Update #2 – Cool, fresh lemonade

I’ve been home from rehab for a little over two weeks. Thank you for your prayers. The prayers may seem a little less desperate, but they are still very important.

WOUNDS. They continue to close. I’m taking a break from a machine called a Wound Vac, which is exactly as it sounds. It sucks on your wounds. Part of it is high tech – computerized machine that does the sucking, and part of it is low tech. They attach it to your skin with cellophane tape, put a piece of foam over the wound (the same foam with which I line my guitar cases) and then cover the whole set-up with another layer of tape. My wound nurse feels I no longer need it; my doctor is on vacation and cannot recall the order for it. Thus is medicine in the 21st century.

NERVE SENSATION. My feeling is slowly returning. Certain nerves are awakening as I exercise them. Some feeling in my feet has returned, but the two fingers (pinkie and ring) on my right hand continue to tingle.

FATIGUE. With exercise I will get stronger every day. However, I have spoken with some “long haulers” who tell me that they are still plagued with chronic fatigue after a year of having Covid. Yesterday, I trimmed a bonsai tree for ten minutes and was exhausted. So, slow and steady.

FOOD. I lost 65 pounds since January 1, 2021. Today, I tried on a pair of Levi’s I used to wear. Hmmm. I will have to grow into them in about a year. With Mary’s great Italian cooking and the meals provided by friends and neighbors, this will not be a problem. After I came off the ventilator, I stayed sane by imagining all the food I could eat when I got home. I started with fruit – blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, kiwi, apples, plums, pineapple, and of course, strawberries from a field forever. Then I moved on to my favorite entrees. I followed that with desserts. I watched Rachel Ray each day, I watched the Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives marathons. PBS featured cooking shows on Saturday mornings. Some people may consider this torture to watch shows about something you cannot enjoy, but I viewed it as hope. I thought that someday I would enjoy these things again. And indeed I have. Our fridge is packed with leftovers and provided meals. We are so thankful for the generosity of others.

About halfway through my hospitalization, I discovered that I could not swallow effectively. Then, the conversations that I had daily with Jesus turned to food starting with the lemonade made by my grandkids. That became my hope: a fresh glass of iced lemonade made by Big Brother and Baby Sister made from lemons grown in our backyard, picked, squeezed, and mixed by them. If you haven’t seen the video, they perfected their lemonade at a very young age. LEMONADE VIDEO. In a picture of them and me that was taken on the day of my homecoming, you can see the very glass of lemonade that I hoped for and that Jesus and I talked about often.

If you followed Mary’s prayer updates, you’ll remember that the swallow evaluations were a prominent prayer request. When I swallowed, a minute amount of liquid went into my lungs, potentially causing pneumonia. Those prayers were answered thanks to my speech therapist, Jane, who taught me to swallow again. I had to build the muscles used to swallow and she provided the exercises necessary to accomplish that goal. At the final swallow evaluation, the technician fed me barium-laden liquids, applesauce, and soda crackers. After four swallows, she said, “You’re good to go!” which meant I had passed the test. Praise God! Thank you, Jane. Lemonade, here I come!

Taco Bell was always my go-to on the road and during post-grad work. Nora Fusco and I used to go to Taco Bell every Thursday for lunch when I taught at Victoria Groves. The bean and cheese burrito with green sauce was edible while driving, and the spicy tostada had the crunch I loved. (Vegetarian?) But I heard that sometime during my hospital stay, TB discontinued green sauce and spicy tostadas. Can this be true?

GUITAR. When things looked bleak, I started telling Mary how to go about selling my guitars on ebay. When she would have none of it and insisted that I would be playing before summer, I went about choosing which guitar I would play first. But when I got home, I found that I hesitated to pick up a guitar. I had no feeling in two fingers on my right hand, and something in my left hand didn’t feel right. I told one of my friends about the fear and he said, “You were almost dead. What do you have to be afraid of?” That made sense to me. So, with a lot of help from Mary, I picked up my Taylor 714ce with the shattered front. What could be more appropriate? A shattered guitar played by a shattered and rescued man. I strummed the first few chords of “Graves into Gardens,” a song that debuted during my Covid time. I dropped the pick, but most of it sounded pretty good… and after playing three minutes, fatigue got the best of me. The calloused fingers I had since I was twelve are gone, but daily playing will rebuild those. I form a weird F chord using my thumb – that ability is gone, too. I may have to barre my F’s. Daily guitar exercises are now added to my occupational and physical therapies.

PRAYER. The wounds, the lost feeling, the endurance – all remain as prayer requests.
Please add to it: The ability to walk with a cane. In order to do that, I must master my balance. I am working on exercises that will enable me to accomplish this. I am not balancing on a rowboat or a tree stump like the Karate Kid, but something very close to it. Pray my body responds. Thank you.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), as you try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:8-10 NASB)

In the next update, watch for a surprise which came out of my bout with Covid.

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