It seems strange, looking back that I went for surgery on the Friday and my posts since surgery only take me to the Sunday morning, where I pick this up again.
The new pain from yesterday’s procedure on my lung was under control now albeit that they were encouraging me to take pain killers orally so that they could continue to remove my various IV lines. No problem with that, except for the delay that comes with having to digest pain relief.
The Nursing team came to tell me that morning that they were waiting for confirmation of a bed on the recovery ward and it was likely that I would be leaving ICU.
This sounded like great news but then I didn’t know what the ward would be like. Progress in any case.
I then asked if there was any way to get clean. Such a simple request but it was now three days since I had been shaved, painted in antiseptic dye, cut open and stitched back together again. I had all these wonderful people caring for me and all I could think,
I must stink!
A bed bath then followed. Glorious warm water and soap and an ingenious hair cap that was an all in one, wet, wash and rinse treatment. My very own “spa day” - well 10 minutes worth!
On the ward
I was moved to a shared room that afternoon and straight away missed the window that I was fortunate to have in the ICU. My room mate was an older gentlemen and we kept ourselves to ourselves with the curtain always separating us.
This was less about our choice in the matter and more about the endless tests, check ins and consultations that I now had to experience for two people.
The disruption continued through the night together with the fact that this guy was noisy! He wouldn’t think twice about calling various friends and family and speaking at the top of his voice throughout the night. He obviously couldn’t sleep and therefore neither could I...
Despite all of that, we had both been through some difficult times and I just lay there thinking how blessed we both were to have come through it.
Part of the rehabilitation is focussed around mobility and working towards being able to get yourself out of the lying position, standing and then sitting in an upright chair.
They give you a 60 page “handbook” before you go in, showing you how to protect your chest and then move. I seem to remember thinking that I should have read that more closely before I came to the hospital!
As before, each transition to standing and sitting was a painful one but I was determined to get some of my independence back and I pushed through each time. Seems crazy to write this and then think that all I achieved was to sit up! I am still reminded to this day by my wife and family, that a quadruple heart bypass sort of makes it difficult...I tend to forget what I’ve been through at times.
I cannot claim much of this for personal glory as my devoted wife was there by side all afternoon and in the evening, helping me, guiding me and just keeping me going. She is a very special person.
The tubes come out!
The next day I was told that the Nursing team would be removing as many of my tubes and wires as possible as I continued recovery. One of the first to come out was my catheter, meaning that I now had to be a “big boy” again when it came using the washroom.
There is a strange dignity around being able to pee for yourself I found. But in turn, each time I had to go was the adventure of getting up, standing up and now walking to the washroom in the room.
There was new pain now as I had to off load litres of fluid retained from the operation and hydration lines that had filled my body. The pressure on your bladder and gut is immense when you have to control it yourself. (I can only imagine what it must be like for pregnant women - I have a new added respect for what you go through!)
If you don’t ask, you don’t get...
“yes” was the answer and the amazing nurse set the whole shower room up so that I could shower for the first time. Curiously they wrap you in “cling film” where you have any exposed IV lines or wired connections, such as the pacemaker.
But, off I went, looking more ridiculous. Partly shaved, pink dye in places, a “tic-tac-toe” pattern of incisions on my chest and food wrap around my arms. No selfie that day I can assure you!
I managed to get out of bed and take three short walks today, the first with the physiotherapist. It was great to be upright and mobile but the pain from my leg grafts was rough.
It then started to come thick and fast. First they took out my pacemaker which unfortunately for me was a little stubborn. After an initial tug it came out, timing with a deep inhale, the nurse practitioner whipped it out. Experience counts!
And then the news that I would be discharged tomorrow on the Wednesday - seems like I’ve made the progress needed. They was four to seven days from the operation is typical time period for recovery. Seems I qualified for the minimum period.
I can’t even think what being at home is going to be like, with all that has happened but now I will have to step it up and look after myself without the nursing care I have been so fortunate to have in the last several days.
But what was I thinking. There my wife was, holding my hand and telling me,
We can get through this.
I felt both love and helplessness at that moment.