So far, so good – Part Two

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Well-known member
May 13, 2015
London, UK
Friday – Day Two

As Friday dawn broke, my nurse helped me out of bed and into a chair. I sat there for a while and we chatted as she took my readings, and removed some small cannula attachments in my wrist (the main cannula stayed in place).

After an hour or so, I asked to be put back in bed and as I did so a terrible consuming muscular spasm occurred in my left shoulder beneath my neck. It was shocking and intense but the nurse manipulated my shoulder with her finger tips and there was sudden relief. I think part of the shock was whether it was a muscle spasm or something more serious. But the pain was real.

Back in bed I had a final push button shot of Fentanyl and all settled down.

It was almost time for nurse changeover at 8am. But first my nurse removed my Foley Catheter and later, with assistance, my drainage tube.

Deep breath in, hold, the tube was pulled and out it came - like a snake from a drainpipe. And such relief, and fairly little pain, if any at all (perhaps masked by the Fentanyl). The discomfort I’d been feeling in my upper right body the previous hours subsided quickly. They stitched my drainage wound and covered it with a dressing.

My new day nurse was wonderful. From the Philippines. Gentle, caring, attentive, always explaining what she was about to do. She would later accompany me to the main adjoining ward where I would be staying for the rest of my recovery.

Doctors’ rounds came, and my brilliant assistant surgeon arrived. He said he was very happy with everything. Thought it was all going in the right direction. I was in normal sinus rhythm. Blood pressure very good.

He would arrange another x-ray that day to check the pneumothorax and said that the slight Left Bundle Branch Block was turning into a non issue. He wouldn’t be around at the weekend but another surgeon would see me and I’d likely go home early the following week, if all continued like it was. I thanked him effusively.

My sternum scar was still covered. I’d had a mini sternotomy 4th intercostal space J incision with a 23mm Edwards Inspiris Resilia.

I was soon moved to the main ward where I had a bed next to the window overlooking the Houses of Parliament and the River Thames. What a stroke of luck.

I decided to walk from the HDU to my adjoining new ward. Which I did with trepidation and some success. I got winded if I talked and walked. But walking was fine, if not slow.

I was in a four bed male section, with two other beds occupied. There were several sections throughout the ward and some single rooms. Both for male and female

It felt like forever had passed since I arrived Wednesday. But in fact it was only Friday. New nurses introduced themselves. And I had readings and blood taken and some medication - paracetamol (Tylenol in the States).

I began some self-started breathing exercises to expand my lungs, taking deep breaths in and holding for a few seconds. There was some pain in my sternum as I breathed in but nothing unmanageable.

And then, sitting in my chair next to my bed there was a sudden unexpected upsurge of emotion, which took me by surprise.

I walked myself alone to the toilet where I had my first stand up pee and proceeded to cry my eyes out. I felt much better after that.

I slept on and off during the day and fitfully that night. But boy, what spectacular dreams I had when I did manage to doze off. A cast of thousands, great Shakespearean dramas and riveting story lines. And in the dimmed light before full lights off, I could see vast rearrangements of the texture of the ceiling tiles. Like hoards of small black creatures crawling in unison this way and that across my line of vision above my head. Nothing terrifying but amazing to watch. This lasted a good 24 hours.

Saturday – Day Three

Saturday arrived along with the daytime nursing staff. It was time to have my pacing wires and neck cannula out.

The attachments in my neck were removed with some discomfort. I looked like I’d been ravaged by vampires.

After my pacing wire removal I had to lay in bed for an hour, my heart rate and blood pressure checked every 15 minutes. All went well.

Then I was offered a shower! Time to put on my new pjs and dressing gown.

The shower was a slow affair as I was doing it all myself, but what a joyous relief. I felt human again.

Then I had an x-ray.

Once during the day, as I climbed steadily off the bed, my shoulder spasmed and a deadening ache enveloped my higher back. I stood and tried to ease myself out of the quite severe pain but no position offered relief. I was about to call a nurse, but first I raised my left arm and a bone in my chest seemed to clunk into position and the discomfort instantly resolved. This has happened several times since (but less painfully) – including once when I got home – but manoeuvring my arm clunks a bone in my chest and all’s well again.

Overnight, I woke to pee every hour. Each time a full bladder load. The fluid build-up from my surgery was expelling itself, it seemed. Next morning the swelling in my fingers had reduced somewhat and I assumed my feet, although they still seemed disfigured.

I got up in the dark just before first light and sat in my chair next to the window, munching oatcakes and figs, watching the Sunday sky brighten over Parliament.

Later that morning my sternum plaster was removed and I saw my scar for the first time. Neat, about five inches in length. A little sore on sudden movement. But great to see. It felt healthy to subject it to open air.

The plaster over my drainage wound was also removed, but the wound started bleeding so they put another plaster on.

Then another shower and more walking. Lots of walking. Up and down the corridor, unprompted, unaided and alone. I felt fine and was told I was doing remarkably well with no issues.

I was incredibly fortunate not to have sneezed proper in all that time. If my op had been six weeks or so before, when I had terrible hay fever and sneezed daily, often three or four times in an row, I suspect I’d have died from shock!

I managed to just stifle one full sneeze on the ward (a kinda half sneeze), and that was painful enough. So keep that cough pillow close. Well, a towel in my case, actually. Each patient was given a rolled up hand towel to use as a bracing cushion for coughs and sneezes.

I’ve had some visual disturbance post op. Two ocular migraines in the first few days (none since), and various bright shooting stars across my field of vision as the days pass (I’m still having them occasionally). In the first days of recovery or so, I also noticed certain letters obscured on a page. It’s not as bad now but still noticeable on occasion.

And my voice was hoarse. An effect of the breathing tube I was told. It’s still quite hoarse even today. It should eventually improve.

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