Friday, May 20, 2011

Getting back in the saddle...

I’ve been gone a while…real life sometimes gets in the way of cyberlife, ya know?
There’s a spinal condition called “lumbar facet syndrome” and I’ve had it for some time now. Some x-rays that were taken five years ago showed some problems and ever since then, it has gotten progressively worse. Now, it has progressed to the point that I cannot stand up long enough to chop an onion without having to sit down to relieve the pain.

As you can imagine, this has put a bit of a crimp in my lifestyle. I like to go and do and run around, I like to cook, I like to explore my environment…and being unable to walk for more than a few minutes at a time really gets in the way of living my life. So, doc put me on some muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatories and told me come back in two weeks. Right.

So, for the next two weeks I took my pills religiously, did the stretching exercises she recommended and Hubby and I hied ourselves off to a nearby resort, Sun City, for a few days. It was not what I had hoped. Oh…Sun City was cool and we are planning to go back…but the meds did next to nothing for me. By the time I returned to the doctor, I was eating our local version of Tylenol and Codeine (no prescription needed) like they were jelly beans and just barely functioning.

This time it was a cortisone shot in the butt, physical therapy, more muscle relaxers and some prescription pain killers. That worked…kinda sorta…until I had my first physio appointment. Eina! as they say here in South Africa. Ouch! All the gains made from the meds were kicked out the window after just one physio appointment, and the therapist said she took it easy on me!! I have another appointment in three hours and I can tell you, I am not looking forward to it!

So, with my sore back I am still trying to live as normal an existence as I can, taking meds to allow me to move around and accompanying Hubby on our various excursions around town. I’m still not terribly fond of Johannesburg…it’s kind of a wannabe New York, with all the rudeness and self-absorption but none of the theatres, restaurants, museums and shops that make New York worth putting up with its otherwise crassness…but it is a new place with lots to see and experience that I haven’t seen before.

Mother’s Day saw us at Monte Casino for lunch. Monte Casino is…well…a casino. It is also an entertainment complex, or so it bills itself. Casinos in South Africa are plentiful…but they are very small, compared to Las Vegas or even Lake Tahoe. Most of them are themed, and Monte Casino looked kinda like a Tuscan village (faux Tuscan architecture is very big in South Africa…its everywhere you look, from apartment complexes to housing tracts to shopping centres to casinos). If you’ve been to the New York, New York casino in Vegas, Monte is rather the same style: you are indoors but in a faux outdoor setting with cobbled walks, building storefronts that house shops and restaurants, meandering walkways, a stream with pedestrian bridges, and a ceiling painted to look like the sky at twilight. I think it is Hubby’s favourite casino although I’m not as keen on it as he is. And, Monte boasts the only legal crap table in the whole of Africa.

Well, it has some decent restaurants, I’ll say that for it, and because we belong to their “loyalty club,” we get to see movies at the theatre complex for only R10 (less than $2)…and these are movies that are current—we recently saw Thor. So on Mother’s Day we went to Monte for lunch and we went to the “Gourmet Garage,” a place decorated like a ’50s American café on Route 66. I had ribs and Hubby ordered a steak. Unusually, he ordered a steak and salad rather than his usual steak and chips (French fries) and I remember thinking “there’s no carbs in that meal” but then decided not to be a nag…he a big boy, he’s been a diabetic for nearly ten years, if he doesn’t know what he is doing by now, he never going to.

I should have been a nag.

Two and a half hours later we are home, I am struggling to open the concertina security gate to the patio, and I start to hear strange noises coming from the TV lounge. I look inside and there is my husband in the middle of a grand mal seizure! We don’t have a central number in this country, like 911, to call in emergencies and I made no less than six telephone calls, including two to the police (who would not send me an ambulance but, instead, tried to give me a ten digit telephone number to call—WTF??) before I found the number of an ambulance/paramedic service on a handy list on my fridge (from a local real estate agency---thank you Pam Golding!!). A paramedic arrived in advance of the ambulance but by then, Hubby’s seizure was over and he was sitting, dazed and confused, on the sofa. I checked his blood sugar once he stopped seizing and found it to be 0.5 (on a scale where 6 is normal, 12 is high and 20 is diabetic ketoacidosis). He was in danger of falling into a diabetic coma due to low blood sugar, so I quickly gave him a Coke (with sugar) and instructed him to drink it.

We spent five hours in the emergency room before they agreed to let me take him home. The doc booked him off from work for the week and it took him most of that week to recover. A seizure is a violent thing: it locks up all of your muscles rigidly and when they finally relax, they are painful, like doing too much exercise when you are out of shape. Your brain is deprived of oxygen the whole time of the seizure and when you get your oxygen back, the brain is reeling from the shock. It can take days for your ability to think clearly and react quickly to return. Hubby also bit his tongue and when the seizure relaxed, he fell backwards on a soft, cushy sofa, causing his now completely slack body to collapse…and his tongue fell back into his throat, blocking his airway. Let me tell you, I was scared. I was still trying to get an ambulance to the house when this happened, and to allow him to breathe, I had to put my finger down this throat and depress the back of his tongue in order to clear his airway. So, there I was, one hand busy keeping his airway open, the other one frantically dialling number after number, trying to get some help.

He’s ok now and went back to work this week, but none of this helped my back at all. Trying to shift him (he is much bigger than I am) didn’t help, and the tension surely didn’t help. For the next five days or so, I could not sleep worth a damn and every time he moaned or snored, I would bolt upright in bed, checking to make sure he was ok!

On top of all of this, the baby Yorkie was frightened by the whole thing and ran off to hide. I eventually found her in the back of Hubby’s walk-in closet, hiding behind a box, shaking in terror. Poor thing…less than a week later she had to have oral surgery to remove some baby teeth that hadn’t come out on their own and were causing the adult fangs to grow in at an angle that would eventually pierce her palate. While she was at the vet, they bathed and brushed her…two of her least favourite activities…and my normally hyper little Yorkie pup spent the night dozing on the bed next to me, wrapped in a fleece and occasionally opening those big brown eyes and looking at me as if to say “What did I do to deserve this?”

So, that week passed and this most recent week has been one of catching up with lost sleep and recuperating from the shock of my husband’s seizure. I don’t think anyone realizes how much the closest family member suffers from this kind of an event…my husband asked me a few days after “Do you think I suffered any brain damage?” while, during the seizure I was thinking “Don’t die! Don’t die!”

It’s been a rough couple of weeks…

1 comment:

  1. Oh SV, that's not the kind of news I was hoping for. You've had several crimps the past weeks, and I was thinking your blog account was screwed up again. Do take care. Norine


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