Time to rejoice… I made it out of ICU!
As each specialist came to check on me to ensure I was fit enough to move along I smiled sweetly and implored with my eyes. It seemed to take forever for the porter to arrive to wheel me to my next station. I understand that all the checks and tests and weights and measures were for my protection and to ensure, as much as possible, that I didn’t arrive back in ICU, but my brain, full of such a cocktail of drugs, wasn’t allowing me to comprehend that info at the time.
Hubby Jim came to the Cardiothoracic ward with me as he happened to be visiting at the time. It’s not often he’s embarrassed but I managed to do that on my arrival by talking loudly to other patients and interrupting their visitors. Gosh, I was so excited to be in a regular ward with a view (of a courtyard) – a window with sun streaming in!
Once again, the staff were wonderful and ensured I was comfortable with everything I needed (including that darned oxygen!). Over the next three days I learned to walk again, shower, toilet myself and generally begin to function as normal.
Walking began with a frame and the first steps were very tentative as my legs were like jelly. First goal was to be able to get to the door of the ward and back again. Next step was shuffling to the main corridor. I was really making progress when I could walk “the loop”; and final stages were walking “the loop” without the frame and climbing an 11-step flight of stairs and back down.
There is no dignity when one can’t fend for oneself and is reliant on others to help one shower. But for the Occupational Therapists and nursing staff this is their working life, so one must accept the indignities. And I didn’t really mind, as to have a shower and wash my hair was such a refreshing experience after 11 days I didn’t care who was helping! In fact, my daughter has pointed out that I rang her after my first shower and told her, in a very loud voice, that I had had a shower and now had clean hair. And I announced this to her and all others who could hear at least twice!
And then there was my “naughty” episode… In the middle of one night, when I was still attached to a catheter, I decided I really wanted to go to the toilet. Now, in my “sane” mind I knew that this wasn’t necessary, but no matter how many times this was pointed out to me I was uncomfortable (due to fluid-losing pills) and determined to go to the toilet. When staff were distracted with another patient (that was a bad night with several disturbances) I climbed out of bed, grabbed my walking frame and made my way to the toilet. My plan came unstuck when my legs were not strong enough to lift me off the toilet. I fell! I landed on my derriere with a thud which brought staff running and severely bruised my tailbone! I didn’t realise at the time that my catheter had popped out which could have caused even more problems. Back in bed, feeling quite reprimanded, I was given a bright red “bracelet” which said “Ask if I need help.” But the catheter remained out – yay!
I have learned that, when the body is filled with so many drugs, it is not just the body that takes time to recover… but more of that in my next and final blog tomorrow.