life presents its twists and turns
… and they are hard to follow at times.
Choosing between life and death should be easy, and it probably is for most people. But, when I was presented with this choice a while ago, making up my mind about the matter took several hours.
Yes, in mid November 2013 I ended up in hospital with a pretty severe condition, and was given a choice between “possible normal life if doctors were allowed to act quickly” and otherwise “certain death within days”.
Right there and then I was unable to determine if going through major surgery in an attempt to stay alive, really balanced out. Aren't sixty, mainly good, years on this earth enough already, or should I try to get a few more years topside…
has been a good life.
Maybe life has been so good to me this far, that I am getting bored with it. Despite a few setbacks over the years, I have pretty much been able to realise my ideas and do my own things – follow my dreams as they say.
I don't really have all that many dreams left worth following, and make no secret of the fact that I get a bit bored with observing the same regurgitated ideas, news and entertainment surface, and perform the same tasks, day after day.
I am definitely not well suited for a regular, nice, “A4” kind of life, and there isn't much else to aim for now and in the future in our modern societies. Guess it is a natural part of the “getting old” process, and I am tired of it already.
had to make a choice.
Well, clearly I made a choice of life, and I am still around to tell the story so the outcome of the surgery must have been reasonably good – so far at least.
Too late now to wonder if I made the right choice or not. So, apart from stating that I was not sure at the time and maybe never will be, wondering about it is not something I will waste time on.
Life surely has more twists and bends waiting for me up ahead, and only time will tell what choices, if any, I am presented with in the future.
At least now I stand a good chance of running into future choices. If I had chosen differently I obviously would no longer have that option.
blood-clots in left leg.
The following are pictures the nurses took a week or so after surgery. I included them here, with my comments, months later.
They had to open my lower left leg both on the inside and on the outside, to
remove blood clots and damaged and dead tissue.
At first it was kind of interesting to look at my own muscles contract and expand inside my leg, but after a minute or so the sight wasn't fun anymore.
Two long and quite wide open wounds, much too large and deep to be closed there
At this stage nature had to take over the healing process, while the doctors' job was to keep me safe from infections, and help speed up the healing process.
Vacuum pumps kept the fluid-absorbing and airtight bandages pressed tightly onto
the wounds. These vacuum assisted bandages provided the best conditions for the
body to heal itself.
Took doctors and trained nurses nearly an hour to remove the used and put on new bandages with tubes and pumps, which they had to do twice a week for almost two months.
In addition to the above surgery on my lower left leg, about a meter (three feet) of aorta had to be replaced because it was totally clogged up – mainly the result of smoking I guess. This meant they had to cut me open, from just below my ribs down into upper part of both legs, and put in and attach an artificial aorta shaped like an inverted “Y”.
In the beginning this new aorta seemed to cause the doctors most worries. They had given me more blood during surgery than my body contained before surgery, and still had to give me more blood in the days after. Clearly there were leaks…
After a week or so the doctors seemed to be satisfied that the new aorta held up, and once the stables holding the wound closed down my belly had been removed I didn't feel much at all. Even before I left the hospital I tended to forget about that part of the surgery, only remembering it when I looked in the mirror and sometimes when I coughed.
All the way the doctors were fighting infections, and held me back at the hospital for at least a week longer than initially found necessary, because the infection-indicating numbers tipped the wrong way. They pumped me so full of antibiotics, that in the end they literally ran out of blood vessels in my arms to put needles in … and I ran out of patience with all the needle-probing.
Didn't help much that I experienced allergic reactions to some antibiotics and/or other essential medication. Rashes with an itching sensation appeared around all wounds, and no medication had a positive effect on that.
My kidneys shut down during surgery – which is normal, and for a while the doctors were afraid of permanent damage to them. After a week all tests indicated that my kidneys were working near perfect though, giving the doctors, and me, one less thing to worry about.
In the report / recommendations to me, the doctors put up four points I had to follow if I shall avoid becoming a revisiting client. These points are written as follows…
- quit smoking.
- quit smoking.
- quit smoking.
- exercise to be able to perform long, frequent, walks.
No doubt what the doctors meant, I guess. I am working on all four points the best I can, but walking even short distances is pretty difficult at the moment with vacuum‐tightened bandages and all, and smoking is hard to give up after 45 years with the poison.
Apart from that I will have to change the way I live on a few points, nothing much has changed in my life. Right now I for the most part am too tired in body and soul to think much about it, but hopefully that will change for the better as my health improves.
As far as how I look at life itself, nothing at all has changed. We live for a while, and then we don't live anymore, and that is pretty much it as far as I am concerned.
Now (early December) I will focus on doing my exercises, and also rest a lot. I will complete this posting, and maybe add some pictures, when I am through it all and can look back on the ordeal from a better position.
Whatever problems I have now (writing late December) are related to my left leg, where two large wounds from surgery to remove blood clots and damaged tissue hurt quite a bit.
The chaotic and varying mix of sensations from damaged and cut nerves in left foot can only be dampened to a reasonable level by strong pain killers. Hope I won't be hooked on those pain killers once the pain recedes, as some days the amount of pain killers necessary to get by is quite high.
Will take a while till I can play pedal steel guitar again, as my left leg isn't up to pushing pedals at the moment. Once my leg gets a little better, that instrument will provide me with good exercises though.
Writing mid January, and the ordeal started two months back. I don't have short memory, but if it hadn't been for that the more or less constant pain and physical restrictions remind me it might as well have been years ago.
Doctors are very happy with progress, but, of course, I find the wait frustrating and wish it was all over and I could resume normal life. It may at least take another month to get to that point.
Not that I mind taking it slow from time to time – especially in the winter, but my daily routines the last few weeks have been so ridiculously slow that all energy seems to have left me for lack of exercise. And, until the leg‐wounds have healed properly there's nothing I can do about it.
Oh well, writing down bits and pieces from daily life while the healing process takes its course, does dampen frustration a little. Who knows how long this blog post becomes before it's finished.
Am now writing mid April 2014, and this is a last note (planned at least) to finish off this post. Have added some pictures and expanded on details here and there in this blog post, as I did not want to write another post about what happened to me back in November 2013. Better to have it all in one place.
I have now celebrated my sixty-first birthday (April 12th), which it was not likely that I would when I ended up in hospital five months ago. With a bit of luck and all that, there will be many more years and birthdays ahead before I call it quit for good.
I am doing fine all things considered, and can at the moment see no real reasons to complain. A few more months now, and life should be pretty much back to normal … and most likely even better than normal. Not too bad that…
looking back in time for a moment.
(01.aug.2014) Some of my friends have, after reading though latest revisions of this posting in its entirety, expressed some confusion. Despite this post being quite long and detailed, they found it seriously shortened and over-simplified on some, for them, essential points.
Lately they have asked me if my relationship with Gunlaug Solås was not more than enough to make my choice an easy and quick “go for life” that November night in 2013. Why on earth did I have to spend hours thinking through whether to have surgery or not, while my life literally was hanging in a thread?
To answer in a complete way, I had to write a new blog post that focuses on those few hours. I hope it will remove all confusion around my decision process.
And, with that I regard this posting as complete. May still add a progress note or two in side-notes, but that's about it.
last rev: 03.jul.2015