It’s now been almost a week since a medical crisis sent Dymphna to the emergency room. As most of you already know, her breathing problems turned out to have been caused by what’s known as a “complete heart block”. Last Monday she had a pacemaker surgically implanted to alleviate this condition.
The first couple of days after the surgery were difficult for her. She suffers from developmental PTSD, so that anything her “undermind” experiences as a bodily invasion can have a long-lasting unpleasant aftereffects. Incidents that most people bounce back from in a day or two can lay her low for weeks.
As it happens, this latest recovery has been surprisingly smooth. The first couple of days were rough, but she is now returning to some of her normal activities (including, I’m happy to report, cooking).
A real breakthrough of sorts occurred last night, when we were both in the kitchen. I asked her a question at the moment she happened to be leaving the room.
She answered me, in a loud, clear voice, from the next room. She wasn’t yelling — she just raised her voice, so that I could hear her.
The significance of the incident was that she hadn’t been able to do that for years.
Many years ago I remember her bellowing from one end of the house to the other (just as I do). But those days are long gone. And for the past few years, if I wanted to understand what she was saying from the next room, I had to walk in there and put my ear close to her mouth.
So this represents a qualitative improvement, and I can’t tell you how happy it makes both of us.
Another noticeable result of the pacemaker is an improvement in her sense of balance. She no longer “lurches”, which is the term she uses to describe her former style of movement. She thought that symptom was a result of her fibromyalgia, but now it seems that it must have been cardiac-related.
Every day she is more chipper and active than she was the previous one, so both of us are optimistic.
The pain from the surgery is still there, but it is receding. On Monday we will return to the hospital to have her dressing removed, so we’ll see what the surgeon says then. She doesn’t have any of the symptoms they warned us to watch out for, so I think she’s doing OK. She has an occasional slight fever, but it doesn’t approach 100°F (37.8°C), which is the point when the instructions say we should start worrying.
As you’ve probably noticed, Dymphna has been leaving a few comments here and there. I hope we’ll hear more from her over the next several days.