I was on the operating table for 7 1/2 hours. That's a seriously long time but then again the surgery I had was massive. I woke up with a breathing tube in me and on a ventilator, along with an incision which is 4 1/2 feet long and had over 300 staples in me. Let me tell you, fun times right there! lol I don't remember much from the first few days after surgery considering how doped up I was on Morphine & Oxycodone. Everything from then is sort of a blur. They took out a whopping 56 pounds from me. I was pretty shocked by that considering this was for my lungs and circulatory system, not weight loss. I was in the surgical ICU unit for about a week before being transferred down to the regular surgical unit where I would spend another week before being transferred to the PT/OT floor where I would begin my rehab. My nurses and CNA's were the stuff superstars were made of. They went far beyond their calls of duty to help me and I owe them a debt of gratitude. Seeing as how some of my nurses will be reading this, I wanted to say thank you!
Over all i spent a whopping 3 1/2 weeks in the hospital. At times it was kind of depressing, sitting around much of the day doing absolutely nothing except for when PT/OT would work me out for 4 1/2 hours in split shifts. I remember the first time they let me walk on my own, I was shocked that I was suddenly able to breathe so much better and walk so much farther than I had been in years. I felt like a new person in spite of me having a massive incision which at times hurt like the swords of hell were going in me. I did get a shock though. While being worked out and walking down the hallway, I made a turn into an area which I hadn't been before. What did I see? One of my photographs hanging on the wall. I kind of stopped, looked at my physical therapist and said "you have got to be kidding me, that's my photograph!" She then replied "there's another one very similar to it in the cafeteria, would you like to see it?" Well is the Pope Catholic? So we headed to the cafeteria and I stood in amazement seeing yet another photograph of mine on their walls. I am not sure where it was purchased & the material it was on had me very puzzled. It was a very hard surface, almost like a masonite and had a thin black frame around it. The day I was discharged, the nurses asked me to sign it. I think I just really needed to see that as it acted like a catalyst to completely supercharge me into high gear.
One of the things which bothered me that I discovered on my own and brought to my doctors attention right away was that my body was beginning to become addicted to the Oxycodone. Not good but expected after being on such heavy doses for weeks. I would get the jitters and shakes, cold sweats and had trouble concentrating. I was taken off it immediately and had it replaced with a non narcotic pain killer. It was pretty bad I have to say and I understand now why people get addicted to it. It's not so much for the high some folks get but to fight off the withdrawl systems of it. It's evil.
I've been out shooting a few times since I have been home but I need to be very careful and have to stay very close to home due to the fact that I can't sit in open position very long and must move around as much as possible. This is why I haven't gotten around to writing this here yet. The reason? I have a post-op DVT in my right upper femoral artery in my leg. So I am on massive amounts of blood thinners as you can imagine. I never felt it and it was by a stroke of luck it was found while I was in the surgical ICU unit. That is seriously scary stuff right there as those can kill you. I kind of took a big deep breath when they told me. However it has really motivated me at the same time. As I sit here and type this, I feel the best I have felt in many years. I have home health nurses come every day to check on my incision, clean and change my dressings, etc.
I have noticed some huge changes since I was discharged. Check this out---
The day I was discharged I put on my clothes I walked into the hospital in. My shirt, my pants, even my shoes, were all too large for me. I lost an addition 24 pounds while in the hospital and backed up with the 56 pounds from surgery, that makes it 75 pounds in 3 1/2 weeks. It was hysterical. Since the end of September, that makes it roughly 130 pounds (it's to early to add everything up at 5am lol) The first day I was able to go out with my camera I was shocked as I stood with my tripod. My o2 wasn't dropping like it used to (thanks lung surgery!) and I was able to breathe. I was floored by this. Completely. Friends say I am a whole new person and in many ways I feel like it. I have a very long road to recovery, one which will take months and after that I am looking at another surgery for other lung & circulatory issues but boy, I am focussed like I never have been before & I am on a high protein, low salt diet. It stinks I have to stay close to home for photography but it drives me to get better, quicker.
In the end, I just wanted to say thank you to all for the well wishes in my previous journal. I read them while I was in the hospital laying in bed. I couldn't really respond as the wifi at the hospital was slower than dial up but I read each and every one of them. Multiple times over. It acted as encouragement. Thank you to my nurses, physical and occupation therapists and CNA's who are reading this. I owe you guys a lot. I'll stop in a few weeks and say hi to you all and say thank you in person and thank you for spending your breaks with me and keeping me company. It's awesome a few of you are into photography (shout out to Gary on that!)
Onwards. Upwards. Forward!