Yesterday was a day like any other day. Except, yesterday I went to get the report on my follow up x-rays. They showed no sign of pneumonia. Yay! They did however show signs of COPD. So, I am off for more tests, more doctor appointments, and more medication. The medication will have side effects. I am hopeful that the side effects will be soft manageable hair, improved eyesight, and stronger muscles. I am hopeful, but I am not delusional enough to actually expect such side effects. 🙄
This week I made a trip down the rabbit hole into the world of emergency health care. Fortunately, my distress was caused by nothing more than a case of pneumonia and bronchial spasms. After ekg’s, x-rays, blood tests and a treatment of brochial-dilaters, I was on my way with a couple of effective prescriptions and orders to have follow up x-rays next week.
My husband and I are very fortunate that we seldom have any reason to visit our local hospitals. On those rare occasions when we do make one of these visits, it is such an eye opening experience that I decided to share.
1) Say what you will about public healthcare, we have always been really well treated. Our facilities are aged and definitely in need of upgrading, but for the most part, our doctors, nurses, technicians, lab techs and everyone else on staff are amazing. They make the best of anything they have to work with and do a great job keeping up with the tremendous workload that they have to deal with. I cannot imagine how we are blessed to get and keep such amazing people in our little backwoods city hospitals.
2) Regardless of the urgency of our visit (and we have made a few seriously urgent visits), I am overwhelmed by the other patients and their loved ones – especially the ones whose issues are obviously chronic, long term or terminal. We visit this world once every 5 to 10 years. For so many, this is a regular part of their life. These patients, who are in such dire straights are, for the most part, so patient, kind and grateful. It is incredible to experience such grace under pressure.
3) I have spent a fair amount of time at hospitals with family members – parents, children, and grandchildren. (I am supposed to be there as support, not the main attraction🙄). It blows me away to see this part of life from their side – the side of pain and suffering. I do not think I will ever make a good patient. I am a trainwreck in those places. My previously last visit, I arrived by ambulance with a totally collapsed lung. Within fifteen minutes, I was like “Give me a shot of morphine and I am good to go. Just get me out of here”. Long story short, I went home a month later with nightmares for a year. I am pretty sure there were some staff members (if not all) who were glad to see me gone – especially the head of radiology. In my defence, I had really big bandages taped to my back to protect my drainage tubes and when he whipped them off it hurt – like hell. There are probably still claw mark straight up the wall. 🥺
4) How do hospitals, who are caring for such desperately ill and uncomfortable patients, find a way to destroy every bit of food that comes their way? I was at the hospital for about six hours on Tuesday and had not eaten anything before I got there. Three or four hours in, my husband asked if he could get me a sandwich from the onsite coffee shop as I was feeling pretty weak and shaky. The nurse said she would get me something. Which she did! With all she had to do, getting me something to eat became a priority. I should be grateful. I was grateful. But how the hell do you screw up jello? I realize I was only there for a few hours and was not going to starve with or without jello – but this was not an isolated incident. When I was in the hospital for a month, the only edible food came from the cafeteria or coffee shop. The kitchen sent me a quivering pile of yellow (pudding?) one time that was so hideous I still get nauseous every time I think of it. I may be wrong but it seems to me, sick people would heal faster with say homemade chicken soup. Alas, our hospital dieticians are trained to believe that the road to health is paved with ‘Fish Surprise’ , dry tasteless bread and yellow slime. 🤢. It just seems so mean to feed that to sick, helpless patients.
5) Finally, hospitals are so strangely unreal with their total absense of real world time and order as we know it. Five minutes becomes five hours and hours become minutes. Orderlies whip in and out to take you places and bring you back, random lab techs pop in unexpectedly to take tubes full of your blood, nurses show up to take your vital signs or stick IV’s in you. There are ongoing announcements, bells and whistles, and random clattering and clanging. It is so bizarre and far removed from any regular day in the life of. It is definitely an out of life experience, if not an actual out of body experience.
I am so glad that we have the healthcare that we do in Canada. I am grateful that we have such dedicated people working in our hospitals – doctors, nurses, administrators, facility management, technicians, volunteers – everyone who devotes their days and nights to operating these facilities and providing their capable and compassionate care. Finally, I am so grateful that my husband and I seldom have to take advantage of the health care that is provided in these facilities. We are so blessed to generally have a reasonable level of health and well-being. I cannot imagine anyone resenting paying taxes to support this care that is available to all Canadians who require it. Especially, those of us who seldom require it.
I, like most parents, made sure my little ones were protected by the vaccines available for them. I have gotten flu and pneumonia vaccines to protect myself. But shingles vaccine, pfft. This weekend I got an education.
Shingles is hell – I would think it would be hell anywhere but I have it across my face and through one eye – which has been found to lead to dementia (Yay). Elderly people with shingles are subject to stroke or heart attach. If I am fortunate, I will just have a rash comparable to having acid poured over my face, stabbing pains in my head (think icepick) and constant nausea for a week or so.
Shingles will not cause shingles but it can cause chicken pox in anyone who has not been vaccinated – because they are too young or were from the pre-chickenpox vaccination days – like my husband and adult chicken pox is terrible.
Bottom line, if you are fifty or over, have had chicken pox, have not gotten the shingles vaccine – get it now. Protect yourself and your loved ones. 💞
With retirement mere months away, it is time to start preparing for this new phase in my life. My original plan was to start by reading a few books by the experts . It turns out that most of the experts writing books on this subject are focused on the financial aspect of retirement. No doubt this is important, but it is not my biggest priority. If I start stressing and obsessing over finances, we will never have the means to feel secure. We are not wealthy but we will keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. We are in a position to manage financially .
What I want to focus on right now is building a new lifestyle, finding who I am at this point in my life, who I want to be and how I want to live this new chapter of my life. I cringe at the thought of spending the next thirty years or so in front of a television set, watching pretend people living pretend lives while my own slips away. Life is precious, life is priceless and I want to live every day of mine to the fullest – especially now that the time is mine to live as I choose.
I want to focus on how to make the most of my life. I want to work on getting into the best shape I can physically and find ways of maintaining my physical wellbeing. I want to focus on keeping my mind strong and stimulated. I want to focus on ways to keep emotionally healthy. I want to focus on finding ways to serve others, to give as long as I am able.
I am anxious to begin this new phase of my life. I know I have much to learn and much to do in order to be as ready as I hope to be. I guess that is how I start.