From the Bayou to the Hospital and Back Again

Sunrise on January 31, as life was beginning to ease.
February 20, 2016 -- We weathered yet another storm.  During Christmas weekend, Tom suffered from fevers; when Monday morning came, we went directly to the doctor's office, and from there Tom was sent by ambulance to the hospital near downtown Fort Myers.

This time his stay was longer -- two weeks, altogether.  The hospital and its parking lot became very familiar.  I noted the mature, luxuriant coonties in the parking lot's "islands."  So these are what our baby coonties will grow up to resemble!  Cute little cycads, they are.
The baby coonties

I told Tom about the mature coonties in the parking lot, and a host of other outdoor sights that I witnessed during those two weeks.  He was not only indoors for that entire time, but he was in the ICU for four nights and five days of those two weeks.  The ICU is a wild and crazy place, with all the alarms sounding and people coming and going.

The care Tom received at this Lee Memorial Hospital was excellent.  His diagnosis, pneumonia, was mystifying.  The cause of the pneumonia never was determined, except to say that it was almost certainly viral. Also, the Prednisone he was taking for the hemolytic anemia (see the previous journal entry, A Joyous Time) as well as one of his two chemo drugs, Treanda, probably had a role in allowing this lung ailment to fester.

Every morning at dawn, or in the evening at dusk, I'd swim alongside our rows of baby coonties. Then there was the one-hour drive each way, to and from the hospital -- a world away from Sanibel Island.  Otherwise, I'd spend the bulk of the day at Lee Memorial with Tom.  For the first time ever, we were not together on New Year's Eve.  I was safely at home that night, away from the drunk drivers.  I did pop in on a neighborhood party early in the evening.  Being there without Tom was strange, but the neighbors are all so caring and nice.

On January 10, Lee Memorial released Tom.  The next couple weeks were filled with physical therapy, home health nurse visits, and making sure Tom was on oxygen all the time.  Then the ordeal began to ease.  By now he is on oxygen mostly just at night, and he's been discharged from the care of the nurse and the physical therapist.  He's doing small jobs around the house.  He's working on the next edition of The Norton Sampler.  He's played two music gigs so far in this new year.   He's happy, and so am I.

The baby coonties and golden creepers (also native, low-growing plants) are thriving due to record rainfalls.  The polluted discharges from Lake Okeechobee have not affected our bayou as much as other coastal waters around here, and I'm not sure why.  So the mullet, the mullet fisherman, the manatees, and the dolphins are still appearing regularly behind our home.

We started going out to see friends again, although we still avoid crowds.  We're careful, hopeful, and much less worried than we were weeks ago.  We treasure each moment, each sunrise, each wild creature and native plant.  We love our true friends and family, who have stood by us like an army of support.

Two more cycles of chemo face Tom, so we're hanging in there.  I have faith that all will be good. Life goes on.


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