Saturday, March 10, 2007

Heart Surgery Part 5

February 24, 2007
Day 5

'Our' hot flashes have come back into full swing. Tom winds the window open so we can get some fresh air. The temperature outside is in the 20's and we finally get some relief from the sweating episodes. Everyone who walks into the room shivers but no one makes us close the windows. I notice the nurses begin to wear sweaters.

My appetite is getting a little bit better. I can eat at least half of my food now. I drink more than I eat though.

My left shoulder is achy from the implant but not painful. I'm now taking percocets as needed, which isn't very often now. They have to counteract those with something that goes in my IV though, because they make me nauseous.

The next few days go by pretty much the same. I have to walk in the corridor around the nurse's station at least 3 times a day. Each time I've used a walker with wheels because I'm still pretty weak. It takes a lot out of me. Since day 2 I've also had to use what is called an 'Airlife'. It's a plastic breathing manual breathing machine that I have to use at least 9 times per hour to reinflate my lungs and to help prevent pneumonia from settling in. Tom is constantly reminding me to use it, and while it's getting on my nerves, lol I know he means well and I pick it back up and breathe into it.

I get another echocardiogram today. Everything is looking good. I've also had several chest X-rays the past few days. I continue to be weighed each morning. No changes.

I can't remember which days I had these visits, but my daughter's mother-in-law Bev and her sister Pat and husband Jim stop in to visit. Bev's daughter-in-law just gave birth to Bev's 8th grandchild, a little boy. They are on the maternity ward of same hospital.

Since I'm doing well, the nurses aren't coming in to check on me so often. If I need anything, I just have to ring for them, and they are usually there within 10 minutes. I can hear a man moaning in pain down the hall from me. I hope they get him something quickly, can't stand knowing someone is hurting as I'd been.

On my third walk today, I notice I'm the youngest heart patient. Most are elderly men and they look so much better than I do. They are walking alone without support. I imagine that they must have had bypass surgeries. They are more resilient than I would have imagined.
God Bless them all.

I'm told that I may be able to go home in the next few days if I continue to progress as I have been. I'm ready. The hospital bed is so uncomfortable and I can't stand the bedside chair anymore, that too has become uncomfortable. Can't wait to get into my own bed at home. I brought a couple books to read, but can't concentrate on them, I watch TV alot.
Have been catching up on my afternoon Soaps. Saturday and Sunday are boring days for TV when you don't have Cable. Tom and the girls and grandkids come to spend several hours with me since the visiting hours are now from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm.

Feb. 27, 2007
Day 8

Dr. Michael Fortunato, one of my favorites comes in to see how I'm doing. He says he feels that I'm strong enough now to go home today, but he needs to talk to the other Drs. to make sure it's a united decision. He says that I'm anemic since surgery and blood transfusions were discussed but that's still up in the air.

I'm excited, so I call Tom before he leaves the house to let him know I may be going home today. He's happy too.

I get my first shower this morning. It was hard, couldn't reach my back or bend to wash my legs and feet. But it felt so good. There is a seat in the shower and I do have to use it.
I decide to wait until I get home to have my hair washed because I'm not allowed to lift my arms above my head for another week since the implant. Tom or Deana can help me with that.

By 2:00 pm I'm still waiting to hear if I go home today. I'm beginning to think I won't.
Two rehab nurses come for me and I'm to walk the halls without a walker. If I can do it, and walk up 4 stairs, I can go home. I felt very unsteady without a walker but I put one foot out in front of the other and concentrated. I could tell they were watching my every move. I must have done ok, because I got the official OK for release about an hour later.

All remaining IV's were removed. I'm allowed to dress in my street clothes. Tom has to help me. My pants won't go up past my thighs. I cry. I'm so upset because these are the pants I wore into the hospital. I have to wear a nightie and robe home.

I was discharged at 4:00 pm. I am starting to get nauseous and I'm panicking. I ask for something but am told since the IV's are out, I can't have anything. I ask for a bucket and paper towels, because it isn't looking good.

Once I'm put in a wheel chair and we are allowed to leave, I appear to do Ok. It's not until I'm in our car and it's moving that it hit me full force. It was the worse car ride of my life and I was violently ill all the way home. It took about a half hour or so. I was dry heaving by now but my chest was hurting so badly and I just wanted to lie down. I assumed I must have had car sickness. When I got into the house, I sank down into our sofa and it was heaven. But I continue to be sick off and on for the next two days.

Tom helps me to our bed thinking I can rest better there. I try but I'm uncomfortable and move back into the living room and camp out on the sofa.

My girls had chipped in together and bought me a gorgeous country puff quilt for my bed that they knew I'd been wanting. They thought that would be better than flowers, and they're right, it is. I just love it. I'll always treasure it.

Not long after we got into the house, the phone rang but I couldn't answer it right away, and Tom was out at the car bringing in my bags. By the time he got into the house, the answering machine had picked up and whoever was on the line was leaving a message, so he was able to pick up before they hung up. It was my sister Donna, from Florida. It was such a shock, because I hadn't heard from her in over a year and a half, and I couldn't get hold of her before going into the hospital because she had no phone and I had no current address. She had absolutely no clue that I had gone in for surgery. I asked Tom to ask her what made her call today of all days and she said the night before 'something' told her to call me and so she did. She cried when Tom told her what I had just gone through. She now has a cell phone with unlimited long distance so she will be better at keeping in touch with the family.
Sadly, Tom had to do all the talking because I was just so sick. But I got to talk to Donna a few days later at more length.

I couldn't eat anything more this night, but sipped on juices and water. Tom's sister Caren walked down and offered to pick up a few items at the grocery store. She bought me some popsickles, cottage cheese, pineapple chunks, yogurt. These are things I'd been craving.

I was getting worried because I couldn't keep my meds down. Would have to call the dr. in the morning.

I had to sleep sitting up on the couch. Tom pulled the stool over so I could elevate my feet. They were horribly swollen. He slept on the chair this night to be in the same room with me. I needed help to get up off the couch to go to the bathroom. I needed help getting on and off the toilet too because my legs, feet and thighs were so swollen. I didn't sleep well this night.

February 28, 2007
Day 9

Tom and I are both up at 7 am. He fixes me a light breakfast of one scrambled egg, hot tea and slice of toast at 8 am. I eat most of it, but shortly afterwards, lose it.
I have to weigh myself every morning now that I'm home and have resumed my preop medications. One of which is a diurectic called Triam/HCTZ the generic for Dyazide.
I weigh in at 208 lbs, 7 lbs lighter than the day before. I'm still extremely swollen, but it's a relief to know that some of that fluid weight is coming off.
I have to take my temperature twice a day too. Mornings and nights. A few times I've had a low fever but was told if it went over 101 I was to call hosp. I was always just under.

Today a visiting nurse named Buffy comes to see me. She takes my vitals, draws blood and her stay was over 2 hours. She's two years younger than I am. I like her. She'll be back tomorrow to draw more blood. Each stay is at least one hour now. She also hounds me to continue using the breathing apparatus and to walk around the house more frequently.

Tom brings me the phone and I make all my 2-4 week follow up appts. with my doctors. That's out of the way.

For lunch I eat a couple spoonfuls of cottage cheese and some pineapple. I lost that too.

Later that afternoon my next door neighbors and friends Nancy and Bob stop over with several cooked meals. Stuffed pork chops, Italian sausage, seasoned potato wedges, penne pasta with meatballs. We are overwhelmed with gratitude. How thoughtful and so much appreciated. I'm not able to eat any of it, too heavy right now, but at least Tom and Nicki have some good meals available.

I sleep sitting up again but tonight Tom goes into our bed and leaves the door open. I'm to call him when I need him. I woke up 3 times this night.

March 1, 2007
Day 10
Diane was able to get a few days off from work so she is driving in today from Michigan for the weekend. Tom and Deana pulled together to help her rent a car. Her van isn't reliable for such a trip.

I weigh 204 this morning, a 4 lb loss from day before.

I notice that my stitches between my breasts have pulled and are 'leaking' from all the vomiting I've done the past two days. I'm worried about infection so have Buffy look at them today. She is worried too and makes an appt. for Thursday for me to see the surgeon Dr. Hayborn. In the meantime I'm to keep it clean and covered.

Talked to Dr. Musselman's office today about the vomiting and not being able to keep my meds down. I'm to stop taking the Percocets and Amiodarone ( used to treat irregular heartbeats), that these are likely the culprits upsetting my stomach. Within 24 hours of stopping these meds, I'm back to 'normal' and able to eat again. Nausea is gone.

Diane arrives around 3 pm. She had a very difficult time leaving last week when I was still in the hospital. She was so worried about me and hated that she had to go back to work. She cried all the way home, 5 hours. She helps Tom with the laundry and cleans the bathroom. We have so much food from Nancy that they don't need to cook.

I feel bad, Diane always sleeps on the couch when she comes to visit ( we turned the spare bedroom into computer room/craft supply room) but she will have to go over to Deana's to sleep since I've taken over the couch. She doesn't mind of course and enjoys being with Deana's family too.

I tried to watch some TV tonight after Diane left for Deana's and Tom went to bed. I wasn't tired so put on a movie. I can't recall what I watched, but the blood and gore really bothered me and I had to turn it off. I had a bad dream this night and bit my tongue. It's a wonder I didn't bite it off, that's how hard I bit. It was sore for a long time. I think I may have been 'dreaming' about how grotestque everyone told me it looked after surgery, sticking out the side of my mouth, swollen to three times it's normal size. Gross.

I also remember a couple jolts during my sleep. Could have been real or imagined. I honestly don't know. If they were real, if would have been from the pacemaker, meaning my hearts rythym needed a jolt to get back to a normal heartbeat. I will find out if it had kicked in when I go to the Cardiac Electrophysiolgy Dr. ( the Drs. who wired up the implant) in a few weeks. I remember the same thing happening my last two days in the hospital. Always while sleeping, and jolting me awake. Dreams?

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