Sunday, February 16, 2014

Starting Recovery, The First Day I Remember

Sometime on Sunday, January 27, 2013...  I slowly become aware of many bleeps and blurps and beeps and other sounds all around me.  At first I am not opening my eyes.  I must be dreaming.  No one makes this much noise in a hospital room, right?  Damn I'm tired...  Someone needs to make it a bit quieter in here.  Maybe someone left the door to my room open.  So I say, "Would someone please close the door?"  But no sound comes out.  Not even a hum.  Nothing.  I try again.  Nothing again.  What the hell?  I open my eyes slowly.  It's very bright in here.  All I see is white. Slowly my eyes start to adjust and I can start to make out things.  I'm in a hospital bed.  Ok, that makes sense.  I'm in the hospital after all.  There are all kinds of boxes making most of these noises on either side of my bed.  There are readouts and EKG strips and levers and knobs and blinking lights and digital numbers on either side of me.  Looking up I see several IV pouches. With my eyes, since nothing else seems to want to move just yet, I follow the IV tubes down and see at least three IVs in my arms.  Two in one arm and one in the other that I can see anyway.  Suddenly I feel the automated BP cuff start to pump up.  I look over and next to the TV is a display with my BP and pulse and respiration and oxygen saturation.  I know all these because I had three months to study them when my twin girls were born 16 weeks prematurely.  They were in Neonatal Intensive Care for the first three months of their lives.  A parent learns a LOT about things medical in that time.  In any case, I knew I was getting BP taken, but my glasses were off and I could not see the numbers well.  No alarms were going off.  A very good thing I thought.

I lay there for a few minutes gathering my wits and allowing those parts of my brain to wake up enough to make sense of at least some of what I am seeing and hearing.  People are coming in and out, and I notice that Lea Ann is there at the side of my bed looking down at me and smiling.  She kisses my forehead and tells me that it's all done and everything went well.  I try to talk and no sound yet again.  I frown and look around.  She tells me not to try to talk because I can't. I'm still on a respirator and there is a tube down my throat helping me breathe. I frown again and try to talk again.  I'm not liking this at all.  I start looking from side to side trying to maybe find an angle to be able to talk.  As you can imagine I am still groggy. Nothing I do allows me to talk.  Ok, maybe I can move the tube to the side.  I reach up to move the tube...  Well, more precisely, I *try* to reach up to move the tube.  My arms will move maybe a few inches at most.  That's all.  What the hell is going on here?  They have me tied to the damn railings of the bed.  Worse yet, both my hands are completely wrapped in ace bandages looking like mittens with no thumb.  I am now starting to get perturbed.  I cannot stand being held down or tied down.  I get fidgety and try my best to get out of it.  I pull on the straps around my wrists as hard as I can. So hard that I start twisting in the bed, which gives me my first shot of pain in my chest and belly.  Ok...  Bad idea.  I look at Lea Ann and see she is talking to me and trying to calm me down and explain.  I just have not been listening.  So I start.  She tells me the surgery went well, but took just shy of 12 hours.  It is Sunday...  Sunday?  What happened to Saturday?  Maybe I heard her wrong.  I try to ask her about that.  Again, no sound.  Dammit.  Already forgot about that.  So I keep listening.  I am in ICU.  I have an IV in the side of my neck, in the inside of both elbows and on the left wrist.  I am on a respirator and that is why I cannot talk AND why I am tied down.  So I can't pull anything out while sleeping or whatever.  Ok, I can understand that but I do not like it.  At all.  I am catheterized, I have eight (yes I said eight) tubes coming out of my chest.  Four on each side. And I have a feeding tube, called a J-Tube, in my belly to the left of my belly button, plus the obligatory EKG patches and leads where ever they could fit them. I have six hard plastic... things... over the incision in my chest and belly. They are sutured in and are helping to keep the incision closed.  I instinctively reach to feel them.  The tie downs on my wrists reassert themselves. Lea Ann is just looking down at me smiling.  A few tears too.  Why is she crying?  I told her I'd see her in a little while.  I try to smile to let her know I'm ok and everything is ok too.  Not sure if she can tell I am smiling or not.  She says she will be right back and steps out of the room.  I guess I fell back to sleep then because next time I woke up it was dark outside.  Lea Ann was still there.  So was my ICU nurse.  She was a TINY little thing.  I could eat her whole as a snack.  If I could have at the time, I would have laughed just then.  She was checking me over and reading all the readouts.  Lea Ann watched her and then they both stepped outside the door for a little bit.

Now that I am alone, I HAVE to find a way out of this tie down crap.  So I start rotating my wrists and arms.  Pulling and pushing trying to see if I can hear if tear or give or anything.  Nothing...  BUT...  These ace bandages wrapping my hands are getting looser.  Hmmm. Maybe if I can get the aces to open up enough to free my fingers I can find some way to get the straps off.  So I start working my hands and fingers around.  Balling my fists opening them up, spreading the fingers...  and soon, by god, I have BOTH hands completely free of the ace bandages.  Ha HA!  Success!  Now I can try to get these straps untied.  I try again.  Nothing.  They are tied around my wrists, so I can't reach them even with my freed hands.  Dammit again.  Have I mentioned how much I hate being tied down?  The ladies came back in about the same time I got both hands free.  I had not noticed.  They both explained again why I was tied down.  They went ahead and took the mittens the rest of the way off.  No need for them, especially if I can get out of them.  I look at Lea Ann to get her attention, then point a finger at the nurse and then hold my index finger and thumb about an inch apart.  Lea Ann frowns, not understanding.  So I point at the nurse again a couple of times, then make the little inch symbol on my hand again.  Understanding flashes in her eyes and she smiles and starts to laugh.  That was the most welcome sound I have heard in my entire life.  And the prettiest I have ever seen my wife.  Ever.  The nurse looks up trying to figure us out.  Lea Ann explains that I just basically said that she was exceptionally small.  She chuckles and looks me in the eye and says that good things come in small packages and she is damn good.  She laughs with Lea Ann and I laugh in my head...  I look at Lea Ann and squeeze her hand...  Wait...  When did we start holding hands?  The nurse says everything looks good and asks if I have any pain.  Not really, but I am not sure so I just shrug a couple of times, then shake my head no.  She says ok, and says I probably need to get some more sleep. I shake my head yes at her and look at Lea Ann.  She points to the little fold out chair bed she has been staying in the entire time I've been in ICU.  I swear I married an angel.  I nod to Lea Ann as well.  At that point I got light headed again and fell asleep pretty quickly.  I think the nurse slipped something into one of those IVs...   ZZZzzzzz....

I'll do my best to get another post up in the next few days.  This is kind of therapeutic to write about.  It's rather fun to write it too.  Hope to see you at the next posting!  :)