Saturday, November 15, 2008

18 Years - Part 2

You can read Part 1 of this post here.

I was admitted to the surgical ward for eye care at the Health Sciences Centre late that afternoon. The only empty bed was in a private room. That was fine with me, as I really didn't want to be around a bunch of inquisitive and well meaning strangers. I was so mentally and physically exhausted that I really wanted my privacy. I didn't have a phone in the room, but I rented a TV and when J brought my stuff a couple days later, he brought my small electric radio that I had to plug in across the room!

I hadn't eaten anything since the night before, so J helped me navigate my dinner tray. He then helped me find a pay phone so I could call mom and dad. I was trying so hard to be strong. Mom was really upset and even dad was choked up. I almost lost it, but didn't want to frighten them more.

J also helped me call Nick so he could call the other blind friends we had. We wrote a list of things that I would need while I was in the hospital, and I also gave him a couple of other people I needed him to contact. I wanted my neighbour JK to check my mail and another neighbour KD to come and take care of "painting" my Christmas cakes with cherry brandy once a week. I was trying so hard to stay calm and organize the things that needed to be done, that I didn't really allow myself to fall apart. If I did that I may not regain any control.

The next few days were a blur visually and emotionally. KD came to see me and so did some of my family.

Two of my blind friends, C and KJ came on Monday afternoon. They knew what it was like to go blind and knew I was holding on to my emotions by a thread. They convinced me to talk and let go - that they would be there to hold me and support me. They would be there to help me adjust to whatever sight I had left. I finally let go and admitted how terrified I was.The three of us sat on my hospital bed and cried together.

From the day I was admitted, the restrictions were strict;
-No lifting more than 5 pounds.
-No bending below the waist.
-No stairs.
-Sleep only on right side or stomach.
-Never leave the hospital room unless someone sighted is walking with me. (luckily there was a bathroom in my private room so I could at least do that by myself!)

The surgery to reattach my retina was on Wednesday, November 21, 1990. It would be several months before we knew just how much sight I might recover. I slept a lot those first few days. Once the anaesthetic and freezing wore off, I was given pain killers as needed, The pain was excruciating! Never mind how painful a cough or a sneeze could be! The slightest jarring or sudden movement sent waves of shooting pain through my eye. Even blinking hurt!

The Saturday after my surgery, my blind friends brought me Chinese food, chocolate cheesecake, a talking clock and a portable pocket radio! Over the next few weeks and months, they would be my strongest support and teachers as I learned to navigate my new world. They were my rock, my shoulder and my sounding board. They listened and understood when no one else could or would. They knew what I was going through.

After almost three weeks in the hospital, the doctor finally released me on Monday, December 3, 1990. I really couldn't see more than very blurry shadows, but I had my list of restrictions and I was going home to my own bed! My mom and my brother picked me up. We did a major grocery shop, had a bunch of prescriptions filled and ordered a 7.5 cu. ft. deep freezer to be delivered in a day or two. Mom stayed with me for the first week, She cooked a lot of meals for me and made up TV dinners for the freezer. She also helped me finish the Christmas baking. When she left, I had home care to clean once a week. My neighbour JK helped with grocery shopping and KD helped with reading and writing over the next few weeks.

I could move freely around the apartment building as long as I used the ramp or elevator instead of the stairs, but couldn't go outside by myself. I felt like a prisoner. I couldn't go anywhere or do anything. I had to have someone else do cleaning, laundry and any lifting. I got a volunteer through the CNIB to help with grocery shopping, reading mail and any other things I may have needed help with. He was there 2-3 hours/week. My neighbours helped out in between.

I had a visual assessment through the CNIB at the end of January, 1991. I got a pair of very powerful reading glasses, a monocular to see distance, a talking watch, a talking clock and of course a white cane. The restrictions were gradually reduced and finally lifted completely in late March of 1991. My blind friends helped me learn to do many things in new ways

continued tomorrow...


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