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Monday, March 23, 2015

A Night To Remember

A Night To Remember 

           I look at the sun shining and feel the warmth on my face. This past weekend was the first time I could enjoy sitting out back on the deck. It was wonderful. I can not walk well and become weak and short of breath easily but comfortably sat watching my husband and grandson building a little bonfire with one of the neighbor children joining in for the fun. Hen the fire was just right they brought out the hot dogs and even cooked some for me. It was a wonderful time filled with smiles.

           I have seen the world through the window or pictures my husband takes for me of the wildlife that visits in our back yard. Most of the time I have left the house has been for doctors visits, therapy, and occasionally to the store. We used to visit our daughter and family (my precious grandson) often but any travel has been painful and tiring. I worked to gain strength but day by day felt worse. I had caught a cold. That does not sound so bad but for me it is a fear. There is little difference between a simple cold and my lung filling up. I lost all of the upper lobe of my left lung to cancer and have COPD. I hear of so many people my age who all have COPD with some barely having symptoms and others near death. I may not be near death but wanted to keep it that way. I also have some problems with my heart and can quickly build fluids.
           Day by day it became more difficult to find the bright side of life. There were moments I began to think I was more of a burden in life. I continued to try to gain strength but even going from one room to another was a challenge. I live in a world of pain. That is something that wears on more than the body. This past year I have been undergoing treatments on my back that have help immensely. The bones have deteriorated to the extent that there was not way to stop the pain short of killing the nerves. There pain might be there but lessened in the areas where I could not feel it. We can not deaden with nerve branch blocks my whole spine. This is not only a challenging thing to endure but to accept and realize that bit by bit my body is giving way makes seeing hope for the future difficult.
           I have wanted to be active on the internet, writing, and the new books I am working on but even sitting in a chair is a challenge. I have wanted for so long to be active in person and not just on the internet and the telephone but have not been able to do it. Even if my health improved it is difficult to find a place to meet we can be sure is available. Those things depressed me but there was more intense problems soon to occur.
            They can not give me strong pain medications without risking respiratory failure. The pain is so intense that my blood pressure is often dangerously high. The medications for blood pressure can only do so much. I have some wonderful doctors working together to do all that they can for me.
           The problem is, what more can they do? The 'cold' got worse. The coughing was severe but I kept thinking if I did all I could and took the medications and breathing treatments I would get better. I am pretty tough and have lived through some difficult times. I could do it. I could get better and stronger. I got a prescription of antibiotics and was sure that would make the difference. I had once had pneumonia and coughed so hard I broke a rib. I feared the cold was much more than I wanted to admit.
           That was one month ago. I had been enjoying the pictures and sites out out back windows. I am working on a book of Art and Words and Inspirations. I am using my paintings, photos and those my family takes to help me. I am excited about it as I think there are so many times I need a happy thought for the day or reminder to never give up and want to share the feeling of hope.

           Winter had set in with a vengeance. We had not only terribly cold temperatures but also ice. We had some snow but by then we had six inches of ice. The little animals that live in the wooded area here are stressed to find food. My husband got some bags of corn and began to put out portions out back. It was wonderful. The yard would fill with all kinds of birds in the day. Other times we would see deer coming one by one and then two and finally whole groups for the food they could find when all else was buried in ice.

           One deer has only three legs. She cold not stand and slap at the ice with her front hoof because she only had one front leg. I was fascinated seeing the creature who proudly survived the wild with such a limitation. She did not give up. She came every day and as we often watched her out the window the alert creature began to take an interest in us too. She would often stand right outside the window and look in. The heavy shroud of ice began to feel like a prison as we waited for warmer weather and surviving the cold.
           It soon became a nightmare in ice. We live in the hills with curving roads. We had six inches of ice on the ground and more falling as I found myself in a life threatening situation and needing help. I could not breathe.
           My husband called 911 and they assured us help was on the way but the roads would make it difficult and they would be there as soon as possible. The 911 dispatcher maintained a calming and reassuring tone to the call as they gathered as much information as possible to assist in the situation and dispatched Emerson Ambulance. Every moment was a terror as I fought to breathe. My chest felt locked as in or out was little more than wheezing gasps. I could hardly speak and soon felt lurching and jerking spasms as I fought to live and breathe. Every moment was a life time.
           More than ice covered roads presented a problem as our drive is long and steep and was covered in ice. The ambulance got a run at it and made it to the top to turn around getting in a position for them to be able to load me in. That was not to be as the ambulance with the attendants slid unstoppably to the bottom.
            I have fought so hard to stay alive and be able to live my life with family and friends and do something special in the time I have, but at that moment I doubted I would see another day. The EMT Tonya McColum and Paramedic Adam Karr could have called for more help or waited to find a way to assist me but they did not hesitate. They did not wait as I fought to breathe. They had to trudge pulling the gurney or stretcher up that ice covered hill fighting for footing all the way. They braved dangerous footing not hesitating to reach me and render help.
           We got me out of the house, strapped and secured with more icy slush raining down on us. Trying to safely negotiate me to the waiting ambulance and the equipment and help I needed was not going to be easy but it was something to remember. You have to understand that from my point of view I could not see it all but I heard enough to know it took courage, determination and professional calm to do what had to be done for me. Adam and Tonya risked their own safety but did not hesitate. My husband was by my side helping as best he could too.
            The stretcher began to slide faster and faster down the icy slope. The ice from the sky continued to rain down on us and there was no way to stop or slow our descent. I could hear my husband saying he was trying to find some traction but there was nothing he could do. One of them mentioned they could not let me tip. There would be no way to stop for any of us. The stretcher with all four of us gained speed sliding through the icy night. We stopped at the bottom at the ambulance. Even loading the stretcher was a problem as ice had frozen under the stretcher making it difficult to fold the wheels. They got me safely in the ambulance and immediately began care for me and to transport me to the hospital.
           I was amazed as the Paramedic and EMT showed not a moments hesitation not only getting me to the ambulance but immediately starting to work on me. I know after our slide down the icy slope the adrenalin had to be pumping in all of us and knowing how serious it could have been if the stretcher had tipped creating even more stress but the calm was more than the actions to help me. Even the tone of voice was reassuring and an IV established before we even left the drive.
           When we are hurt or in need of help, those we call to are in our mind at the moment but we often forget the courage and dedication these people show every day in so many different situations. When there is a fire we are so grateful but if it is not us in need do we remember these people work and live at the ready to assist and even risk their own safety to help others? When we are afraid or needing a police officer do we remember in other times he or she is risking their lives every time they answer a call? I want to always remember and be grateful to all of those who work so hard helping others in so many professions. The people who brave the freezing and stormy weather to restore our electricity and so many others are often forgotten in sunny days.
            When we are in a hurry and an emergency vehicle is approaching, the moment we take to pull aside and stop could make such a difference. The drivers are flashing lights and sirens for a reason and every second could count. If it was my house burning those few minutes could mean so much. If a prowler was breaking in to my house what a difference a minute or two could be to the outcome. What about the safety of those who hurry to aid others? Every trip and every day they stand ready to help.
           I was not sure I would see a tomorrow but they got me safely to help and took care of me all the way. Any one who pulled aside, if there were others out on such a night, helped me to safety. too.
           I spent time in the ER then to Accute Care and after that to a regular hospital room at St. Bernards and have to say I not only had excellent care but constant positive reassurances and interactions. I was not just short of breath, I needed help and that is what I got. I am so blessed to have such wonderful doctors and medical care, family and friends, but also all of those along the way who work each day reaching out to others. What a night to remember.