Well I decided with all the wisdom of a forty five year old that an outing would be a good boost for gary.He hasn't been anywhere apart from hospital and home for nearly four weeks.
Two days ago I spied some paradise ducklings down by the Portobello hall. (Literally two minutes driving)They are very cute.I decided an outing to see the ducks was in order and convinced Gary that this was a winning idea.We took some bread and off we set.
We pulled up..all ducklings resting and looking cute a parent duck guarding.
That all changed once we threw some bread.The ducklings became very animated and took off towards the bread the mother duck did a big heads up and charged after them..and then the seagulls arrived.The mother duck started quacking..the Father duck scrambled up the bank from the harbour charged across Portobello road(We were terrified there was going to be a duck death any second).He Quacked and quacked and chased the seagulls away from his babies and then as they circled close in again..he half flew at one of the seagulls, got it in his beak(again by the roadside) and gave it a proper send off-seagull feathers were flying everywhere.
I started stopping traffic freaking out about the chaos we had caused and finally the two ducks herded all their babies up and took them down to the harbour. I went back to Gary and and asked him if he wanted to go anywhere else... he decided going home was a good idea.
I cut and pasted this writing..please excuse its wonky layout..it is rough but Im fine with that.
Was a long day…longer than a standard ruler and bigger than a bread box..these are accepted measures for size in our house..the bread box measure started in the first year of courting when I demanded an amount as to how much Gary loved me.I needed a lot of reaasurance..at some point he said I love you more than bread box and humour allayed my fears.
For our first year anniversary I received a very smart dark woodbread box with a concertina front..it holds two or three loaves quite comfortably.
It now lives at our crib on the kitchen bench and every year I get pleasure from using it.
Garys surgery was 7 hours long and his time in recovery to stabilise him and sort the pain was 2hours.
I don’t think that in the last four months we have been apart for more than five hours.
Things that don’t go away when you are an ex nurse
Ability to spot a good health care professional
Things that have changed since I last nursed
Technology-Labelling The mop cupboard is now called spill management and containment area
Length of hospital stay and expectations of movement
The Intensive care unit is now called the special care unit
The first night post surgery I spent half in my own bed in the nurses home.I left gary at 12 but didn’t sleep and got back up at 4.20 and went across to theunit.Gary was pleased to see me and I was very pleased to see him.
We both settled after that and got a solid half hour sleep and then a few 20 mins ones.
It was a gift.
I have inherited a lazy boy for the duration of gary’s internment ..It is brown and vinal and I can almost stretch prone in it.
The first day continued in the SCU with a move late afternoon to the orthopaedic ward.
From his bed he tells me he can see caring faces looking downward ones at him. Their eyes are where he sees the caring coming from. They are very attentive and kind. Some medical equipment-‘lots of flashing things with tubes, my orange flowers that Kath bought me and a clock..a slow moving clock’.
I see gary’s face and I look for signs of colour change, at present it is yellow as he lost a lot of blood in surgery..bones are vascular-they bleed. I look at his eyes and how his mouth sits. He has always had a mouth that turns up at the corners. In recent months the edges have been turning down. It is the colour of cold dripping.
This small fact and the fact that he has been cold worry me. I am used to his warmth and enormous vitality.
I see grass and white carpet roses outside the window.The hospital is mainly ground floor and glass sliders open to the outside.
When I walk from the nurses home I pass a plover and her three chicks..she is very vocal in her defence of her babies.
The air where I live is moist and salty.. Macrocarpas fringe the property and seagulls call and wheel around the island that sits directly in front of our house. Resinous oil from the one pine tree mixes with top notes of brine.
Here in this place the air is fresh but dry and the grass has straw coloured streaksrunning through it. No moisture for my thirsty skin. I peg out our washing on a rotary line enclosed in a tall wooden fence with peeling paint. It has beauty straight out ofa French country decorating magazine.
Gary is snoring as I write..
BC (before cancer) I would tap him with my foot or nudge him in bed at night. Tonight I sit listening and counting his breaths per minute. The Iv clicks away counting the liquid drops boosting his blood pressure and hydrating his parched body.
His body is adjusting to the huge internal changes made and organs are resting.His heart beat is slow, his intestine is asleep. The bright light is his eyes which are clear and intense against the sheets.Nil by mouth and clear fluids make very white whites.
Burwood is very peaceful, there are old trees with blossom and birds all over singing.Garys room has a sliding door to the outside. He is often asking for more air and I can open it.
I am staying in the nurses home…my room has worn wooden furniture and a chintz covered chair.The light above my bedhas a pull cord and is softened by a wooden box attached to the wall.
The scariest part about being here is the roller blind which has a habit of shooting fast up the window pane, usually as I have just settled for the night. Its whoosh up the glass matches my heart beat..it has a crocheted pull ring.
It is quiet.
Sparrows are eating something off the roses bushes outside the room and whenever I fell fretful they reminded me of love.They are everywhere.
A week has passed now and gary has eaten his first meal. He is learning to managing his pre sleep state when the opiate dreams kick in. Initially he described them as lush and reminiscent of his tropical holiday..but as the days have gone by they have become increasingly darker full of murder and demons. They are vivid and reality blurs. He wakes himself from these now and looks into them telling himself they not real and trains his mind to a more positive place. Jung would love this.
I have just nicked some bread off the trolley old jammy toast and fed the birds..lots of blackbirds.
I got eyeballed by the charge nurse today asked when we would like to go home..I asked what she meant and she repeated herself ..It used to be that the patient was assessed and found safe to leave.
On the whole the nursing has been good..the usual mix of experience and inexperience..the staff as a group are very welcoming.The orderlies are great so friendly, remember your name.
Jack the cat at the nurses home runs to meet me each night for an extensive pat..he is slightly greasy from dust bathing on the roads his fur is thick and he has a deep rumbling purr of pleasure when I pat and ruffle his fur.
Today is the seventh day.I am going to try garys wedding ring on his finger again.It hasn’t fitted so far,but now it is time. I put it on his finger and he slips it on..we stand close and nearly hug. Hes warm.
It is Sunday the 10th day. Gary went to the spinal unit and watched the rugby last night…he managed to sit up on a couch. Today he is weary and sore but pleased to have had an outing.
We are checking out of hotel Burwood tomorrow and flying home on the Jet.
Things to remember from this time
Gary reaching his hand out for his friends to hold and the smile he got on his face when they obliged.
If I was a painting..it would be one of myself in absence, represented by the things and people I love.
There would be some paintbrushes, a computer and a Bible. Tropical plants with bright flowers and wide leaves that capture rain would wind up the frame.
It would have hearts and cowboy boots.