On Friday Paul was let out of hospital and we came back up the mountain. Today is the fifth day we have been here, and yesterday was the first day Paul started to feel really himself again. We've had to experiment with food and medication to find out what works best for him, but we have finally found a good balance, and Paul is getting some good sleep and pottering around doing household jobs. It is good to see him back in his own space, doing his own thing. He has started driving by himself again, which he is very relieved about, as he is highly suspicious of my driving, and he is going into town every couple of days to get his dressing changed. I go into town at other times to visit the kiddos so we can both have some quiet time at the cabin without each other. We like to be together, but we also like alone.

The Girl has generously come over from Melbourne to stay with Red while I am up the mountain with Paul, and we are both very grateful that she could do this. From all accounts they are having a marvellous time together, doing lots of craft and devising various cunning plans, possibly for running the world, not sure.

Every medical personage Paul has talked to over the last couple of weeks has been amazed at his progress and his health, which remains very good, despite the rearrangement of his internal organs and his giant 32cm scar. Yikes. He is going to tell his grandchildren he was in a fight with pirates. And that he lost.

Most patients who have had the Whipple surgery stay a lot longer in hospital, sometimes up to two months, so ten days was a really quick turnaround. It was a bit terrifying coming home from hospital and not knowing how it would go. It reminded me of bringing a new baby home, and not having a clue what to do next. One of the big issues was how Paul was going to get out of bed. He could stand up okay, and get up out of his hospital bed because it sits him up and has a hoist handle above, but because he can't use his stomach muscles, we thought it would be days of me heaving Paul up from the horizontal. However, with his usual determination and his engineering mind he came up with a work around - it's kind of a yoga move - hanging onto one knee bent up to his chest, and rocking up while pushing up on his opposite elbow. So much callisthenics in the middle of the night.. 

He also has my endless admiration as he has to inject himself with an anti-clotting agent every day for a month. I know we can theoretically do anything we have to in life, but that would seriously test my mettle. He does it with such sang froid (NB, a direct translation is cold blood!) If it was me, I would be demanding rounds of applause and delicious rewards every day for such a feat, but Paul just goes and does it. Also, he does not approve of extrinsic motivation. He is a believer in sheer determination. I don't have determination, and I am very much motivated by treats. 

Every day Paul can do more things. The day before yesterday, he tied his own shoelaces. Yesterday, he climbed a ladder to pull down his security camera (don't tell his mum). I shudder to think what he will get up to today when I go off to ceramics class..

Each day we both feel incredibly fortunate to have had such amazing, free medical care, to have had such an early diagnosis, and to have had such a positive outcome to a potentially life-threatening situation. 

I took this photo of Paul in the hospital on Saturday April 17, four days after his surgery. He is standing, with his walker, in front of the artwork that his dad, Peter, created for the hospital twenty five years ago. His dad was a ceramic artist and made this mural, The Dance of the Planets, from 780kg of clay. Twenty five years later, and twenty three years after his dad's death, here is Paul in a ward just around the corner of the mural. Every day he was in hospital we went for a walk along that corridor to view it.

I am impressed at how I positioned Paul's head right in front of a planet so he looks like Saint Paul with a halo. Here he still has a nasal tube, a stack of IV ports, a catheter, and numerous drainage bags hanging from his belly collecting various abdominal fluids. This is the point where I just couldn't imagine him coming home any time soon.

Here is the photo I took yesterday, April 27, of Paul climbing a ladder. Fourteen days after surgery and ten days after the first photo. Insane. 

Today Paul walked into the village pharmacy and the pharmacist just looked at him, and said, "You haven't come out again already?" Yep.

Very, very fortunate. It pays to eat your greens and chop wood and live on a mountain and have determined attitude, a lovely family and a darling girlfriend. I'm not sure which one of these helps most, although I am inclined to think the latter is extremely important.

Thank you again for all your kind comments and emails and the kindnesses of those who live nearby, and the wonderful prayers and good thoughts sent from afar. It means a lot to us. Despite the ladder climbing, Paul still has a way to go for full recovery and the return to using actual stomach muscles will take a while. But he has certainly come a long way already, and we are celebrating that every day.


Penelope P. said…
That man is utterly amazing!!! It was lovely to find this post here this morning, and to read of all the progress that is being made. It is a lesson though, that taking care to look after yourself , and to be determined pays off. I definitely think love is the key though, so Paul is very lucky to have you! Xx
Deborah said…
Well done both of you! This is a testament to determination, physical well being (apart from this blip!) and possibly good genes, all supported by the loving girlfriend. It is such good news and now you can make plans and enjoy them and the wonderful people around you.

I could do with some fresh, invigorating mountain air: we're in lockdown due to a community acquired CV-19 case and gagging in smokey air due to controlled burning off.

Relax and enjoy!

Jo said…
Penny, he is amazing:) One of the nurses in the hospital said he thought that a huge part of recovery is the attitude you bring to it.
I am sure is that being surrounded by love and kindness is also a big boost. And I think I am also very lucky to have Paul.

Deborah, oh, yes, we have so many plans:)
Sending you some clear mountain air from up here, and I trust lockdown will be lifted for you very soon.

Anonymous said…
Rejoicing in your good news! Good genes, attitude, and (most importantly) a loving partner, are doing the trick! Paul's picture in front of his dad's artwork tucked at my heart.
Thank you for the update. Much love to you and your tribe.
Mary said…
Such good news! And his attitude is amazing, very chill. Like you, I also am motivated by treats:) That's really cool about the mural his dad created.
Treaders said…
I think you're absolutely right. Good clean living, with hard work and a good diet can work wonders (in most cases) - oh and a doting girlfriend. Well done Paul (and well done you)! Rock on mate!
Mandy said…
Wow! He has made an amazing comeback! I’m so glad to see his fantastic progress. And the mural is absolutely lovely.
Kathy said…
Great to see his recovery is so good...simply amazing. I loved hearing the story of the mural..wow.
Anonymous said…
So glad to hear Paul is doing well!

And oh the clexane... the awful awful clexane.... I too had to inject myself with clexane for an extended window of time and the injection sites reacted terrible.... leaving me with bruises across my whole stomach as black as night - ironically in the shape of Mickey Mouse,,, I was not as cheerful about them as the shape implied. They basically made up my entire front torso!

The things we do...

Wishing you all a warm winter and speedy well-being x
simplelife said…
This is wonderful news, so very pleased for both of you.
cheers Kate
Anonymous said…
One thing to add..... it actually gives a nice sense of control of the situation , doing your own injections after a major medical event... oddly, I came to rather enjoy it!
Jo said…
Patricia, thank you, and yes, that is a very special mural for the whole family.

Mary, I know, treats, right? I am like my beagle. Treats take me places that determination doesn't have a chance to get to...

Anna, especially the doting girlfriend! There are still ups and downs along the way. Last night, for instance, was not a good one, but this week as whole is much better than last week.

Mandy, it is amazing to me as I imagined a much more protracted recovery period. It's still not all roses, but it is much better than either of us expected. Such a relief.

Kathy, that mural is amazing, probably 20m long. None of us imagined it would be the scene for Paul's rehabilitation after surgery.

Kate, thank you, my dear, and for all the good thoughts and well wishes from everyone here:) I always read them out to Paul, and he appreciates them as well xx

Anon, that sounds like a terrible sight to wake up to each morning! And well done for persevering in the face of such a trial. You are amazing! Fortunately for Paul he seems to have no effect at all from it, bruise wise. He is injecting his inner thighs as his belly is entirely covered with scar, dressings, and coiled up drainage tubes in case they need to be used again.. they won't , but they are there just in case. The trick for Paul, of course, is finding enough fat on his thighs to inject into! If it was me, for instance, I'd have no trouble!!

Anonymous said…
What can I add? That is such good news. You and Paul have so much to look forward to, and I wish you all the good things. The mural is as stunning as it would have been when it was installed.
Linda in NZ
Dar said…
It's scary seeing someone be unwell and vulnerable, but it's also scary seeing them "beat" the normal recovery process and do so much! Stressful for you. But very much the better outcome. Thinking of you all.
gretchenjoanna said…
Is the ladder climbing just for fun, or by prescription?

This is truly a success story! In process, of course.
Jo said…
Linda, one of the most comforting things to do with Paul is to talk about our plans for the future. It makes good things feel very possible, and takes us past the tricky bit where we are now..

Dar, since Paul came off his painkillers he has slowed down a lot, which actually I think shows him how much he needs rest, which is a good thing. He just got new, better painkillers, but hopefully he will remember how much down time his body really needs.

Gretchen Joanna, well, he claimed it was necessary to get his security camera out of the tree, but some people will just say anything!!

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