I drove my husband to the hospital Saturday morning of Memorial Day Weekend. He’d been suffering from pneumonia for nearly two months, and his coughing sounded horrendous. Good thing I brought him in. The following day he had surgery to drain the infectious matter from his right lung and the surrounding area.
More than three more months have passed, and Bernie hasn’t returned home. He still has pneumonia. Today he started rehabilitation for the fourth time. Three times respiratory failure has sent him back to the hospital.
He contracted pneumonia when his frequent coughing caused him to aspirate food into his breathing tube. While in the ICU, he failed a swallowing test. A P.E.G. or feeding tube, was inserted to avoid further aspirating. He’s been intubated, on a ventilator, and has had a trach inserted in his throat to help him breathe. Two days ago he was given a different trach, which allows him to speak. He’s been on several antibiotics, and has been given four blood transfusions.
I visit Bernie every day with very few exceptions. My children and friends are supportive. My daughter-in-law, who’s a nurse, helps me understand the medical terms and aspects of my husband’s treatment. Along the way, I’ve learned:
• Pneumonia is an insidious condition, especially for older people and anyone whose health is compromised.
• Sometimes even massive doses of antibiotics can’t rid the body of pneumonia.
• Regardless of how good a health facility may be, every patient must have an advocate to make certain his/her needs are truly being met.
• Various medicines can and often cause problems like disorientation
• An older patient often has multiple medical issues to deal with.
• Expect setbacks.
My life has changed these past three months. I’ve taken over chores my husband had seen to: paying bills, shopping for groceries, caring for our outdoor plants, and taking out the garbage. Suddenly I’m not half a couple. My kids come to stay; my friends invite me to outings. Many people offer to help, but there is nothing they can do to help Bernie get better. Only I can deal with his nurses and various therapists, see to it he’s comfortable and getting the help he needs. But I certainly appreciate their good wishes and prayers!
These three months I’ve been too occupied and preoccupied to write. The children’s novel I’m working on remains untouched. Of course I’ve been busy with other writer-ly jobs. I went through the final edits of my romantic suspense that’s coming out in October. I continue to write the occasional guest blog. And I notify readers each time a book is available for free on Kindle.
I’m hoping Bernie will continue to grow stronger, that soon he’ll be well enough to return home. The summer is drawing to a close. As a former teacher, my new year begins after Labor Day. I’ll get back to writing next week, and finish RUFUS AND THE WITCH’S SLAVE. I’ll resume editing the few books I intend to put up on Amazon as well as work on some mystery series proposals.
Bernie’s infectious disease doctor has told me his pneumonia might be a chronic condition that will require his taking antibiotics off and on indefinitely. I think this is shorthand to expect he’ll continue to move two steps forward and the occasional step back. The future is uncertain. Our lives are in flux. All we can do is take one day at a time. The one thing I know is I’ll be writing again when Labor Day is past.