Sunday, October 2, 2016

1000 Things to Be Thankful For: Hospital Edition (260-1325)

The red-and-white ribbon seems to have multiple meanings; one of them is DVT awareness.

Those of you that know me in real life know that I had one hell of a summer, and not in a good way. First, my cat had emergency surgery to remove what turned out to be a horrifying volume of bladder stones. They could have easily killed her, had she not had the surgery. And, speaking of things that could easily kill, I went to the ER in (what I imagined was) an ambulance with sirens blaring, in the midst of what turned out to be a pulmonary embolism, two days after my last post. I was in the hospital for 4 weeks. Sometimes things were scary, and sometimes things were painful, but, more than fear or pain, I mostly felt gratitude. Overwhelming gratitude that I survived something most people do not. Something that most people did not think possible to survive.

When I started "1000 Things to Be Thankful For," I figured I would wrap it up around Thanksgiving, but there were so many things that went exactly right for Dolly Llama and myself that I finished the summer with quite the abundance of blessings. I can't imagine that many (or any) of the people I now think of as my hospital family will ever see this, but I wanted to publicly express how much everything they did for me means to me. My list runs somewhat chronologically, starting with DL's health crisis and moving into my own.

Edit: In the original draft of this post, I name-dropped some nurses and techs who are especially dear to my heart, but then I took them out. I felt like it implied that others were less-than, and I couldn't have that, especially because there's a pretty big chunk of time that I don't remember. Should anyone from the hospital read this, please know that I haven't forgotten the things you did for me, big and small. If you won't ever forget me, it is more than safe to say that I will never forget you.
  1. Discovering the bladder stones before anything got too scary
  2. Being able to get Dolly Llama in to surgery immediately
  3. Getting my furry baby home, safe and sound
  4. A very smooth recovery--no torn sutures or other complications
  5. Realizing that I needed to call 911, however that happened
  6. Having the ability to actually make the call
  7. Not remembering anything about the first 5 days of my hospitalization, including the symptoms that prompted me to call 911 in the first place
  8. - 269. The paramedics who spent a lot of time trying to stabilize me before transport
  1. - 271. The police officers who went to apartment to try to figure out how to get in touch with my family
  1. The amazing coincidence that one of them somehow knew that I teach for PWCS and used the school info to get in touch with my parents
  2. - 278. The ER team who spent even more time trying to stabilize me
  1. - 287. The people who collectively did 3 hours of CPR on me
  1. - 292. Surviving 5 cardiac arrests
  1. Dr. Arani, for figuring out what was causing all the cardiac arrests
  2. tPA, the hardcore clot-busting drug
  3. Donna, the nurse who actually administered the tPA
  4. The many prayers sent up for me by the staff of Sentara Northern Virginia
  1. Successful clot-busting with minimal collateral damage
  2. Being cleared by cardiology shortly after the clot-busting
  3. Full neurological function, despite very low oxygenation
  4. The coincidence of my brother being in town
  5. My brother's girlfriend, who I had not yet met, but who went with him on his first trip to the hospital, because that's what you do
  6. My friend Jason, who followed up his first shift as an ICU nurse with visiting me in a totally different ICU
  7. A safe 4-hour journey for my parents
  8. The police officer who came to visit, just to be sure I was ok
  9. - 409. The wonderful dialysis team, who sometimes had to really work for their money with me
  1. - 418. Nine successful rounds of dialysis
  1. - 423. Five blood transfusions and the anonymous people who donated them
  1. A blood transfusion that I choose to believe came from my sister-from-another-mister, who coincidentally had given blood shortly before I was admitted to the hospital
  2. A huge care package from family in North Carolina
  3. - 427. No complications from intubation (twice)
  1. Dr. Robinson, who took me flipping off SpongeBob Squarepants as a sign that I was ready for extubation
  2. Ice chips
  3. Graduating from ice chips to ice water
  4. My friend Ashley, who everyone assumed is my sister, and who had my back on everything from Saltines to cat snuggling to plush lungs
  5. - 443. The ICU nurses, who I know took such wonderful care of me, though I don't remember a whole lot about being there 
  1. - 456. The IMCU nurses, and all the times they took extra time for me and who made a totally abnormal situation seem totally fine
  1. The central lines that were maybe a little disturbing to look at, but saved me a ton on needle sticks
  2. - 469. The nursing techs who helped me hold together something resembling dignity
  1. Landing in a hospital where the staff cared about me so much that would log in to Epic and check up on me online
  2. - 473. The nursing team who was on the front lines with me the day I had a flash pulmonary edema (Sorry, guys...)
  1. Dr. Arani, again, for saving my life, again, canceling my code, and carefully checking my lungs for damage
  2. Everyone who came by my second ICU room to "yell" at me for going back there
  3. Late-night talks with night shift when I couldn't sleep
  4. Anytime anyone put lotion on my back
  5. Anytime anyone attempted to help me wash my hair
  6. Anytime anyone tucked me into bed with 6 or so pillows 
  7. How safe I felt the whole time I was in the hospital, even when things weren't going well
  8. The self-adjusting hospital beds--heaven, especially when I couldn't move around much at all
  9. - 497. Everyone who came to visit me, especially those who were brave enough to visit me in the midst of dialysis 
  1. - 501. The dietitians who helped me find things I could stand to eat
  1. - 507. The physical and occupational therapists who got me moving again
  1. The chaplain who made a point to check up on me and was always so kind
  2. - 608. Breathing treatments, which often made me feel better than any other treatment or medication I was getting
  1. When the breathing treatments stopped making me feel noticeably better, because I was in better shape
  2. - 615. The respiratory therapists who administered the breathing treatments, and who were often a source of good conversation and hospital tips
  1. - 621. The night shift x-ray techs, who are so good and quick at their job that they barely wake me up
  1. Forming bonds with all of these groups of people, who made it clear that they were following my progress and rooting for me
  2. The food service worker who got me fruit punch from the cafeteria instead of sticking me with Crystal Light
  3. - 651. The many cards I got from family and friends, some from relatives I haven't seen in years
  1. - 663. The ICU staff at VHC, who don't know me at all, and yet were still praying for me and monitoring my progress
  1. - 763. All of the people tracking my progress via Facebook
  1. - 787. The prayer chain at my parents' church
  1. - 1285. The prayers from my friends, family, and coworkers
  1. - 1290. The office staff for Dr. Arani and Dr. Robinson, who all know exactly who I was I ever set foot in the office
  1. Dr. Dibadj, my primary nephrologist, who kept me updated on all things kidney function, and who never doubted that they would heal (but had a totally workable back-up plan, just in case)
  2. Dr. Chan, my primary hematologist, who, after my second trip to the ICU, gave me the orders of, "Just be boring."
  3. Dr. Chutuape, who was a little late to the party, and who was at least as interested in my mental/emotional state as he was in the rashes he was called in to investigate
  4. Bill, who handled all of the insurance wrangling and set up home health care for me
  5. Lucking out on insurance--I just happen to have a $3000 out-of-pocket maximum with my current plan
  6. My at-home care team
  1. The friends who brought me meals
  1. Lucking into a primary care doctor I happen to really like
  2. Warfarin
  3. Having good enough kidney function that I will probably switch to Eliquis in the next week or so
  4. Normal results on all of my urology tests
  5. Days when no one asked me about my pee
  6. Graduating from physical therapy ahead of schedule
  7. Clearing that last little bit of fluid from my lungs
  8. Finally getting to the cornea specialist who was able to give me a diagnosis
  9. How easy cornea surgery is--over before you even realize you're technically having surgery
  10. The incredible amount of support I've gotten from my work friends to help with a very less-than-ideal sub situation
  11. Coming back to work and seeing a bat "mural" on my door
  12. Getting back to work as early as I did
  13. Reading the notes on my bat mural whenever I feel like I won't make it through the day (so at least once a day)
  14. Spending a lot more quality time with my parents than I normally would 
  15. The luck of my dad happening to be on sabbatical this fall
  16. Being well enough to spend some quality time by myself
  17. Routine "clot hunt" ultrasounds
  18. Feeling energetic and emotionally stable enough to write this post!


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