Day One – Post surgery

This was moving day. When I walked in to ICU this morning, I admit with some trepidation, I was greeted by my old Doug, smiling as best as someone who had gone through what he had. Several folks noted that it was highly unlikely that he would remember much of yesterday and last night. They were right. Enough said about that part of this experience!

As I said, it was moving day. He was right on track in terms of progress so he was being transferred to the ward. We had requested semi-private accommodations, but alas, there is a shortage of such things, so he is in a 4-bed ward room. Unfortunately, 2 of the other three are very loud, as are their families. Most unpleasant circumstances for a hearing impaired person. We pushed that a bit, but really, the noise will keep him tense and not let him relax at all. Hearing the important stuff will be difficult. Hopefully someone will be discharged tomorrow and he will be able to move. Meanwhile, earplugs will have to do.

I’m OK. Tired, too much tea, not enough water, and despite all the suggestions of my friends, not great nutrition. It will get better tomorrow, I promise. But now, to rest.

I met these folks as I was arriving this morning. Perhaps whomever they were visiting asked them to leave early. Note that the presence of babies eliminates the need for crosswalks. Everyone stopped, even the LTC.

Good night, my friends, and thanks for being there.
Love, gail

Final Update for Surgery day

I kind of forget where I left off, and being too tired to check, I ask your indulgence for a moment of summary.  A successful quadruple bypass.  The patient is now off the ventilator, breathing well on his own, except when the pain makes him clench his teeth and moan.  Then he forgets to breathe.  I know he will feel better in the morning, but right now, he is in a great deal of pain, not from the incision but from the mechanics of the surgery.  When they open the chest, apparently they exert considerable pressure on the muscles of the back and shoulders, and he seemed to be having muscle spasms.  They are incredibly painful, I know.

I have never seen such raw emotion pouring from Doug.  When I first saw him, he still had the breathing tube in his throat and was unable to speak. Each time he opened his eyes, I saw fear and confusion, despite his inability to vocalize.  Nevertheless, he communicated his pain very clearly.  The second time, they removed the tube while I was there, and he was able to explain where the pain actually was.  That’s when the nurse explained it to me. Since they were trying to get Doug to wake up more, they were reluctant to give him too much pain medication, which would make him drowsy.

At this point, I had been at the hospital for about 12 hours.  I was exhausted and felt totally helpless in the face of his pain.  So I left, came home for a nap, the image of him hurting so much absolutely burned into my mind.  I had to go back because there was no way I could go to bed with that picture in my head.

So at 8. after the shift change, I went.  Of course, that’s when the rains came.  I got completely soaked and somewhat chilled, but it was worth it.  He seems a bit better.  I think they have found the balance between pain meds and encouraging wakefulness.  Then they will want him to sleep.  Tomorrow, no visiting until after noon.  If he continues to improve, he will likely be moved to his room on the 6th floor sometime during the day tomorrow as well.  We’ll miss the one-on-one care of the ICU, but not the noise and constant activity.

I’m going to bed now.  More news tomorrow.  Thanks for all your positive thoughts and prayers.

Love, gail

Update 2

Surgery is done. Four bypasses.  His heart is functioning well but the surgeon won’t be happy until he is awake and moving a bit.  Fair enough.  I get to see him in an hour or so.  He won’t be awake.  Later I will see him again and hopefully he will be somewhat responsive.

Love, gail


It’s all ready 10:20.  Having heard nothing to the contrary, I assume all is well.

There is a jigsaw puzzle spread out all over a card table here.  So I sit, type, look at ouzzle pieces, read, write more.  Etc.  And wait.

Life is good.

Love, gail

Let the waiting begin…

OK, so we were here at 6 as requested.  Doug was taken into surgical prep at 6:15.  I got to see him there for a few mintes around 7:30.  At about 7:50, they took him away.  We had talked with an anaethesia resident and a nurse named Anna who will be with him throughout.  She seems to be quite an angel.  It’s now 8:20 and I am sitting patiently (so far) in the Intensive Care Waiting Room at UH, having just bought a 5-hour package of internet time  There is a computer here, but the only other person in the room has staked it out and seems unlikely to share.  This is better anyway.  I don’t expect to hear anything before noon, so I’ll post again then.  Meanwhile, I will read, write and drink tea.  First cup now in hand.

Please do me a favour, friends.  Keep praying and sending those positive vibes.  They all help.  But please don’t call.  I really don’t want to talk to anyone.  Brother Art is coming to visit here around 9 and dear Michael may come up later. Mostly, I want to be alone to think and reflect and try to make sense out of all of this.  And to prepare for the total reversal of roles that is coming in a few days.

Love, gail 

Hospital minus 11 hours

Surgery minus 13 hours.  Spent the day alone together.  Having fun.  Talking.  Eating.  The way it should be.  Phone call from Cousin Val this morning probably the highlight of the day.

Let the countdown begin.

Hope the Habs win.

Love, gail

You know it’s OK to complain when ….

… sitting in your favourite chair is uncomfortable
… riding in the car is uncomfortable
… holding a knife to cut up some green beans for supper hurts your arm, hand and thumb
… drying your hair is an epic battle with pain.

And since all these things happened this afternoon, I am complaining. The thing I hate most about chronic pain conditions like mine is that they emerge, sometimes without reason, and strike seemingly almost random parts of the anatomy. I certainly understand the trigger this time; we have had a modicum of stress around here lately. I can’t figure out why my arms and hands are the targets this time; I guess it doesn’t really matter why. The bottom line — and I know I’ve said this before — is that pain sucks.

About that stressor: based on a conversation Doug and I had this afternoon while we were out enjoying the weather, I think I can safely say we have (or at least, he has) turned a corner in the process of approaching surgery and recovery. It appears to be a major breakthrough, and I am so glad for Doug. The change of perspective will reduce his anxiety and make everything easier. There are still some concerns because, after all, this is major surgery, but we are going to enjoy the next few days and head to the hospital on Tuesday morning with a really positive attitude. After all, this is just an interlude in our plan to see the world from the deck of a cruise ship.

Love, gail

Indian dinner out tonight

We’re sitting around waiting for our neighbours to come home.  We are gong to spend a bit of time with them to celebrate his 90th, which actually occurs the day after Doug’s surgery.  Doug bought a special little bottle of wine and everything.  We were supposed to go over (across the street) at 5, but they had to go out for a while and thought they would be home around 5.  It’s now 5:40.  The only reason this is an issue is our dinner reservation for 7 at a restaurant in the south end of town.  Given the time  [doorbell rings, neighbour came to get us since she couldn’t find her phone list}, it means a shorter visit and my driving to the restaurant.  I guess we can manage.

So we made it, travelling around downtown to avoid Bud Gardens on the opening night of the Memorial Cup.  Indian food is always a hit with us, and this meal was OK although not great.  The point of going out was to spend the evening together and we did.  We’re spending a lot of time together in fact, something that eventually was destined to cause a bit of friction, especially given the situation.  It happened this morning, a clash between my desire to “help” Doug prepare for surgery and his resistance to my help, all growing out of our joint and individual stresses and very disparate ways of dealing with it.  Hopefully you can follow that sentence.  Anyway, all is well now, and will continue to be well.

A note to friend Peter:  Doug REALLY likes being able to hear.  That’s why he was so happy to have gotten it before surgery. You should try one; you might like it too!

Good night all.

Love, gail 

What to say ….

… about  a  day like today, when not much happens.  It rained, of course.  And there were very few birds around.  And the flowers seemed pleased about the the rain.  But the only really noteworthy, and very happy, event was Doug’s new hearing aid.  He can now hear everything I say, so he needs to find some different excuses for ignoring me.  Beyond that, it was a day much like any other, with ebbs and flows of energy and moods.  And I guess that’s a good thing, something to savour and enjoy, just for its shear ordinariness.

Love, gail