The Hospital: Day 5

July 23, 2005

I was finally sleeping when I heard someone calling my name very softly. I awoke to see a young Asian doctor standing beside my bed. I’d never seen him before this morning.

“Hi. Can you tell me if you’re completely off oxygen?”

I was never on oxygen, actually, unless it was during surgery. Post-op, I’d not had any that I could recall. I wished idly at that moment that I had some, though, as the doctor was wearing a bit too much cologne, and it was a bit stifling with him right next to me. I croaked out that not only was I off, I’d never been on.

“God bless you, thank you so much. I’m so sorry for waking you.”

I mumbled that it was all right, since it was almost time for more vital checks and breakfast. He stepped over to the window and made some notes.

“Thanks again. Have a blessed day.”

And he was off. A rather strange start to my morning. Someone from housekeeping also popped in, tidying up whatever needed to be tidied, refilling paper towels, giving me another cheery greeting. Then, breakfast – cream of wheat (yay), more Boost (boo), coffee (decaf, no doubt, and untouched by me), milk (not ice cold as I like it), and tapioca (no thanks). Before I could get myself in position and the right frame of mind to eat it, the doctor also appeared.

He removed the second drain from my chest and gave me some very good news: time to go home. He’d already told the discharge unit to start the paperwork, so I should eat up and then they would release me because I was doing well and hospitals are full of sick people. Hooray! Even though I wasn’t feeling tip-top, and even though every single person I had encountered on the staff there was just as nice as they could be, it would still be better to be home amongst the family rather than in the hospital. He rechecked my incision, pronounced it a work of art – as had my family members over the days – and said I was to come to the office on Wednesday. No problema.

I started eating, and my family members started appearing as well. They were quite happy about the news of my impending release, and I slogged my way through breakfast, then had some help getting dressed. By the time we were all done, I was tired again and ready to go back to sleep. But it wasn’t too much longer before the wheelchair arrived and we were headed to discharge for final paperwork. After signing off, we rolled down to the entrance of the hospital and I managed to get into the car without damaging myself or anyone else.

We went to my mom’s house, where I promptly went to bed while they did everything else, like bring in my belongings, get prescriptions filled, and stock up on soft foods. When I woke up, it was time for some vegetable beef soup, whirled in the blender. Then sleep. Then up again, and time for more soup, which I promptly threw up after a couple of bites. I think perhaps things had a bit too much sodium after my survival on hospital food, as I’m sure that food had virtually none. So we tried something else: real food, to control the contents, whirled in the blender so it had the consistency of baby food. That worked out quite a bit better, and fortunately, I had no more puking episodes. I was still having some intermittent issues with swallowing, which led to coughing, which led to as much pain as the puking, since it involved so much tensing of the neck muscles. With careful eating and practice, this also got better.

Mostly, though, I ate and slept – sort of like my cats, really. I wound up sleeping in the recliner in the living room, since this afforded me a nice 45 degree angle so as not to choke on my own saliva as I tried to swallow, and so I could turn on my right side, rest my left arm on a pillow, and finally get some much needed deep sleep.

I lost 12 pounds between the day I went into the hospital for surgery and the day I was released. However, I would not recommend the surgery diet to anyone. It’s pretty unpleasant.

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