Now that I’m up and running I’m looking back on my stay in the hospital. When you are in the hospital you aren’t at your best. Going in for planned surgery was better than being admitted for pneumonia but still anxiety was high. So things that I might get on the first take when I’m my usual self, in the hospital might take a bit longer or be greeted in odd thoughts. Then there’s the equipment – stuff I’m not familiar with and makes for new experiences.
One thing I remembered from my encounters with hospitals was being cold. No fears of that here. No I didn’t get a great warming/massaging bed like Dad had in ICU. But I did get a heated hospital gown called Bair Paws! I kid you not. My purple paper gown had ports that hooked up to a warm blower. Actually the blower reminded me of the old hair dryer mom used to have. You know the kind if you are a child of the 70s or earlier – the ones with the inflatable bonnet. So yeah you got a puffed out gown but it was TOASTY warm.
Next I was dehydrated so IVs were hard to put in. But what do you expect when you tell me not to consume anything including water for 18 hours? So they got one IV in and said they’d get the other in after I was out. Well the last thing I remember was we started wheeling out the gurney toward the nurse’s station and before we turned the corner to the door. BAM I was out.
The next memory was of someone having a damp sponge on a stick and swabbing my mouth. That was nice as my lip didn’t stick to my teeth any more. They also put lip balm on me. Not bad. I was relaxed sleeping well and someone was keeping me from being thirsty.
You know I never thought I’d have to be reminded to breathe. Even more than that – I never thought if I needed such a reminder I’d find it annoying. Still one of my memories is of a woman saying “Mrs. Eklund you have to breathe on you own now.” Well the first time she said it I thought “Oh, okay” and breathed. Then off to peaceful dreamland as a person who doesn’t sleep well – I was blissfully enjoying the dozing. Then she reminded me again. This time I thought ‘FINE I’ll do it go away! I want to sleep!!” Then about the fourth or fifth time I was getting beyond annoyed and onto pissed off. “Really lady bugger off your breathing thing I’m sleeping here!”
Next I was getting wheeled on the gurney into my room. Mike, Aaron, and Sara were there to greet me. They were asked to step out while the team got me settled. Don’t remember much until I woke and Mike was holding my hand. As I woke more I remember I no longer had on the purple warming gown. Well in most instances waking up to find yourself dressed in totally different clothes is disheartening but here it was par for the course, not as annoying as the breathe on your own lady was. For me it seemed just a nap between when I’d bid my family farewell and the waking in new clothes but it’d been about 5 hours or so.
As I progressed things made more sense but I discovered odd things about my post surgery body. It’s a bit disconcerting to think about people you don’t know dressing you while you are out. I know it doesn’t mean much to them, it’s a job they do and that’s that. But discovering say you have a scratch on the roof of your mouth from anesthetic intubation. Or finding I have a deep bruise on my right arm because of a failed attempt at the second IV. Or pondering did I have those scratches before? Good thing with the drugs to alleviate pain you tend to take it all in stride.
Speaking of stride – the first walk is always a dozy. I knew my abdomen would be sore I didn’t expect my hips to be so sore and stiff. The more I walked the better they felt so I wasn’t against doing the walks. The nights in the hospital are never restful. I mean why the heck wake me up in the middle of the night to do “dangles” to prepare me to walk the next day? “Dangles” are sitting up on the side of the bed with feet hanging off not touching the floor. They watch your blood pressure and stuff to make sure you won’t faint when it comes time to stand.
Oh, did I mention I loved the leg massagers? Okay I know that’s not what they are called. They are pneumatic compression boots that are to prevent deep vein thrombosis in the legs. I LOVED ‘EM. I’ll tell you my feet and legs always ache to some level or another. It’s just life after 40. But to have those on rolling pressure up and down my legs and over the soles of my feet. A dream come true – a leg massage all night long. The only thing that could have made it better was Hugh Jackman there doing it instead of pneumatic boots…
I have to take my hat off to Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee. They were fantastic to make a difficult experience go as pleasantly as possible. They did all they could to make me comfortable and my family too. Everyone was beyond professional but genuinely caring and nice. Well except that faceless woman’s voice that kept waking me from the best sleep ever to tell me I now had to take the responsibility of my own breathing… Okay thanks to her too since because of those reminders I’m here but it was annoying when I was sleeping so well!
Until next time.