Monday, May 16, 2011

A Week In The Life Of

It's been a long, long seven days. This time last week we were trying to make time go as quickly as possible. While Farmdoc was in the operating theatre the rest of us were trying not to think about all the things that could go wrong.

On Monday he had a quadruple bypass and woke in Intensive Care at four am on Tuesday with no idea what day it was. He wiggled his fingers and toes and tested his brain. Yep, all intact. He'd survived.

On Wednesday he was transferred to the ward, feeling fine. We called it Walking Wednesday because he walked for the first time. But then his heart, swollen from all that had happened, went into fibrillation, pounding so fast and so hard that the bed shook. He was returned to the ICU.

He came back to the ward on Friday morning, the fibrillation somewhat controlled, but he was confined to bed. He was white with exhaustion and too sick to eat.

Then yesterday, Sunday, he made his physio debut - out of bed and walking around the ward. Afterwards, he was flattened from the exertion and still had the occasional fibrillation episode, but it was a start. Today was even better. He had his first shower in a week and the last of his tubes was removed.

It's been a weird week. I haven't been able to concentrate on anything. I wanted to record this experience but I couldn't write. When I had a chainsaw accident I sat up in bed and wrote down every awful moment, every variation of pain. When my mother slipped into dementia I recorded her loss, minute by heart breaking minute. I can always write. Not this time.

And it's funny too how when something big happens you fixate on the small things. Last Monday, when Farmdoc woke from his operation his wedding ring was missing. No one seemed to know where it was. I was distraught.

I knew it didn't matter. He could go without a ring or we could buy a new one. Just as long as he was all right. But I couldn't shake the feeing that it was important.

 We asked about it almost every day but it didn't appear. Then this morning he told someone that because his operation was on a Monday today might be a good day to check again on the operating theatre floor; perhaps some of the same team would be on duty.

And down it came. In an envelope labelled with his details. It's foolish of me I know, to care so much, but it seemed catastrophic that it was lost and it seems like a good omen that it was found.

I was 19 and Farmdoc was just 20 when I slipped that ring on his finger, 43 years ago, though he wasn't Farmdoc then - just a skinny medical student. And he hadn't planned to wear a ring. Neither of our fathers was a jewellery wearer. But one day we came across my mother's late parents' wedding rings in a box of trinkets and we decided we'd have them resized for us. So these gold rings have signified love and commitment in our family for a long time.

I was emptying his bottle of pee into the toilet the other day and the words 'for better or for worse' sprang into my mind. Is this what they mean? I wondered. But it didn't feel so terrible to me. Not nearly as bad as seeing him sunk in misery, too exhausted to care. That was truly the worst.

What a week. I'm glad it's over. The surgeon told us the recovery is in two stages and that the first six weeks will be the hardest. I guess that's one down and five to go.


  1. Very touching! I love your stories!

  2. It's wonderful to learn that Ross is well and recovering nicely. His readers, in fact your readers too, are anxious to read his posts again. Don't let him work too hard, or relax for too long. See that he keeps writing.

    My heart operation was a year ago March. I walk for two hours at a time and I feel great. He will too.

    When you can, ask him if he has noticed the wheels in the hall. What does he think of them?

  3. Vivienne, Vera felt much the same as you when she arrived at the hospital after the operation. I was in the ICU and she was quite upset as she watched the tubes being removed. The look in her eyes was like no other.

    I am sure I understand the look in Ross's eyes in that picture.

  4. My feelings exactly.
    I'm glad the roller coaster ride of the last week is over.
    We were thrilled to see some colour in Ross' cheeks yesterday, & to see him up and walking again.
    You are all so precious to us.
    From strength to strength.. I'll keep praying xx

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  6. Hello you two, Kate has just sent me over.

    Sounds like Monday is your celebratory day! The day each week that you do something a little special, be it celebrating a wedding ring find, not having to empty the pee bottle or even a walk from the bed to the loo, to the lounge, to the garden, to the shop. I hope you have many more celebratory Mondays.

    I have held many hands in hospital, my children's, my friends and my parents. I have kissed a dying man, I have said prayers to gods I am not so sure I believe in and I have shed many many tears. Some things you just can't put into words. I get that.

  7. what a beautiful post. So honest so full of love heartache.
    thank you for sharing it, and for all your feeling you can't write about it, you've articulated the mood and feeling beautifully.
    um you and your family have been much in my thoughts and heart each day this week. I know that'a little weird as you don't know me from a bar of soap by i'm a friend of Kate's.
    it must have been a awful terrible and exhasuting week, but you all got through it and survived somehow when i'm sure it felt like you couldn't.
    much love and thoughts to you all xo

  8. So pleased the surgery went well and Ross will be able to resume his farmdoc duties. It took me 3 years before I could write about Rob's surgery and recovery, so I have some idea of what you were feeling. Thinking of you as always love Bin

  9. Thank you all so much for your beautiful comments. They made me feel so supported. And playing WordsWithFriends with you, Miss Mimi, kept me sane, I think!

    Farmdoc came home this afternoon and will be back on blog duty tomorrow.

  10. I've never commented here before (though I've been reading and enjoying your writing for over a year - thank you!) but just wanted to say a big phew - so glad he's doing so well. Oh yes, the tubes are very scary. Sending love and hoping the recovery goes well xx