Hi. I'm home, as of Tuesday night. Dorothy nailed it: there is no place like home. My bed, my shower. My husband, my boys. Hal's cooking. He made me soup Tuesday night. I hadn't had anything to eat with that much color or flavor in three weeks.
Three weeks, two of it in ICU. ICU. ICU is for old sick people. I'm only 54, I take good care of myself. How did someone so healthy get so sick? Nobody really knows. I have my theories, naturally, and, don't worry, I'll share them. But, for now, here's what I know for sure:
1. I knew I was never alone. If you prayed and sent any flavor of healing energy, I felt it. There were times I literally had the sense of being lifted, like floating along. (And there was no morphine involved.) Thank you. I am grateful. Never doubt the effect you are having. It landed over here big time.
2. My husband and my boys are heroes, along with our new friend Sam. Sam, 22yo, and I met through mutual friends and I'm sort of her Costa Rica mom. We love Sam, she's part of our family, just fits right in around here. And Sam and my boys stepped right up. They took and are taking such good care of me.
When I got out of ICU and into the salon, the regular ward in Costa Rica's public system, I was still helpless. I couldn't stand up, could not pull myself into a sitting position, had sat in a chair only once with the help of two guys, I was swollen the size of two of me, the elephant girl. So, if it wasn't in arm's reach, I couldn't get it.
There are six people in each room in the salon, all in varying states of helplessness. It became immediately clear that one needs an advocate: someone to help you to the bathroom, to bring you plenty of water (the running water in the hospital is heavily chlorinated), then make sure you can reach it (your stuff gets moved around frequently). To help you change position, to sit you up and down. The bed controls – cranks – are at the foot of the bed, unlike in ICU where the buttons are right next to you. At mealtime, the kitchen staff puts your food on your little table and walks away. If you can't reach it, you have to wait until someone comes and moves it to you, which they do eventually.
Too many details. There simply aren't enough nurses to be attending to the various needs, water, and sitting positions of six people. I needed help; two of my roommates had steady family help as well. The nurses must really appreciate this: they can stick to nursing rather than bed-raising. So my family came in shifts: 7am to noon, noon to 4, 4-7 and 7-10. For a week, they did this. Cheerfully. I'm in awe.
3. If you are going to look into your own abyss, take at least two people with you, both of whom will be bored in short order and want to go do something more interesting. With you.
4. When you reach A Certain Age, your muscles go on the decline. You are only as strong today as you needed to be yesterday. My only exercise lately has been walking up my hill four days a week. Good for my heart, pretty good for my legs… but not enough. After three weeks laying on my back, I am ridiculously weak. My recovery is moving right along because I am so young and healthy. But I am going to be strong from now on, too. There is no reason not to be.
5. "Hail of bullets." This is Hal's answer when you ask him how he wants to die. I used to be appalled. Now I'm thinking Butch, Sundance, Bonnie and Clyde had it right. I sure don't want to die in a hospital bed. No way, no how.
6. Hospital Clinica Biblica, a private hospital, saved my life. I was wheeled into the emergency room and immediately had 3 doctors working on me. After four days in their ICU, I went to the Caja, the public system: first ICU, then the salon. They kept me alive, I thought my doctors were really good and I have no complaints about the care. But if I had walked into the emergency room at the Caja, I might not be here. It is always jammed, we didn't know what I had… I just might have had to wait a smidge too long.
We belong to the Caja and can use that freely. But we are buying insurance so that the private system is always available to us, as well. If I can get this sick, anything can happen. Besides, financially, we would not survive another hit like this. As expats, for less than $2,500, we can insure our whole family. Sounds so reasonable now.
7. I had strep pneumonia, the most common kind, according to my doctor. I don't think I had a particularly virulent strain, which they thought at first. I just waited too long to go to the doctor. I thought I had dengue – I looked at the symptoms this morning and I'd probably think that again. But after four or five days letting the pneumonia go to town, I was really, really sick by the time I got to Biblica. You are supposed to process at least 93% of the O2 you inhale. I was at 75% then, at 90% now.
8. Recovery is getting my strength back, basically by walking around the house. No stairs yet. I walk like an old woman who just got off a horse. Pitiful. And improving my O2 process. I have an O2 tank on the lowest setting and I can go for a couple of hours without it. I think I'm doing pretty good. I feel great being home, on the mend.
9. We threw away the acetaminophen. For two days, I took 12K mg/day, because acetaminophen is the preferred pain reliever for dengue. Max dosage is, I think, 7K. My liver was swollen, but no lasting damage. (All my organs are perfect now, even the lung is doing good.) The thing is, acetaminophen doesn't kill you right away, unless you continue with ridiculous dosages. It destroys your liver slowly till it's past mending. Why would we have something like that in the house?
10. Some people will do anything for attention.
That's all I know for sure. And it's almost lunchtime, so gotta run. Er, hobble. Recovery from pneumonia is one to two months. I'm aiming for one, but I will take it slowly, no relapse, no getting sick again. One day at a time. Life is very good, I'm happy to still be here.
I haven't read all the comments on my blog, I'm still a bit of a basket case. I'll be back to Facebook in a week or so, I guess. Thank you again for your prayers, healing energy and those virtual cards and letters. I got them, every one.
Glad to hear the good news. Keep it up. You’re to ornery and feisty to succumb to a mere illness.
Yay!!! So glad you are home – Welcome back!!!!
I’m so glad you’re back and safe and sound. I was so worried for you, although I knew you’d pull through with a vengeance. Your FB wall is crazytown… you’re very loved! We missed you.
We are so glad that you are home and on the mend. Take care of you, and take all of the time needed to recover. I am sorry you became ill, we hope it was not because of us.
Sending one giant hug through the universe to YOU!!!
Probably something more intelligent than WOW is a befitting thing to say here.
I’ve got a 40 year old Hawethorne uprooted in my front yard … succumbed in our seventh month of our eight month winter up here in Arctic Calgary. That’s my biggest problem to deal with today.
So thanks for the perspective. Can’t wait for the theories. Heal well beautiful woman. xoxo
SO happy you’re back! XOXOXOXO
I’ll see ya when I see ya!
There is nothing stronger and more beneficial for us than a strong, caring family.
I am curious to hear from you how you believe you got the infection. It is good to hear from you again here.
Hooray, and gracias a Dios!
Prayers, thoughts, healing energy…these all helped but me thinks it was the loving attention of your family,Sal,along with your indomitable spirit that got you through this ordeal.
Poco y poco mi amiga!
Sally, you were definitely the Leading Lady and Solo Girl Singer in this drama. You get multiple Standing O’s from all in attendance. But we are ready for the final curtain and we do not want encores. Enough already. Now we want to hear about recovery and feeling better, one day at a time.
Thank you for getting better and some very loud hurrahs for Hal, Morgan, and Ryan, for their support.
So glad you are on the mend!!!!
Had faith all along but I had worry cuz I do that soooo well. Now reading this, brought tears to my eyea,lump to the throat and a heart bursting with gratitude. I have had sympathy illness for you. Doesn’t compare to your ordeal, but on day 13, sure sucks. Heroes all you you.
When I was thinking about you, I would hum that old Southern lullaby “Kentucky Babe”. Now I’m humming this goofy tune we used have blasted at us in junior high gym class…started with “push up every morning, not just now and then…” and ultimately “give that chicken fat back to the chickens and don’t be chicken again” love you gal. Hollis
It’s so good to see you back. I will join in the rest and say WELCOME HOME!!! There is no place like home and I am so happy you made it back. You had me scared but I know you are tough and you can’t keep a good (wo)man down! Nothing like getting a new lease on life to make you stronger! My praises to the boys and Hal and Sam.
Welcome back!!! You were missed! I’m really happy to hear you are feeling better!
SO glad to hear the good news! I think you’re absolutely right that there was a LOT of strong energy being sent your way, from so many people in many different forms. Looking forward to reading about your ongoing recovery and forward movement.
In Costa Rica they do not sell acetaminophen (Ibuprofen) off the shelf.
You have to talk to the pharmacist before you can get it. I brought a big bottle from Walmart in the United States.
My wife thought it was great for headaches and her usual monthly thing, but I was real careful to explain to her that it’s toxic in large doses or with alcholol.
“Even taking correct daily dosages of acetaminophen, when combined with alcohol, can lead to such extreme liver damage that it results in the failure of the organ”.
Good to hear you are feeling better.
Ibuprofen and acetaminofen are two different things…..
Yayyy Saratica is back 🙂 You rock my blogosphere. From Mel in Florida (frequent reader and visitor to CR)
Sooooo glad our bright star is back in the saddle!!! 🙂 Love you! Mary
I Love You; You’re Almost Perfect Again; Now, Don’t Stop!
Thinking of you…
Hey Squatty Body!
I’m so happy to hear that you are back home with your family. Steve and I thought about you a lot while you were sick, and I am so happy that you are on the mend. We reminisced about our outings in New York, and how much of a New Yorker you were (despite your Kentucky twang!). Perhaps someday we’ll get a chance to see you again, and even meet your family. Lots of love,
Lisa Grundhauser (now of Glen Carbon, Illinois)
God bless you, Sally!
I am so glad to hear that you are home and better. Please take it easy so you will heal faster. Feeling good and doing too much may set you back. (I have to tell that over and over to all the new moms!)
Love and prayers from Kentucky,
geez…. just so glad you back. xo
My Dear Sally,
Oh my gosh! You have really been through the wringer with this very serious illness, and I am so relieved to hear you are on the mend! I was extremely worried about you, Sweet Sally! However, if anyone was going to get through this crisis, it was you! Do take it easy, though. You don’t want to push yourself too fast!
Wow! I am so very happy to hear that you are finally home! I had just joined ‘lindenkin’ (with Barry’s help) and had seen one post from you when I heard the news from Barry about how very sick you were.
I hadn’t even known you had moved to Costa Rica with your family. I sent as many thoughts, prayers, and Indigo light with love and healing I could send, but when I went back to the lindenkin site to check up on your status (the last thing I knew was that you were in an induced coma in ICU and your husband was so scared for you he wasn’t able to talk about it), but everything about you had disappeared. I looked everywhere!!!
I began to think I had somehow dreamt (yes, I looked it up and that is how the past participle, past tense of dream is spelled)the whole thing up! I even called Deb Thomas to see what she had heard, but she wasn’t even aware of your illness. She thanked me for informing her (I hoped I was informing her of something true) and said she would immediately start sending out healing thoughts to you!
I finally found messages in my junk mail today (there were only 759 messages in there) and found several messages from Barry regarding an update on you. I couldn’t even wait to open the others before first reading about how you were doing. I am sooooo glad to hear of your improvements and how wonderfully supportive your family and friends have been! You deserve only the best!
Much love being sent your way (once I figure out exactly where Costa Rica is, as I am a living, breathing representative of what a true geographic idiot is), and I will continue these thoughts of love and healing being sent your way! All my love to you and your family! Rita Grundhauser
Oh my God! I just spent 6 hours trying to figure out what my URL is because this site seemed to require me to have a URL before being able to post a comment. I was also quite amazed and befuddled as to how everyone else seemed to know theirs. I researched how to create my own URL, but I kept being told I needed to create my own webpage first. Not only did I not want to create my own webpage, it appeared my webpage would need to be legitimate! I must have tried four different sites and even registered for one (hope it’s free) before finally giving up and returning to this site and trying to type in “http://abroadincostarica.com” inside the box asking for my URL, but alas, that didn’t work either! I was just about to quit trying to send this message to you when I noticed (well, I don’t remember what I noticed – talk about being old – dementia has already begun to set in for me), but I must have noticed something because it prompted me to register for ‘OpenID’ or something like that. Hope it works! Much love, Rita
Sorry, Sally (and any other poor soul who attempted to read my completely boshed comment). It appears I have somehow interspersed my comment with short passages from throughout my comment which makes it very confusing to read and/or understand, if not completely impossible! I told you dementia was already setting in! What can I say? I’m a boob! See directions below for how to correctly read my aforementioned comment:
Now, read the first 6 paragraphs. Skip paragraphs 7,8,9,10,11,12,13 and finally read the last paragraph – 14!
Thank you all for your good wishes and I am SO glad to be home!!! Getting stronger everyday, feeling somewhat back to normal. Hallelujah and Amen!
P.S. None of that stuff is required: the email or the url. Some people like to put it on there so others can get in touch or for a quickie link back to their site. You don’t even have to put in the author… just go anonymously!