Su Lum: 5th anniversary | AspenTimes.com
YOUR AD HERE »

Su Lum: 5th anniversary

Its hard to believe that its been exactly five years since I was felled by a condition called ARDS (Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome) and flown in a Flight For Life helicopter to St. Marys Hospital in Grand Junction.When I look back on that experience, it seems totally surreal. The only times I had ever been in a hospital were when I had my tonsils out when I was 5 (traumatic) and twice with easy deliveries of my two daughters. All of a sudden (BAM) I was in serious trouble, totally helpless physically and discombobulated mentally on drugs, incarcerated in a place where I didnt understand the language, didnt know the rules in a play without a script for which there had been no rehearsals.On a ventilator, I lost the first 10 days in a drug-induced coma, woke up expecting to watch the Super Bowl game only to learn that it was the middle of February. My daughters Skye and Hillery had moved into a Grand Junction hotel, their lives upheaved.For the hospital personnel its all par for the course, but for the patient and the patients family its as if a bomb had been dropped.There was a lot of crying. In the hospital youre naked in more ways than one.In the ICU after the ventilator was removed, one of the oxygen guys gave me a device that I was to suck on every half hour to elevate a plastic ball. Not wanting to fail the test, I was diligently sucking away when a nurse came in and said to stop that, I should only suck on the device every 3 or 4 hours. Whos in charge? I asked. I am, she said.A few hours later my doctor, Dr. Patz, came in while I was sucking on the device, took it away from me and threw it in the trash. Whos in charge? I am. So, there were ropes to be learned.I got so much tender loving care that I was afraid to go home on my own without the ever-present fingers on my wrist, the blood pressure cuff, the protective rails on the side of the bed, even the weight-takers, young girls who would come around at 4 a.m. with a scale rolled up against the bed and when I protested, LEAVE me ALONE would whisper, Please, I cant go home unless I get your weight.By March 17 when I was released, I was so entrenched in this new life that I had a pang of regret that Id be missing the St. Patricks Day corned beef dinner.At home I had to start building long-lost muscles and get used to dragging oxygen in a horrible little cart that snagged on everything, while out of my mind on steroids, which made me feel like a humming bird on acid with the attention span of a flea and probably contributed to the heart attack, diabetes and screwed up eyesight. In short, I was a real mess for a couple of years.Then I got off the steroids, lost the Humpty Dumpty pounds, started going to cardiac rehab exercise classes thrice a week at the hospital, which has developed into kind of a Ya-Ya Aspen Idea Sisterhood, nurturing the mind and soul as well as the body, and Helios was invented: a lightweight oxygen delivery system that I can carry in a backpack and lasts for 10 hours. It puffs like Darth Vadar but it changed my life.It was a long way back and Im not there yet. I get muddled, have to write things down, rest a lot and cant concentrate, but each year is better than the last and hey, 75 percent is better than none.[Su Lum is a longtime local who is stable. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times]


Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.

For tax deductible donations, click here.
 

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User


Columns


See more