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My Own March Madness – part 4 March 30, 2006

Posted by becoming in Becoming Healthy.
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Tuesday the 14th dragged along without further news. Finally, about 2:00 p.m., I was told that it did not appear that they’d be able to get to me that day, so I was being scheduled for first thing Wednesday morning.

I ate dinner in the room with Lara that evening feeling a sense of guarded optimism. I was absolutely glad that there was not going to be another day of waiting and uncertainty. I had never undergone surgery before and tried my best not to allow my blank expectations to be colored by what I had seen during decades of television and movies. Feeling genuinely upbeat was nice. There was no need to manufacture a brave facade to present to Lara.

Sleep came around midnight that night. I was awakened at about 5:00 a.m. by early preparations for surgery. Eventually I was taken downstairs to a large green-curtain-partioned “holding area” where I met the doctor who would be my anesthesiologist. I asked him a couple of questions about what to expect when regaining consciousness. Memories of his answers are fuzzy. There is no memory between that and waking up in a room in the ICU.

According to Lara, I evidently was evidently waking up too quickly and was given additional anesthesia. My first real memory was the awareness that I was out of surgery and that she was there. The first coherent thought I recall having was to try to demonstrate that I was capable of breathing on my own so that they’d remove that cursed respirator tube from my throat. I did, and they obliged.

Once that was out I lifted my head a bit to try and take a look at myself. It was not a pretty sight. There seemed to be a lot of blood on my gown. Multiple drainage tubes protruded here and there across the middle of my chest. I felt covered with heart monitor electrodes, and I was aware of big IV lines inserted on my upper chest near each shoulder.

And I hurt. Not a lot, no the morphine and whatever else kept things manageable, but the realization was present that all this was really going to be hurting soon.

Next, though, was pure pleasure. I was incredibly thirsty but was not allowed to drink for a while. They let Lara give me small chips of ice, though. Say what you will about hospital food… that was the most delicious ice I’ve ever had in my life!

After what seemed a night of dreamless sleep, I awoke early on Thursday feeling surprisingly good. I resolved to show these people just how speedy a recovery could be. By late morning I was sitting in a chair beside the bed (festooned with tubes and wires) and remained there until after lunch. In the afternoon I was even allowed to walk a bit — unaided except for having to keep a hand on my rolling IV pole (which more of a hindrance than a help for balance).

That afternoon brought some disconcerting news, though. Suddenly… I had Type 2 Diabetes. I was advised that often if one was in something of a “pre-diabetic” state, the trauma of open-heart surgery is often just enough to nudge one over the line. Most everyone emphasized that it could well be just a temporary condition, and that during recovery increased activity, weight loss and a better diet could straighten things out. Most everyone except the Endocrinologist who’d been called in to consult. His advise over the next few day could be distilled into: “don’t even think about anything other than a life dependent upon insulin.”

Each passing day, though, brought reductions in the dosages of what was initially a massive amount of insulin I was receiving.

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