Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Recovery


February 15, 2012

First off, let me say that my memory of the events just before my surgery and even those from the months before are very hazy in my memory. The same holds true for the initial phase of recovery after my surgery. A lot of this is, of course, the passage of time. I also think that during this time the infusion of all the different drugs into my system had an effect on my memory as well. I don’t remember all the details but I think I remember enough to get my point across.

Recovery took a very long time.  After the surgery I was in the hospital for a little over 2 weeks. The day of surgery I moved from the post op recovery room to a room in the Intensive Care Unit.  I don’t remember too much from that room. I remember seeing my Mother-in-law sitting in a chair at the foot of the bed. I remember getting up and talking to my sister-in-law in Florida on the phone. I may have talked to her but there’s no way I got up from the bed. My body was still bloated from the surgery and I think that took a day or two to return to normal. After sometime I was wheeled to a regular hospital room. I had to share that room with another individual.  I was visited here by my friend from my teen years and his wife. As I mentioned yesterday, he looked the same as he did when we were kids. I also apparently hallucinated my now son-in-laws sister visiting with me. At several points, the individual I was sharing the room with was loud and his guests were loud as well. This was causing a lot of stress for me and I had several mild anxiety type attacks (shaking, nervousness) from the noise. The nurses made his guests leave and only one could stay at a time. I guess I was a little on edge still and I was moved to a larger, private room. My wife, Terry, was then able to stay with me. It was a nice room with a great view of the city, a couch and a big TV.

As I became more lucid and stable, I was encouraged to cough and “whatnot” so as to help reduce the bloating my body had from surgery. I was given a pillow to hold on my chest when I did cough. After several days, the staff removed the tubes from my body. I don’t remember feeling much from it because I think my body was still pretty numb from the surgery and from the pain killers. I remember it tickled a bit. Simple bandages were placed on the remaining holes in my abdominal area. The catheter was removed a day or two after that. I was very nervous about that! A young nurse came in to remove it and I felt compelled to explain my recently developed catheter causing shrinkage theory to her. To my surprise, the procedure was painless. It felt weird and it kind of tickled but no pain really. I don’t know if it would be the same if I hadn’t had the surgery numbness and pain killers. I was soon allowed to get up and walk and eventually I was walking around the circular bay of hospital rooms. I don’t remember being in too much pain from the walking but I remember feeling very exerted.

I’m not sure when the effects of the surgery fully wore off. As I write this I am talking with Terry about this time in our lives and I am surprised by how much I have forgotten and how much I just don’t plain remember. I remember the first time passing urine after the catheter was taken out. It stung like heck. I remember the feeling of helplessness when it came to feeding myself, which actually Terry did, or going to the bathroom. I couldn’t bend my arms or move my back and chest much at all so I needed help with that. Bathing. It was an exercise getting taped up to bathe and again, I couldn’t do that myself. Nor could I bathe myself. Once again, Terry took that job on. It wasn’t easy on me. It was painful. No doubt it was not easy for her. But she never ever batted an eye, never complained. She just took care of me and loved me slowly back to health. Then there was wound cleaning and bandage changing. The nurses did that initially and then Terry took over that job too. The incision down my chest was almost a foot in length and it had to be cleaned and antibiotic placed on it. It didn’t hurt too badly but it was uncomfortable. Simple movements became increasingly painful as the effects of the surgery wore off and the pain killers were modified by type and dosage. The recovery is a painful process but when you have this surgery, you are going to and you need to feel some of that pain. It is a barometer of progress in your recovery. Simple movements initially causing pain gradually return to normalcy. Any effort I expended in doing anything took a lot of strength but it was needed in order to get me back to as close as I was before all this started. Pain is also a reminder that this is something you want to avoid ever having to go through again.

When I was released from the hospital, the pain was starting to come into focus for me. I realized that recovery from major open heart surgery doesn’t end with being released from the hospital. I think for me to be fully recovered from this surgery, it took about a year and a half. It took several months for me to be able to walk like a human being without pain and completely being exhausted. Everyone’s recovery is going to be different and it’s not going to be easy and it’s going to hurt. But it can be done and you can live a reasonably normal healthy life. Tomorrow I want to talk a little more about my recovery experience before I wrap this phase of my discussion up.

Have A Blessed Day!

Today’s “Did Ya Know?” I screwed up?!!!! I posted yesterday as being “Singles Awareness Day” when in fact, TODAY is actually “Singles Awareness Day”!!! Oops. Trust me, I have sufficiently chastised my editorial staff!!!! In addition to yesterday being Valentine's Day, it was also National Organ Donor Day! A good opportunity to do something that may save someone’s life one day! I don’t normally read the Huffington Post but they posted a great article in support of Organ donor Day. Please check out the link below and find out how you can make a positive and possibly lifesaving effect on someone’s life! Sorry about jumbling the days all up like that!

Today’s Related Links:

Excellent WebMD article on President Clinton’s surgery and recovery!

National Organ Donor Day


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