Monday, November 28, 2016

"All You Need is a Casino on the First Floor"

Finally concluding my write up of my little open heart surgery adventure.  The previous chapter is here.

The first thing I had to do when I got settled into my new, private room was text my sister the new room number.  I didn’t want her to come to the old room, see my bed empty and assume I had been taken back to the O.R. (or worse, the morgue!).

I was only too happy to relate the story of why I got moved to my sister and brother-in-law.  Although still in plenty of discomfort, I was able to enjoy and even recall their visit.  At this point, there was really only one thing that was tying me down, as it were.  I had a bunch of monitors hooked up to me, but it was a battery operated pack so I didn’t have to be disengaged from it to get up.  The pack fit in the shirt pocket of my elegant hospital gown.

But there were still two tubes coming out of my chest for drainage.  They were draining into a fairly large rectangular, plastic box that had to be carried whenever I went anywhere, like the bathroom.  It was quite inconvenient.  Late on Monday, after my family left, a doctor came around to remove the tubes, but then double checked and noticed I was draining too much to do it yet—perhaps the next day.

This was a big deal because they said if at all possible, I’d be released from the hospital the day after those tubes came out.  I wanted the tubes out but frankly, I wasn’t all that thrilled with getting out of the hospital, I really didn’t think I was all that ready for that.  I was getting decent treatment in the hospital, and as I said, the food was good.  And now I had my own private room with my own private bathroom.  I could settle in for a few weeks as far as I was concerned.

But they wanted me out.  Well, when the tubes remained in on Monday, that meant the earliest I’d be released was Wednesday.  I still had to pass a few other tests first.

As promised, LM and Woody showed up to visit later in the day—after my family was gone.  I got to tell them the story of how I got my private room.  Honestly, telling that story (twice!) was the most fun I’d had in a week.

They didn’t stay too long which was fine.  By now they had me up and attempting to walk, which I was able to do with a walker.  It was tiring but I managed to handle it fine.

That night, I used my phone to post this really short update post (here).  I didn’t bother to have anyone set up my laptop because I knew I was not even close to being ready to use it.  The phone was enough.  I tapped out the quick update and then got very frustrated trying to add the pic.  For some reason, it is a lot different trying to add a graphic when using Blogger on the phone than on a regular computer (laptop or desktop). And though I thought I figured out how to do it, the damn picture just wouldn’t load.  I’m not sure if it is a limitation of the phone capabilities or maybe the wi-fi wasn’t good enough for that particular graphic or what.  I actually left the phone on all night hoping it would load but it just wouldn’t.

I finally tweeted out the pic explaining that it belonged on my current post.  Later, when I finally got back to using the laptop, I retroactively added the pic.

The next day I had a new male nurse who seemed all business—no sense of humor whatsoever. I decided to try to see if I could make him laugh.

It had been a while since anyone asked me questions like this, but this nurse decided to quiz me on where I was, why I was there, etc.  I guess he’s trying to make sure I had all my mental facilities.  He asked me my name, then asked, “Where are you?”  I gave him the name of the hospital.  He asked, “And why are you here?”

I said, “Because I had triple bypass surgery four days ago…..but you know, this really is a lovely resort that anyone would want to stay in anyway.”  That got a smile and a short laugh out of him.

So I added, “All you really need to do is add a casino on the first floor and you’d be all set.”

That got a good laugh out of him and he said, “Yeah….the trouble with that is that all the employees would lose all their money there.”  Hmm….I guess he knows his co-workers!

We were pals after that, which is good because he was actually my nurse the next day too.

When he was taking me for my walk, with my walker, I decided to test something.  So for just two seconds I took my hands off the handle of the walker and made sure he noticed.  I thought he would freak out, but instead he said, “Let’s put the walker away.  I’ll be you’re walker.”  So we did that and I was fine (if very slow).  We even took an extra lap around the hospital floor.

My family was visiting and in the room while I walked.  So I came back and announced, “Look ma, no hands!”  They were impressed. 

Someone came by and took out my chest tubes (I think this was probably before the walk I just described).  There was one more big hurdle to pass before they would “likely” release me the next day.  I needed a physical therapist to sign off on my mobility and my ability to climb stairs.  She came around and we walked to the physical therapy room (no walker for me).  They had a few stairs that I was able to climb up and down with no problem.  I was basically good to go.

All that remained the next day was for me to have my final blood work done and then one last chest X-ray approved.  Assuming that was ok, I’d be released the next day (Wednesday).  That was five days after they cut me open, which considering the seriousness of the surgery, is rather amazing.

That next morning was extremely hectic, I saw a bunch of nurses, doctors, hospital administrators.  My chest X-ray was good. Technically, when they release you from the hospital after his surgery, you don’t need assistance.  If I had no one to care for me, they would have still released me.

Fortunately, my sister agreed to take me in for at least a week to see how I progressed.  It meant relocating about 45 minutes from where I live but it was great that I didn’t have to completely care for myself those first few days.  So my sister and brother-in-law picked me up.  We went to my car first, and my brother-in-law drove that to my garage. I picked up a few essential things out of my house and then we drove to their place.  It was an incredibly exhausting day for me.  It was the first time I’d seen the outside world in a week.

It was a rather odd set up staying with my family.  My sister lives behind the house where her daughter and son-in-law (and their four young kids) live.  The only place for me to sleep was a guest room in my niece’s house.  But during the day I spent most of my time in my sister’s house.

There were two issues with this arrangement.  One, I had no TV of my own, which was inconvenient.  And two, everyone in both households was usually in bed, asleep, by 8:30PM!  For the longest time I have been used to going to bed around 12:30 – 1:00 AM.  I usually spend a good chunk of my evenings writing.

After a couple of nights, I figured out that I could watch the main TV in my niece’s house after everyone went to bed as long as I kept the sound low.  And I found something good to watch for at least a few of my nights there.  I recorded the WSOP November Nine coverage on their DVR and watched that when everyone was asleep.  It was great entertainment and kept me in touch with poker even while I couldn’t play.

Also great timing was the other World Series….the one played with balls and bats.  My brother-in-law is a huge baseball fan so we watched each game together and it was great fun.  Turned out to be an incredible series.  By the way, every Dodgers fan I know was rooting for the Cubs.  I really enjoyed it, it worked out perfectly that it was on during the early days of my recovery.  I haven’t paid as much attention to a World Series in years.

After a week, it was time for me to get back home.  I knew I’d sleep a lot better in my own bed.  And by then, I was more than capable of taking care of myself.  So, eight days after I was released from the hospital, my brother-in-law took me home.  I got my house set up for a recovering patient and immediately went on Amazon to order a few things I never needed before but now did.

And that’s about it.  Been home a few weeks now.  As I mentioned, I started working (for PokerAtlas) a few hours a day last week.  I will be writing a column for Ante-Up this week (I missed last month of course).  I’m getting less tired each day and walking a little more each day.  That’s the only exercise I can do.  Still can’t drive or lift anything over five pounds.  I see the doc early next month and we’ll see how it goes. 

Thanks for bearing with me during this period.  Now to figure out how to keep posting fresh content here until I can get back to the poker table.


  1. Sounds like you are doing much better. As always you spin a good story. Take your time to really heal. Your fan base would miss you (at least I would miss your writing)

    Take care
    Rochester, NY

  2. Great to hear you are getting back into the swing of things!

  3. Great posts Rob! Glad to hear you are getting back on your feet.

    Hey - somewhat unrelated question - I recall you saying that you play using a strategy from a certain book on low-limit holdem. I searched through your old posts but cannot seem to find it. Can you remind me? Thank your Rob! I always look forward to your posts!

    1. Thanks, Anony.

      I believe you are referring to The Course by Ed Miller.