This week’s episode is about getting into the new routines in the three week stay at the temp housing. It was one step closer to being back into normal life and there were many new routines to get used to, to not forget (!) and, therefore, be nervous about: taking the meds, keeping the LVAD batteries charged, change them in the right order, not getting caught with the chord that went in through my stomach and up to my heart to the pump/propeller that was attached to my heart.
Walking was a central part of recovery and boy, did I learn every millimeter of that walk. I consider myself extremely (!) lucky to be able to be where I was though. Sure, it was a bit of a drab business hotel close to the highway, but it was peaceful, the staff was very nice, it was right by a slough that came from the San Francisco Bay. And it was a hotel! I was being very well taken care of. You’d hear frogs there and once we saw a small leopard shark by the edge of the water. The neighborhood was a car dominated suburban, strip mall sprawl-land, but there were sidewalks to walk on pretty much everywhere. There were restaurants and a grocery store in the strip mall within walking distance, once I healed up more. And, the weather was pleasant.
Thank you all for coming here and supporting this and I hope you had a good Halloween, in case you celebrate that.
I finally got back into the swing of things, at least for this week, and made another episode. It feels great! I never doubted that I would continue, but once you take a long’ish hiatus like this one (7 months), it turns out there’s a bit of resistance to start again. I filled up that time with other things. Walking around, sitting on the couch, looking a YouTube videos.
Either way, this week tells the tale of when I was discharged from the hospital and went to stay for three weeks at this business hotel about 5 miles from Stanford Hospital. There were a handful of other patients like me there too. We would have stayed at some building on the Stanford Medical campus, but they were, and still are, building a new hospital there, so the air was deemed a hazard for us straight out of open heart surgery or body transplants. The soil contains spores and mold which to an immuno suppressed person is bad news.
So, we drove back and forth to the hospital every third day for check ups, using what I had named our “Death Trap”: Christine’s ’95 Subaru Impreza that had caught fire when I was I going down the highway a few months earlier. No biggie. I feel like I might have gone over this story in some earlier post, but I am too technically challenged to check.
Thanks a billion for coming by to read and I hope you all are doing ok, but hopefully in some cases even better.
Things are moving on and this week talks about life on the unit and unit walks.
Moving from the ICU to the Cardiovascular unit basically meant more training for life after the hospital, getting in better shape, getting used to the LVAD and all the things that went with it.
My organs and body functions still needed some encouragement to go back as close to normal as possible, and physical activity was a huge part of making that happen. Three walks a day was the minimum. I was lucky (!!!) not to be in any pain so it was fine for me to do this part of recovery. If anything it got severely boring to circle that same place 30 times a day. On the other hand it felt great to notice the improvements and I felt proud over my achievements. The staff was relentlessly encouraging and positive and, again made me feel very special. It is shocking to experience the degradation of ones body and hard to accept the need to limit physical activity. On one of my first walks in the corridors of the hospital I had to eat the humble pie. After insisting, despite the nurse’s warnings, that we keep on going farther and farther away, I had to take several breaks on the way back and at one point I was wondering if I’d make it back at all.
There were some key things with the LVAD that had to be learned and remembered: how to wash the hole where the electric chord went in through my stomach and change the dressing that covered it (not my body in the pic), in what order to connect and disconnect the cables when switching batteries, not to fall asleep without disconnecting the batteries and connect to the wall unit instead. Plenty of things to freak out about, but I had family, friends and hospital staff to support me.
Thanks again for coming by to read and hope you’re all doing well.
It’s been a pretty busy two weeks with a dear visit from family and some tight deadline work. I finally managed to get this episode together that partially deals with, while still being in the ICU, getting a crazy toothache. It just came on all of the sudden and it was really bad. I had to soothe it with ice water first and the water had to be in my mouth constantly, otherwise the pain would escalate to a brutal level. We’re talking writhing-in-my-chair level. It would move from my molar in the back to the front teeth and then back again. I finally managed to take even more painkillers, in between the other painkillers I already took. So, there I was, after open heart surgery, and the worst pain was not in my chest but in my tooth! It was laughable. After a few days a dentist finally managed to come in and she spotted a tiny (!) cavity in one of my molars. Needless to say I immediately booked a time with a dentist to have it fixed as soon as I could leave the hospital. Then, as sudden as it appreared, the ache disappeared. About 1.5 years later my regular dentist spotted the tiny cavity and fixed it.
This week also talks about being surprised about the kind of social help that would pop up in the US system when I least expected it. Growing up in social democratic Sweden in the 70’s and 80’s, the social welfare system in the US could feel heartless and meager in comparison. I guess to sum it up, it feels like I have learned that there is help to be had here too. It just kicks in way later and you have to be in a way more dire shape in order to qualify. Better or worse? That’s a good discussion to have at some point. Right now I am too tired.
Again, thanks all for coming here to read and I hope you’re all doing ok.