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The Sassy Sandpiper: Back from the Abyss


The Sassy Sandpiper contemplates the healing power of love.

By M.R. Wilson, Columnis, TB Reporter

I have to remember she’s been home only five days.

As Jean was about to leave the rehab center, arrangements were made for a home health care nurse to finish administering her IV antibiotic. Then came the phone call: Ooops, um, home health care is only authorized for three days a week. Would someone be willing to observe the nurse and learn the technique for the off-days?

What a system.

It seemed like a prerequisite for Jean’s discharge, so…hell, yeah. Bring it on.

I watched her son Blaine perform the procedure flawlessly. I wanted to help.

I have learned how to administer antibiotics through a PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter) line. Aside from creating mini-Old Faithfuls when I cleared the bubbles in the medication, saline, and heparin preparations, I did okay. My patient didn’t scream. All in all, it was a very humbling experience, being such an intimate part of another person’s healing. Thanks to Kayla Tutor, RN, for her care, compassion, and guidance.

An occupational therapist visited, made an assessment, and decided no further assistance was needed from her department. Physical therapist Matt came by with the same agenda and determined: “You’re doing pretty good,” but will complete his allotted number of six visits to offer exercises and encouragement to increase her blood oxygen level. Apparently 93% after exercise is “not great.” Ninety-six percent is better. A goal.

Did I mention Jean has been home less than a week?

Monday she has a follow-up appointment with her primary care physician. Maybe he’ll refer her to a cardiologist. The future is a huge question mark, but she concentrates on little steps each day.

She walks without assistance. She does seated exercises via a YouTube video. Laundry. Filing bills and receipts. She’s begun talking with friends and family on the phone. She’s taking care of business—the business of healing from a resistant case of pneumonia and piecing together a new life. She wants to plan meet-ups for cards and bingo. Sit for a few minutes each day in Florida’s glorious late winter sunshine…and cuddle with her cat who also shows signs of recovering from the ordeal of her human companion’s 6-week absence.

How did Jean come back from the abyss? There was a stretch of days in the ICU when we feared losing her.

Well, it helps to be stubborn, to say repeatedly to oneself, “I have to get better.”  It’s beneficial having things to look forward to, like bowling and opening long-awaited Christmas presents, and visiting her newest grand-cat Thomas, a recent rescue from Joe’s Creek Greenway Park.

Perhaps the most important thing that helped Jean come back was knowing she was loved. Willa Cather wrote, “Where there is great love, there are always miracles.” I believe it.

Love | Healing | Sassy Sandpiper

M.R. Wilson | Sassy Sandpiper | Health | Healing | Love | Tampabay News

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