Sharing with you things that are on my mind...Maybe yours too. Come back to Wrights Lane for a visit anytime!

28 March, 2010


I write today about a subject in which I have become all too well versed.

My multiple purpose thesis is that out of devastation comes rehabilitation, out of despair comes joy, out of hopelessness comes hope...and out of faith comes miracles.

It was only four weeks ago that Rosanne was rushed into the intensive care unit at the Owen Sound Hospital.  We did not know it at the time but she was literally drawing what could have been her last breath.

She had been house-bound for more than a year, was unable to walk more than a few painful steps at a time and as her weight ballooned to a morbidly obese 407 pounds that we could really not account for, had given up all hope of ever getting better.

"I just cannot breathe," she would complain.  A chronic sleep apnea sufferer, she would sit up most of the night gasping for air, sometimes toppling off onto the floor when lapsing into a temporary exhaustive unconsciousness.  In lieu of the ability to visit our family doctor, I purchased over-the-counter medications to help with her breathing, bought expensive air purifiers for virtually every room in the house and religiously changed the furnace filter on a monthly basis, all to little avail.  We were both becoming miserable creatures, doing our best to simply get through each day, feeling very defeated in every aspect of our life.  We were slipping into a depressive state with the knowledge that we were running out of self-survival options. In the end, Rosanne just did not want to talk about it any more...So for the most part we did not.

For more than three years people had been asking "how is Rosanne doing?"  As with my late wife Anne, I hated to meet people because I knew that dreaded question would be forthcoming.  Sometimes I would go into detail and watch my questioner's eyes gloss over; more often than not, however, I would resort to the stock "Oh, about the same".  Either way, I knew people did not understand.

Hanging on for dear life and on the verge of losing it at any given moment, I finally and desperately took matters into my own hands in order to get Rosanne the help that she so badly needed.  Knowing that there was no way I could get her out of the house, into the car, and up the street a mere 300 yards to the doctor's clinic, I picked up the phone and asked for an appointment under the guise that she had several prescriptions that needed filling as soon as possible.  Truth be known, she was actually  on the verge of depleting one prescription in particular, a special cream for her chronic venous leg ulcers.  The doctor's secretary did me a favour by "squeezing" in an appointment "at the soonest" with a mere 34-day waiting period.  Rosanne ran out of her leg medication the following week and cellulitis infection eventually set in just to complicate matters even more.

The month-long wait for the appointment seemed like a lifetime and I attended as planned in Rosanne's stead, wasting no time in spewing out the details of her sad state of health.  "I am totally shocked.  I had no idea," said our young female doctor on the verge of tears.  "What do you want me to do?"  We mutually agreed that Rosanne would be taken to emergency at the Southampton Hospital by ambulance the very next morning with the ultimate objective of having her admitted for observation and testing.

Rosanne was immediately given oxygen for her breathing at the hospital the next morning and it was soon determined that she should be rushed to the Intensive Care Unit at Owen Sound where they were better equipped to deal with someone in her condition.  "You should know Dick that your wife is a very sick lady and I am extremely concerned about her weakened condition and ability to withstand necessary treatment," stated our doctor, suddenly pale and speaking in a hushed tone.  "It will be touch and go for a while.  Her situation is really quite grave," she added.

I heard those same words ("your wife is a very sick lady") at least a half dozen times again in Owen Sound.  I got the impression that doctors and nurses were speaking from the same script in an effort to prepare me for what was in store. 

Rosanne was a priority patient in ICU and given every test and exam imaginable.  She was placed on an intravenous antibiotic infusion and visited by an impressive steady stream of health care specialists.  The next few days were a blur for me as I kept Highway 21 between Southampton and Owen Sound red hot.  Having been in a similar position before, I would go to sleep at nights with my mind in a state of numbness, yet knowing that I had some proactive thinking to do in the event of the worst.  I seemed to be on auto-pilot, going through motions.

On the fourth day of her hospital stay, l began to see changes in Rosanne, subtle little changes that only a husband could see.  It took several more days for doctors and nurses to pick up on the fact that there was an obvious turnaround in her condition. Her attitude was changing, she was more alert and her personality significantly brighter.  Her physiotherapist began preparing her to take her first steps out of bed, setting a goal for her on Day One of about 15 feet by pointing to a poster on the wall.  "No, I'm going further than that," Rosanne insisted.  "I'm going to the corner down there (a good 15 feet beyond the poster)." 

She had to pause a few times with her walker and she was winded, but to "the corner down there" she went. And she hasn't stopped since. "You are amazing.  I'm so impressed," enthused physiotherapist Tracy.

Rosanne has been home now for two weeks and she continues to show improvement each day, much to the surprise and delight of her home-care team.  Her IV was removed from her hand on Friday, marking the end of daily visits by home-care nurses.  She remains on oxygen for the long-term and has been given a temporary mask system to aid with her breathing while sleeping until an overnight sleep study early in April.

She can now walk to any room in the house and I have had her out for rides in the car (and stops at Tim Horton's drive-thru) for the first time in over a year.  She is enjoying every mouthful of a restricted, portion controlled diet.  The sparkle has returned to her eyes and colour to her cheeks.  She is optimistic and determined.  Her sense of humour is back, even with a few of her famous "Rosanneisms" thrown in.  She lost 10 pounds while in hospital and she has dropped another 10 since she came home to my cooking. Her breathing is expected to improve gradually as she loses more weight.

Rosanne's tests for diabetes came back negative, much to our surprise.  Her heart and lungs are 100 per cent and her blood pressure tested normal on Friday afternoon. A suspect clot in her lungs dissipated, thanks to blood thinners and antibiotics.  The severe cellulitis in her legs has cleared up amazingly.  With the aid of oxygen, her breathing is no longer laboured and forced.  She is sleeping for four and five-hour periods at a time without interruption.  All to be celebrated.

"It is just so wonderful.  I've been given a new life.  I am so happy," she has repeated numerous times.  "I didn't know what to do for myself before, but it's all different now and I'm going to make up for lost time."

It has been a long time since I have seen her so upbeat and positive.  I don't know when I have been so proud of her.

Watching her take a renewed interest in reading, her surroundings, her appearance, methodically doing her exercises from the hospital bed set up in our dining room, attempting to help me in the kitchen and doing things for herself that she hasn't done in ages, has had a positive impact on me as well.  I feel like I have been given a new life too.  I have my wife back.  We have a future again...I am thankful. A weight has been lifted.  I believe in miracles!

I looked in the mirror earlier today and I also saw a sparkle in my own eyes that had been missing in recent months.  I then stepped on the bathroom scales and, would you believe it, I too have lost 20 pounds on Rosanne's new diet.  What a bonus! 

We've both climbed, scratched and clawed our way back from an all-time low period in our lives.  We've done pretty darn well, if I do say so myself. 

I refer you, once again, to my previously stated thesis.

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