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!