Saturday, August 2, 2008

Recovery from the Operation

All went pretty well during the operation. I had to lay flat on my back for twenty-one days before I could get up and then for only a few minutes at a time. Before I go any farther I must tell you about the fourth day after the operation. One of the nurses gave me a big glass of something to drink and said that in a little while for me to call her and she would take care of me. As you can imagine, I had to go so quickly I called the nurse. She came in and got a stainless steel bed pan which I think she stored in the freezer and slid it under my warm bottom. I thought I would jump out of bed knowing that was not a possibility but quickly ended up doing something else. All went well the rest of the time. I insisted on keeping the pan under the covers with me from then on. The three weeks went well and on the twenty-first day Dr. Tracy came in and had me to stand up. I stood up with their help and I was doing so well that he could put the body cast on the next day and let me go home in a couple days if all went well and it did. I was told that I could only stand up or lay down for eight months. Listen to me tell this story.

At this time I had a little Rambler Station Wagon that had a front seat that would fold down which enabled me to get home without sitting up. It was about one month before I had to go back to see the doctor. He told me if I did good for the next month, I could get out and ride laying out in the car. He said that I could go to church if I would lie down rather than sitting so I would lie on a pew on the back row at Westover Baptist Church. Pam had started to play the piano in church and played with organist, Jo Ann Caulder.

During the time that I had my injury and being retired from the Charlotte Fire Department, I tried to return to work several times but there was no way that I could hold up more that a few hours; I looked as healthy as a horse but my back was as weak as water. After leaving the fire department I was able to get a job with Shelby, NC based Norris Packing Company. Mr. Bridges needed someone to work the Park-N-Shop store three days a week for and average of three hours a day. Charlie Reed, owner of Park-N-Shop told him about me and my need for a job to provide some additional income for my family. The company furnished me a car to drive and I went to work after one day of training. God took care of me, with the small retirement check that the city gave I could not afford a car and while working with the meat company, I could get all of the meat that we needed. Hazel learned to cook hot dogs, livermush, bacon, and bologna in every way imaginable for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Listen to me tell this story.

One day I was driving home from a visit to the doctor and passed a house that had an old bed headboard lying on the sidewalk as I drove by. I thought that the walnut wood would be good to make something. I went back to the house and asked if I could have it and the lady said that she had a dresser and chest of drawers to go with it but she just could not get them to the street for the garbage men to pick up. After looking at them I told her I would like to have them and she was delighted that someone could use the furniture. I called Tom Worthy who had just bought an old pickup truck, he picked up the bed room suit and delivered it to my side porch. I started to work on removing the old finish which took me about a year since I could not work but a few minutes at a time on it. I still have the very old bed room suit and it is still good as new. Pictured here is the bed with a Yo-yo quilt that Hazel made.

Times were so hard that I had to call Wayne Carriker, my oil man, to tell him that I could not pay for any more fuel and that I would heat my house with wood in my fireplace; his reply was that my oil tank would never run empty as long as he had an oil business. At the same time, I had to make a call Pam's piano teacher Mrs. Mildred Gaffney to tell her that Pam would have to drop her piano lessons because I could not pay for them and did not have the means to get Pam to her house; her reply was that as long as she could teach she would give Pam lessons and she would come by our home once a week to teach Pam at no charge. During this time Hazel was keeping young children and doing laundry for their families to help us make ends meet.

I kept having some tension and pain in my back. One morning when I got up, I felt sick so I only drank some tomato juice for breakfast and shortly afterwards I had a terrible headache and was sick on my stomach. This is the first time in my life that I had ever had a bad headache; it was so bad that I thought I was dying. I told Hazel that she should call in some of our close friends because I did not think I was going to make it through the day. Hazel called our closest friends, John and Sue Rogers and Tom and Margaret Worthy. They came and sat with us for the most of the day and things got a little better. These headaches came on at random and there was not anything that I could do to stop them. Later, the doctor told me that they were migraine and that there was not much that could be done to relieve the pain they caused. I took some pills but they did not seem to help. As time went on I learned to live with them; my doctor said that he never heard of anyone dying from a migraine headache. The kids quickly became accustomed to staying out of the den and walking quietly around the room when I was feeling bad since walking through the room caused vibrations that make my headaches much worse. Thankfully the headaches became less and less over the years.

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