May 22: Kim’s house in Lakewood. 

Thursday, May 19. I’d been moved to the Cardiac Care Post-Opp floor. Got a nice single room with a flat screen TV on the wall and a good little bathroom/shower room attached. It was set up as a kind of carbon copy of the Pre-Opp room. Man, I just felt like I’d been smashed and put back together. Began the day with the litany of vitals, blood tests, EKG’s and rating of my pain which to me always hovered in the 6-7 area. They used that guideline in order to give me my pain med dosage. That med is Oxycodone and Tylenol, and tell you what, that oxy pup will tune you up fast. Now for me, the pain was focused down my sternum. Just felt as if my sternum was super duper tight and sewn hard and tight back together with bailing wire. Of course that was just my perception. In reality my sternum was glued back together and then I had a small amount of suturing pulling my skin together. The “zipper” is actually smaller than I had predicted, and it runs from my throat down to just above my bellybutton. It’s a clean and small line. 

Had the cadre of Cardiac docs, nurse practitioners and specialists in to see me and everyone, I mean everyone was really encouraged about how far I’d progressed by Thursday morning. Was great to hear that, BUT, wow I felt like a limp and delicate rag doll that had been run over by a cement truck, so to me, those kudos just kind of rang hollow. I mean they were stoked that I was able to walk to the bathroom and get out of bed with little to no assistance, and I was bummed that I was one step above being bedridden. Just came down to the fact that I was so far away from any level of familiarity that my current state of fitness just felt off the charts poor for me. They were all talking about me possibly leaving the hospital on Sat, which would put me at 3.5 days from my day of surgery. So I wanted to do any and all I could to keep that goal a real possibility to them and to me. 

With that said, I did my spirometer blowing every hour, I tried like hell to eat, which on day 2 out of surgery still wasn’t a good thing for me. Number one, I just didn’t like the food, and my allowable selections. I mean really it was all just so freaking bland. For brekkie I could have these “kiddie” pancakes or grilled cheese or omelet with choice of a box of cereal and drink, and then the lunch and dinner selections were really all interchangeable. But, the rice was bland, the noodles were bland, the ravioli was bland, the chicken, beef and fish, bland, bland, bland. But I did my best to consume. Almost like a kid pinching his nostrils together, I’d take a breath, eat, chew like hell, then swallow, bite after bite. Knew that consumption spelled getting stronger, and getting stronger spelled discharge from hospital. 

I’d switch from the movable hospital bed to this easy chair next to the bed, so I was always positioned in an upright stature, this because if I’d get closer to a full lying position, it felt as though my chest had a giant boulder on top of it. Really, it felt crushing with that sternum part of my body. Plus, I’d feel better from a spittle and nasal drainage standpoint  with my upper body elevated more. That prevented me from coughing…because coughing spelled PAIN in a big big way. Judy and Joey came in to see me on Thurs, as did my sis in the evening. And I think I had one X-ray of my chest that day. Thursday night…no luck again with respect to quality sleeping. It was just so hard what with having your vitals taken every couple hours and people checking in and out constantly. Just couldn’t feel comfortable, couldn’t get comfortable, hell…couldn’t BUY comfortable if I had wanted to.

Friday, May 20: Kind of like a repeating tape, I mean that’s the hospital experience thing for me. You have these procedures that are replicated by the hour and by the day. And by Friday I was used to the routine: Blood draw super early, weight measured super early, EKG, super early, brekkie at 7 AM, meds at 9 AM - and that includes this shot in the abdomen of anti-blood coagulant that is either this horrible hornet stinging pain if administered too slow, or tolerable if administered quickly. That abdominal shot became the bane of my existence in there because I’d have some great administers, and then some poor administors. The floor nurses, the RN’s were super good. But a few of the off-hours nurses were just way too slow. Hell, I’d administered the damned thing to myself and did better than a few of those nurses. 

Ok, back to routine, where I’d meet with the Cardiac care team and even my surgeon after the meds. Then really the rest of the day was a mix of more vitals taken and me just trying to get comfortable. Still hadn’t had a ….well….poop since about Tuesday. Amidst all my meds they were including stool softeners and the such to prepare my lower GI to get back to work after such a traumatic nearly half day of anesthesia. And they said that would come, maybe in a big big way. The food order chick would be in before lunch and then take my order for lunch, dinner and the next day’s brekkie. More vitals were taken throughout the day, and these tiny wires were removed that hooked up to my heart in case I’d have needed some shocks to tune the heart up, and then I’d get the second round of meds at 9 PM. 

There were times where I’d just “escape” to the can with newspaper in hand and sit on the commode, hell, just for a different seating position! All my pee had to be measured so I’d be peeing in this little hand latrine with a cap on top, so I’d have to take that little plastic latrine with me on my potty trips. 

By bedtime Friday night everyone seemed pretty sure that Saturday would be my release day. Along with the meds, I got that shot from the evening nurse and that had to be the worst shot of this stuff since I’d been getting the shots back in Elko. I mean it sent me through the roof, and the residual pain was just crazy. Swore then and there I was done with those freaking things. Did manage to get in a bit of sleep that night, maybe  couple hrs at a time from like 9:30 PM to 5 AM amidst all the vitals checks etc. 

Saturday, May 21. Went through the same procedures I’d been doing prior, and then had a few more Cardiac care docs come in to inform me that I was indeed leaving this day, sometime around noon. Called Judy to let her know to be there by 11 AM. My sis and her boyfriend were at his hall of fame induction ceremony out of state, so she was staying in touch with me via the phone. As shitty as I felt, by God I was on my way out of the procedure and structure I’d come to dread. 

Now don’t get me wrong, this is THE premier hospital in the world for cardiac care, they’ve got he best of everyone and everything, and the care I’d gotten up through that point was just stellar. But man, I think the surgery, my fatigue level and my body just crying for sleep had put me in a place where I was just ready to press the eject button. I’ve seen the world from the inside of the hospital now, so I did understand that all I was going through was for my benefit. Yet it’s still tough to take on a daily basis, the testing, the vitals, the probing, the food orders, the questions, the “captivness” of living in this room on this floor with a cadre of people coming in and out all day and night. Yea, I was ready to go. 

Had my sutures taken out  of my sternum and then I had a couple nurses come in to begin my debriefing session along with the parameters I’d be living under once released. Also had appointments made for follow-ups with various Cardiac care docs and PT’s through the summer. Now there was one last item they wanted me to complete before I’d leave - that sacred bowel movement. I was either going to do it on my own that morning or they were going to have to give me an enema to help “massage” the prospect. So I took it upon myself to take a trip into the can and just sit with paper in hand. It worked by gosh, not only once, but twice. Went through the discharge process and out we were, traveling west to Lakewood for me to stay at Kim’s house for a couple days. Man I didn’t realize just how fragile I felt, because as we were driving through Clev, trying to get on 90 west, every bump we hit was like a mortar shell to the chest. It just resonated down my body like a punch to the head. 

Now that morning I was having this crazy sinus discharge draining into my throat, so that drainage was causing me to cough constantly, with me trying to “hack up” the crap to spit in a kleenex. It was the coughing that was just so painful as hell. Got to Kim’s and I was just coughing constantly, so we called a number they’d given us from the clinic to talk to a nurse practitioner who was on call and available to answer my questions. She said I could take a generic benadryl to dry me up, and that’s just what I did. Within an hour the benadryl and the pain meds had gotten me feeling…high…but dry!

Kim and Mike made it back and they got some great prepared food from a local fine food place and we all feasted, me for the first time in well over a week and a half. God it felt good to be alive, to be hungry and more than anything, to be with loved ones! Went to bed satiated, not coughing and knowing I had no vitals to be checked and no blood to be drawn. That Saturday night was the best night of sleep I’d had in nearly two weeks. wow!