He looked over my tongue, stoma from my tracheotomy, my long neck scar, arm "tongue donation" site and the grafting donor site on my left leg. All looked okay. "Let's get you out of here."
Just one more test. A "swallow study"... me eating in front of an x-ray video camera. The techs in the room were a fun, quirky bunch, but were good at what they did. Maybe it was working in proximity to the tray table of radioactive "foods" I had to eat/drink/chew/swallow on camera...
Radioactive milk... pudding, applesauce, peaches and "cream"... Are you serious? I had to get through this or never get my discharge. I was there long enough. Time to eat. Long story short, I passed.
During the test, one of the doctors asked what I did for a living. When I told him I taught injury treatment seminars throughout the country, he said, "I hurt my back last week..." He went on to talk about how helping his child learn to ride a bicycle caused him pain and how he started using heat on it and it got worse. I began to explain the dynamics of applying heat on inflammation and the doctor, nurse and technician were intrigued, listening close with interest... it was at that moment that I listened to my own voice. Turning the tables for them was no big deal. They are professionals. But for me, I sounded mentally handicapped. I said, "Wow, I sound really intelligent, don't I?" referring to my speech. They all nodded, "yes"... wow... Was I the very thing I hate? I was assuming they would judge me based on how I sounded. Not so. Nor would I want to ever do that to anyone ever again. I felt ashamed.
I was wheeled back to my room and was told I could pack up... I didn't ask them to repeat that. Within minutes I had shed my hospital gown, my wardrobe for the past two weeks and was into my jeans and tee-shirt. I looked great. Except for the gauze pack with tape holding my tracheal stoma closed, the bandage on my forearm with the dragon tail scar arising from beneath, and my limp from my skin donor sight on my left leg. I didn't care. I was going home.
Rushing out the door, we were able to avoid most Friday night rush hour traffic and able to get me home in record time. Regardless, I was in pain.
One of my dear neighbors, Pam, rushed out her door to give me a hug. No words, just a hug... I started to cry. I was overwhelmed from the realization I was home, how blessed I am with the support people in my life, feeling loved, being in pain... The first thing I did when I walked into my home with my daughter, Holly, was to grab a hammer... I was in a lot of pain and needed drugs. A hammer is a great "Pill Crusher." Moments later I was squirting my "dinner" mix and meds through my abdominal tube. Amazing that abdominal tube.
Holly helped me get my bandages covered in plastic so I could shave and shower, and then I was off to bed, using blankets to make an incline angle. Now to sleep without moving all night...
Meds seem to make my sleep full of weird dreams... last night mine included a BBQ restaurant. I was chewing my delicious BBQ, waking up realizing I was chewing on my new tongue... the left side where I have no feeling. I got up and used a flashlight. My tongue seems to be splitting down the middle. Tongue chewing and talking too much in the past few days seems to have damaged things a bit. I think I'll be going back to using my laptop to communicate for a bit. In need one tongue, not two.
I was so glad to be able to pass up the "adult formula" for breakfast and opt for my favorite breakfast: Full fat Greek yogurt, protein powder and chia seeds. Had to pump them into me quick so the little chia seeds wouldn't expand and block my tube.