Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Lesson in Compassion

One week ago yesterday I had an operation. I've been home from the hospital since Saturday evening. I feel like I've been run over, but everything went well so I'm not complaining (much). If any of you Dear Readers care to hear about what happened, I went into more detail on my own site. You can read about it here.

This is certainly not my first experience with doctors and hospitals. Over the past five years or so, my husband has undergone multiple health crises including: kidney failure resulting in eight months of nephrostomy bags before an operation opened up his ureters; heart problems necessitating the installation of a defibrillator device in his chest; a spot of colon cancer which led to a bowel resection, several months of a colostomy bag, and then an operation to put him back together. Many months of recovery, through which he was unbelievably calm and patient.

I learned so much about wound care and convalescence over those years that I basically earned the equivalent of an LPN degree. I would have done and did do anything for him and I was happy and eager to do it. So you can imagine that I thought I knew all there was to know about being a caregiver.


Now, my little operation, while no picnic, was nothing compared to what Don has gone through, and he is not having to sanitize himself from head to toe twice a day to clean out and re-bandage open wounds in order to take care of me. But I haven't had an operation myself since I was four years old and had my tonsils out, so unlike him I was unaware of how important the little things are to an invalid--someone who will spend night after night at the hospital so you don't have to call the nurse just to turn over. Combing the patient's hair for her so she doesn't look like a troll doll when visitors come. Driving her around with no destination just so she can get some sun and fresh air (visualize a cocker spaniel with its head stuck out the window). Giving her a hand up off the bed so she doesn't have to wallow up like a beached walrus. Getting up in the middle of the night to stand outside the bathroom door to make sure she can make it back to bed all right. Making a sandwich.

Believe me, no matter how expert you become in taking care of sick people, until you've been the patient yourself, you don't really get the picture. I'll be up and around and healthy again in a few weeks. But I'll never be the same.
p.s. after all he has been through, today you'd never know Don had been sick. He looks great and feels good. Who knows how long it'll last but we're enjoying the heck out it while we can.


Rick Blechta said...

Get well soon, dear!

Donis Casey said...

Thanks, Rick. I'll do my best.

writerrobynlarue said...

It is absolutely true. Once you are in that bed it all comes clear, doesn't it? Glad everything went well and take it easy while you recover!

louise signorelli said...

One of the great kindnesses I remember from when I was hospitalized and barely alive - it was on the 12th day - a nurse came in and asked if I'd like to have my hair washed. And, oh, lord, did it feel good - not to mention making me look semi-human again. Amidst all the intensive care necessities, that was one of the biggies that I remember.

Donis Casey said...

Something else I discovered--when you can't bend over it's really nice when someone helps you dry your feet and put on socks.

louise signorelli said...

And a freezer full of real meals! My son, a 5-star chef, left me well-stocked when I got home from the hospital. Catering by the St. Regis Hotel - can't beat that!