After nearly a month feeding the infection antibiotics and pain meds through the PICC line , my home care nurse visited for the last time to pull the two foot plastic tubing out of my arm. With a deep breath and a long yank my life line was gone. The drugs would quickly wear off and life should get back to normal again, or so they said!
It was now a month since coming back from the brink, seeing the other side, and now wondering what life lay ahead?
With the PICC line out – the body – my body – now went cold turkey off the antibiotics and allergy laden cocktail that kept it in a zombie state to heal. The first few days came the withdrawal off the drugs, off the antibiotics, and an awakening of sorts.
I was finally able to watch full episodes of TV shows, stay awake long enough to eat dinner with the family, go out shopping, and help with little chores around the house. Progress!! I’m alive!!! The withdrawal continued about a week until I was sent out to my first doctor’s visit since landing in the hospital.
By now, I was weaning off the pain meds and adding to a long list of groans and moans. Aside from the everyday gripes – I was eager to find out when I could get back to work. Get back to life! Eager to get back to a life away from the worn in sofa.
My illness didn’t change my extroverted nature. I still needed and wanted daily adult interaction, a reason for getting up in the morning, to contribute to my family, to the world, to have a purpose. Sleeping on the sofa resting – healing – just wasn’t filling any of those.
While being in a zombie like state my home care nurse and hospital doctors told me not to drive while feeding the PICC. I was now PICC free and wanted to try driving again. How hard could it be? Well, if retraining the brain to walk and climb stairs was challenging, how hard would it be to drive again?
I convinced my husband and family that I could drive to the doctors office. It was only a few miles away! I didn’t have to get on the highway and it was surface streets. Oh boy was I wrong. If it wasn’t for temporary brain fog from my illness.. these sure would be Darwin award winning actions.
I got into the car, turned the key to start the car, that’s where it started to go downhill. I looked at the gears and had to figure out – how to drive a car- and what gear to put it in. What letter “drives” the car? Remember connections in the brain needed to be reconnected. Ah ha… “D”, Success… I’m driving…. Sort of! Gas / Brake – those were picked up quickly – Trail and Error… I ‘m driving down the residential side streets and pretty much stayed in the middle of the lane. I couldn’t figure out which side of the street to drive on. An oncoming car helped me pick… Great I learned something new today and no one knew this except me. Here’s your Darwin Award Mis… No one knew all these new connections I had to pieced together. Many new connections of stupid stuff that I had either stored away and forgotten or needed a refresher course.
The doctor visit…I was rather disappointed in this initial visit with him. The Doctor came in and asked why I was there.. umm…. “I was in the hospital last month for a good week” I had “Bacterial Meningitis”….. My home care nurse told me to see you to get my pain med prescription refilled.
I had been off the major pain meds for a few days.… I was fiening. I was in pain… I was tired… I was angry… I was bored at being stuck home. I was tired of being sick. I wanted a life back…. give me drugs!
He looked at me and nodded… Without him asking I told him what was still going on. The continued pain, the joint pain, the fatigue, the headaches, the dizziness, the stomach upset, the side pain, among other stuff… Again he just nodded at me.
His first words were well you are doing better than most – “give it time” Yes, Granted I could have been worse off – I could be laying in the morgue or swimming with the fishes by now… I get it. Most folks that endure Bacterial Meningitis that live come out of the coma with more than just a few aches and pains! I came through it pretty unscathed compare to some.
He sent me on my way, without a refill; without a follow-up appointment; without an ounce of compassion, without a second look at my hospital record, or even looking at me, he even noted in my record the “ok” to return to work by July just days away.
I was sent home to continue my withdrawal… Continue enduring lingering symptoms and the notation – I now have to return to work.. It would just take time to heal.