Paul's Hospital Adventures
I took this photo of Paul on Monday. Clearly he is communing with the angels. As far as I can tell he is advising them that if they raise their aerial by thirty feet or so they will get much better transmission in the UHF range. Or maybe it is the VHF range. I'm not sure, and neither are the angels, but Paul is explaining it to them in detail. If you did not know that angels are amateur radio enthusiasts, well, neither did they, but Paul is getting them up to speed.
The last few days have been an amazing kind of pause in normal life. Early on Tuesday morning I walked with Paul down the hill to the hospital where I sat with him and held his hand until he was all gowned up and wheeled away to theatre. That was a difficult moment, and the beginning of a journey which is far from over, but we have weathered the first storm.
I spent the day with Paul's mum in her studio and we made some ceramic bowls. It was so good to spend the day in company with Paul's lovely mum and her partner - I discovered when I got home to a quiet, empty house that waiting by myself was nerve-wracking. Then I called up my dear friend Monique and she came over with sushi and we drank gin. I don't usually ask for help like that, but I am learning how. It is quite easy once you start:)
Then came the call from the surgeon ten hours after Paul was wheeled away to say that he had come out of the surgery very well, with the best possible outcome, keeping both most of his pancreas and his spleen, which means he gets to continue making his own insulin, and also keeps up the immune functions that his spleen provides. Did you know your spleen provides immune support? I had no idea.
Wednesday I went to visit Paul in the Intensive Care Unit. I have never been in one before, and had always imagined it as being a rather hushed, sombre place with critically ill patients lying in darkened rooms, but actually it is more like a continual circus of hordes of people processing in and out of the rooms, nurses, doctors, surgeons, physiotherapists, you name it, they're popping by. One of my friends is a pharmacist on the ICU ward and had told me Paul was on her list, so I got to chat with her, and the husband of another friend was his pain management doctor on the first morning. Launceston is like that. Everyone knows everyone.
Paul was hooked up to every machine that goes ping and had half a dozen tubes draining out of him and several more going into him for IV drips and pain management. I had never imagined so much of the body's function could be outsourced. Nurses are amazing. I am fairly certain they have superpowers.
He was very groggy from the pain medication but still essentially Paul. I find it extraordinary that one day you can be in surgery for ten hours and the next day hold a conversation. He became the wonder of the ICU unit when he insisted on going for a walk with a walker on that first morning, with the nurse trailing behind with the pole with all his drips and drain bags dangling from it. Apparently ICU patients do not generally go for walks. Hence last night they threw him out of ICU and onto the surgical ward where he is now. I walked in this afternoon to see him and bumped into one of The Boy's best buddies from school. She is a nurse now, and told me how well Paul was doing, and how amazed everyone is by his quick recovery. I don't think they get many very fit and healthy patients in with the Whipple procedure, and it seems that your general level of fitness makes a huge difference to post-surgery recovery.
Still, despite his progress, there is still a lot of discomfort for my poor darling, and he does tend to drift off halfway through sentences - only to be expected, of course, but it seems amazing that within a week he will be able to go home. He still can't eat or drink, he's still on oxygen and can hardly do more than bend forward slightly by himself. To think that next week he will be walking out of hospital seems impossible. However, for Paul, nothing is impossible. He is Determined.
Also, angels. As we have seen, Paul is solid with the angels. They commune.