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The man who died twice part 2

Updated: Nov 25, 2023

Got through the last rights and family members started showing up. My older sister and husband and nephew Mark from Bradford Pennsylvania, my younger sister and husband from Columbus, Ohio. When Mark and I saw each other we both started crying badly and Mark had to leave the room. I don’t think it had anything to do with me being in the hospital, but we missed the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament that we had planned to attend in Buffalo New York because of my stroke. What a bummer!

In the next days I had breathing tube removed and put on oxygen, G-tube placed in my stomach because I couldn’t take anything by mouth. My diet now consists of protein drinks and water through the tube. And I slept mostly.

The next event was finagled by my wife. I was now in a bunch of therapies 5 days a week. Physical therapy twice a day, 9:00 am and 3:00pm. Squeezed in between was Occupational, Speech, lunch of protein, and recreational.

Physical therapy was the most rewarding, or should I say what I really thought it was. Hardest. The girl was probably half my age and twice as anxious to get started. She woke me most mornings. Oops is woke a bad word these days?

She had a lot of energy, introduced herself and put me in a sitting on my bed. She left to move the wheelchair closer, and I immediately flopped on my back. Absolutely no stomach muscles to hold me up. She remedied the situation, and with the help of a gate belt transferred me into the wheelchair, and off to the gym we went.

She introduced me, as the new boy in town, then explained how I was going to use the standing machine in front of me. A belt was placed under my buttock, my feet in a footplate and with the push of a button I was moved into a standing position. This was all done cautiously and slowly. When upright my abdomen was against a soft stub of some kind, and in front of me a slanted table. All I could think of was how the hell do I get out of this miserable thing. The pain was bad. My feet hurt with all the weight on them. My legs hurt. Everything hurt. But I was a man, so my first thought was I show them I can do it. I was so uncomfortable that thought lasted less than a minute, and I started giving signals that I want down out of this thing now. Nobody seemed to care, and I couldn’t even scream at them. I couldn’t talk. After what seemed like an eternity, they let me back down into my wheelchair. What a relief. My @&*% smiling PT lady told me I did good for the first time a whole 3 minutes. I think my eternity was a gross overestimate.

They took me over to an exercise bed where we were going to do some stretches. Using a gate belt, they moved me into a partial standing position before laid me on the bed. I interrupted them. With a power BARF that got all over my PT girl and her helper. They weren’t even phased by it. Just got me back in my chair, cleaned themselves off with towels, and took over where they left off. I guess the mixture of protein and water vomit is a lot better than my drunken beer one. Stretches took the rest of my 1 hour+.

And then back to my room with my cute smiling PT girl. Put in bed and wait for the next one. I then take a short nap. Maybe 2 minutes, maybe 15 minutes, all depends on when the next therapist is ready.

The others I won’t describe in so much detail, just give a thumbnail sketch of each. PT was the most important to me.

OT man I think was the favorite of someone from high up. Because he was praised as the greatest, but really, In my mind, not worth a shit. He always arrived late, like he was busy. When he arrived, he took 15 minutes to tell me what we were going to do. Then off to the gym where we did what I guess was OT stuff. Like how many pegs can you put in the right squares in 5 minutes. They all had a purpose; I know because he told me so. After finishing about 4 of these tasks I was taken back to my room. And for about 15 minutes he told me what we had done. Then left early. He must have had something else to do.

Speech was much different than today. Mouth exercises, tongue exercises, letter noises, and then we you learned how to grunt the let you try to talk to another person and see if they understand you. When you got bored with it all, they said they taught you all they could and graduated you.

Recreational was a relaxing time. Playing cards was my favorite. Talking about the weather was right up there. Saying anything bad about the UNC basketball team or their coaches was a no-no.

Of all of them sleeping was what I did best. See you again soon, right now I’m tired and want to go to bed.

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