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Thankful to be Healing, but Ready to be Normal

My recovery is much slower than I’d like, but I am getting a little better each day. An incessant cough came home from the hospital with me and stayed. And stayed. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get relief. A lot of people had advice, but nothing worked. I needed professional help.

It’s worth noting that I had pneumonia and a couple other deadly things, not COVID-19. I’ve had several people mention to me that I had COVID. I have two negative tests to prove otherwise. I think it’s become so common that folks automatically assume that any illness requiring hospitalization must be COVID. That was not the case for me.

The best thing I’ve done to expedite my healing was to visit a pulmonary specialist upon the insistence of my boss. I’m disappointed that none of the doctors I’ve seen in the past three months suggested it, but I’m thankful for my boss and his moments of wisdom.

After a lengthy discussion with the man who keeps me employed, I contacted my primary doctor asking if she thought I should see a pulmonary specialist. She didn’t even contact me to discuss it. She obviously thought it was a great idea because I received a phone call from her office telling me I was being referred and to expect to hear from the pulmonary office soon. Thankfully, the specialist’s office didn’t mess around. They got me in that same day.

While my new doctor was listening to my lungs and looking over all of my medication, I developed a good feeling about him. He seemed like someone who would be willing to help me. My feelings were confirmed when he asked me why I didn’t have breathing treatments. I explained that I’d begged for them in the hospital, but I was informed my antibiotic would be enough. It wasn’t.

I explained to the nice doctor, who was actually listening to me, that as someone who had pneumonia several times as a kid, I knew I was supposed to take breathing treatments, an inhaler at the very least. No one would prescribe either one. No one would listen to me. They treated me like a toddler demanding a bandage for an imagined ouchy.

I couldn’t see his smile behind his mask, but I’m sure it was there when he told me he’d make sure I got the treatment I needed. He even ordered a chest x-ray, so he could see what was going on. He talked to me about various herbs and vitamins. I’d finally found an old-fashioned doctor who would help me!

He explained each medicine he was prescribing, what it did, and why I needed it. He told me to go buy a wedge for my bed or sleep in my recliner. Best of all, he prescribed breathing treatments. He asked questions about the nebulizer I had at home and made a recommendation for a portable one I could carry with me. That way, I would be able to keep to my nebulizing schedule. The only downside is I had to give up coffee and nuts. He said they were causing me problems, and who am I to argue?

I bought a wedge and began the medication that night. I felt a little high the first day, but that didn’t last long. I noticed a decrease in coughing the very first day. I got my first good night’s sleep in months that night. For me, such a thing was nothing short of miraculous. I could feel myself getting better every day, but I knew had a long way to go.

I’m still incredibly weak. I need help opening bottles and lifting things. I have to stop and rest in the middle of simple tasks such as folding laundry or loading the dishwasher. My legs aren’t strong enough to perform normally yet, and I rely on a cane to climb stairs or walk great distances. My definition of great distance has changed. I need my cane to walk from one end of Walmart to the other. I need to sit down if I’m on my feet for more than a few minutes.

Have you ever cooked pancakes while sitting on a stool? It can be done.

Due to an injury to my right arm, I sometimes even need help brushing my hair, but I’m getting much more adept with my left hand, so that shouldn’t be a concern much longer. No, I don’t know how I hurt my arm, but I can’t even lift a full can of Dr. Pepper Zero with it, so I definitely did something. I suppose it could have happened during one of my recent tumbles or when I was trying to pull myself up and over things. My husband thinks it’s tennis elbow, but he is no more a doctor than I. My chiropractor looked at it, pushed and pulled on it until I thought I would cry, and then told me to let it rest. No choice there.

While my weakness is embarrassing to an independent woman like me, the ultimate humiliation came during a recent business trip. I told my coworkers I didn’t think I could get into the tiny third row seat of the Ford Explorer we were taking. It’s supposed to seat six people, and we had six going. The two who sit in the third row need to be kids or yoga loving adults, not a middle aged woman who still uses a cane to climb stairs.

I ended up back there, anyway, because they said I’m the shortest. I got stuck every time I tried to get in or out of the stupid thing. My friends would push or pull on me to help me in and out. I rode all the way to Jefferson City in the stupid seat. As I struggled to climb out of the SUV at the hotel, I informed them they would have to fight me to get me back in that seat.

I was able to ride in the second row the next day. On the way home on the third day, I ended up back in that tiny third row seat. That’s when I got stuck the worst. It was at the gas station in Lebanon, roughly halfway between Jefferson City and Joplin. I’d fallen asleep on the way, waking up shortly before our pitstop. I needed to use the facilities and get a drink, so I tried to climb over the second row seat, which someone had lowered. I couldn’t do it. I ended up wedged between the second row seat and the side of the vehicle. Unfortunately, everyone had gone inside, so I was on my own. I grasped my cane and levered myself free, but it took a great deal of effort and several minutes.

In retrospect, I can see the humor in it. I must have looked like a cartoon rocking back and forth while pushing on my cane to try to free myself. At the time, I was ready to spit nails. Someone must have seen at least part of it unfold because I was given a second row seat for the rest of the trip.

You might think all of that is enough to make me take things nice and slow. That isn’t in my nature. Strength is acquired by being active, not sitting around. Even though I tire quickly, I do have little bursts of energy. I’m buying groceries in person. I’ve started attending meetings for my writers groups again. I even had my book signing for Moonbeams and Ashes at Always Buying Books, which was more successful than I ever dreamed!

Speaking of book signings, I’ll be participating in another one soon. Some of my fellow Sleuths’ Ink Mystery Writers and I will be at Price Cutter at 2021 West Republic Road in Springfield, Missouri on Saturday, December 4, 2021 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. If you’re in the Springfield area that day, I would love for you to come by and say hi to my amazing author friends and me.

Don’t worry, my cough is practically gone now, and I’ve been assured I’m safe to be around. I will be able to enjoy the company of my family this Thanksgiving, which was in question until a couple of weeks ago. I’m okay and ready for lots of hugs and some turkey. As for my strength, I’m working to get stronger every day. I’ll be back to my ornery self soon.

I hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving and stay safe and healthy.

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