The recent week and a half must be right up there as the most difficult, traumatic and stressful I've ever had. I've given this post the title 'The operation' because that's what it's been on so many levels. As many who follow me on FB and Twitter know Eric had a make or break (no pun intended) operation on his arm on Thursday 5th September. l so dearly hope that the bone heals some 4 years after he first broke it. It has to.... surely?
Before I go further its pertinent to point out that in the last 24 and a half years of marriage Eric and I have spent no more than 4 or 5 nights apart. We are more than close, we are soul mates, able to finish off each others sentences and know what the other means without explaining. Eric forms the centre of my universe, is my rock, my best friend, was my lover (something else CRPS took away). I can categorically say, having endured the time he was away that life simply wouldn't be worth living without him. I don't mean to sound melodramatic, but a future without Eric is utterly and terrifyingly bleak. It would be as if someone had turned the lights off with me fumbling around in the dark unable to find the bright star that is my Eric.
I must pay tribute to three wonderful friends without whom Eric couldn't have gone into hospital at all. Firstly Dominic who I met through Twitter a year and a half or more. He also suffers from CRPS but until 5.30am on the morning Eric was due to be admitted we had never met in person. Extraordinary then that he would take us all the way to Stanmore then drive me home and help me back into the house. Where transport (those who should surely have taken him) failed Dom came through where so many wouldn't. Dom, you are wonderful, thank you.
Next comes Jackie, who bore the full brunt of just what it takes to care for me. Including a morning when it got about as bad as it possibly can. Taking time off unpaid to help us, what can I say? She was absolutely fantastic and supported me mentally, just as much as physically. Calm, reassuring and all round bloody brilliant, she kept me sane. We only actually worked together for 3 months before I got CRPS yet here we are all these years later. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
And finally Sandra, who I met when we worked at the same school a year before I got CRPS and became very good friends. I knew she would be at work but faced with Eric being in hospital a further day, and Jackie unable to stay another day (although she offered) I had no option but ask her to come and look after me. She dropped everything to come over at 6.00am on Monday, having gone into work the previous day to do what she would have done. Again words fail me. Sandra, thank you. And of course I can't forget those on FB, Twitter and especially my wonderful friend Penny who supported me throughout. It is so humbling to know that we have friends who will go above and beyond to help us in times of need. So very lucky indeed.
We knew that Eric was being operated in the morning of 5/9, so once mid afternoon came I was expecting a call either from Eric himself, or the hospital to say all was well. When it didn't come l started to worry more and more. By the time we got to 6.15pm I was beside myself. A phone call later I was none the wiser as nobody seemed to know where he was. How was that even possible? It took a further two calls and me getting slightly stroppy or hysterical, not sure which, before I found out that he'd been on the operating table some 10 hours and they were still going!! Talk of an HDU bed did for me completely but thankfully a superbly calm and reassuring Anaesthetist talked me through all the possible interventions that may or may not be needed plus what would have been happening in the operating theatre to ensure his blood sugar stayed stable. Calmer I finally got a call with good news some time after 10.30pm. Where normally I sleep at various points during the day, my brain simply wouldn't shut off even when I heard he was ok. In fact I don't think I actually managed to have an afternoon nap until Monday afternoon once we knew he was definitely coming home.
In the end the operation took 12 hours, 10 of which were spent trying to get the pin out! It beggars belief that they could spend so long but the main problem was the fact that the toolkit they sent from Southend to unscrew the original metalwork just didn't work. In the end they were forced to cut the pin in half at the break site and pull it out either end. Even as I write this, knowing that it was a success and his arm will be fine, I feel terribly emotional about what my little man went through. Luckily the first he knew about any of it was when he woke at 5am Friday morning, having lost a complete day!
If ever there was a time I wished I didn't have CRPS it was now. All I wanted to do was get to the hospital and be with him. Instead I was imprisoned in my chair more than ever as my body decided to do it's worst. At 6am I was in a terrible state, sweat literally pouring off me. My eyes felt like someone had stuck pins in them, my head was fit to explode and I felt sick. My plan to go over and see him evaporated. I couldn't move in the chair let alone go the 45 miles to the RNOH. I brought all my tablets back up, and as I explained to Jackie later, that is about as bad as it gets. Bless her for coping. Eric hated being in hospital with a passion as soon as he was properly awake, he just wanted to come home and I just wanted him home. At least we managed to get Chaton messaging working later on Friday so we could be in contact whenever we wanted to. We were so worried about each other and I spent the entire time waiting for the lightsaber noise I had set up to tell me when a message came in. He was the same at the other end.
I finally got over to Stanmore on Saturday. Quite how I got to the car I have no idea especially as I refused to let Jackie support me properly because of her back. Sheer bloody-mindedness I reckon coupled with a refusal to let Eric down by not getting there. Jackie did her best to stop me, but it wasn't going to work. She admitted defeat when, against all odds, I somehow pulled myself into the driver's seat. I can admit now that I was in agony before I even got as far as the front door, and knew it was utter madness. I just had to get there, regardless of what it did to me. It was non-negotiable, simple as that. Oh boy did I pay later but it was worth it to see the smile on his face when we got there. Of course time vanishes when you're visiting and all too soon it was time to come home. We both knew I wouldn't manage another trip. Had he been released on Sunday I would have done though, or Monday when he eventually was released. Thankfully common sense prevailed and they provided transport to bring him home. The ordeal was over and we were all back together. The dogs, Kayla especially, found the experience just as stressful. It is only now, a week later that they are finally relaxing and getting back to their happy selves.
Unless you're disabled it's probably incomprehensible to understand the toll Eric going into hospital has had on me. Both physically and mentally. I never realised just how strong his right arm is or how 'easy' it is to do things because we have found the best technique over the years. He gets the wheelchair in and out of the car with one arm for example, where Jackie and a lovely man who helped, struggled between them. Getting myself out of my reclining chair was utterly horrific where normally it's a 1,2,3, go and I'm up. Effortlessly' Everything was harder, more tiring and of course having to talk everyone through how to do everything in itself was exhausting. Jackie got the hang of 'being Eric' but it must have been an incredibly steep learning curve. The little ones adored her though and even Kayla came round.
One of the worst things was that I couldn't hide how bad I felt, my appalling mobility and everything else CRPS has done to me. When someone comes over I am sitting in my chair, never get up so I'm pretty much the Jane they remember. Jackie especially saw just what life is really like and it isn't pretty. I was dreadfully embarrassed and self conscious. Stupid I know but trying to save my friends' feelings I guess. Of course it also brought home just how disabled I am. A reality check I didn't need. Oh and far far too much time to sit and think about things I shouldn't think about. The realisation that I could have lost him. How much longer would they have continued trying to get the pin out before sacrificing the arm. The future. Scary indeed....
So he we are, present day. As ever Eric and I are working as a team to muddle through life as best we can, helping each other constantly. He must have trudged miles to and from the kitchen carrying one thing at a time. Anything requiring two arms is brought to me and then I do whatever is needed in my chair. Then more trudging taking it all back. Life isn't actually hugely different as he's only had one good arm for the last 4 years anyway. Except he is on a very tight leash so that he doesn't use his left hand. He is doing exceptionally well all things considered, I am so very proud of him. Particular successes are me doing archery, having a bath/washing him, helping feed the dogs. We even cooked a roast on Sunday because Eric really fancied it. How could I say no after days of horrible hospital food?
Without doubt life is going to be tougher than ever in the next three months but we will cope. After all we always have so why should anything be any different now? Together we can do anything....