This week has been another one of firsts for Tracey: little milestones which flag the way back home.
“You did that on purpose,” Tracey accused me.
“Did what?” I asked, reaching up to adjust my glasses and adding a big thumb print to the lens.
Having helped her out of a dress, I’d slipped her hospital toga over her head, shoulders and, sadly, boobies. For a couple who have spent nearly twenty years tearing each other’s clothes off, I was doing a dreadful job of helping.
The reason she was even in a dress for the first time in two months was her doctor had prescribed her a two hour leave pass from her room, her ward and, ultimately, the hospital.
It was a big thing for the whole family to sit in the car together and drive somewhere.
But the first place she wanted me to take her wasn’t even outside the hospital. We went down five floors and I pressed the button and was greeted with the all too familiar, “ICU.”
Resisting the urge to say ‘You can!? How?’ for old time’s sake, I explained one of their recent patients would like to come in and say thank you to the staff and that she had donuts. Not sure which of those two points got us in the door, although I have worked out a sweet tooth is a bit of a prerequisite to work in this department.
One thing I remember a nurse telling me was once a patient is well enough to be out of a critical state they leave and the staff don’t get to see them again, so Tracey and I thought it might be nice, now she was out of her purple hospital toga, to drop by and say hi and thank you.
Not only did Tracey get to meet some of the nurses who watched over her for the weeks she was unconscious, Professor Lipman was there as well. Again, he started to chat with another doctor about the anti-biotic treatment he’d prescribed in Tracey’s most dire moments, and again when he got to the dosage the doctor he was talking to was all stunned and awed expressions, and full of questions.
Unsurprisingly, in the midst of these highly trained foot soldiers and miracle workers of modern medicine, the odd tear was shed. Surprisingly, they were from the nurses as well. These people really are so special and a credit to their professions, the hospital and our society in general.
Shortly after this wonderful reunion we made it to my brother’s place, where our kids swam and then ate pizza at their mother.
“Does this bother you?” my sister-in-law asked Tracey through a slice of pepperoni.
“Only the hunger pains,” said Tracey.
I’ve read hunger pains are a real thing for people being fed by TPN. Your body doesn’t need you to eat to survive, but your stomach doesn’t know this.
Last week she’d had a word to her surgeon, Dr Brown.
“I was just wondering,” she started meekly, “if you’re aware it’s my birthday coming up?” He waited expectantly. “As a present, if I promise not to swallow, can I put some custard in my mouth?”
“I think,” he smiled, “we can probably do better than that.”
And even before her birthday he was true to his word.
Tracey was so excited on Tuesday when a tray of food-like substances arrived at her room I’m guessing it must have taken some cast-iron restraint on her part to reach for her phone to take this photo before tearing into it.
“I think my stomach’s shrunk,” she told me on the phone. “I couldn’t eat it all.”
This from a woman who’s rather fond of second dinner.
So things are continuing to progress at a wonderfully steady rate. And as great as it is Tracey’s finally put food into her mouth and subsequently her belly, by far my favourite advance this last week is her being able to leave the hospital for a couple of hours.
“You’ve put this thing on inside out,” Tracey told me, raising her arms again so I could lift her purple hospital toga back off her head, shoulders and, pleasingly, her boobies. She caught me looking. “You did! You did it on purpose!”
“Not this time,” I confessed, grinning and ogling with what I’ll call unrestrained glee. “But I’ll be doing it on purpose on every occasion after this. That’s a promise.”
I already can’t wait for when I can take her out again. I’ve been thinking about little else.
Next time, after I nail inside-out, I’m gonna try for back-to-front as well.
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If you would like to do something wonderful please consider donating to CareFlight who got Tracey where she needed to be quickly and safely. Or Christmas is coming, why not consider a CareFlight bear as a gift? This is a service we need to ensure continues because it saves live, keeping mummies around for their kids and hapless husbands.