On My Heart (A Series)… Back Home


I was released to go home yesterday, October 5. Unlike my usual experiences with hospital discharges (both my own and those of loved ones), once the announcement was made, I was out in a just a few hours. Charles drove by the pharmacy to pick up the sack load of medicines I would be taking and I was home by noon.

Nothing was lovelier to my eyes than the large initial “D” on my black gate welcoming me back to Sugarberry Slope. It was a lovely day in Oklahoma.

The first thing I did was sit on my front porch. The wildflowers were waving in the wind while my windchimes accompanied their dance. The cowpen daisies (verbesina enceliodes) that I had allowed to grow wild were covered in the butterflies I knew would be migrating through here. The Monarchs are there, but so were many varieties of swallowtails, the fritillaries, and the sulfurs. I noticed the small orange cestrum, grown from a cutting from that of my mother showing appreciation for my deciding pre-op to transplant it near the porch. Not only would I be able to smell the fragrance it puts off at night from there, but the lighting was better for its needs. Several roses were in bloom. The space I call Wild River was full of color from zinnias, cosmos, Indian blanket, coreopsis and every kind of sunflower. I was home, and so very happy to be here.

But soon the pain in my chest, previously dulled by the morning medication, came back sharp and I had to find the recliner and rest. Charles brought me all the things I needed to stay put; water, breathing exercise apparatuses, various books, phone, prayer blanket, cough pillow and a pain pill.

I must have been there for several hours, drifting in and out of sleep, answering a few texts and calls from friends, a brief time on social media, because soon it was dinner time. Charles brought me a slice of vegan lasagna prepared by Mike and delivered by David. I have absolutely no appetite, but everyone tells me I have to eat. The lasagna made that chore less so, it was very good. Plus, Charles needs to eat, too.

I have a vague memory of an argument between us. Something I wanted moved, but being above my allotted 6 pounds, wasn’t moved quickly enough… maybe. Things are fuzzy but I know the combination of pain, frustration, loss, and steroids have made me unreasonable at times. I don’t envy Charles these next few weeks, that is for sure.

He bought me some creeping rose bushes for me while I was in the hospital. There are sitting in pots near where I want them planted. They are so beautiful, but it angered me that I would not be able to tuck them into their beds myself, I would only be able to supervise.

Charles took my blood pressure, delivered my evening medicines, and put me to bed. Leaning against a ramp of pillows large enough to stop a runaway truck, with a familiar (comfortable) Nora Ephron audio book in the ear buds, I realized how much I missed my bed and home. I slept well enough, waking up around 3:00 a.m. (as the post-op literature said I might) feeling like I was out of air. The rest of the night I slept sitting straight up. It was a better sleep than the last ten for sure.

This morning, I woke early and painful. Charles made me a light breakfast so I could take my pain pill. I fell asleep on the recliner for a while and woke up again around 7:00 a.m. He was sitting nearby working from his laptop. The sun was coming through the windows. “Did you let the chickens out yet?” I asked him. He looked at his watch, realized the time and suggested I might want to go with him. I did want to, very much. I put on my robe and slippers and he escorted me out the garage door. I made it to the hill that leads down toward the chicken pen, but had to stop and lean on his workshop to catch my breath. We both realized I was probably not going to make it down the hill, but most definitely not back up it. He continued the trip and let the chickens out while I watched. They were all there, but I really wanted to go in and scoop one up. Vivien only weighs about 3 pounds, I could manage that… but the bending and scooping creates a challenge.

I had a shower. I still cannot look at my incision. I spent some morning time journaling, and cataloging my progress. Walks are recorded, my weight, all my vitals, water intake, my breathing exercises, all the things. I found a cane that had been among my mother’s things and took a brief walk outside to cut some peppermint strip zinnias for a bouquet and collect seeds. I got winded and had to go in before doing all I wanted to do. I read some. I took another walk to a place I call Yellowstone just north of the porch – the amount of deadheading that needed done was overwhelming. We had another slice of lasagna for lunch. I sat out on the porch again and started seeing all the things that need doing. I was feeling a sadness I could not identify mixed with irritation and a rage I knew was the steroids.

Home health arrived around 1:30. She sat down in front of me and asked me why she was here. I said I didn’t understand the question. “Why did you invite me here, today?” she asked in a sing-song voice. The steroid devil poked me with his pitchfork behind one eye.

“I didn’t invite you here, today,” I said icily. “My doctor ordered home health.”

The rest of the conversation didn’t go well because the information she read back to me was all wrong due to the fact that she had the wrong patient on her iPad. I am not 68 year old Judy with diabetes and advanced kidney disease. She was not given the information or the tools to complete the visit (or to defeat the dragon in front of her) so she promised she would return tomorrow. “Oh, goody,” I thought. Then, “you are a horrible person.”

I gave in to a half a pain pill and fell into another several hour sleep. The pain pills make me feel like I’m underwater. I woke occasionally, and could hear Charles outside working on something outside. I was jealous and sad.

I got up and walked around the house to pick a few more flowers for the zinnia bouquet. The wind really picked up and I got disoriented. Charles was on the other side of the house and I knew I could just call to him and he’d be there. “Do not go out in cold or high winds” I recalled an excerpt from the binder they sent home. “Break the rules, old girl, pay the price,” I said to myself. I leaned against the fence for a few moments.

I made it back to Charles. I told him I was pissed off, and started to cry. I think he already knew why, but I told him anyway. I’m going to miss the fall season here on Sugarberry Slope. I mean, I know I won’t miss the actual season, but I am going to miss the part I so wanted to be a part of. The planting of the winter crops, the sowing of the wildflower seeds, the decisions made on how thing will be wintered and where I want them to be next spring. I am aware that I have but to ask and I will have people here willing to deadhead, finish the cucumber harvest, pull the tomato vines and all that stuff. But I want to do all that stuff.

Oh, I know I can sit from my porch and watch Sugarberry’s green turn to gold, but I want to be there to help, I would rather participate than watch. I’m terrible at watching.

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