I Will Survive!

I woke up Monday Morning, and the sun was shining brightly through my windows.  I was trying to figure out what I could do today to be productive.  No therapy today, so my energy bank was full, and needed something to do.  So, I decided to go for a quick drive.  Yes, that’s right!  I tasted a little slice of freedom this week!  Don’t worry– I’ve been medically cleared to drive short distances.  I can’t be out too long because I get tired really quickly.  So, no trips to Wegman’s any time soon.  I decided to run a few simple errands.  Drive to the Trash Compactor.  Drive to the Mailbox.  Drive to get my passport pictures for my Visa for Kenya.  Drive to get my eyebrows waxed.  That would be a really good way to start the week.

I got dressed, headed downstairs, and gimped out to my car.  My poor car has just been through its first snow storm of the season, so she needed a good drive.  I plugged my ipod in, because you must have music when you’re driving.  I clicked on my GBS mix, and backed out of my very special parking spot in front of my house.  I skipped through some classics trying to find the perfect driving song– Boogie Shoes- KC and the Sunshine Band.  This is How we Do It- Montel Jordan.  I Will Survive- Gloria Gaynor.  That’s the one.   I turned up the music, threw my shades on, and was on my way!

Oh no, not I! I will survive!
Oh and as long as I know how to love I know I stay alive.
I’ve got all my life to live, I’ve got all my love to give.
And I’ll survive!

I got all of my errands done in that hour.  When I got home, I went into my house, laid down on the couch, and was asleep minutes later.  Nap Time had arrived!

That song always makes me smile as it’s another reminder of my days at King’s.  When I was a freshman, I pledged for the service sorority EKT.  The “hazing” was mostly good-natured.  We had a really big pledge class, and we all bonded very quickly.  In fact, I am still close with so many of the girls from my pledge class.  We were up late, we were always running around campus, and doing embarrassing things.  Singing outside of Margarita.  Wearing trash bags, instead of normal clothes, to class all week.  Running errands for the guys in the fraternity.  Basically we were at the older sorority sisters’ beck and call.  The finale of pledge week the entire pledge class had to perform for the student body during dinner in the cafeteria.  We were up late nights on the 6th floor of East Hall, the girls dorm, practicing our dance to “I Will Survive”.  We had a choreographed routine, memorized the words, and picked out our costumes.  We went shopping and all bought glittery gold shirts, teased out hair, put on the bright red lipstick, and impersonated solid gold dancers.  When it was our time, our sisters called the entire cafeteria to attention, announced us, and we were on!  We sang, we danced, we had a crazy fun time.  We were received with a standing ovation from the crowd.  Hey, if you can’t laugh at yourself, you’re not really having that much fun.  Such memories…  PS.  Can you find me and my big hair in this pic?

So, what have I been up to these past two weeks?  Lots!

I went to see both of my doctors.  First it was the physiatrist (that’s a doctor of rehab medicine)-  Dr. Kraus. The doctor who took care of me every day while I was at Bryn Mawr Rehab.  We’ve been through alot together.  From his making fun of my choice in college t-shirts (he’s a Pitt grad), to his going to battle for me when my insurance company refused to cover my medical care, he’s been a constant positive force in my recovery.  My days always started at the hospital at 7am with a wake up from the nurses.  She would help me get dressed and into my wheelchair.  I would brush my teeth, wash my face and get ready for whatever my therapy team had in store for me.  Before breakfast arrived at 8am, Dr. Kraus would come in and do medical assessment. How was my blood work?  Why is my blood pressure so low?  How is my strength?  Do I have any questions?  It was a routine that I became accustomed to.  He would walk in, we’d chat for a few minutes, and I would be assured every day that I would make a full recovery. Even on days when I had to be carried into my wheelchair, I felt more confident when Dr. Kraus came in.  He’d seen it all.  And he had faith that I’d recover. So I trusted his confidence in my recovery.

He’s a quiet man.  He’s a serious man.  He’s a really funny man.  He’s a quiet funny.  The kind that you know you are “in” if he’s making jokes with you.  I was definitely “in”.  It took some time, but by the time I left the hospital, we shared a silly bond.  I shed a few tears because I don’t know how I would have gotten through this without his constant calm to my insanity, his confidence to my insecurity.  I didn’t choose him, but I’m glad he was chosen for me.

We had a nice little reunion.  We caught up on my Outpatient Rehab and my impatience with my recovery.  I had lots of questions for him.  Why wasn’t I walking independently yet?  When should I go back to work?  When can I wear heels again?  All really important, especially the last point.  He told me that I was doing very well.  Continue to work when Physical and Occupational therapy were done.  Go back to work part time, and be sure to work from home.  No Heels yet.  Sigh.  Okay. Whatever Dr. Kraus says, Goes.  Period.

Then I was off to see Dr. Weisman at Abington Neurology.  I haven’t seen him since I was in ICU and he was sticking needles in my legs and arms.  I was getting an EMG (Electromyography) done.  This is a test that checks the health of the muscles and the nerves that control the muscles.  Essentially, the doctor  inserts a very thin needle electrode through the skin into the muscle.  You then have to move your muscle to see if your muscle can respond when the nerves are stimulated.  Yep-  Good Times.  Needles in my legs.  I only screamed once.  The first time Dr. Weisman and I met was in the ER at Abington. He just happened to in the ER at the time I was  there.  The ER Doctors didn’t know what was wrong with me after 2 hours of testing.  So, they brought him in just to “take a look at me” to see if maybe he had any insights on what was going on.  Clearly, I had stumped the rest of the ER doctors.  Within 30 minutes I was diagnosed with GBS and he had a very sharp needle in my spine for a lumbar puncture.  So, you can see, Dr. Weisman and I seem to meet when needles are involved.  Again, I didn’t choose him, it was just good luck that he was there.  I’ll tell you my diagnosis story on another blog post.  It’s quite a doozy.

Dr. Weisman reiterated much of what Dr. Kraus said.  Your strength is coming back.  You still have weakness in your left side.  We’ve upgraded your diagnosis from a mild to a moderate case of GBS.  Sleep as much as possible as that is the only way your body will heal.  During the day, if you get tired, take a nap.  It’s your body saying that it needs rest.  Sleep.  Sleep.  Sleep.  And don’t be so hard on yourself.  Your body suffered a massive trauma, and you have to remember that you are only in the beginning stages of your recovery.

You need to give yourself a full year until you are back to your pre-GBS strength, endurance and energy.  I sat and stared at him.  A Full Year?  I thought I was almost better, I said to him.  Nope- you’re not, he told me.  You’re only about 1/4 of the way there.  Damn.

So let’s see, if I can do the math—- As of today, I’ve now been sick 89 days.  2,136 Hours.  128,160 minutes.  7,689,600 seconds.  Feels like an eternity.

So I’ve got another 276 days to go.  So, what will you be doing for the next 6,624 hours or 397,440 minutes or 23,846,400 seconds? I am going to make the best of them and just heal. So that when August 11, 2012 rolls around, I’ll be ready to go.

It took all the strength I had not to fall apart.  And I spent oh so many nights just feeling sorry for myself. I used to cry!  But now I hold my head up high.  Gloria had the right idea!  Another classic to add to your playlist.

I promise you, I will Survive.

Thank You for joining me on this journey.


3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Laura Scappaticci on November 15, 2011 at 4:58 PM

    Loved reading your writing here, roomie. And I think Alli is right…flirting with doctors is a good thing! You are amazing. So glad you are sharing your story. Such strength AND humor. Fantastic. xoL


  2. Posted by Janet on November 9, 2011 at 9:01 AM

    Love it


  3. Posted by Allison Madden on November 9, 2011 at 8:48 AM

    Suzy! You’re amazing! If there is something I know n love about you its that you are strong and will survive. You’re a fighter and have lots of fun times ahead pc! Just a thought …are you “flirting” with some doctors? You never know? God has a special plan for you n for some reson I’m thinking something amazing is going to happen to you from this nightmare. Love n miss you ! Love your blogs! Keep them coming n know you’re loved by so many n we know you’re a survivor!


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