Buying My First Car

Buying My First Car

As it was becoming clear that I needed to get motivated to go to work. It was also clear that getting up to catch a bus was not really physically possible given my state. I was going to need a car. I had set in my mind from two years earlier that I wanted a Mazda 3. That was going to be my car, but I wanted to test drive others first. Since I was not convinced of my abilities I wanted to take the first round to sit in the cars and then shortlist a few to test drive.

The car buying experience if not the most friendly for those that don’t know exactly what you want. The experience typically goes like this. You enter the dealership, you get greeted by the fastest moving sales guy. Then you blow at least a half hour as he gets your information, then starts suggesting features, and financing options before you even look at a car. Then you only get to look at what the sales guy wants you to look at. Then you realize the car is missing some of your must-haves, then the blow off that the must-have is not that important doesn’t work well anyway or, promises it can be added after-market when it really can’t. Then you find one you kind of like and they never end up telling you what it costs, only payment amounts that leave out a few key things that get added when you close the deal.

My main feature need was I didn’t want leather seats. I also needed an auto-dimming rearview mirror and automatic transmission for physical reasons.

The first stop was Saint John Hyundai, the sales rep was new and made it known that he was not on commission yet and was going to look out for me. He then showed me a Sonata, it was nice. However this is where I learned I had another physical limitation, I couldn’t have a pedal emergency brake.

Then I wanted to look at the Accent but the sales rep insisted on the Elantra first. The Elantra would have worked, but the lip by the door was too deep for my leg brace and I would have to go high-end to get the mirror I wanted. I did get to try the Accent that was more comfortable and my size but he in post talks kept pretending I didn’t and insisted the auto-dimming mirror could be added aftermarket after the company he called said it couldn’t.

The next stop was Port City Kia. This place was more friendly because I was familiar with the staff. I sat in the Forte and it was a great fit and mostly met my needs. I was thinking of a Rio when I did my research but never did sit in one. While they were figuring out numbers I sat in a few of the other ones but they were more car than I needed.

The third stop was Saint John Nissan. The staff was friendly, and the Sentra fit well, but I needed the sports model to get a colour I needed. The Micra was also nice but the saleswoman has no interest in selling it.

Stop four was Dobson Dodge Chrysler. I went in thinking maybe a Dodge Dart. However, they were having a promotion that a Chrysler representative was in town and I only got to see a Chrysler 300 that was, “the only car worth considering”. It didn’t have what I needed and was way outside my budget with other options I had seen.

Stop five was Saint John Toyota. I spent a good amount of time here as I was being shown cars. As the sales guy was distracted, I fell in love with the Toyota Corolla iM, it was blue which I really wanted. It was only missing the mirror and the sales guy insisted it could be put in once again after-market, but he could throw it in. They also started insisting that a lease was a better option as it makes it easier to replace every few years, and are taxed better.

The next day I went and visited more places.

The next stop was Fundy Honda, in this case, I tried the Civic and the Fit but none of them wouldn’t work out.

The Seventh place was Brett’s Buick GMC. None of the cars met my needs or budget and the sales guy I got had to constantly leave to work on other sales, and then got the service guy to come out that shot him down that an auto-dimming mirror couldn’t be added.

Stop eight was Downey Ford, who insisted that I would only like a car if it was white, black, or grey. They also couldn’t get anything in that was blue, even if I wanted to wait.

The ninth and last stop was King Mazda. I basically learned that my dream car didn’t meet my needs as the only one that did was the top end Mazda 3 and that was outside my budget considering my other options.

After the round of viewings, my short list was the Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte and the Toyota Corolla iM.

At this point, I went back to all three with my friend Tony to re-sit in all 3 of the finalists and it was really then that I decided the Elantra was just not the best fit.

Later that week I went to test drive the cars, starting with the Kia Forte. They had a red one there, and I was very comfortable in it and was comfortable with the feel of the controls. After the test drive, I was confident I had found the car. However, I wanted blue, and I wanted the mid-year update with Apple CarPlay. It took a few weeks for the car to arrive and was not the easiest process to find out for sure when I was arriving but they appeared to do their best at the dealer level.

On the day the car arrived, I went to the dealership to complete the sale. It was at this point that so learned how all the fees work, and all the service and warranty add-ons and what is actually covered and what is not.

I now have my 2017 Kia Forte EX and absolutely love it and am confident that I made the right choice.

The Return to Work

The Return to Work

On my way out of the hospital I was so hurried to get out of there I got my prescription list and that was it. I was gone just after lunch. I probably should have asked questions about the follow-up but didn’t.

When I got home I spent a lot of time watching TV and occasionally taking the bus to town. Having to sit on several cushions was getting to be uncomfortable so I bought a new recliner chair from Wayfair. When the chair arrived I loved it and it made watching tv more comfortable. I did eventually get a call from the doctor for a follow-up EMG. It went as well as poking a needle and giving an electric shock can get. I also received a referral to a plastic surgeon to see if he could fix the Ulnar nerve. Later the next week I had that appointment and an MRI to see what happened to my shoulder.

After another month of doing nothing and clearing out the PVR. I was so bored that I made an appointment with my family doctor and got his permission to go back to work. So 2 days shy of 8 months later I returned to work.

The Path to Freedom

The Path to Freedom

After the Christmas party, I was pumped and the goal wasn’t to just walk but to get out. The next weekend I went to a movie with a friend. The main goal that I needed to go home was to go up my front steps and to transfer onto a shower bench. After lots of practice, I was managing a few steps of various height with the hospital physiotherapist.

The next step was going home for a home visit to see what was needed for me to go home. When I arrived at the house that I hadn’t seen for months, it felt familiar but didn’t seem like home. I couldn’t even see half of it. Waking up the steps into my house was the hard part. My rails were too low to give support.

When I got into the house, I tried sitting on my couch and it was still too low to get up from without help. I also needed a walker still to get around. The walker also didn’t fit well through doors. That night my sister brought me to the Dolan Rd Irving and then went back to the hospital.

The next weekend was my trial overnight. I was really looking forward to it but once home reality kicked in. There was little I could do without help, and I didn’t really have much help. The worst part was at night, my bed was so uncomfortable and I couldn’t get up to go to the bathroom to even pee in the dark. Putting on the ankle brace was hard. The next day I returned to the hospital distressed that the weekend didn’t go that well.

At that point, my hospital release was extended about a month, and I had an idea of what I needed to work on. Unfortunately, being in isolation was impeding the process. It was that week that I ran into infection control checking to see if the sign was on my door while I was having my lunch. They were two very nice ladies. I made it clear to them that the isolation was impending my care and was stupid since I was researching the procedures of other hospitals in dealing with ESBL and that I was probably cured two months earlier.

Later that day, they came back and the Director decided to retest and then maybe decide what could be done. Having no choice I agreed and urinated in a cup and had a swab taken from my but. After two more tests a week apart, the results came back and I was cleared! Since I could solo walk with a walker by this point I did a victory lap.

Up to this point, I had two Physio and one OT session every weekday. The staffing became a bit short and my exercises Physio session was going to be cut. I asked if I could come to the gym and do them solo. (I was motivated at this point.) They agreed so I started doing them myself and then gradually tried doing the harder version that was on the sheet and was excited each time things got better.

Finally, after 5 months and 3 days at the hospital, I was released on March 1st.

The Life of the Party Must Be At The Party

The Life of the Party Must Be At The Party

On the spur of the moment I came up with a wild goal of getting to my work Christmas party on January 21st. I then told my Physio and OT that this was going to be my goal right after the Christmas holiday.

Step 1: The Car Transfer

Up to this point , I was barely able to slide on a varnished board but I gave it my everything to be able to do that. However, in doing that my muscles started to build more rapidly and I was moving on to being able to stand using a two-wheel walker, and walking a little with it with a physiotherapist. We had arranged an afternoon with my step-father that had a higher vehicle to get into to try with Physio to get the okay to go. The day I picked turned out to be a quite warm day for January and in one try I was able to get in and place myself in the sea. I couldn’t get my own seat belt on myself but it looked promising.

Step 2: Arrange tickets

My coworkers were visiting me in the hospital regularly and I got them to arrange to get me a ticket and my parents a ticket as well, and it was to be kept a very tight secret which is almost impossible to do with the closeness of the people I work with.

Step 3: Not arrive naked

Up to this point , I had not needed any clothes so I was just wearing Johnnies and pyjama pants most days. I had to arrange for my sister to bring me clothes. She got me everything I needed. I had also been working for weeks trying to be able to move enough to pull it off.

It was really funny the nurse helping me with the buttons as my fingers were still very week. I was nervous of having to use the bathroom while out.

Step 4: Arrange for my parents to bring me

This should have been the easy part but my anxiety made it the hardest part. Fortunately , they were on board and I arranged for them to be able to go as well, which they enthusiastically agreed to do.

Operation a success!

It then became the night of the party. I arranged to get picked up after dinner as it was the best time to have the nurses get me ready to go out with the limited help I still needed. I was just starting with a walker a bit in therapy, but the most part I was wheelchair bound. With the help of my mother , I made my way down to the waiting car. It was pretty cold and the temperature hit me as I had left the hospital for the first time since September (almost 4 months).

At this point , my tentative release date was just a few weeks away and this was a real challenge to see my progress. We drove around for a bit as I had about 2 hours to kill before the party. So many things had looked different but quite the same. I was so happy to at least be home. If I had stayed in Brampton, or even if I was transferred to rehab at the Stan Cassidy Centre in Fredericton I don’t think I would have been as motivated for this as I was and it was a goal that pushed me forward and gives hope that more was possible.

I waited fashionably late to arrive, almost a half hour after the doors opened. Mainly to have more people there to get a bigger welcoming. Much of what I do is plotted for maximum effect. The ramp was in the back door and the key people in on the secret met me and I transferred out of the car and into the wheelchair and I entered the legion hall.

So many people came up to me to see how I was doing it was incredible! The buffet began and I waited in line. My mother helped me, and everyone tried to help me. I really wanted to try and see what I could do but no one was letting that happen.

Eventually, I did manage to ditch everyone and made a solo run to the buffet. I had lots of trouble with the nachos and squeezing thongs.

I danced as much as I could in my chair and had a great time. I eventually needed to use the washroom and managed on my own. I wheeled up to the urinal and stood up on my own grabbing the pipe for support, and it took everything I had to do it. I really wasn’t ready but my brain was determined that there must be a way. As I left the washroom I found the handicapped washroom that would have been safer and easier. It was too late for that. I danced a lot more, said some goodbyes and left.

I wanted to let go and fly down the ramp but nobody was going to let that happen. I got frustrated that no one was letting me try things myself. When I got back to the hospital, I wanted to wheel myself back to the room but my mother wouldn’t let me do that and we got into an argument again. I was just so frustrated that so was not being considerate as I should have been. I wanted nothing more than to be independent.

I made it back and the nurse helped me back to bed and after some meds, I fell soundly asleep.

The Breathing Machine Experience

The Breathing Machine Experience

Back when I was in ICU, you cannot imagine what it is like to not really know what is real and what is in your head.

When I first had the machines breathing for me, I felt like I was in control of them and that they were supporting me when my brain wanted air until I would lose focus on breathing and then it would kick in. Every function of one’s body has it’s own unique rhythm from heartbeat to a breath of air.

At first when it kicked in the timing was wrong and it was pissing me off royally! Not as much however as the medical professionals asking is I was in pain and not being able to effectively communicate so they gave me good stuff and I would come in and out of consciousness but no one seemed to know and I blacked out again.

After a while, I just gave in and let the machine breath for me. I stopped fighting it and it became less noticeable except I knew I couldn’t breathe as well as before and my air wasn’t right and I tried to just go back to sleep and get the four weeks I thought I was promised over with.

When I became time for me to get out of everything. I would wake up and there would be no one there. I couldn’t talk, but learned that if I tried to fight the machine and breath erratically that it would set off alarms and people would come. Most of the time they seemed pissed off and tried to get me to relax but I desperately needed someone there to try and keep me from drifting back into the fake world of my head. However, no one would stay and for many days I would drift back.

I really am not sure what it was but there came a point where they changed my air and I had to struggle to breathe on my own. It was however that that made me decide I was going to breath myself again, then within days from that about 3-4, it was removed.

Starting Rehab

Starting Rehab

After lunch, on November 23rd I was wheeled down the hall to the next tower. I had escaped the mean nurses and now entered the rehabilitation program floor. I remember the weather was overcast or raining it was dark. This isolation room would be my final prison for the next 3 months. I had remembered being told the ESBL treatments were for a week. I was told within a few days that the isolation was to be permanent due to hospital policies.

The first nurse I saw went through the riot act that made me fear that the poor treatment from the last floor was going to continue. I spent the rest of my night in the room just listening to what I could hear from the hall.

The next day involved being assessed for what I was capable of. It was also more just waiting around doing nothing.

Over the next few weeks, I tried really hard and progressed to sitting up and sliding on a transfer board to a wheelchair with help. It was lots of long nights and days. Typically only a little over an hour of physiotherapy and occupational therapy. I was always excited when the respiratory therapist came four times a day to use this big hand pump thing to keep my lungs expanded.

Sitting in a wheelchair for hours was really hard. My bum would get sore from the pressure on it and it felt weird due to the lack of full feeling. There was one day in December, I made it up to 9 hours in the chair. That day they held a Christmas party and had some good singers.

I was upgraded to a better wheelchair and I started trying to push myself, which at first I could only do a few footsteps in length, but I think it was key to getting my arms stronger. I was eventually able to wheel pretty fast. Since I was in isolation, I was only able to get out with someone gowned up. Considering how busy everyone was, it didn’t happen that much. Partially because of my anxiety I couldn’t bring myself to ask for help.

Just before Christmas, they started me with standing. It hurt a lot using the standing lift, especially when slowly standing. I soon learned that if I stood up myself when almost there it hurt less. After standing a couple of days, I was put in a suspended support and walked a few metres on the first day.

The next time, I considered taking rests but when up I just kept going and walked a good distance, until after Christmas I was able to walk without a standing support and moved on to a two-wheel walker. It was at this time that I came up with the goal of going to my work Christmas party in mid-January, although I had not told anyone yet.

Slitting My Wrist… the Surgery Experience

Slitting My Wrist… the Surgery Experience

On my left hand, my Ulnar nerve had never really come back. The end of March, I had a referral to the plastic surgeon to see if he could do anything. It was pretty fast after the referral that I got the appointment to see him earlier in the following week.

I accepted and met with him. I really wasn’t sure what to expect. He had me attempt a couple of movements and explained the surgery that he wanted to try. After the meeting, I had to fill out a long form and then just wait. I was a bit nervous waiting for the operation and never heard anything back for a few months. On the last week of June, I was at work and my phone rang and it was his office and they offered July 12th as the date, and I eagerly agreed. She explained the hospital would call and make the arrangements.

The next day I had the call from the hospital and did the registration and was given the time and made an appointment for a phone pre-op screening call. On June 30th I had the call before I took off on the Canada Day quest. I was told to wash the night before and the morning of, not to eat after midnight, and to take my pills before 8 am, and bring my medications with me.

Leading up to the day I was getting more and more nervous. Besides the normal surgery complications, I was more scared by the 5% statistic that the anesthetic was going to trigger the GBS again.

When it came the day for the surgery, I got up early and showered, and got dressed. I had plenty of time so I drove to the bank and took out some money to pay for parking. I returned home and met my mother before driving myself to the hospital. Since I was early, I went to visit some nurses on my way to day surgery.

When I went to day surgery, I was immediately brought back and was changed and weighed. They put these socks on that pumped up and down to squeeze my leg every few minutes. Shortly after I was taken down the hall to the surgery hall and met with the Anesthesiologist who asked some questions and spent a while reading my files. I was then brought into the surgical suite and had to slide over to the table. They then took a few minutes to position me and place my arm on a side table.

The Anesthesiologist poked me in the other arm a few times and really hurt me a lot. After he got me to breathe in some air, and I blacked out with no dreams at all.

It woke up and my left arm felt like a cat scratched my wrist and elbow. It was covered with a bandage. There was a nurse sitting beside me, that kept checking my vitals. After I woke up she took out the IV tubes and gave me a popsicle to eat. I asked what time it was and it was almost two and a half hours later. I was kind of shocked at the amount of time.

I was moved back to the day surgery suite and got redressed and given Tylenol and Advil then instructed not to touch the bandage until I see the doctor 14 days later on the 25th. I also had my arm placed in a sling for the time. I then got home and watched TV and fell asleep until supper time.

Living with a sling really sucks. My fingers almost feel as before, there may be a touch more feeling on my pinky finger. The hardest part is pulling up pants with one had. It would be so much easier is it was socially acceptable to wear a dress.

My Messed Up Canada Day Roadtrip

My Messed Up Canada Day Roadtrip

I was off the Friday before Canada Day and had Physio and a call for the pre-op to fix my pinky finger. I came up with a plan to take a spontaneous road trip to Ottawa. My surgery is concerning the possible side effects. I was pretty devastated after the call with my anxiety.

Since I was less than 500km from my oil change mileage I went to Kia and booked the appoint for this past week.

I went home and cleared out everything from my car I didn’t need, grabbed my passport and wad of US cash and took off down the Hwy 1 towards the border. At the border I got through pretty quickly and had no issues. Having all the signs in a weird foreign system of measurement increased my anxiety. In Calais, I fueled up and headed down Route 9 to Bangor.

I stopped for dinner at Dysart’s. It was a pretty good meatloaf. I then proceeded down Route 2 to Skowhegan where I needed to pee bad so I stopped at a gas station and it was there my fate turned. My GPS lost my route and I was lost. I kind of remember Route 201 so I turned on it and kept questioning that I was not on the right road.

It turned out I wasn’t, I really wanted 201A in the next town. Around midnight I ended up at the border on the highway headed towards Quebec City. By this point, it started to rain really hard. I was not able to even drive the speed limit it was that hard. I made it to an Esso in Ascot Corner in Quebec and refuelled again at 1 am. I then kept driving but got too tired and stopped at a mall and slept for an hour.

My sleep was interrupted by the lights of a cop that woke me to see if I was alright. He started talking in French and I was trying to translate it and I didn’t recognize enough words. He then spoke English and I responded I was okay and he moved on.

I then determined I needed to move on. I then crossed the bridge to Montreal as the break of the day was happening. I was having such bad anxiety Siri was giving instructions that made no sense and there were so many construction signs that made no sense either. I stopped on a side street for a while and decided I wasn’t making it to Ottawa and it was time for starting a return back to see fireworks.

After a few hours back on the Highway, I needed so sleep so I pulled into a gas station and slept for an hour in the back corner of a Petro Canada parking lot in my car. I continued on the journey down the highway. As I was passing the town of Levis I seen the sign to cross the bridge to Quebec City. Since I had never been there before, I made the decision I needed to see it.

I took a drive through the packed old town and it was very reminiscent of the old parts of Paris. (Montreal is more reminiscent of the rest of Paris.) After leaving Quebec, the next stop was a gas and Tim’s break in Rivière de Loup. (a place Siri can’t pronounce close to right.) When ordering I asked if she spoke English and it was a fast nope. So I tried to order a coffee and a Dutchie and I was certain that I can pronounce Hollandaise properly but she had no clue.

Armed with my coffee and gas it was off to New Brunswick and lots more highway with spots of rain along the way. The next stop was Florencevile and I grabbed a donair sub that was really good. The interesting part was a guy in line ahead of me was Amish and had his horses and carriage waiting outside.

As I passed through Fredericton, the rain had stopped and was starting to clear. The people from home were messaging on Facebook that the weather in Saint John was bad and there were no fireworks to hurry back for. So I headed home anyway.

The next day I slept in until noon and then wasted most of the day away. I had seen that Hampton was having fireworks and decided to go see them but then heard that Cambridge-Narrows was having some so I went there instead. They were pretty impressive and amazing.

My Nuero Experience

My Nuero Experience

It’s now November 12th and I just got moved out of the ICU! It was a bit exciting for the change of scenery. However, it took forever to get service. I needed desperately people to talk to. I was having pain from not moving so bad in what I still couldn’t move. It was very sore where so was laying on the bed.

I was also still having trauma issues mentally from trying to convince myself that this we real and not a false rabbit hole I went down in some of my hallucinations.

The first night was interesting, there was an old guy in the bed next to me and he kept trying to hang himself in the rails until then moved him late at night. They eventually moved him to another room.

The next day, I was once again ringing and people would not come for a half hour to an hour. I felt so helpless and sad that I survived. This was the first day I had the really mean (or over-worked) nurse that told my sister it was unrealistic that they would come to help me within a reasonable time. There was a new person placed in the room next to me. He had visitors that brought him a McDonald’s Chicken Nugget Happy Meal. The even fought over the toy.

The guy had a TV service and I didn’t because I am cheap and didn’t want to spend the ridiculous money they cost. (Almost 5 times the price of home cable for fewer channels.) That night he fell asleep watching Ghostbusters on AMC. It repeated all night so I could not tell what time it was and I had started to get terrors again. In the morning after breakfast, I was taken for a bath! My first one in months. It was so nice to soak in there and not have the pressure points of laying in that bed. However, after the bath, everything changed. The previous day the catheter was starting to burn and hurt and they changed it. They also ran a test and it tested positive for ESBL, so I had to be moved into isolation. Which meant that the nurses and everyone would need to gown up to see me.

The almost now non-existent nurses became even rarer. I had it arranged that my mother visited me for supper and my stepfather visited me most lunches that week to help me eat since my hands were very weak. Although during the meals that no one was there I tried hard to do some of it myself since it would take so long and I was hungry.

That week I also started doing more and worked with Physio and OT for trying some stretching and sitting on the bed. I was also moved by a Hoyer to sit in a wheelchair for about 2 hours a day for lunch. It hurt so much from the pressure on my butt. The next week they tried using the steady lift to try transferring me to the commode but that didn’t work very well, and the commode really hurt .

Near the end of the week, I made the decision to have the catheter removed. I was nervous about not being ready but I tried anyways. I needed help with the urinal so that relied on the almost non-existent nurses. My urges would not give much time either so, I ended up wetting myself a lot.

Given that anxiety had always been an issue for me, dealing with asking for help was very hard, it was even harder dealing with having to be cleaned. I was so glad that the following, Wednesday much sooner than expected I was moved off that floor to the rehab unit.

Home and Escape

Home and Escape

I’m going to move the story along and will in the future write more hallucination stories.

Once it was determined that I was going to go home, the nurse told me and I wanted to bad to leave Brampton. Mostly because I believed that the whole town wanted to kill me in the riots. I was still having lots of difficulties staying awake.

I thought that so was moved onto a ship and was going to sail back to Saint John. I was stuck in a small little all-white room. We then stopped, a giant rock had collapsed the passage and this Newfie came down from the bridge and said: “She’s between not good and not so good.” I knocked over something and the ship caught on fire and sank. I was so scared I wasn’t going to make it back.

Then I woke up (October 23, 2016) again and remember the nurses and air paramedic trying to switch over my breathing machine but it was the wrong size. They eventually did something but I got bored and blacked out again. I then woke up and I was outside and it was cool, they then put me on the plane and I felt strapped against a wall. I had tons of stuff and equipment beside me. Then the plane took off, and I blacked out.

I remember that we landed. During the flight, I had this metal rack thing with me and I was not supposed to play with it and I couldn’t help myself and be stuck in it again by the time we landed. I was taken out of the plane and they decided to get me out of it by dropping me upside-down on to another hospital bed. It really scared me. Then I black out.

I wake and we are in the hallway of the hospital on the 4th floor headed into the ICU and then moved into the pod. I then black out again. After several days they performed another round of IVIG treatment and then the night of November 4th, I had this weird dream. I was in an amusement park house on the West Side. I was pulled out of the collapsing building and then was put back in my hospital bed. Then I started winning against the ropes that we keeping me in place. The little animal thing that was robotic was biting me and I was trying to get my clamps off my had but they keep ending up back on. The animal thing is attached it’s leash to my right arm and decided it wanted to take off and jumps off the bed punning me down. Then this drunk naked guy falls down on me and passes out on my left leg and right shoulder. I wake up and I can move my right leg, left elbow, and right wrist. Over the next week, I transitioned into breathing myself. 

Around November 8th the breathing machine was removed and I started to eat liquids then real food. I finally got the water I craved. Honestly, I tried to do this in terror of blacking out again. Then November 11th, I was moved after lunch to the Neuro floor and I was so excited!

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