Friday, November 25, 2016

Get Me Outta Here!

And we pick up my bypass story where we left off (here), on Day 3, which is two days after the actual surgery, Monday.  By now I was a little more alert, still in a lot of pain which was being managed by pain medication (both shots and pills).  As the day progressed, I learned that not only were my sister and brother-in-law planning to visit me, but my friends LM & Woody were too.

I have a vague recollection of a lot of real early morning activity (like between 5 and 6 am), but I can’t recall what.  At around 7:30 AM, I met my nurse for the day shift.  It turned out that she was also the nurse I had when I first got to the recovery room two days before.  Although she certainly remembered me, I didn’t remember her at all.  But she knew all about me, not just from taking care of me, but from my sister, who she had conversed a lot with during my first hours out of surgery.  She also knew a lot about my sister.  My sister has a lot of medical knowledge that she has picked up over the years (although she never worked in a medical field) and the nurse joked that my sister was practically a nurse herself.

Let’s call that nurse Melanie, because I think that might actually be her name (honestly, it was either Melanie or Marlene, I had a Melanie or Marlene the day before and can’t remember which was which).  I’d had mostly good, very accommodating nurses to this point, but Melanie impressed me almost immediately as the best nurse I’d had during all this time.  She was super diligent, very understanding, and extremely helpful.

We had a long conversation, she took care of a bunch of stuff for me (though I can’t recall what) and then she turned her attention to my roommate.  I have no idea what, if any interaction I had with my roommate the day before.  I think he had a couple of visitors, but I was too out of it to pay attention.

On this day though, he had a pressing issue to complain to Melanie about.  He was constipated.  Apparently, he wasn’t just a little bit constipated.  He was really, really constipated.  I was really trying not to listen, but I was right there, and couldn’t help overhearing this.  While I sympathized with the guy, it really wasn’t something I wanted to hear.  Especially while I was eating my breakfast.  Apparently they had given him something and it didn’t work. And they were just going to give more of the same. He asked for something else, and Melanie warned him that if they gave him what he wanted,, it could give him severe diarrhea.  Pleasant stuff to listen to, huh?  They were arguing quite a bit, with Melanie finally saying she would contact the doctor to see if he could get something stronger.

While this was going on, I needed something from Melanie but she was too busy dealing with my roommate to help me out (I can’t remember what I needed, but I guess it was eventually handled).  It was at this point that I suddenly remembered that when we were assigned rooms a couple of days before, we were promised private rooms as soon as they became available.  It occurred to me that now was a good time to remind Melanie of this.  I can’t remember if I ever inquired about this the day before, I may have, or maybe I was too out of it to do so.

I was going to ask Melanie when she was finished dealing with my roommate, but she managed to slip out of the room before I had a chance.  Oh well, she’d be back.

Now I mentioned eating breakfast.  I’m sure I was eating the day before too.  And I have to say, much to my surprise, the hospital food was quite good.  And there were plenty of options of food that I could eat (remember, I’m a very fussy eater).  Although there were some weird restrictions.  In theory, I was on a low carb diet.   But every day, I could order pancakes for breakfast.  I even got maple syrup (it was sugar-free….but it tasted fine).  I could have a little piece of angel food cake (with I assume fake whipped cream) for desert. Also, I had rice with most meals. They even brought me diet lemon-lime soda.

But here’s the weird thing.  One of the options was always a hamburger…on a bun.  However, I was not allowed ketchup.  Ketchup is too high in sodium they told me, and I was also on a low sodium diet.  Well, you know me.  No way could I eat a hamburger without ketchup, so I never had a burger (the alternative…mustard and/or mayonnaise…just totally unacceptable).

Anyway, Melanie was gone, my roommate had no one to complain to, and I was enjoying the quiet again.  I had my celphone and used it to listen to the radio through an app.  I was enjoying that but then the pain meds kicked in and I was dozing off.  So I just turned off the radio app and started napping.  All was good.  And then….and then…

Now my roommate and I each had our own televisions.  The sound came through the device we had at our beds that also called the nurse when we needed to (and was also the remote control for the TV).  In theory, we could each keep the sound low enough so as to not disturb the other one, although our beds were so close to each other that would have been a challenge.

Note: I am going to tell this part of the story without revealing any of the names of the politicians or candidates involved, in keeping with my policy of trying to keep politics off the blog.  But recall that this was taking place just about two weeks before the recent presidential election.  We all know how contentious the election was (and for many, still remains so).

Well, as I was enjoying my nice nap, I started hearing a certain politician giving a speech.  I woke up enough to realize that my roommate was watching a cable network and the sound coming from his speaker was pretty loud, loud enough for me to hear it way too clearly.  I recognized the voice, it was someone I truly find distasteful and totally disagree with politically.  It was sheer torture listening to this person speak, and I tried my best to ignore it and go back to sleep. 

I dozed a little bit more but then this politician introduced someone else.  You see, the cable network was broadcasting the campaign rally of one of the leading presidential candidates.  So the politician I find annoying introduced the presidential candidate that they were all there to support.

If listening to the politician speak was torture, listening to this particular presidential candidate speak was turbo torture.  Nuclear torture.  And there was no way I could sleep through this.  It was pure agony for me.

I have no idea if my roommate was watching this on purpose, if indeed the person speaking was his candidate for President or not.  You see, in addition to the sound of his TV, I could also hear him snoring very loudly.  He wasn’t even listening to this.  Only I was.

As an aside here, I should mention that my friend LM (who has similar political views as me) had already suggested that one of the reasons I was in the hospital for a bypass was due to my angst over the coming election.  So being a prisoner to hearing this candidate yapping surely wasn’t helping my recovery.

As soon as I gathered enough strength, I hit the call button.  I was going to remind Melanie that we were promised private rooms.  Between the constipation discussion I had endured earlier, and now this political torture, surely I had enough reason to seek a private room (especially since I had been promised one anyway).

Unfortunately, Melanie didn’t respond.  Instead, a nurse’s assistant showed up. Melanie was tied up.  I really didn’t think there was any point in asking her about a private room, I wanted to go through Melanie for this.  So I told her I needed to see Melanie when she was available.  She said she would send her when she finished with whatever she was working on.

Now as I mentioned, patients had a multi-functional device that had the button to call a nurse, in addition to it being a remote control for the TV and also a speaker for the TV.  On occasion, I would accidentally hit the call button for the nurse when I wanted to turn on the TV or change the channel.  And once hit, there was no way to “uncall” the nurse.  Someone would have to respond, in person, and manually turn the call button off (it was over the bed, not part of this remote control device).

So apparently, a few minutes after the nurse’s assistant left, I accidentally hit the “call”: button.  I guess maybe I was trying to turn on my own TV so I could try to drown out my roommate’s TV.  But instead of a nurse or an assistant coming by, this call was answered remotely, by some guy speaking into a microphone somewhere with his voice coming thru the TV speaker.  Until this moment, I had no idea the device could do that, and this was the first time I had a call request responded to remotely.

The guy asked what I needed.  I told him I must have hit the call button accidentally, but I did remind him that I wanted to see Melanie when she was available.  He said ok.  But a few minutes later, he came back on, and asked what I wanted this time.  I said I didn’t want anything, I reminded him that it was an accident.  At this point, the guy took an attitude.  I’m not sure if he told me to turn off the call button (which I couldn’t do), or he just told me not to keep calling for no reason, but it got me a bit flustered.  I reminded him that there was nothing I could do to turn off the call button, but I didn’t need anything.  He disconnected. 

But as the call light was still on, he came back a few minutes later and was practically shouting at me to stop hitting the call button!  I told me I had only hit it once and that the only way to turn it off was for someone to come and turn it off.  He was basically yelling at me so I started yelling back.  “I can’t do anything about the call button, you have to send someone to turn it off.  Don’t you know that?” Now I was really losing my temper, probably not the best thing for someone two days after triple bypass surgery.  He disconnected and we were both pissed.

Finally someone came by to turn off the call light.  I think it was the nurse’s assistant and I reminded her I wanted to see Melanie as soon as possible.  She said Melanie was tied up but would come by soon.  But she could tell I was really upset, especially when I reported my three frustrating conversations with the mysterious man on the other end of the intercom. 

The political speech kept going, frustrating me to no end.  I actually couldn’t put my own TV on loud enough to drown it out.  And by the way, my yelling at the guy on the intercom wasn’t enough to wake my roommate, he was still snoring away.  How I envied him.

Finally Melanie showed up.  She apologized but said she was in the middle of something—and even implied she left someone hanging to take care of me because of my complaints (which were excessive only if you throw in all the bullshit with the mystery man on the intercom).  I made she sure knew why I was upset at the intercom man—who apparently works somewhere in IT, far away from the patients.  Then I reminded Melanie of the promise made two days ago to try to find me a private room.  She said she would work on it, but they were pretty much full.

At that point I decided to throw a Hail Mary.  It was very risky, but I was desperate.  The presidential candidate was still blabbering loud and clear.  I asked her to come close to me so I could whisper (not that it mattered, my roommate was still snoring loudly).  I said, “I can’t stand this.  I’m dying here.  I don’t know what your political leanings are, but I can’t take any more of this.  Can you hear it?”  She wasn’t sure what I meant so I pointed to my roommate’s TV, and just kept quiet for a few seconds so she could hear the sound.  Then I said, “I’m sorry, I just can’t stand that $@#$!%*!”  I had to hope that if she had opposing political leanings from me, her bedside manner and dedication as a nurse would rule the day.  Otherwise, she could see to it that I never got any more pain meds the rest of the day!

She listened to a few more seconds of the speech and then said, “Let me see what I can do.”

Did I mention Melanie was great?  Less than 10 minutes later she came back and said, “OK, ready to move to your new room?”  And she had a male nurse with her who helped me move across the hall to a private room.

I couldn’t believe it.  I thanked Melanie profusely, professed my undying love for her and then she said, “Shhh…..I’m going around protocol here, I jumped you ahead in the line.  Don’t say anything, I don’t want to get in trouble.  Just let’s go.”

And thus…..I was helped to my new, private room.  It wasn’t nearly as big as the original private room I had.  But it was probably bigger than the double room I just left, and more importantly, no roommate, no constipation discussions, and no offensive political speeches to hear.  I was happy.

And yes, I will leave it there and yes, I will get (at least) one more post out of my surgery story.  Stay tuned. But alas, I’ve just told you the very best story I have.

As for my current status, well, Thanksgiving was quiet, but on Tuesday my friends LM and Woody picked me up and we went out to dinner—my first dinner out since surgery.  That was my Thanksgiving, I guess. No turkey—just a real juicy hamburger with extra ketchup, extra pickles and extra onions.  It was heavenly. I was tired but not nearly as tired as I expected to be, and it sure was nice to eat out.  I’m continuing to walk an extra minute each day, and getting less tired from it.  Just wish the pain and discomfort would disappear.  But I feel I’m getting a wee bit closer to being “well” each day, so there’s that.


  1. Great story Rob! Day by day buddy.


  2. Nice turkey pic, and the legs look luscious.

    Best wishes for s speedy recovery.
    GL sir,
    Big L