Thursday, November 17, 2016

Becoming a Cabbage Patch Kid

Continuing the story of my recent medical adventure.  Sorry, it’s been awhile since the last chapter, which you can find here.

It was a terrible few hours.  Then, finally, almost simultaneously, the nurse brought some food for me and told me that they finally had a room for me—and that it was a private room.  The nurse himself took charge of relocating me. So he put all my personal belongings under my gurney, put the tray of food on top of the gurney (next to my immobile feet!) and wheeled me upstairs.

At least by the time I got to my room I was allowed to move my legs a bit.  That made it easier to eat, I could sit up.  I think it was a turkey sandwich, which was fine. There might have been some other stuff with it, some of which I could eat. 

Not only did I get a private room, but I got a huge room.  Seriously, this was the nicest hospital room I’ve ever seen.  I mean, it was the Palazzo of hospital rooms.  Spacious, lots of closet space.  Just an awesome hospital room.

Once up there, I immediately asked my new nurse if I could borrow a phone charger.  She said she had iPhone but she would ask around.  She came back later and told me that everyone had iPhone and there was no android charger around.  Damn.  At one point in the evening a different nurse came to check on me so I asked her about getting an android charger.  But she too struck out.

My phone was close to dead, and I had to turn it off to preserve it for emergencies.  Thus, again, my only entertainment was a TV.  At least this room had a decent, working TV. I guess I found some sitcom reruns to amuse me.  Also, I had a full choice of cable news channels to provide some updates on the election campaign.

I don’t know exactly who or when, but one of the docs I saw told me that I was getting a “cabbage.”  The technical name for my anticipated surgery was “Coronary Artery Bypass Graft” surgery.  Since the acronym is CABG it is known as a cabbage in the medical field (see here).  All I could think of was that I was about to become a cabbage patch kid.

By the time I fell asleep, I had full mobility back, I could move around fine.  But I was still hooked up to monitors so I had to get the nurse to unhook me just to go to the bathroom.  A pain, to be sure.

I fell asleep after 1AM and was sound asleep until 4AM sharp when someone came in to take some blood.  Seriously?  They couldn’t have waited a few hours to do that?  I was unable to fall back asleep and was bored out of my mind.

When it was morning I wanted to call my friends and relatives, but my phone was too close to dying.  When the shift change occurred in the morning, I asked my new nurse if she or anyone else had an android charger I could use, but no such luck.

I resorted to the old fashion way of communication.  The landline telephone that was in my room.  I called my sister and she confirmed that she’d be coming on the day of my surgery, whenever that was.  No point in making the big drive before then as I was (more-or-less) fine for the moment.

Then I called LM and Woody and had another huge favor to ask them.  Recall that they agreed to come to Hollywood to get my car keys, drive to Panorama City to get stuff out of my car (including my laptop, which I figured to need big time since it was going to be at least three days before my surgery) and bring it back to me in Hollywood.  There were also some necessities that I needed that they agreed to shop for.  I needed one more favor.  Could they lend me a phone charger so I could start using my phone while they were out running errands for me? It would be a lifesaver.  I had a charger in my laptop case but I didn’t want to wait for them to fetch my laptop.  Since they both have pretty much the same phone as me, I knew they had a charger I could borrow.  They agreed.

It was a horrifically boring morning.  I was waiting to hear when my surgery was scheduled.  I was told they do the schedules between 7 – 8 pm each night, but it wasn’t clear to me when I’d find out about mine because at that point, it was supposed to be no sooner than Monday (and this was Friday).

Then LM & Woody showed up.  I was never as happy to see anyone in my life.  OK, truth be told, I was really happy to see that they had indeed brought a phone charger I could use.  That charger looked to me like a drink of water to a guy who had been lost in the desert for a week.  Honestly, I was happier to see that phone charger than I would have been to have seen Emily Ratajkowski show up naked to give me a sponge bath.  (Ok, that’s obviously not true, but you get the idea).  Not only did the charger have a long cord, but it was one of those fast chargers.  Recall that the chargers I borrowed the first night I was in the (previous) hospital barely charged the phone if I was actually using it.  Woody plugged it and my phone immediately came back to life—and was actually functioning!  I guess they could see what great joy the charger brought me as they decided then and there that they would just give me the charger, it was a get well gift.  Thanks guys.

After a quick visit I fetched my car keys and gave them instructions as to where to find my car back in Panorama City.  They took off, but now that I could use my phone I was happy.  I finally had something for entertainment other than daytime TV.

A few hours later, they returned with all the stuff I requested.  They even set up my laptop for me.  The only issue with the laptop was that it took pretty much all the room on the tray they give you.  So I would have to somehow move the laptop off of that tray when they brought me my meals.  But now with both the laptop and a working celphone, I was back in business.  I had enough to keep myself entertained while I was waiting for the surgery.  After LM and Woody left for good, I was actually able to use the laptop to write up a blog post, the one that announced my eminent surgery (see here).

Sometime after my friends left, a cardiac surgeon came to see me.  He told me that they were either going to do the surgery tomorrow (Saturday) or Monday.  This was a surprise.  The day before they told me they only do emergencies on Saturday.  So I mentioned that to the doc.  He explained that they were just too backed up with CABG surgeries to wait.  “We have a lot to do, and it is very expensive to keep patients here all that time without operating on them.  We have to come in tomorrow and do some surgeries.”

Well, as much as I wasn’t looking forward to the surgery, the thought of not wasting two more  days in the hospital certainly did appeal to me.  The surgeon wasn’t sure, but he said they would do the schedule after 8PM that night and then they would let me know when I was up.  Not a lot of warning!  I got the impression that unless someone showed up in worse shape than me between then and 8PM, I was likely going to be cut open the next day.  I contacted my sister to give her a heads up in case it was indeed the next day.

Well, I was enjoying my time on the laptop (the Wi-Fi was excellent, by the way) when, sometime right before 9PM, the nurse came in and told me that I was on the schedule for first thing the next morning.  And I had to be ready for surgery by 6:30AM (the actual surgery was scheduled for 8AM).

My first thought, recalling that the first surgeon I saw said they (obviously) don’t like to work weekends, was….Oh great.  I’m going to have my chest cut open by surgeons who would prefer to be playing golf.  Oh well.

And we’ll leave it there for now.  As for my recovery update, well, I’ve started working again, just a few hours a day. I’m still in some pain and discomfort, but am told that is normal.  Walking a little more every day, and seem to handle that fine.  Progress, I guess.

(Next chapter can be found here).


  1. Glad to hear recovery is going well. It's the pits when you just don't bounce right back like you did a few years ago. I stub my toe these days and it still hurts a week later. Getting older is definitely not for wimps.
    Hoping you get back to the tables soon. I savor those times when its been weeks since I've played. Makes the experience that much sweeter.
    Good luck and happy Thanksgiving Rob.

    1. Thanks very much pokerwayne. Appreciate it. Yeah, starting to get itchy to get back to the tables. Wondering how much it would cost me to take Lyft to my local poker room. Probably be -EV for sure.

      "Getting older is definitely not for wimps." Definitely true.