the difference.  Most of the nursing staff were happy to see me doing it myself. I was able to follow their instructions and didn’t need telling repeatedly not to panic, to calm down, not to try to pull the tubes from my mouth: all things I heard other patients being told.  But it was also very obvious to the staff that I want getting any visitors. Pen and paper explanations answered the unasked questions.  My husband was also sick with pneumonia as well, but he was at home unable to get in to see me.  I have had a few visitors.  Stuart has now been in twice. Another friend once, another friend three times.  Stuart’s boss and partner have been in twice as well. 

Little things became frustrating at times. It was 6 full days before the respirator tube was removed and I was moved to a pressurised nasal tube but I still had the nasal gastric tube in for feeding.  It was another 4 days before my throat finally stopped hurting me. The catheter was to spend s few extra days in a well. Then the various cannula (arterial and central line) were to take a few more days to come out. My first shower was bliss. Bed baths, frequent rub downs and massages, along with my hair being washed available couple of times (some bag of chemicals heated in the microwave and then placed on my head and rubbed in for 5 minutes) all of them fell short of that first shower however brief it was (not to mention someone else actually doing the washing bit of it). My second shower I was allowed to do alone which was bliss. That was only yesterday. 

Today was a big day.  We had been waiting for a bed on a ward for 5 days I think. They had given up trying for a respiratory ward and settled for a renal ward instead. I have a few issues with my bladder since coming off the catheter so with the monitoring they had been doing, I qualified for a bed on a renal ward as well and today, Tuesday, a bed was final found and my view has changed.  What felt like their longest stay resident was finally found a new bed. Sadly I have already decided that it is nowhere near as comfortable as the beds in ICU. 

So how have I filled my time? I have spent a tiny amount of time online; I’ve borrowed one of the ICU Ipads to watch Netflix (yes they have Ipads you can borrow!) I’ve replied to a few messenger posts, but mostly I have tried crosswords, coloured in or done some knitting.  And I’ve slept and slept. Being ill take an awful lot out of you. 

It took time but this was me on the respirator after being moved out of isolation. 

Some of the equipment I was on, on one side of me 

And on the other side of me, but not showing all the feeds and drips I was also on. 

It took me 4 days to work out what the word in red was! Yes, I was that ill. 

My view changed ever so slightly. I preferred the first one (that I can remember). Mostly the sky was blue masking me want to be outside but the last few days have been overcast and grey.  Apparently it has rained some nights as well. 

Stuart sent me this picture. Apparently I was meant to play spot the chook! Most of the flock is in there somewhere. 

I have received my first get well soon card… 

And my view has changed. 

So that is it really.  Not a lot has happened. 

Our only guess as to when we could both have been exposed to pneumonia is the Saturday when we both went shopping for a change.