To continue the story, back at St. Luke’s… I think I was in rehab for about a week. Up until that point I had been on a powerful pain medication which helped me sleep at night; I don’t remember the name of it, but they had taken me off of it. I was having my residual limbs wrapped every night to reduce the swelling, which is normal after a major amputation. The wrapping must have helped with the pain because I don’t really remember any.
My mother’s side of the family played a huge role in my recovery while at St. Luke’s. Most of them are still living in the Philippines and when they learned of my accident and my stay at St. Luke’s, several of them came to visit! How lucky was I? My Uncle Joel was there, I hadn’t seen him since 2007. Uncle Joel was awesome. He stayed somewhere nearby, but woke up at 4 A.M. in the morning to prepare food to bring and travel to the hospital. My Aunt Perla flew in from Alaska to be with me and my mom. I remember a few cousins, Pamela and Fritzie (I think), came in to visit for a few days. My brother was also there for a while to help me in my weak state. I read somewhere once that love plays a huge role in the recovery phase for traumatic injuries. The love and support that I felt while at St. Luke’s from family I rarely see and from the nurses definitely helped in my recovery.
I was attending rehab everyday, performing exercises with light dumbbells, being shown how to transfer from the wheelchair to another surface, and learning stretching exercises. Of course, when not in rehab I was being monitored by the doctors and nurses. One by one, they eventually removed all the tubes from me. I think the first one to go was the tracheotomy tube. I can still remember them sticking a mini suction pipe in my trachea to suck out the phlegm. The tickling in the back of my trache (as it’s referred to) was unsettling. I remember when it came time to remove the tube to my gallbladder. The nurse came in and said they’d pull on it and there would be some force, but it should come out easy. I remember the nurse pulling on it and my body being pulled toward the nurse. Eventually, they had to put me under to remove that tube. I recalled them injecting my I.V. line with something and the next thing I knew, I was waking up with no more tube in me. That’s another weird sensation–being awake then instantly blacking out.
The doctors originally told my parents that I’d be in rehab for three months in the Philippines. However, after about a week of it, I decided I wanted to go home. I could do the exercises at home and I knew I’d recover better at home, surrounded by my loving dogs. Not that I didn’t feel loved and cared for at St. Luke’s, but there’s something comforting about being in a familiar surrounding that does wonders for recovery.
I felt so loved and cared for while at St. Luke’s. I remember the great food that I ate while there, it was my first time trying crispy pata (deep fried pigs foot). I remember the caring staff–I kept in touch with one of the nurses there for a while. I need to send her an email now that I remember, the last I heard from her, she had just gotten married. The love that I experienced from family that I rarely see was awesome.
The love that I felt from people that didn’t know me was a theme that continued when I returned home to Guam.