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.