Well here we are again. Several days have passed since my last post and I am still waiting for a heart. Over the passage of time new habits are formed. I have heard it said that it takes one month to ingrain new patterns. Well, I have been here at Tampa General Hospital for a little over two weeks and I have already settled into some new patterns. My day starts around 7 am when there is a shift change and the night nurse passes me off to the day nurse with a report. They like to have me listen in so that they don’t miss anything. By this time I have had nearly every nurse on this unit, and they are well aware of my case, my meds and my goal. This is followed by the Today Show on the TV while I have my daily blood work and a special blood test that needs to be drawn over the course of several minutes while I lay flat on my back.
Breakfast comes around 9, along with my morning meds. I have to say that I have developed an amicable relationship with oatmeal and brown sugar. It isn’t my favorite, but I have it every morning so that I can stay regular (if you know what I mean). After breakfast I brush my teeth, no funk breathe allowed. I then move from the bed to the chair. This move doesn’t sound like much, but when you are attached to an IV tree with two different medications along with two pressure lines that are attached to a Swan catheter in your neck, even moving from the bed to the chair requires some work. Just sitting up is such a simple pleasure and the chair becomes my home for the rest of the day.
I watch Netflix, read and send emails along with thank you cards. I check Facebook, pay bills, entertain visitors, talk on the phone, FaceTime, receive and read my snail-mail, write devotions and these here blog posts. I tell the nurses that I have gained a greater appreciation of just why my dog gets so excited when I pull out his chain. A couple times a day a nurse will come in and ask if I would like to get up and walk around the unit. I will never turn this opportunity down. I once even went at midnight, just because a nurse offered. I really enjoy the simple things like standing up and walking. I do as many laps around the unit as the nurse will allow. I can walk around for a while, if another patient doesn’t need help. See, with all of my paraphernalia, I have to walk under the close supervision of a nurse. I eat both lunch and dinner up in the chair and then around 11pm I give myself a bath, which is a wipe down with antiseptic wipes. I have some help putting on a clean gown and those sexy brown footie socks with the no-slip pads on the bottom. I then brush my teeth and have help back into bed around midnight. I select a Spotify playlist for my overnight listening pleasure and then off to sleep I go.
During all of this activity I am preparing myself mentally and physically for the upcoming battle that I am going to face. The wonderful nurses on this unit have been very helpful, in an honest and loving way. See, this isn’t their first rodeo. They are well aware of what I am getting ready to face. In fact, one of my nurses used to be a nurse on the transplant team, so she is very aware of everything I am going to face. All of my nurses have provided me with a wealth of helpful information.
Mentally I have to be ready to fight like I have never fought before. I can honestly say that it took me the first five days here in the hospital to get over my initial shock and fear, but I am now ready to kick this transplant’s butt. Over and over again nurses have shared that my mental attitude will mean everything. Other than my heart, my body is healthy, so my attitude is what is going to make or break me. They have seen healthy people crumble under the stress, strain and pain of a heart transplant and they have seen weak, sick people come out with no problems, simply because of their difference in attitude. I can truly say that I am ready. So, bring it on and let’s get to healing.
Physically, I have to maintain my strength through walking, eating well and doing lung exercises. I can’t afford to go into this surgery less than my best. I have to be firing on all cylinders with healthy lungs, kidneys and liver. I walk, use my Airlife for breathing exercises and I even drink special chocolate shakes that are packed with protein and other important nutrients. The diet of medicine that my transplant team has me on is enabling my heart to function at its highest capacity. My numbers aren’t as good as all of you who have normal hearts, but as for me, my heart hasn’t functioned this well in over a year. All of this combined is getting me ready to physically fight through the process of removing my heart and replacing it with another one. It is even crazy to write those words, let alone realize that this is what is going to happen in the not-to-distant-future. Then I will get the pleasure of forming new habits and patterns.