Around these parts, the old folks used to visit neighbors and relatives’ homes around Christmas time just for the joy of sharing hospitality with one another. There might be an exchange of food, but there were no grand displays of conspicuous consumption. The simple joy of visiting was the luxury exchanged. Upon arriving at a home, the folks coming in the front door would shout, “Christmas Gift!”. Whether it was a not too subtle hint or no, the folks being visited knew to be ready with some sweets for the occasion. It just wasn’t done to withhold a tea cake or a warming cup of coffee from the visitors. The communities were small in Gwinnett County and eventually the visits would balance. I wonder if any of my cousins or long-time friends remember “Christmas Gift!”
I want to send all of my friends and relatives a heartfelt “Christmas Gift!” greeting this year. I’m not going to make it to your front doors, but I’ll be there in spirit. The way I see it is Christmas 2011 is destined for the not-to-be-forgotten category.
Unfortunately, November 2011 is a lost month for me. I want to recap the month as told to me by Mary, my wonderful wife. I got in the Yukon for a visit to my neurologist, November 3. I had complained of heaviness in my legs. I did not make it to that appointment. Instead, Mary and Will had to deal with my pulmonary embolism in our driveway. The EMTs responded, saving my life, and transported me to North Fulton Hospital where I remained for thirty five days. I had experienced a pulmonary embolism in which my already implanted clot trap failed. It captured most but not all of a clot from my leg. I had cardiac arrest. After the emergency procedures, I had four more fractured ribs which necessitated surgery with plates attached to ribs.
I spent fifteen days in ICU which was my very own twilight experience. During that time, I got to experience dialysis first hand after monitoring my mother’s sessions for three years. I didn’t experience any out-of-body experiences that I remember during my cardiac arrest or during the “twilight.” I did awaken asking about NaNa, my beloved mother-in-law who died six years ago. Interestingly, I asked about my many years deceased sister-in-law, Sheryl. As the days rolled by, it appeared that I had not suffered stroke or brain damage. Some funny guys might have a thing or two to say about the my brain. I moved to the cardiology unit November 18…a big step in the right direction. It was also a chance to escape the spooky nights I was experiencing on the ICU floor.
Four days later, my mother fractured her other hip and required surgery. Again, I experienced such a feeling of helplessness. Thanksgiving day came and I was fully alert. I remember it well as Mary pulled out all the stops and brought me a homemade Thanksgiving feast to enjoy in Room 226 at North Fulton Hospital. The days rolled on with my getting increasingly antsy for some rehabilitation. Finally, I moved to the rehab unit, November 28. Happy day!
I stayed in North Fulton Hospital’s rehab unit for eleven days, working with some truly dedicated therapy staff. There were moments that I thought the therapy was not working, but apparently I improved enough to be released December 8, 2011. I returned to my home a very happy and grateful man! Out-patient therapy consists of twice-weekly sessions. I started using my cane yesterday. I have monthly visits with my oncologist and my neurosurgeon and
once-weekly visits to my primary care physician.
Throughout all of these medical travails, I have had so much wonderful and caring support from friends and relatives. My immediate family has been untiring in their efforts, especially the amazing Mary. There have been friends who have seen me at my worst and have shown me so much love through actions and words. Thanks to all who have uttered a prayer or expressed a caring thought. I love you all and thank you.
December 16, 2011