It was four years ago a few days back that I went into hospital for surgery to replace the upper loop of my aorta with a teflon aorta. Ten years earlier I had suffered an 'aortic dissection', a tear in the inner lining of the aorta (that healed itself after a great deal of pain). I was later told survival was usually about 5 years, so I was doing well.
The aftereffect was the slow development of an aortic aneurysm, a large swelling of the aorta. The danger was that this would rupture and I would be dead in seconds. So the teflon aorta was by way of preventive surgery to keep me alive. Since there was beginning to be a big risk I would die anyway, it seemed worth taking the risk of surgery.
As they say, this was a case where the surgery went well, but the patient (almost) died.
But I survived, and lay in the ICU bed for 10 weeks very slowly regaining consciousness. I knew from the beginning that I would be paralyzed, but we didn't know what other side-effects there might be. You can imagine how stressed Mrs. F.G. was during these weeks, not knowing if I would even survive, but she was always there, being my advocate, keeping me alive (she turned down two offers to 'let me go peacefully'). and always greeting me with her radiant smile. That's what kept me going.
It's now been four years since those days, and I ask myself how far we've come, what's good and what's bad. To be honest I don't think you would believe all that had happened four years ago if you saw us today. We have learned to live with this monster, and are making the best of it. Even in the middle of winter I'm ok, staying indoors, reading and writing.
I think on balance Mrs. F.G. is the one paying the price. We've come to a point where things are stable, but there's no doubt that she has given her life to keep me going. I can't say enough for the depth of her love.
And I think I'm actually still improving, I certainly feel that I am. The routines have become more familiar, and the caregiving more dependable. I keep picking up little bits of responsibility, though they're so trivial it doesn't feel like much of a contribution. I have steadily improved at physio, making a big leap upwards (literally) when I managed late last fall to pull myself up into a standing position without anyone lifting me.
Here at home some furniture and room re-arranging means that Mrs. F.G. can get away from me, and I have an 'office' corner in the bedroom where I can sit in a sunny window every morning (if there's sun). I'm sitting here now as i write this, and I've developed a range of things to be working on during the too-long winter months.
I think the biggest difference for me personally is that I've given up on riding the nearby roads full of 'alligator pavement' and found smooth routes downtown. I'm now very comfortable riding downtown by myself during the summer months, often picking up a coffee and going down to sit by the harbour. The library is an important destination for me too, and our coffee group continues to meet year-round when lockdowns allow.
So I guess I'd say that we're doing surprisingly well. I've a couple of goals for the coming year but I'll tell you about those if they happen. Cheers for now!
It's an amazing story, and not without inspiration for others. There are lessons here for all of us.ReplyDelete
Such a heart warming story and there is and was no doubt in my mind that not only are you a survivor, a very positive one, but so is Mrs. F.G. The strength it takes both of you to have come this far is a story in itself. I'm so proud to have met you both before your 'monster' moved in but to still hold you as dear friends. You stood up all by yourself!! Wow! That's incredible!! I laughed at the statement that Mrs. F.G. can get away from you. Ha ha. Thanks for this post. ♥♥ReplyDelete
Prayers for you bothReplyDelete
You have a great reserve of strength.
A sunny window is comforting even when there is no sun, especially when birds fly by.
Such a positive and inspiring post and one of deep love too.ReplyDelete
I think of and pray for you both often.
God Bless you both!!!
I can't imagine facing such a difficult decision with knowing the outcome was uncertain. The obvious love the two of you share is so wonderful to read about. Wishing you all the best as you continue to make strides towards your relative independence and responsibility.ReplyDelete
Thank you for sharing your story.ReplyDelete
You are both strong.
Sending my good wishes.
All the best Jan
I can't help but be curious what happened to cause your paralysis? You are doing so well, and Mrs. F.G. is the Queen!ReplyDelete
The specific cause of paralysis was a blood clot on the spinal cord.Delete
I followed you long before this happened, and I'm truly amazed that it was four years ago already. It seems like a lifetime in one way, but in another it seems like yesterday. The nature of time's ability to contract and expand is enlightening. You are an inspiration to me, and I so enjoy your writing and descriptions of your world today. I'm glad you are still improving, and a couple of times reading this I teared up in gratitude.ReplyDelete
You inspired me too in those days, with your ski-diving!Delete
This four years feels like it’s flown! I remember your first posts from rehab. You’ve come a long ways, thanks to the devotion and care of your wife and your own determination.ReplyDelete
I enjoy your writing. You’ve opened my eyes to life in a wheelchair as I had never seen it before. I enjoy your adventures and descriptions of life as you see it now, FG. I am so happy you’ve had these four years and have taken us along with you!
All of us who enjoy your blog also owe a debt of gratitude to Mrs. F.G. for keeping you going -- please let her know she has our thanks. Our son just celebrated his sixth un-dead birthday (as he calls it) after, at 49, a bout of endocarditis -- the surgeon told our daughter-in-law that he only had about 36 hours if he hadn't had the surgery. Now he has a mechanical aortic valve, a new aorta (the physicians call it an elephant trunk) and a patch on his heart.ReplyDelete
My procedure was also referred to as the elephant trunk procedure.Delete
I congratulate you for your stamina to keep improving and aiming for new goals. I had been a follower of your blog before you had your surgery and no idea things were so dire. Thanks God you pulled through and with the help, love and dedication of Mrs. FG your life gets better and better. Keep your spirits up so that we can look forward to many more great postings in your blog. All the best!ReplyDelete
I remember following your blog before that operation and then like many others held my breath waiting to see if you were going to make it. It sure didn't seem like you were there for awhile. Your comeback from those dark days is nothing short of a miracle. I, like many others have followed you closely these past years and find inspiration and encouragement in your words and photos. Your faithful and loving wife has stayed by your side through it all and you both are to be commended for your dedication to each other.ReplyDelete
You are both heroes to me the way you just keep going and getting out there to see things. I followed you before all this and am still enjoying all of your posts this many years later. Let me know if you have requests for shots in the Annex, Casa or U of T.ReplyDelete
I'm happy to take whatever shots you come up with - but are the Casa Loma stables still there?Delete
They are there and have been restored over the last few years. I'll get a shot the next time I go by there.Delete
You're a brave man to keep gong and making progress. Good that you still fell like you're making progress. You seem to have an upbeat attitude and that will take you a long way. Here's to more improvement in your life. I always read and enjoy your posts.ReplyDelete
Thank you for sharing your story. Your positive attitude is inspiring and I must say Mrs FG is an amazing person too.ReplyDelete
When we visited you in the hospital in those early post-op days we thought we were saying goodbye. The change from then to now is truly amazing and a testament to both you and Mrs F.G. We are so glad you're still with us.ReplyDelete
I didn’t know your story and assumed that it was a surgery gone wrong. I think you are both likely heroic to have come through this as you have. It is an inspirational story of the triumph of the human spirit. Carry on.ReplyDelete
Thanks for sharing your story, which maybe I missed in these years of your recovery. You do give me hope in dealing with the relatively small problems I deal with daily. Your being able to lift yourself is totally outstanding! So happy you have a help-mate who is as upbeat as you are. Thank you thank you thank you!ReplyDelete
You're an amazing couple. All the best to both of you.ReplyDelete
Your ability to keep going forward is remarkable.ReplyDelete
I'm glad you've made it thru surgery and have a dear wife that loves and cares for you. I enjoy reading your blog and sharing life. I'm thankful for my husband who helped me more after a fall that messed up my body for months. I still need to be careful in some areas where I walk but so much better now. Have a good week!! God bless you and your wife.ReplyDelete
you have the BEST attitude and outlook of anyone i know. and many thanks to mrs.fg for all that she did and continues to do. you are a real inspiration!!ReplyDelete
Thank you for writing this blog! You and your wife have so much love to give one another! We wish you all the best and you are in our prayers. Rick & Kathy Rousseau. It's about time!ReplyDelete
My initial reaction is that life was unfair to you! But I'm glad you persisted and came back to live well. Take care!ReplyDelete
We were all so worried about you. I am so happy that you survived and hats off to Mrs FG, I know the dedication it takes...she is special and you are a lucky fella!ReplyDelete
I am in awe of your strength and courage and positive attitude. Life has dealt you some cruel blows, but how you and your wife have met and overcome them should give courage to others.ReplyDelete