Friday, April 4, 2014

Moving Up to the Floor

The big day may be coming today. The surgeon has said that the rest of the drains will come out today. They are going to increase the J-Tube feedings and I have been eating soft foods without a lot of issues. I am responding to the breathing treatments and even walking some (but still not well). They are talking about moving me out of ICU and up on the floor. A MAJOR step in recuperation. And it has been about two weeks since surgery, so I must be doing pretty well.

First things first. After morning parade of doctors, and a final look-see from the surgeon, he says the remaining drain tubes can come out. I ask him when, and his response is, "How about now?" Well... OK.  I mention that the ones that were removed several days ago were rather uncomfortable. He basically says the same thing that his assistant said before. It won't or should not hurt at all. I explained it wasn't a pain so much as an uncomfortable feeling. He just kind of chuckles and says it will be fine. His assistant will be in shortly to take the rest out. He informs my nurse, then smiles and leaves. The assistant comes in and smiles and tries to assure me that she will do better taking these things out this time. I told her that she did fine last time, it's just something that I am not used to. The same things happen as before. Out come the drains and the "hand grenades" they are attached to.  The uncomfortableness that was there the last time is there again, but the big difference is now I am drain free. I am actually happy about that. The only things I am now hooked up to is the EKG stuff, the BP cuff, the pulse-ox thing on my finger, oxygen things up the nose, and the IV bags and even that is only sometimes. I mean I am still getting the three times a day breathing treatments via the breathing machine, I am now on a CPAP machine while I sleep at night due to my sleep apnea. Even so, that is so much less than before. It feels good. I even walk again today and the let me do it with just Lea Ann and with a walker now as I have no hardware to drag around. I'm still not walking well though. Still having to stop and rest but with a little less frequency and we are walking a fair distance now compared to the first day. We walked all the way around the ward and through the nurse's station (which we weren't actually supposed to do we found out, but they let us that time as we were already part way through it). Why did we go through the nurse's station?  It was shorter than walking ALL the way around, and I was still trying to avoid the walking. I'm actually somewhat ashamed of how I am walking, but it never dawned on me that my walking would get better with more attempts and exercise. I was just thinking in the here and now, not how it would get better if I kept doing it. All I ever wanted to do was get it over with. Was ever thinking ahead, and if anyone tried to push me I would push back by not wanting to do it even more.

We get back from the walk and one of the ICU doctors is waiting for us. He has his back to us and is talking to the nurse.  As we come in, he moves aside and allows me to sit back down and relax. We talk about how things are going and how well I seem to doing. What would I think about moving up to the floor and out of ICU? I have only one question at this point... How will the move affect me? By that I mean, will my care change or anything like that? He tells me that on the floor I will get the same care as I have been getting here in ICU, but there are more people on the floor and the nurses have to cover more patients, so the nurse responses will be slower than in ICU. I won't have a nurse solely dedicated to me when I get out on the floor.  On the plus side, I will be in more of an actual room room as opposed to this less one, meaning a better more home-type look, my own bathroom with a shower in it... Things like that. I look at Lea Ann and just shrug. "What do you think?" She says she thinks its a good idea and smiles. Means I am getting better. Agreed, but I worry a bit about it taking longer to get nurse's attention and get them to my room. I guess I've gotten a little spoiled, so I think twice about it. It IS a good thing overall and it's a step closer to home too, so I agree. He shakes my hand, says, "Done!" Then smiles and walks out. The nurse congratulates us and leaves too. Lea Ann seems happy about it. I get a kiss and a hug, then she starts gathering my stuff and putting it all into those little plastic bags with the hard plastic handles that pop together to hold the bags closed. Everything that I brought and that has been allowed in this room fits in two or three bags including my clothes. Any plants or balloons that I had received to this point could not be brought into the room, so Lea Ann and the boys took pictures of them and showed them to me as they sat on the counter-tops and tables of home. Soon we are all ready to go but the transport team is not here yet, so we have to hurry up and wait. In the mean time they decide to give me another breathing treatment. Damn that stuff stinks. I swear I can taste that smell for an hour or more after the the treatment, but they do seem to help so I live with it. Literally.

Finally the transport team arrives. We gather all my remaining stuff, the hardware that needs to come with me, a portable oxygen tank, and myself, put us all in or on the wheelchair and away we roll. Bless Lea Ann for carrying all my stuff in those bags. We weave through the ICU saying goodbye to everyone as we go. We go from the first floor to the third. The elevator ride was quite an interesting feeling after surgery. Didn't hurt or anything, just felt odd. I wonder if I will ever get used to this new feeling. I also wonder if it is all in my head. Probably a combination of both. the new room looks very nice. Large bathroom, a larger hospital bed (no recliner though, so I am a little concerned because of the bed sore that has decided to keep hanging around my tailbone), There are actually little locker looking things on either said of the TV so my stuff didn't have to just sit on the floor or take up space on the little roll away table. It really is a lot more homey and makes me feel more comfortable. That was a bit odd to me as well because I wan't really aware I was not that comfortable in ICU. However, after thinking about it, I had requested medication to help me sleep, requested the CPAP to also help me sleep, and had asked Lea Ann to bring up my Android tablet so I could listen to my music at night to down out the noise. I guess that would be a definition of trying to be more comfortable. As I get into the new bed, it is more comfortable. I hope it stays that way. The new nurse comes in and introduces herself. She explains how things work and how there are less nurses and more patients up here so responses WILL be slower than in ICU. That worry I had comes back again, but I have to stay strong so I don't say anything. The nurse is a nice lady, records all my vitals, sets my oxygen makes sure all is good.  She shows me the remote for the TV and the call button for her and leaves. I get used to the new digs and Lea Ann sets up some of my cards and gets my stuff out and gets me all set up. She's starting to get a bit hungry, so she goes to grab a bite.  I'll be fine. Of course as soon as she leaves I get the urge for the restroom.  So I press the call button. the nurse answers and I tell her I need to be disconnected to all the stuff so I can use the restroom. She says OK, someone will be in. Fine. I'll watch a little TV until they get here. I am not sure how long it actually was, but what I felt was 20 minutes went by so I pressed the call button again. Same voice answers and I tell her again that I have to use the restroom and the urge is getting worse. She says someone will be in as soon as possible.  Finally 10 or 15 minutes later (it felt that long anyway) the nurse finally comes in and gets me all set up to go to the restroom for all of 3 minutes. I know they said it would be longer response times, but come on... This seemed to be ridiculously long. Even though I could use the restroom now, I ask the nurse for one of those bed urinals in case this happened again. She agreed and actually gave me two. I wasn't sure quite how to take that, but I accepted both gladly. Had I had to wait much longer this time they would have had to change the bed and bathe me again. In the mean time, Lea Ann had come back. By now it is starting to get dark outside. The respiratory people come in to give me my last treatments of the day. I get a feeding through the J-Tube and Lea Ann and I talk some. She is happy I am out of ICU, but is still worried that I have not been doing much of the breathing exercises and not walking as much as I should be. I agree with her, even though I do it through clenched teeth because I don't like doing either, and we smile and kiss.  She asks me if I want her to stay tonight. I tell her no, I'll be OK. She asks if I am sure and I say yes, so we say our goodbyes and we'll see each other tomorrow.

They don't have the CPAP up here yet, but I am pretty tired, so they keep the oxygen on with the little tabs in the nose, I ask them to shut off the lights and shut the door and the nurse obliges. I put my ear buds in and start my tablet music and fall asleep quickly. I wake up twice to use the urinal as I didn't feel I could wait for the nurse to come in. After the second time I'm getting uncomfortable in how I am lying and feel the need to move a little. I can't roll over but I slightly turn on my side. As I do I hear a pop from behind me and the oxygen line goes slack. It has popped off the oxygen feed on the wall behind the bed. There is no way I can reach the hose to reattach it, let alone getting up to do it, so I immediately push the call button. The disembodied voice answers as usual. I tell her quickly that I have lost my oxygen, then I start to panic. My oxygen saturation level plummets. At this point I was still very sleepy because it was the middle of the night after all and I had the meds in me to help me sleep. I am not sure if I passed out or just fell back to sleep or what, but I remember little else. Later I wake up and nurses and a doctor were in my room and so was Lea Ann. It was light outside, but not overly light, so I expect it was still early. Apparently they had had problems getting my vital signs to settle and they are talking about taking me back down to ICU. At this point I think I fell back to sleep again. When I woke up the next time the decision had been made and they were preparing to take me back down to ICU. Soon after that, off we went back downstairs less than 24 hours after being released from there. A very large step backwards in my mind. I was very down on myself about this...

Thank you for reading, and please come back for the next post!