into the fire!
It's what I wrote, and what I felt. This new place in the rehab unit in Harrisburg would nearly prove to be my undoing.
Viewer Dear, I have a record of my exact words! Scribbled and difficult to read as they may be, it's clear I was feeling low. Feeling helpless and hopeless!
Because all of my sustenance was coming from a bagful of flesh-colored formula dripping into me via a tube into my belly (don't be squeamish), nothing cold or wet had gone down my throat for quite a while. So I fantasized about crunching on ice chips. I was very nearly obsessed with the thought of ice chips!
Now, I've never been a big fan of ice or ice chips previous to this, Reader Dear. Nor had I any idea that when the Speech Therapist summoned me to her work room, she would first of all say to me, "I've got some ice chips to start you out with. Ice chips and applesauce!"
Oh, the joy!
"They are blue," she said. "That's so we can see it if you have problems."
She watched me carefully as I swallowed carefully. I was worried about the tracheotomy tube, which entered through a hole in my neck (You wouldn't believe, Reader Dear, how many times they punctured me during this long journey!)
Everything seemed to go well with the ice chips. My mouth turned a brilliant blue. The Speech Therapist fed me the blue applesauce, and it seemed she was as eager to get it all into me as a harried young mother who's got to feed three other kiddies! Then she commended me on the excellent job I'd done. She crowed about the fact that I could now ingest real food!
"Tell your daughter," she said, "that she can make pureed things for you! Anything that's soft and smooth! She can bring them in to the hospital for you to EAT!"
I was already picturing the large cup of ice chips I'd be calling for an hour later!
.........................................................................................(My [very] blue tongue)
(It's an exceedingly bad word for one to hear in a hospital setting, Reader Dear! Obviously, much worse to hear it from a surgeon...but quite unpleasant in any situation!)
Turns out that I began to cough. And cough and cough and cough. Nurses starting seeing BLUE!
(Meanwhile, I was seeing red!)
The Speech Therapist (as you may have guessed, she was the swallowing pro as well as the one in charge of forming oral words) stopped by to give me the unhappy notification that she'd been wrong. No eating! No more ice chips! Nothing by mouth for the foreseeable future (at least not until an X-ray "swallowing study" had taken place.
Meanwhile, I kept on coughing. Coughing! Coughing!
I would cough until I gagged.
Nurses were constantly suctioning my throat. It did not seem to help. My throat was raw and inflamed. I was miserable. I was getting little sleep.
Clearly, I was having a rough time!
Until about three days later.
"We're going to give you a smaller trach!" they told me.
And (skipping right over many details) they did!
Things rapidly improved.
the highlight of my week was yet to come, and it has nothing to do with food, but a lot to
do with my feet!