Wednesday, November 15, 2006

New and Improved, doing just fine

I have had a few people ask me how I was doing as I haven't blogged in a while. The short answer is that I'm doing fine, very fine. With the exception of a long ugly scar down the middle of my chest it almost seems like the surgery never happened.

From a health standpoint I feel like I've fully recovered from the surgery. As a matter of fact, I feel much better than I did just before the surgery. Its amazing how much energy one has when the heart is working at 100%. I had a stress test at the cardiologist last week and was given a clean bill of health. So I have that going for me.

I have to apologize to anyone reading this because I have been horribly remiss in keeping up to date on my recovery. I do plan to go back and fill in all the details from the morning of the surgery, through the hospital and my recover. I do this for anyone who wants more details, but also so that I can get the story down for myself and posterity.

As a final sad note to end this post, a couple weeks ago my dear cat Jack died. If you've been following this blog you will remember that Jack was very upset the day of my surgery, evidence to the close connection between us. I don't know why Jack died, he just looked like he was asleep when I found him. I just thank him for being with me when I needed him the most, and have vowed to build the mother of all shrines to dead cats over his grave.

It's something unpredictable
but in the end it's right.
I hope you had the time of your life.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Feeling strangely fine (With apologies to Semisonic)

Just in case the reference was missed, Feeling Strangely Fine is the title of a CD by Semisonic. I do not intend to apologize to that band in this post, rather I was giving them credit for the phrase.

And it is the best phrase to describe where I'm at, for the moment. Feeling strangely fine. After only a week out of the hospital I'm feeling much better than I expected to by now, but still far from 100%. Most of that litany of problems I was facing are now pretty much behind me.

I am still on pain medication, though I've reduced it two about two pills a days which is down from four a week ago. Some days I manage less than two pills, but I am trying not to be heroic about the whole thing. As I learned in the hospital, once the pain is out of the picture, the possibilities for improvement are much greater. My goal at this point is to be down to one pill or less by the end of the upcoming weekend.

I've also started back to work, just a bit. I worked a half day yesterday and have another half day planned for tomorrow. This is 'at home' work mind you as I still have a couple weeks before I am driving again. My basic plan is 12 hours this week, 20 the following week and we will see where it goes from there. I might ramp up quicker depending on how I am feeling. Exhaustion and the pain pills are my main issues at this moment and I have to admit the half day was more tiring than I expected.

Aside from that, I've been out and about a couple times. My daughter Ally has become my personal chauffeur. We make a good pair, I need a driver and she needs a parent in the car in order to drive on her permit. I've also continued my walks, averaging 1-2 miles a day, though I managed three miles quiet nicely on Sunday. I've moved into Simon's air-conditioned room upstairs at night which makes me much less likely to take my sunrise walk, but I still get my nightly walk in every night.

Aside from all that I'm doing just fine. Not bored yet, with 7 1/2 hours of court programs each day how can I be? And not quiet itching to get back into daily life either. Progressing slowly, but surely.

She's got it all worked out I'm afraid
And your life is arranged
And it's strange but you're feeling fine


Thursday, July 27, 2006

I have become comfortably numb.

On my sunrise walk this morning, it occurred to me that I am now entirely without agenda. I don't have any plans for my day or for the week or anything that needs to be done in the next minute, hour, day or week. It's an odd place to be, and I'm not sure I'm okay with it, but then again, it is what it is.

Back when I had a life, I usually had this mental list of things I had to get done before noon, before the end of the work day, that evening and sometime during the week, but I honestly have nothing of the sort anymore. Sure, there are things I plan to do: some dishes, a bit of laundry, sort through some financial stuff, but honestly if none of that kids dune today well *shrugs*...

On more whimsical news, two of my cats decided to join me on my one mile sunrise walk. They followed me for the longest time before I even realized they were there. Once I acknowleged them they came up and walked with me, one to either side as if they were guarding me against any rodents that might cross my path. I'm not sure why they decided to do this, but it was amusing.

As for my health; everything continues to get a bit better each day. My sternum probably gives me the most trouble, but the pain pills seem to make this not so bad. My temperature has settled in at about 97 degrees and the thermostat issues are not so drastic. I even feel a bit better on each successive morning walk. I'm not ready to head back into life quite yet, but I can see that there will be light at the end of this tunnel.

There is no pain, you are receding. A distant ships smoke on the horizon....


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Let's see Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance, okay let's go with Anger

I was up at sunrise for another mile walk before the neighborhood awoke. I'm feeling a bit better today, napped a lot, talked to Dr Mom twice and blah, blah, blah.

I'm going to fast forward to the heart of the matter, no pun intended. I was out shopping with my daughters today and we stopped for lunch. We stopped, God forbid of all places at McDonald's. Which apparently means that I'm stupid and I'm going to have to schedule another heart surgery within a few months or something. Or so I hear...

Here's this thing, my heart surgery doesn't give the people around me the sudden high moral ground to pass judgment on every decision I make in my life of what food to put in my mouth. Honestly, it is insulting to suggest that somehow it's all been that simple; that I ate myself into my heart problems.

So I'm going to sum it up for the person who made these comments and everyone else who seems to think they can comment on my diet and lifestyle: Fuck off or be prepared to to get the same in return. I can be a big grievent flaming asshole right back. Everything that happens to you both personally and medically can probably be oversimplified into something simple and insulting. You want to play this game? Well game on...

On the other hand if you want to discuss such things civilly I'm more than happy to explain things including how I got here, and how I plan to not be back here again. And then let's talk about your health for a bit...


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Greeting the sunrise

I was up to greet the sunrise this morning. We sat on my front porch steps, with my cat (Jack) even though I am certain both the sunrise and the cat had somewhere else to be.

Though in the normal course of my life, I do not see many sunrises, I have always enjoyed that part of the day. And I just clarify that by saying that we are talking about a Michigan summer sunrise here. Winter sunrises often happen late in the morning after most of us are at work so they aren't quite the same.

So I listened to the birds sing and watched the neighborhood wake up around me and even dozed a little bit while I sat there. I then took the opportunity to get a nice walk in before the sidewalk people were out. I did ten blocks this morning which I think is close to a mile. During the day I think I am a bit a scary sight, lumbering along with a half limp and glazed eyes. I imagine that parents pull their children inside when they see me or cross the street to avoid me. And this may happen for all I know, but I don't really worry so much. I'm out for a walk, not human interaction.

As I enter my first full day of this recuperation at home process, I too time to catalog everything involved in my rehabilitation.

There's my heart which is flush with fresh supplies of blood, but still reeling from exposure to the air, the surgery, and having been stopped for period of time during the surgery. I find that piece of knowledge odd as I can not imagine myself lying on the table, heart unbeating while they worked on me. Nor do I care to imagine those breathless moments when they restarted my heart as if they were jump starting an old Toyota (now does the ground wire go on first of last I can never remember). Anyway, my heart is recovering without much intervention from me. A walk or two each day plus these special socks which help the blood circulate is all it needs.

The lungs get kind of beat up all the way too. Being under anesthesia doesn't help and fluid build up during bed rest is almost a certainty. I have this little plastic device the I have to suck air through several times a day. It doesn't exercise my lungs, but it does make sure I keep taking deep breaths which is all the lungs really need. My lungs are doing fine at the moment, but not yet ready to receive cigar smoke again.

The digestive track is another matter. Now I'm going to spare any gory details, except to say the entire process beginning with the anesthesia works to slow down digestion. Not stop it, just slow it down. So when a meal normally could pursue it's course in 12-36 hours, it now takes closer to a week. The big downside to this is that I entirely lack an appetite which means I eat very little, and I have to believe that at some point a lack of nutrients is going to be a problem. They assure me that this problem will take care of it's self.

My thermostat caught me by surprise. In the last few days in particular my body has had a hell of a tough time regulating my body temperature. I've been hovering a couple degrees below 98.6 which isn't even the bad part. The bad part is that at any given moment I can be either sweltering or with the chills. External regulation just sets me up for a bad roller coaster ride. I'll be cold so I'll through a blanket on and three minutes later I'll be sweating, throwing the blanket off just brings the chills even worse. And a cup of coffee or tea will mess me up for hours. Once again, I am assure that this is normal and will work it's self out. I just hope that happen sooner rather than later.

My breastbone and ribs are also working on repairing themselves. Mostly this requires me to take it easy on this part of my body. Which sounds simple until one considers that anything we do with our arms pretty much affects the chest as well. Try getting out of bed with out using your arms sometime, it's not as easy as it seems, though I have almost mastered the process.

The incisions have so far been the easy part. They don't give me much pain or trouble. I clean them each day and leave them alone for the most part. The leg incisions to give me a bit of a limp, but that will pass with time.

Oh and too finish my catalog I have to mention all the other marks and scars on my body. The worst is my neck where three different tubes went in at one time. I hear this looked real nasty though I never did see it. The site is very tender and the muscles are sore, making it difficult and painful to turn my neck very far in either direction. The rest of the areas, including all kinds of patches of red, itchy skin where something was taped down, will be find with time.

At the completes my catalog. I'm not looking for sympathy, rather I would like to create a list of what to expect for anyone who should have the surgery done after me.


Monday, July 24, 2006

Home now

I am writing this post from my little table in the corner of the living room where I spend most of my computer time. As you might imagine, I've been released today, this morning actually.

The last few days in the hospital were nothing special. Each day was spent keeping the demons of pain at bay while trying to be more active. I'm still a bit tired and groggy so I won't fill in too many details now. Everything went very well; nurses, doctors and family were all pleased with my progress.

I managed to get a shower between naps today which gave me a chance to assess the full battleground that is my body. On the whole, I can't complain since I knew what this was going to entail. There's a nice long scar down the middle of my chest, a couple of half moon shaped scars below that where the chest tubes were placed, some deep cuts in the leg and a whole slew of dots and bruises from all the other equipment. For some reason the lower half of my left thigh is a beautiful shade of periwinkle, but they tell me that's not alarming.

I will provide more details over the coming days, but I tire now. I want to thank everyone for their kind words, well wishing and good vibes. I especially want to thank my daughters who weathered this storm I put them through like champions. I would also like to think my mother who managed the people managing my medical care without pissing anyone off too much.

Jack with a new heart...

Thursday, July 20, 2006

First off, the last blog was not one daughter it was a combination of his two daughters and a family friend. Although, any one of us would like to take full credit for it we cannot unfortunately.

Next, dad's recovery is fast and fantastic. He was called a "champion patient" last night, and we are all constantly hearing how well he is doing and how quickly he is recovering. He woke up yesterday and was talking and visiting with family. He looked a tad zombie like but it is expected. Today when we visited him, he had more color in his face and was talking better. He was sitting up and eating some breakfast and doing his breathing exercises as well. Dad is looking and acting extremely well, and he should be moving out of the ICU and into his new room late this afternoon.

Third, we would like to ask that no visitors arrive at his hospital unless we have talked to you personally.

Finally, it is really great to see everyone looking out for him and checking back at this blog so often. I'm sure once he sees how many people have been reading this he will be impressed and flattered. We would like to make a special thank you to all the snopesters out there. We know of our support here in Lansing but it has been very touching to see so many of you from all over who care as well. Thank you all for keeping our father in you hearts and prayers.

P. S. I'm sorry that this entry lacks the common humor of the previous ones.