On my second day in the hospital they were getting me ready to move out of the ICU and into a regular room. First though I had to go through some prepping. They removed most of my IVs, the one in my ankle; one in my left forearm…the weirdest one was actually in my wrist, in my radial artery. After they removed it the nurse had to put pressure on the puncture wound for several minutes to stop the bleeding.
One of the most unpleasant moments during my hospital stay was when they removed my catheter. No, I can honestly say that those few seconds were the worst of my entire stay; that includes you know, the brain surgery. How some people deal with those things every day of their lives I will never know.
After that unpleasantness the nurse informed me that Dr. B had lifted my liquid diet restriction, and that they were now serving dinner; she handed me a menu. I was floored!! Their menu was extensive!! My eyes were bigger than my stomach though and I ended up ordering steak, clam chowder, mashed potatoes, and cheese cake. She took my order and said my food would be delivered to my new room. I was so excited!!
Before they took me to my room we headed down to the imaging center to take another MRI. This would be the baseline, which all of my future MRI’s would be measured against. I usually have no trouble with MRIs; I have to admit though this particular one was very uncomfortable because I had to go to the bathroom really bad. I laid there trying not to fidget for 45 minutes. It was torture. For a brief time I wished that they had left the catheter in!!
When I finally got back to my room, my dinner was waiting there for me, as was my mom. I could not believe my eyes when I removed the lid from the tray. The food smelled so good. I don’t really remember what happened after that. I got about half-way done though and just couldn’t eat anymore. That’s the thing about surgery, it kills your appetite. After I ate, my mom and I talked for a bit. Sometime later a physical therapist came by to help me get started on vestibular rehabilitation. I got up out of bed and we went out to the hall and walked for a bit. I could only do so much though because I was still attached to my IV pole. But we did some slow walking and it felt great to be up and about. It was actually painstakingly slow, and it took intense concentration. I had to look down at the floor the whole time. If I tried to look around while I was walking or close my eyes I instantly lost my balance. My therapist was very patient with me though and said we would work on some more difficult tasks like walking backwards and up and down stairs as soon as I got my IV’s out. After that another therapist came by to go over my speech therapy. She gave me a whole list of exercises to do for tongue flexibility and strength, which in turn would improve my speech. This took another level of concentration, and it really took my last bit of energy for the day.
After a while I fell asleep. I was exhausted, and it was the first uninterrupted sleep I had had in what seemed like forever. I usually don’t remember my dreams, but I remember dreaming that I was falling; falling from the sky, through the clouds. Suddenly I was jolted awake as I felt myself falling off of the bed. Luckily for me the bed had rails or I would have had a close encounter with the floor. I was sweating profusely and completely out of breathe. For a moment I sat up and didn’t know where I was. I looked around frantically, searching for a familiar sign. I felt the familiar tug of the two IV’s still in my arms, and suddenly it rushed back. I fell back to my pillow and let out a long sigh of relief. I laid there in silence for a while, hoping to fall back asleep, but it was no use. I got up and decided to go for a walk. I reached for my IV pole, and leaned on it for support as I got up. I slowly made my way to the door and opened it. The unit I was in was dead quiet. No one seemed to be around until I made my way to the nurses’ station. As I passed by a nurse asked me if I was alright. “Yes”, I said. “I just can’t sleep, so I decided to go for a walk”. “I’ll walk with you”, she said with a smile. We had a pleasant chat as we walked. I learned that she had just moved from Boston to take this nursing job at Stanford, she learned that I had just had brain surgery.
As we made our way back to my room I mentioned that I would like to stop by the restroom first. She said, “Ok” and followed me in. She stood behind me and put her hand on my shoulder to help steady me and looked away. For some reason it just was not happening for me and I laughed and said, “Sorry it’s taking me a minute”; she giggled and said, “It’s ok. I felt a bit funny about it as she was a very attractive young woman. But we both had a good laugh about it and after I was done she helped me into bed and then I drifted back off to sleep.