In 1998, hospitalized for a bunionectomy, I stayed overnight. Things have changed. This time I had major invasive (non-threatening) surgery, and I was escorted to the door as the last stitch was pulled tight, literally. They insisted a “responsible person” stay with me for the next 24 hours and bring me back for a post-op visit the next day.
I tried to work out the logistics so that I could do this without involving anyone else. Couldn’t. I had to impose on friends for help. I could have driven the motorhome for the pre-op and stayed for surgery the next day, but they no longer allow RVs to stay overnight in the Mayo Hospital parking lot. Although a campground was four miles away, and hotels, taxis and shuttles were in abundance, that still left me with the 24-hour-responsible-person and the I-couldn’t-drive-for-a-week-after-surgery problems.
Calling on Friends
One friend delivered me to the hospital. Another picked me up after surgery. She dealt with emptying drains, measuring output, packing, rebandaging, medications, and a rather pie-eyed person still affected by anesthesia. (She said she didn’t notice the difference!)
In the post-surgical directions, it states, “Remain in bed one full day after surgery, except for bathroom needs.” My friend took me home with her after surgery (one hour driving), returned me the next morning for the post surgical exam (one hour driving), and then drove me back to North Ranch (two hours driving). I suppose four hours of driving might be restful if you were gliding through pristine verdant meadows with accompanying streams, but this is generally not true during rush-hour traffic around Phoenix.
The Mayo hospital/doctor staff made very sure I was who I claimed to be. Anyone within 20 feet of me demanded date of birth, name, rank and serial number. To be very certain they were operating on the correct area, the doctor came in with her handy highlighter and made me look like a paint-by-numbers painting.
What am I saying? First, it is way misguided that insurance companies rule whether surgery patients can be kept overnight, no matter how serious. Secondly, the professionalism, friendliness, and helpfulness of the entire Mayo Hospital staff were amazing.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, small communities are nice but sometimes people miss you way too soon. I hadn’t told anyone other than my drivers what I was up to. Of course with my car still parked in the driveway, they expected me to be there. I wasn’t. After the second friend knocked with no answer, the alarm spread. Strangely enough, they did not first think that I was off on some romantic liaison, but assumed I was lying out of sight in a pool of the red stuff. Thankfully, before calling the fire department to knock down the door, they waited a couple of days. After all, if I was gone, I was gone. In the meantime, I came back, looking somewhat the worse for wear.
Living alone has its hazards. I had permission to take a shower my second day post- surgery. The neighborhood was happy. I let myself sink to the shower floor twice in lightheadedness. I said to myself, “Self, best you get out.” I didn’t quite make it and apparently melted back into the tub for a couple of seconds. At my age, it is not easy to extricate oneself from a spaghetti tangle of arms, legs, and 2,000 other body parts, but I made it.
My North Ranch driver checked on me every morning and called to be sure I was functioning, somewhat, and even offered to do my laundry. Although I declined, for a couple of weeks I did have him carry it out to the shed. Fortunately, I had done all the scrubbing and cleaning of everything in my miniature house and office before I left for Mayo.
A dear friend who has visited me in my travels and whom I have written about before, Linda from Indiana, came to visit for three days and dedicated herself to my care. I took every advantage of it. Since we couldn’t do anything exciting, we talked. Linda and I go back to teenage and family days (a mere 20 years ago!) so we always have plenty to catch up on.
Unfortunately, within two weeks, I developed C.difficile, a dramatic intestinal bacterial fight between “bad” bacteria and “good” bacteria. It seems the major boost of antibiotics zapped my good bacteria and left miles of intestine to the Mafia. Would make a great movie.
I won’t go into detail but with more antibiotics (that doesn’t make sense to me) over three months, my reports finally became negative. In the meantime I was walking around in a complete fog. (No comment!) I slept all the time until the negative report finally let me get completely off medication and I woke up. Wow. Unfortunately, there is no encouragement that a sequel, “Return of the Diff,” might not be produced at a future date.
What did I learn? It is more blessed to give than to receive but I wouldn’t have given this to my worst enemy. Secondly, hospitals aren’t a safe place to be even for less than eight hours. Thirdly, friends who are drivers and laundry lifters and phone checkers and conversation sharers are worth their weight in gold. Fifthly, I believe that RVers live a healthier lifestyle than the rest of the country. With today’s exception, I don’t spend a lot of time expounding on my ills, and I find other RVers don’t either.
With all of that in the past, survival of Arizona’s summer heat behind me, and a magnificent month in Alaska under my belt, I am feeling very blessed this autumn morning, and I hope you do, too. God Bless.
Autographed copies of Revised RVing Alaska and Canada ($16.95); Adventures with the Silver Gypsy ($14.95); Full-Time RVing: How to Make it Happen $14.95); In Pursuit of a Dream ($8), and Freedom Unlimited, The Fun and Facts of Full-timing ($9) are available through author Sharlene Minshall, Box 1040, Congress, AZ 85332-1040, www.full-time-rver.com or Amazon.com. Postage and handling are $4 for one book and $1 for each additional book
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