Hospital Stay 2 – 04/30/2020

In my previous post I neglected to mention that the nursing staff moved me from the intensive care unit to a regular hospital bed around midday on Friday. Prior to this move they removed the hated drainage tube, but by this time the groin incision pain far outweighed the drainage tubes as a source of torment. After a torturous night on Friday in my new room, I awoke on Saturday morning with a slightly increased appetite. I also noticed that my new room contained a huge picture window with an amazing view of the fresh snow blanketing the Flatirons.

I ordered another breakfast of plain Greek yogurt, honey and strawberries; but on Saturday I supplemented it with a banana muffin and a banana along with a cup of black tea. The combination hit the spot, and after breakfast I called Jane and checked in with her. Talking to my wife after the rough unending nightmare of Friday night was reassuring. Jane informed me that a fly-by was scheduled ahead of the Air Force Academy graduation ceremony, and sure enough around noon the sound waves were shattered by a supersonic aircraft. I am always awed by the power exuded by powerful jets.

My day on Saturday consisted of further transitioning from hospital existence to self sufficiency, although I was a long way from that status. The physical therapist came to visit, and I completed several walks during the day. My goal was to get out of bed and walk for five minutes four times a day, and the nurses made sure I succeeded in achieving that goal. In the early afternoon an occupational therapist arrived to observe and guide the nurses in the completion of my first shower. They helped me undress, and I sat on a bench and sprayed my body with warm water from a hand held nozzle. The shower actually felt good, but it took an eternity afterward to reattach the wires and IV’s, and I developed a severe case of the chills. My thighs began to shake uncontrollably, until the nurses assisted me back in bed and covered me with warm blankets recently removed from an oven. These shivering episodes would plague me throughout my hospital stay, and I never heard a solid explanation of the cause.

My dinner on Friday night consisted of broiled salmon, broccoli, and rice. It actually tasted decent given my mental state at that time. For dinner on Saturday my appetite was absent for any sort of protein or salad, so I ordered some chicken noodle soup along with bread and more yogurt. The soup was salty, but overall it hit the spot. My caregivers on Saturday night were the same pair as Friday, but I was more aggressive in demanding narcotics, and the night was as pleasant as could be given the circumstances. The pace of time continued to drag at a glacial pace.

On Sunday morning I received a notification on my phone that Trump was backing the groups that were protesting the Stay at Home orders in response to the covid pandemic. With a daughter and daughter-in-law working in physical therapy and having spent four days under the devoted care of health care workers during the corona virus epidemic, I viewed Trump’s position as a huge middle finger directed at our most courageous people. I actually got teary-eyed over this action. Maybe I was in a fragile emotional state due to the drugs, but I think it was a reaction to the callous uncaring nature of our president.

On Sunday morning I was once again visited by a physical therapist. The young lady grabbed a red Drive walker from a neighboring room and showed me the capabilities. When she mentioned that it would make walks outside in nice weather more manageable, I was sold, so I texted Jane, and she immediately ordered one on Amazon for Tuesday arrival. This proved to be one of my better purchases. The stable walker easily supports my weight, as I roll about the house or outdoors, and it features a padded seat that lifts to reveal a small storage compartment. A padded carrying handle folds down to become a backrest for the seat should I temporarily tire. I was told that cup holders can be added as an accessory. Geriatric crowd, here I come.

I took another shower on Saturday morning, and the chill was controlled better than Saturday, but I made the mistake of ordering a strawberry banana smoothie for lunch. Unlike my mango smoothie on Saturday, the Sunday version was solid like frozen yogurt. Upon completion of the yogurt my body went into shiver mode, and I had to request two layers of blankets to regain my temperature equilibrium.

After lunch and a visit by Dr. O’Hair and PA Mark, the nurses began to prepare me for discharge. The first step consisted of removing me from the oxygen supply to which I had become somewhat dependent. Even after I was at home for several days, I imagined that the oxygen hose was still hooked into my nose on my upper lip. I transitioned off my oxygen dependency for two or three hours before my release.

Finally at 4PM Jane called to say that she was outside in the parking lot. She stopped at the pharmacy along the way to purchase a batch of cuomadin, since I was on a daily dosage for eight weeks. Because of the corona virus situation, Jane was not allowed to enter the hospital, so the nurses helped me dress and then wheeled me down to the curbside pickup area. Jane helped me climb into the passenger seat, and we returned to Denver. Cars were circling through the drive through area in front of the main entrance while displaying yellow banners in support of the health care workers. I was pleased to see this counter to the Stay at Home protesters.

Sunday was a pleasant day with the high temperature in the mid-sixties. I was very pleased with this circumstance given my recent history with chills. We opened the window, but for the first fifteen minutes of the drive I felt that I was verging on being out of breath. I suspect this was part of being weaned from the oxygen supply in the hospital room. In an effort to counter the slight oxygen debt feeling, I began taking long deep measured breaths, but this quickly led to light-headedness and a case of mild hyperventilation. Eventually I adjusted, and the last fifteen minutes of the drive were uneventful. It was quite a boost to be home and under the care of my loving wife. Phase one of mitral heart valve repair was behind me.

Leave a Reply