A Drug Addict Saved My Life
Part 11: How Old Am I Really?
Taking the stairs like a toddler limited my ability to hold my pee for more than a minute or two. Hand on railing, lead with left foot, bring up right foot, left foot, right foot. Pause and breathe. Begin again. An accident would revert me back into a full fledged child. So, no tripping and no pee-pee pants on my watch! Because of my limitations, I avoided stairs. You just don't imagine this being your reality when you're barely forty years old.
When I first arrived home, I didn't dare take the stairs to the main floor of my house. Luckily, years before, I converted my basement into a bedroom, full bathroom and large storage room. The backdoor at the end of the laundry room, accesses my driveway. So, I didn't have to worry about taking the long trek up the flight of thirteen stairs for a while. For me, it might as well have been a mile hike.
Once arriving home, my sister Mona bought a mini fridge and I bought a microwave. Although, it wasn’t like I could do much with my cold drinks once I retrieved them from the refrigerator. I was physically incapable of opening a water bottle. Do you know how weak your hands have to be to be unable to twist a plastic cap?! Frustrating. I also developed paper thin skin from the steroids, so when I attempted to crack open the tab on a can of Coke, my skin would split open. I needed help with the littlest things.
With low bone density, also due to the steroids I was placed on, the compression fracture along my spine wasn't the only break I had to be concerned about. I was also at risk for breaking a hip if I fell. That's the elderly lady part I had to worry about too. Living to an old age is a blessing, but there’s something wrong with being old before your time.
The crazy thing is that I'm not new to falling or tripping. I was known for getting a four inch heel stuck in the crack of a sidewalk. Or twisting my ankle while watching where other people were walking instead of minding my own path. I slipped on icy patches. Tripped up stairs. The difference between then and now was that I can no longer afford being clumsy.
Bathroom experiences were challenging. Before I was approved for a home aide, Nina came by on her days off to help me bathe. It wasn't daily, so I was a little ripe. My Dad got me a shower bench for my bathtub. Gayle had a contractor come by to install textured metal grab bars along the shower walls. At this stage, if I fell I really wouldn't have been able to get back up on my own. Heck, if I squatted too low, I needed help getting back up. So, I required special equipment and a babysitter.
My over the toilet commode had handles for me to lower myself without flopping down or tipping over. The last commode I sat on was set too high at rehab. When I leaned forward, I took a nosedive and ended up with a bloody face and a bruised knee.
Once mastering my toilet balancing, I had to relearn proper wiping technique. For the life of me, I don’t know if it was the tremors from the meds or underestimation when it came to the amount of toilet paper versus cover area-- or maybe a bit of both-- I just couldn’t get the job done like I used to. Butt wiping had become one of my biggest challenges. Then, I remembered the spray they used on me in the rehab hospital. I brought a couple of bottles home with me. This perineal solution literally dissolves fecal matter. You simply wipe until clean and there’s no rinsing necessary. You cannot feel like a grown woman with a stank butt.
Every new day is another opportunity to tackle these challenges that prevent me from fully being myself. If the road to recovery is long, I look forward to facing it if it means I’m still here fighting.
Dr. Mayer told me that everyone experiences some chronic rejection after a lung transplant. Sometimes, within months other times within years. It's inevitable. In fact, it's one of the least effective transplants performed. I had to wonder why it's an option?
No, I'm not saying death is preferred. It would just suck to go through everything you go through that leads to a double lung transplant just to stick around long enough to hopefully tie up some loose ends. I want a full life of second chances, not simply a "P.S." at the end of a letter.
The time came for home visits by a Nurse, Physical Therapist and Occupational Therapist. This little old lady needed all the help she could get to make it back to being a strong woman her own age.