Friday, March 5, 2010

Lying in Bed


This is Peggy writing. I’m not exactly sure how I managed to contract pneumonia—first a cold, then warning signals ignored, then relentless hiking in the icy cold, or maybe just general stress and in any case plenty of denial, but here it is. Pneumonia! It’s the not-so-bad kind, what used to be called “walking pneumonia,” but it does require a little attention.

Like staying in bed. This isn’t easy. Normally, when I finally make it to bed after all the stuff that has to be taken care of I’m more or less instantly asleep, so I don’t really know what it’s like to lie in bed awake. And not just for awhile, but for hours. It could be days. You lie there with your eyes open, and pretty soon you’re aware of a little discomfort, so you adjust a bit. You move your leg to the side, or twist your trunk around slightly. Then not much later, you do it again, maybe the other leg, or slide the trunk just a little in the other direction. Sometimes you turn on your side, just for a little relief; then back on your back. Then maybe the other side, or all the way over on your tummy. But it’s always about keeping just a little ahead of the discomfort that comes with lying too still in just one position, especially if the position isn’t quite perfect.

Brooke can’t make any of these moves by himself. He gets turned every two hours by the aides in order to prevent bedsores, day and night. He can ask to be repositioned, but of course has to be considerate of the staff and not ask too often. He’s up in the wheelchair for a couple of hours, but otherwise he’s in bed. And when he’s in bed, he can’t do all the little incremental readjustment every few minutes that goes with lying in bed. If there’s one lesson in a little touch of pneumonia (besides the obvious one about how important the lungs are), it’s about what it must be like for him to lie there, more and more aware of sensation all the time but still not able to move enough to do anything about it.

6 comments:

norm said...

sometimes we don't respond because we don't think we have anything meaningful to say. Just know that we are reading every installment of your amazing narrative, and know that both of you are very much in our thoughts.

with love

Nan and Norm

msfolke said...

Hi Peggy-

This is Maddy from the Honors Empathetic Innovation in Medicine course that you talked to last Wednesday. (I'm the one who works as a CNA.)

First off, I'm so sorry to hear about the pneumonia! I wish you a rapid and complete recovery!

Secondly, I wanted to thank you tremendously for coming and speaking to our class. The collective experience of both you and Brooke is essentially the embodiment of what our course is about. You brought our class invaluable insight into the patient experience. Many elements of your experience cannot be fathomed (and therefore not fixed, if necessary) by those who have not gone through what you and Brooke have. You are both incredibly brave and admirable.

Thank you again for coming to speak with us, and I will continue to follow your blog (which I will reiterate was a brilliant idea for all involved) to watch progress and keep in touch.

-Maddy

Dana Wilson said...

Peggy and Brooke,

Know that we are in the wings, every day, following your trials and triumphs.

We miss you out here, miss you fighting for our civil liberties, for the progression of human understanding and enlightenment.

In your absence, we will carry on that fight, in your place, as best we can.

We need you. Get well. We need your voices, your eloquence.

Dana and Lynn

ed ranney said...

Hi Peggy,

Here's hoping the pneumonia is retreating as a result of your onslaught of bed-rest - the latter probably much needed for many reasons, but especially perceptive re Brooke's physical world, making us all more aware of those needs we all take for granted.
I'm sure he misses your visits and encouragement, but oddly enough can probably take some pleasure in insisting that you take care of yourself and really capitalize on your own confinement! What crazy turns of events, but be assured we're thinking of both of you and appreciating the news, struggles, insights that go with all this.

all best with much love to you both
Ed

Lorraine Seal said...

Brooke must miss you, but it's good to know you're resting -- which seems somehow like an oxymoron -- Peggy Battin resting. It's hard to imagine. I hope you're getting better.

I write from an empty house, empty of furniture and all save two suitcases worth of belongings, in Co Tipperary, enjoying the last night in front of a sitting room fire. Tomorrow I go up to Dublin and the next day fly on to Salzburg, the big move. Someone has lit fires on the mountains seen from my window, and lines of red flames cut the blackness just over the horizon. These are not raging California or Utah wildfires; they seem to signal farewell.

My love and good wishes to both of you.

Lorraine

David J. Rothman said...

Dear Peggy and Brooke:

Dave Rothman here, checking in and sending you as much love as a computer screen can carry. I've just been catching up on your blog...and have now signed up to get it delivered...I think! Still not sure how all this works...

I hope you're feeling better...so many folks I know have had pneumonia this year -- please take care of yourself.

I hardly even know how to respond to this post and all the others I've read today -- I generally come on every once in a while and catch up -- they're so powerful they leave me speechless.

I'm going to be in Salt Lake again this spring, starting next Friday, March 19. I'd love to see you and Brooke if it's possible -- almost any day will work...my email is rothmandavidj@msn.com and the phone is 970-443-3394.

Ever since last year, when I briefly visited Brooke, I've had a few things on my mind...notably his insistence that Paradise Regained is better than PL, which I want to hear more about...

I also have some gifts for you...small things that might mean something nonetheless...

I hope I'll see you soon --

Love,

Dave R.