Perils of A Quadriplegic Gardener (Part 3)

by Patrick Muir on February 1, 2014

patricks flowersI don’t like to dwell on my challenges since being paralyzed 12 years ago. But the last year has been fraught with many such hurdles (love the irony of a paralyzed man jumping hurdles) and reflecting on them at this time gives me strength that I can accomplish anything, of course, through He who strengthens me.

At the end of last year, I had a bowel obstruction with sepsis and was out of it for 18 hours. Shawnee Mission Hospital protocol is to turn a person with wounds on their butt every two hours by propping you up on pillows on one side and then the other to avoid pressure wounds. At some point I was set up on pillows but I don’t believe I was turned because I went in with barely a wound and left with three on my butt as well as one on my elbow where it had rubbed against a railing. SMH has never done me wrong before but did they make up for it this time? One wound went so deep I spent a lot of time on IV meds fighting a bone infection and finally the left hip was taken out this past December.  After lodging a formal complaint with the patient advocate, insult to injury occurred when they responded “SMH had followed all necessary protocols”

Before that admission, I was spending 10-12 hours a day at my desk, or in my gardens here at Trinity Nursing, more often than not on my beloved front patios with my fourteen windowboxes. But my friends, I’m sorry to report I have been in bed for the past 16 months. About six months ago, one of my wound care nurses told me I should prepare myself to never sit up again but to prove her wrong. Well that is exactly what I’ve done. I’ve been pushing proteins — 6 shakes a day and double meat servings– and made a dramatic recovery. But my future looks more like a realistic goal will be more like 4-6 hrs a day but compared to the opposite side of not sitting up, I must be grateful it’s not 0 hours .But it has been so hard to be bed-bound for 16 months and still counting.

My wound care specialist, Dr. Fried (pronounced Freed), has also been my infection disease doc since I was paralyzed 12 years ago. He’s been a Godsend on so many occasions, picking the right antibiotic at just the right time, before the tests are in to identify exactly what bug I’m fighting.  My Mum and I both don’t want to dwell how many times he’s saved my life.

The most recent plan had been to do a couple of skin flaps (type of skin graft using healthy skin to cover the wounds and have them heal from the inside. Then go back to the wound care hospital for six weeks but Dr. Fried is most pleased with the healing by itself, so please say some prayers things will progress over the next 4-6 weeks and healing will take place on its own.

So my friends, you can’t imagine how inspiring are your efforts and how much I enjoy them from this lowly perspective. I will continue to do what I can do here backed by some of the truest friends one could ever imagine. So count your blessings for your talents and those helping you and let’s look forward to a wonderful year in the garden in 2014.

Patrick's Garden

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Donna February 1, 2014 at 8:30 pm

I am so sorry to read that you have been having a bad time health wise. I have seen all your comments on Jason’s blog so I did have an idea things were not going well. I will definitely have you in my prayers.


Patrick February 9, 2014 at 7:24 pm

Thanks for the kind words, Donna. I always get a little excited when I get an email notice you have something new to share. I think its this sharing that makes it easier to handle being bed bound. I can see beautiful landscapes crafted by dear friends and get a real thrill out of it. Now if I could only meet you in person some day…


Shirley February 2, 2014 at 9:16 am

Patrick, I’m sorry to learn of all these complications and I will keep you in my prayers so that you may be out and about to enjoy the beginning of gardening season just ahead.


Patrick February 7, 2014 at 5:55 pm

From your lips to God’s ears, I think is something like the old time saying goes. Keep the prayers a coming Shirley. My recovery plan has two major tenets: prayer and protein (in equal measure?)


snowbird February 2, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Goodness me, you really have been through the mill Patrick. I’m sorry to hear of your suffering and all those hours bedbound. I do admire your strength and spirit, you’re amazing! I shall certainly keep you in my prayers, and I’m delighted to hear you are getting better. Hears to having you sitting outside all day again.xxxx


Patrick February 7, 2014 at 6:50 pm

Thanks for the uplifting words of encouragement, sb. The days of sitting up all day are now a distant memory but will be so grateful for 4-6 hours after everything I’ve been through, my friend.


New Hampshire Gardener February 2, 2014 at 5:32 pm

I’m sorry that you’ve had to go through so much, Patrick. You’ve certainly had more than your share, but your optimism and patience should be an inspiration to us all. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if you proved them wrong yet again. You’re an amazingly strong person.


Patrick February 7, 2014 at 5:50 pm

Thanks NHG for such warm and inspiring thoughts. I’ve recently started switching from saying if I sit up again, to when I get up again based on recent reports from my wound care doctor. Protein is a very valuable tool, my dear friend.


Jason February 3, 2014 at 7:54 pm

Patrick, I really admire the determination and strength you are showing as you take on these very difficult and unfair trials. I hope you are soon spending many hours outside with your plants.


Patrick February 4, 2014 at 7:39 am

Thank you for your kind thoughts and I do take them to heart especially as we draw closer to our frost free date.


Pauline February 4, 2014 at 11:02 am

Patrick, you have certainly been having a bad time, I do hope that your progress continues and that when the better weather comes, you will be outside once more. We have a prayer group at our church and we are all praying for your recovery.


Patrick February 7, 2014 at 5:45 pm

I credit prayers from different parts of the globe as one of the keys to my strength so I kindly thank you for your efforts in those regards. God bless you too, Pauline.


Annette February 6, 2014 at 1:42 am

Sending you thoughts from Aberdeen, Scotland. Hope your progress continues and you are able to sit outside before too long. Your spirit is an inspiration to us all. Thank you.


Patrick February 7, 2014 at 5:40 pm

Will always accept warm thoughts from the land of my heirs. My grandfather Bob Muir emigrated from Edinburgh as a young man to escape the ravages of the Great Depression to Sydney. Can you imagine the courage it took to give up everything including family ties and move sight unseen have way around the world? I know he’d be proud of how I’ve taken on my challenges with gusto every step along the way.


Alistair February 7, 2014 at 6:06 am

Hi Patrick
In my recent communication with you it would be impossible to pick up that you have been so very ill, such is your manner. Your positive attitude is heart warming. I truly wish for you to have great health improvement in the coming gardening season and look forward to seeing those colourful planters.


Patrick February 7, 2014 at 5:27 pm

Why Alistair, what a beautiful way to recap what I’ve been through. I guess my training as a talented tennis player taught me to never, ever give up no matter how bad things look on the scoreboard. I also think it’s an Aussie thing that we are always fighting (must be those convict genes at work.) Alistair, I do take your warm wishes to heart.


Layanee February 18, 2014 at 2:18 pm

You have such a positive spirit and here I have been whining about too much snow! I won’t do that again. Keep that winning attitude and enjoy this day.


Patrick February 26, 2014 at 11:00 am

Thanks for the support, Layanee. When things get tough, a good strategy would be to read the comments on these three perils posts.


Jennifer@threedogsinagarden February 26, 2014 at 8:18 pm

I think I needed to read this. My day has been filled with many disappointments and I am ashamed to admit that I was feeling hard done by. Here you have been through hell and back yet you are so positive and hopeful. I admire your spirit and determination tremendously! Happy gardening Patrick!


Patrick March 15, 2014 at 7:48 am

It’s funny but over the last dozen years, several people have expressed similar sentiments and they make me and my momma really proud. It took a long time to get to this space and have no intention of ever leaving it.


Steph@RamblingWren March 15, 2014 at 2:00 pm

Praying that you will be able to spend time in your garden soon. I’ve been dealing with a chronic illness for the past 24 yrs. and have found that gardening has been extremely therapeutic for me. It is grounding, centering and where I find peace. Stay strong and positive!


Patrick June 28, 2014 at 2:45 am

Nicely said, Steph.


Beth @ PlantPostings April 13, 2014 at 8:29 pm

Hi Patrick: Your comment popped up on a blog I was visiting this evening, and I realized in the confusion with Blotanical struggling that I’ve missed out on some of your posts. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been through a very difficult time. I’m praying that you are feeling better now.


Patrick April 16, 2014 at 9:20 pm

Thanks for the kind thoughts, Beth.


Kimberley at Cosmos and Cleome May 17, 2014 at 4:27 am

Just catching up after my absence from Blog-land all winter. So sorry to hear about your travails. Glad to hear you’re up to proving people wrong, though!


Patrick June 5, 2014 at 11:06 pm

Was quite worried about you dropping abruptly out of the blogosher, so glad to have you back, my dear friend.


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