Lessons Still to Learn

Although Thad and I have become experts at surviving medical adversity, heck I even wrote a book about it, we need a little fine tuning.  Maybe it’s our age; after all even the simplest things can become more difficult these days.

They say that timing is everything and at our age apparently our timing is off.

“Are there bags under my eyes, Loretta? “

“No more than usual, Thad.”  I looked at him quizzically wondering if he is suffering from a late onset mid-life crisis. At 69, maybe approaching 70 was a might scary. “Why?”

“The bottom half of my vision in my right eye is blurry.” he said trying to hide his concern.

We decided that perhaps his contacts were the issue but upon removing it found his blurred vision persisted.  A trip to the eye doctor confirmed that he had a detached retina and would need to have it surgically repaired by a retinal specialist as soon as possible.  He was scheduled for the following day.

No worries.  It was repairable and while it would take a few weeks to heal and he would need to be chauffeured, it was a mere bump in the road of life.  We were experienced and prepared.  Or so I thought.

Having had some recent sleepless nights, and wanting to insure that I could be Florence Nightingale and not Nurse Ratchet, I chose to take a 100 mg sleeping aid the night before surgery.   Now I need to preface this with the fact that two years ago I had gone from 50 mg to 150 mg every night.  But after a while each dose no longer kept me asleep and required more medication.  Not wanting to continue to increase the dosage, I weaned myself off it completely and now only take a 50 mg tablet every so often in hopes to catch a few zzzzz’s.  On the night prior to Thad;s eye surgery  I figured  I could handle the 100 mg tablet.

I did get a solid 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep.  Not bad, I thought.  4:30 am and in need of a potty break I rose for relief only to find I was extremely nauseated.  I decided rather than put my head in the toilet I would get a stainless steel bowl from the kitchen and settle back in bed.  As I reached overhead to retrieve the bowl my knees buckled, I fell down on them but my legs and feet were pushed back underneath my body and I landed flat on my back.  My knees were wedged under the bottom of the kitchen cabinets. I have never been double jointed nor very flexible like Gumby, the clay animation, so needless to say I was in pain.   I shouted for Thad who immediately got up and went to look for me in the bathroom (my usual haunt throughout the night – but that’s another story).  Imagine his surprise when he found me in the kitchen in this distorted yoga pose.  We assessed the damage and figured out how to extricate me  without causing any more pain.

While nothing appeared broken, my feet, ankles, arches, and toes were screaming in pain and my thighs feel like they had been placed on the torture rack from the middle ages.  What crime had I committed to deserve this?

We wondered if I would be able to drive Thad for surgery at 8 am. Determined, I jammed my feet into the most supportive athletic shoes I owned (Vionix are awesome) and with an anti-inflammatory on board I found that driving was actually more comfortable than walking.  Walking and standing felt like I carried the weight of an elephant on top of my lower half which felt like the legs of a newborn giraffe.  Getting up and down from a chair or toilet was reminiscent of the days when I needed to have hip replacements except the pain was in my thighs and bottoms of my feet instead of my hips.  Needless to say, it was a very long and painful day.

This leads me to the point of this blog. Thad and I have muddled through medical mayhem before and what always helped was looking for God’s message (lessons) and seeing His presence throughout.  I found two valuable lessons during this time of adversity.

One, I learned the importance of taking turns.  In the past, our illnesses didn’t coincide with one another.  We very adeptly managed to care for each other, thereby, relieving family or friends of the need to play Florence Nightingale.  But this past week, my daughter has had to help us.  She dropped off prescriptions when our local drive through Publix Pharmacy didn’t have all the medications he needed.  And since I could barely walk, let alone climb a ladder, Francesca came over to retrieve the pillows and bolsters off the top shelf in our closet that Thad would need for comfort while keeping his head down and sleeping on his right side only.  The lesson?  When one is ailing, the other must be on the watch not to do stupid stuff.

Which leads me to the second lesson: never take a double dose of medication that you have not taken in a long time. While, I woke up alert mentally (after all, I knew I had to go to the bathroom and I knew I was nauseous), my body, however, was not coordinated because it was still under the influence of the sleeping medication and was not ready to wake up physically.  That is what caused my knees to buckle.

I feel very grateful that I didn’t dislocate a hip, break or fracture any bones.  Scrapes will heal, soreness will dissipate and swelling will eventually go away.

We made it through and are still making it through as Thad recuperates and I mend.  It’s good to know that even this old girl can still learn a few lessons.  I learned it is best to take turns and to never play pharmacist with your medications.  Oh, and one more thing:  I learned that with Thad’s sturdy legs and feet and my clear vision we make one whole and functioning person.  And while out timing was off, our teamwork is spot on!

Comments (3)

  1. Man, I hate when all that happens at once… My mother suffered thru 3 surgeries to repair a detached retina at age 88? And it was miserable for her and all of her caregivers for 2 months. She had to sleep face down and only be up for 5 min at a time. It was the worst case the doc had seen so it never healed and she’s blind in her eye. It’s white now at age 94. I would not put her thru it again… Laurel Leary

    April 17, 2019 at 6:03 pm
  2. Thad was most fortunate in that he only had to spend one weekend face down and with no pain! One weekend was enough. I can’t, however, imagine having to go through this at age 88. I am so sorry she had this issue and then to be unable to see is the real kicker, isn’t it? My prayers go out to her. She must be a very strong lady. Blessings to you and her.

    April 18, 2019 at 7:22 am
  3. […] read about our recent medical mayhem.  If not check out the blog post Lessons Still to Learn at  https://www.lorettaschoen.com/2019/gain-through-pain/2073/lessons-still-to-learn/.  It was a double whammy and we were worried that he might have permanent vision loss and I had […]

    May 1, 2019 at 5:22 am

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