Reflections

After a long absence from my blog, it’s time now for me to reflect on the many blessings in my life.

This is my man, Pat, at a birthday party in Quartzsite, AZ in March, just prior to his ordeal.

This is my man, Pat, at a birthday party in Quartzsite, AZ in March, just prior to his ordeal.

Why the absence? And why the gratitude?

In mid-March of this year, my husband Pat became suddenly very ill, while we were far from our home province, and even our home country. We had no idea at the time how serious his situation was, and treated it ourselves within the scope of our own knowledge and resources. Alas, after nine days and a trip to a nearby Emergency Room, we knew this was not going away without medical treatment at home.

So, March twenty-fifth we hit the road. I got a four-day, hands-on crash course in towing a fifth-wheel from a man who doesn’t even remember the trip. We waited this long in order to ensure we were not alone on our journey. We met Pat’s brother and his wife at the end of the first day’s drive and leaned heavily on their support for the rest of the trip home. He was my guide in all things truck and trailer related; she took care of my dog at every fuel stop and made sure I didn’t forget to eat in my state of distress and information overload. They were definitely the difference between success and failure on our mission, and we will always be grateful to them.

In the late afternoon of March twenty-eighth, after four days of driving under very unfamiliar circumstances and three nights of caring for a man who could neither walk, eat nor empty his own bladder, we rolled into Calgary. Almost home. A bit further North, and we were on the rural property of friends who’d allowed us to park and stay a while. We parted company with our guardians as their exit came up, and were followed onto the property by two more of Pat’s siblings and their spouses. Once there, they were quick to unhitch the trailer, seeing to it and the dog, allowing us to get back on the road for a forty-minute drive back to the city and the nearest hospital.

After a long night of investigative testing and waiting, we had a diagnosis and a plan. Just after noon the next day, Pat was in surgery to drain the abscess that was putting pressure on his spinal cord. The more than seven hour long surgery was successful in that the part of the abscess that was causing the worst effects was accessed and drained. About half of it remained, as it was so positioned that to tamper with it would have made him a paraplegic or worse. He has a 19 cm. (7.5″) scar down the back of his neck and upper back, with eight newly fused vertebrae to go with the scars and fusions on his lower back from previous surgeries. He has also lost nearly all vision in one eye and a good part in the other as a complication of this life-saving surgery. He spent a full month in an acute spinal care unit and three more in a rehab unit in another hospital, and is now home. He is able to get around in our small space with a bit more effort than in the past, and outside of the trailer with a four- wheeled walker. He is unable to drive, but can still see well enough to use his iPad and the TV remote, and to coach me as I drive whether I need it or not.

We owe a debt of gratitude to both our families for their practical and emotional support; and to our friends for the same; to Pat’s medical team from surgeons through nurses, aides, therapists, general practitioners and lab techs for their patience and endurance. To the countless folks who wished us well and prayed  for us. We are blessed indeed to have so many good people in our lives.

After seven months at home, the weather is turning as cold as it was when we arrived, and the time has come to plan our return to Arizona. Two more doctor appointments and arrangements to be made for lab work away from home, a trip to the veterinarian and the groomer for Miss Sheena, a birthday celebration for our great grandson and a Thanksgiving feast, and we should be good to go.

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