I am happy to report that I am home. Last night the nurse had mentioned something about paper work being done, but I didn’t hold my breath. This morning the ct surgery team came by and confirmed. When the pharmacist came to go over drugs with me I knew for sure. WOoo oHHoooo! There is nothing like being at home, but every time I think this I feel so badly for the patients who came here from far away and have to recover at a hotel or friend’s house.
I was originally under the medicine service with pulmonary as consult, and they put me in a room on the 13th floor. Ah, the elusive 13th floor! I’ve heard about how great it is from nurses and respiratory therapists – it’s the only floor in the hospital that has been remodeled. Everything I’ve heard is true: automatic sinks so you don’t have to turn the water on and off with germy hands, large flat screen tv with a power button – rather than scrolling through ALL the channels to turn it off, air conditioning/heater in each room, better beds with the buttons on the sides that actually work, nurses that actually come after a respectable amount of time when called, and newer modern decor really makes it such a stark difference from the other floors. I asked one of the nurses what type of patients they usually have and she said about three fourths of the people on the floor have pancreatic cancer and stomach issues. Yikes.
The medicine team was so incredibly nice – the residents, the fellow and the attending. After the first time my mom met the attending she said he’d never make it as a doctor in Korea because he’s kind, approachable and engages the patients and explains things very well. Apparently in Korea doctors are all business – no chatting with the patient and definitely no bedside manners. I wonder how true that is now, given how the Korean culture is more westernized than when she was a nurse. When they moved me from medicine to ct surgery I was sad to go. I was talking to one of the residents and mentioned how nice everyone was. I told her that it’s way different than ct surge where it can be abrasive and people have strong personalities. She laughed and said she wouldn’t comment, but doesn’t disagree. But I do love the 10th floor with all it’s quirks.
The great news is that I’m feeling much better. I have no more chills or fevers, and my heart rate has come down – I normally have a very high resting heart rate of 105-110 because a part of my vagus nerve (among other things, controls heart rate) was cut when they transplanted the heart – but it was running up to the high 140s and low 150s. That combined with spiking fevers and O2 de-saturation got me booted to the ICU. I don’t think I really needed to be there – I can pretty much guarantee that I was the only patient sitting up playing a board game while eating chocolate chip cookies, but I guess better safe than sorry.
The one thing that is worse than when I was admitted is my voice. My vocal chord and throat are irritated, and it hurts to talk. It came out of nowhere. One day I was fine, the next morning I woke up with it. We’re thinking it’s a strain from the coughing and dry heaving since the viral panel came back negative.
Here’s a funny thing. Carol and dad drove up when they found out I was committed admitted. She happened to be there when the respiratory therapist came in with this vest. Yes, a vest. It looks like something you put on as a lifesaving device when on a small boat.
The vest is this velcro monstrosity where ‘one size fits most’ should not apply. You’re strapped in, and there are 2 tubes that stick out on either side. You connect a hose that looks much like a vacuum hose to both tubes, and the machine inflates the vest. Then, while inflated, it squeezes you tight and proceeds to vibrate like crazy. I guess the idea is to have your lungs shaken up so all the gunk comes loose.
The vest is inflated and I have a broncho-dilator in my mouth. It’s not as fun because you can’t see me shaking. I was subjected to this for 30 minutes every 4 hours for 3 days. At first it wasn’t so bad… it felt like one of those foot massage thingies you get when you get a pedicure, but I got over that notion pretty quickly. The doctor told me they used to lay people on a board and tilt it so it’s at an angle and then beat their chests/back. Yeah, I’ll take the vest.
Ready to start without a clue as to what’s to come.