That’s the identifying information, name and birth date, everyone asks when they come to see you. And I mean everyone. There’s no way around it. It’s a ubiquitous part of your very existence in a hospital. (Yes, I know why they do it, but it still gets old quick.)
It was time for me to leave ICU. Surgery was the 11th, and it was the next day, the 12th, roughly 11am…-ish. I was put in a wooden wheelchair that reminded of some old sadistic psychiatric hospital in an old Hitchcock film, and wheeled up to the third floor to my home for the next few days. The trip was pretty uneventful. Missy was with me and the nurse and we chatted on the way up about nothing in particular. If I remember correctly, my newly assigned nurse came down to get me.
I was taken to Room 330, a small and sparse sterile-looking room. When I was in overnight a few weeks before for observation I stayed in Room 436, which was a corner room with two windows and comparatively nice views. For a hospital it looked and felt almost like an apartment. So when we were in the “orientation” a week prior to surgery we ‘requested’ room 336, right below with the same set-up. Allegedly these two are the only rooms with a decent view in the entire hospital. My room, 330, had a view of the roof… the window washers were a surprise… and building expansions from when the hospital has been expanded haphazardly in fits and starts.
So we get into the room and begin to get settled. I think it’s hot and stuffy. I find out the next day that the room has an individual thermostat, so we set the temperature down to 68. I think it’s still a bit warm, but Missy’s cold. I also requested a fan so we could get the air circulating, and that was delivered right away. The fan was a huge help. At this point the room was reasonably comfortable, and it would be home for the next few days.
By this time the only things attached to me are the heart monitor and a single IV in the back of my right hand. They used IV for some pain meds and other stuff the first day, but after that nothing was connected to it, though it was left in “just in case” they’d need it. I was fully unattached now, so I could do things by myself like walk and go to the bathroom. This is huge.
Edit: Missy reminded that the small drainage tube from my stomach was still in, and had a bulb at the end that caught body fluids, which the nurses would have to empty 1 to 2 times a day.
I had a plethora of nurses, nurse techs, nurse’s aids, and others, throughout my stay. Pretty much down to every one, they were all absolutely awesome. Caring, concerned, knowledgeable, helpful, anything you would want. There’s a couple that stick out to me as exceptionally fantastic, Torry and Ande, but really they were all good. All but one were women, and I’d say that probably all but one were most likely under 30. Which, to me, makes it even more impressive that they have such a young staff that is both capable and dedicated. They ran on 12 hour shifts, and I never had the same one twice, except Torry and Fifi.
I can say unequivocally that I left with a whole new respect and admiration for nurses. These are the people on the ‘front lines’, so to speak. These are the people that make or break your recovery, your comfort, your whole experience. Even if you’re feeling cranky, be nice to your nurse.
The other downside to the ‘regular’ room experience was that there would be times where one person after another would come in wanting to do something to me… one would check my vitals (“Boardrow, 6/10/68”), two minutes after they left one would check my blood sugar (“Boardrow, 6/10/68”), 10 minutes after they left someone would come in to take my order for lunch (“Boardrow, 6/10/68”), 5 minutes after they left the doctor and/or their nurse’s practitioner would come in for their daily visit(“Boardrow, 6/10/68”) … and on (“Boardrow, 6/10/68”) and on(“Boardrow, 6/10/68”) , for sometimes three hours straight. I wanted to put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door. It was impossible to get any sleep.
My walks increased in both frequency and length. I would go a little farther and a different route each time. My minimum goal was 4 times a day, one day I did 5. I also had arm / stretching exercises to do. The goal for these was 3 times a day, and I usually did 2 to 3. “The Wave” is Missy’s favorite, btw, but I’ll let her explain it.
The bed, when packed with pillows around me, was reasonably comfortable. The first couple days, though, I was so beat from the surgery that I could have slept on a bed of broken glass. The only downside was that the controls for the bed were on the side railing, and I was too sore and stiff that made twisting my chest painful, so I generally had to rely on someone else.
I came into my room on Wednesday, and on Saturday I had progressed fast enough and far enough that they were ready to discharge me. I wasn’t quite ready, though. I expressed a desire to stay another day, just to be sure. Missy was not happy, but supported my desire. So we stayed another day and I was discharged on Sunday. The extra day gave me a peace of mind that everything really was ok, and that was important to me. What was estimated prior to be a 4 to 6 day stay was 6 days total, but could have been 5 days.
So we get packed up, they put me in the wooden wheelchair for the trip to be dumped off at the curb, and away we go. I’m on my way home.
Oh, and btw… “Boardrow, 6/10/68”
*- Birthday made up for example purposes.