A New Start In My Life

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I am very lucky to be able to celebrate Christmas this year (2012)  and my New Year’s resolution is to live life to the fullest, but really pay attention to my health.

I’ll start with the story of what happened and give thanks to all the doctors, surgeons, nurses and the medical technology that was available to me at the Audie Murphy VA Medical Center.  And all the special prayers that were said on my behalf!

It’s strange to start a day off thinking that you’ll be home later that evening, so we headed to Austin for the day of staining a fence. We have done this several times, just taking a change of clothes so we can change after getting all messy.  So off we go to Austin to meet Joe David.

Once there, David and Joe David started their work of staining the fence…I did my part of just making sure they had everything they needed.  I started with my abdominal cramping, but thought maybe it was just something that I ate for breakfast that wasn’t agreeing with me.  An hour went by and the cramps were more intense, so I sat down on the trailer…David came to check on me and suggested that I go and rest in the truck.  Now the cramps were really painful, but David and Joe David were almost finished and I really wanted to finish this job, so I just sat with the ac on and didn’t let them know that I was really in a lot of pain.  They finished and we left thinking we were heading for home…by now I couldn’t stand the pain so David decided to take me to Audie Murphy VA Medical Center in San Antonio because he figured they would be equipped to handle my condition.

I need to back up a moment to let you know just a little more about my medical condition, I have an ileostomy and am prone to having bowel blockages.

I was admitted on April 19, 2012…I went through several tests, but I hardly remember how many and had a life threatening surgery.  It wore out 2 surgeons and the surgery was over 8 1/2 hours.  I also received 5-6 pints of blood.  The surgeon came out and told David for the next 10 days that I only had a 50% chance of living and after that there was no guarantee that I would not have leaks in my intestines after multiple, multiple re-sections, or if it would even work… David has written all about this on his blog:  http://realtexasblog.com/real-texas-hospital

I remember when I was in the operating room, I could see what was going on and hear conversations…I was watching all of this with my deceased dog, Stars, and cats Sue Sing and Brushes, and my current duck, Rebecca…David was floating by in front of me, like a flying cherub….the next thing I remember is that I reached out and touched David as he was floating by and then I woke up and he was really there….I fought hard and progressed slowly, but every day that passed, I was raising my odds.

I had another very strange thought while in ICU.  This had a lot to do with the drugs I’m sure and watching too much TV….They had every machine with bells and whistles, a nurse that stayed almost all the time adjusting dials and making notes and she would say, ‘it’s time for your massage’ and push a button and the whole bed would shake…poor David walked in and thought I was having a seizure! This was to keep my blood circulating…anyway back to my strange experience….every morning like clockwork (remember this is on a military schedule) at 3am X-ray would come, then 4am lab, then 5:30am some doctors would come to prepare me for rounds, then 7:30am the doctors would make their rounds, then the main lights would come on and people would start coming into the ICU…and about 8am David would come in.  It was 6am one morning, and I was watching all the machines flicker, and a nurse came in and adjusted dials, made some notes, pushed the massage button and walked out.  Didn’t say a word…I had a really strange thought…with all this machinery keeping me alive and the surgeons could replace almost anything…why were these robots keeping me alive…what did they want from me???  That was all I remember of ICU.

Then I was in my own private room…David was always at my side and he read me everyone’s emails, texts and told me of phone calls.  I didn’t talk much, I was too weak and had an NG tube which makes it really hard to talk.  I was half way to my first good mark and I was so hungry…I hadn’t eaten since April 19th and now it was almost June…I convinced the doctors to allow me to suck on ice chips and promised to spit in a cup…they agreed…then I asked to flavor the ice chips with flavor drops…and promised to spit it all out.  They agreed…David bought me every flavor that was available and the nurses gave me flavors that he couldn’t find…I scared the doctors because even though you spit everything out, you still have fluids coming up in the NG tube…I was sipping on Watermelon, Sweet Tea, some green flavor and it was turning the fluids strange colors…the nurses had to explain to the doctors, it was just the coloring of the flavors I was sipping on….

I stayed long enough to go through 2 rotations of training doctors, but kept my main Attending Surgeon (My life saver) Dr. Ledesma.  I have never had a surgeon with such a wonderful bed side manner! I was released from the hospital on June 4th and continued to go back to San Antonio once a week.  Dr. Ledesma has followed me closely and he has helped me understand what has happened to me and allows me to make the decisions on my health care…now how many of you have had a surgeon that is also your cooking buddy.

I know part of my therapy we have found is my love for cooking…when I first came home, I was so weak I could hardly lift my head, but I fought hard to walk down the hall and sit at the table and chop an onion, or a tomato, or just anything, then I would go back to bed.  I’d get up again and chop or measure something else…then I would finally tell David how to prepare the recipe and he would fix it….every meal was a celebration… I started making desserts and taking them for my appointments. Dr. Ledesma collects the recipes and exchanges recipes with me too.  He knows how to get me out of thinking about my pain by changing the subject and talking about food!!!  Don’t get me wrong, he knows exactly what is going on with me, but then we don’t hang onto that stuff, we start talking about food and it lifts my spirits!

I am now finally able to cook, and putter around in my greenhouse…I don’t lift  pots or pans, or anything more than picking a tomato in my greenhouse…my mind has cleared somewhat from all the drugs and I am finally wanting to return to blogging, and I’m now keeping up with my friends on Facebook.

We are changing our lifestyle and are working on projects that make us both happy…we have a total new outlook on life and we are enjoying every moment we can.  I would not have even been here without the special care of all my doctors, nurses, surgeons and especially David.

We have a second chance at life and we intend to live life to its fullest.   We are not going to live life in a pity party.  We are very positive, motivated people and I want to continue to add chapters to my wonderful life.

This is a video of my hospital stay and my new life!

I have kept every card that was sent to me in the hospital.  David hung them on the wall so that when I was awake, I’d look up and know that I had so many friends praying for me… Please enjoy the video of all the beautiful cards!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Jack FormanNo Gravatar December 25, 2012 at 11:11 pm

Hi Ramona,
So sorry to read about your recent illness and hope and pray that you are on the way to a full and complete recovery. Let’s start the new year on a positive note and get back to your cooking. Our prayers are with you. All the best, Jack


charlie coinerNo Gravatar September 4, 2013 at 3:41 pm

I am crazy about basil and would love to talk to you about some of your odd varieties. Charlie or email when is a good time to call you. where are you located?


RamonaNo Gravatar September 6, 2013 at 10:28 pm

We are located in Texas…I will try to call you next week, it’s crazy here now with a lot of construction going on.

So glad you “Love Your Basil”


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