After three days, I should finally be lifted from “Facebook jail.” Apparently, my efforts very early the morning of September 16th to like, comment, and reply to posts of support and interest were considered “unusual activity” by someone at Facebook (or there’s a world moratorium on “niceness” that I had forgotten about) so they shut me down through 7:07am this morning. (I haven’t tried yet. Hopefully, I am back up!) That decision, by whomever, has allowed me to only accept friend requests, (oddly) update my personal Facebook page banner and profile pictures, and read what everyone has posted. In short, it took away something to do to pass the 21-22 hours a day I sit here biding my time until my lungs heal enough to go home. So I have been tinkering with older pics of my family using Paint to bide my time and have relived some great family memories. It has also made me realize how great I actually have it. Not a bad thing, I guess.
So where do I stand now thanks to Covid/pneumonia invading my lungs? Today (Saturday, September 19th) is my 17th day at Ball Memorial Hospital. The care has been outstanding, but to say I have had enough of being in the hospital would be an understatement. But I also know that, as of this second, my lungs are still too weak to head home. There was tiny hope earlier in the week that I could go home Friday (yesterday), but that idea lapsed pretty quickly. For now, Dr. Rizk is hoping that there may be a chance I can go home on Monday, September 21. The timing of that date works very well, for 21 days from the onset of symptoms which occurred for me on Monday, August 31, is when one no longer needs to be isolated since Covid is supposedly, guaranteed gone at that point. So if I were able to go home Monday, I would only have to isolate from my family that one day.
The past five days, I have made three short treks across my room. Those treks are the only treks beyond 4’ of my bed since entering the ICU on September 8. They are difficult, and a bit scary to take, because my body is exhausted and begs for more oxygen to complete the task. It creates anxiety which causes me to want to pant rather than control my breathing through my nose to take in the extra O2 needed for me to function outside of my bed. So while my lungs very slowly heal, I have to learn to control my breathing in order to do simple tasks such as walk.
The good news is that I am no longer considered a critical care patient. I am now progressive and was moved back to the third floor yesterday morning. Same looking room, just a little smaller. Odd, how fun having a 3 mph breeze through your hair is after 10 days in the same room. I guess I have discovered that there are lot of things I do in life that I take for granted. Heck, even now with a hose extension, I am able to actually reach the bathroom again. Makes me feel a bit more human. (Weird part is going from modesty urinating in a bed bottle to “I got to go. Who cares who is here!”) Again, maybe a positive in all this is that I should be thankful for what I have and not so concerned about what I have been through. God is good!
For me right now, sitting in bed is the easy part minus the monotony and boredom of passing the long days alone. Working on handling tasks that require energy is my next goal. I have to be able to breath without extra O2 to go home, so strengthening my lungs is the priority. It is a challenge and it is exhausting. But the real purpose is to heal as many of my friends and family have made very clear to me. I am a fidgety person who doesn’t like to sit still, so this is all quite the challenge. But I am very thankful also to have so many people check in and ask about my condition and what they can do to help. Really, there is little you can do, but I appreciate the thoughts. In short, I just need to heal.
To share one instance of what life is like for me recovering from Covid, my breakfast just showed up to my room. The attendant just dropped it off through a two-way cabinet between my room and the hallway. If a nurse if available at the time it arrives, they will deliver it, but usually not. In fact, last night no one told me dinner had been dropped off so, after thinking it should have arrived much earlier, I checked (75 minutes later), and discovered it cold in the cabinet. I ate it anyway.
Back to breakfast. The attendant asked if I could get up. Of course, I need to move, so I unhooked my O2 sensor, made sure I had enough length in my O2 hose, and trekked over to get it. Heart rate came up some, but much less than my pre-ICU days, anxiety set in as I forced myself to breathe through my nose (I normally breathe through my mouth), and I got a weird feeling in my stomach….all just walking 8’ to pick up a tray of food. But I got back into bed and my numbers quickly returned to normal. That’s the frustrating part. I want things to be normal, but my normal likely won’t return until November, if lucky.
Using the bathroom is similar. Anxiety sets in as I walk over pulling my lines to reach the toilet. My body initially wants to gasp for air. I have to tell myself to breathe through my nose. A nurse yesterday gave me the tip of putting a finger over my mouth to force my mind to think “breathe through your nose.” So far it has helped, the gasping causes me to cough, which upsets my stomach (sometimes causing me to struggle exhaling) a tad. No fun. One day at a time.
Sleep was not good last night. Really hasn’t been great for days between getting comfortable and being woken up for tests and such. The incoming air is very dry with all the O2 being added, but I got them to humidify it a little over night. That helped stop the occasional bloody nose. The good news is that I am coughing up a little more “stuff” from my lungs which will help in the healing process.
Can’t even begin to tell you many meds have been pumped into my body. The steroids are still shooting my blood sugar up (I am a Type 2 Diabetic) so I take insulin in large doses before meals and bed to monitor that problem. IVs and shots? No clue how many, but the nursing staff is challenged trying to find new places to put IVs. Sometimes, they have to bring in their “big guns” to find a place to stick me. I have had shots for years due to allergies. They don’t bother me that much.
I am not doing as well on my inhaling exercise but that may be due to the fact they have lowered my O2 intake to 3.5 units. So my lungs have to work harder. But I notice that it is becoming more and more of a struggle to reach my goal. Regardless, I am strengthening my lungs and that is the point.
I have added more than 400 friends on Facebook since I have plenty of time to catch up on what former students, colleagues, and parents have been up to. Normally, I don’t have the time to do so as being AD can be time consuming. Many requested me as a friend to follow my progress. Most I know, but there have been a few I didn’t or at least not very well. I have “met” a couple Covid survivors going through the same or worse than I. In these cases, our Covid experiences bond us. So far, we are all survivors.
The one thing I would add is that, despite my condition, there are people going through struggles far worse than I. A just read a post from a couple of former students (married) and it saddens me to hear about what their 15-month-old is going through fighting cancer right now. I can’t imagine the pain they are going through. I pray that their son continues to fight and that they can find the strength to endure such a painful experience as a family. Yea, I have it a little tough right now, but I am 55. I hope they get some better news soon and this little guy wins his battle. Please be there for anyone in need. We all have our pains, struggles, and challenges, but knowing there are others thinking and praying for you does help!
A big thanks to my wife and family for sending me snacks and other items to survive my hospital stay. I am thankful to have such a great family. My wife, Lisa, actually finally got out of the house for the first time the other day. She actually had Covid and was taking care of her step-son and I. She is an incredible woman!
Thanks again to Melissa Dow, a Bruin parent and nurse at Ball Hospital. She dropped off a giant strawberry smoothie last night which was a great change of pace from normal hospital food. It hit the spot.
A big thanks to all of you who are following my progress and offering encouragement throughout this challenging time for me and my family. I appreciate your support and prayers very much! Thanks for thinking of me. Please don’t forget about anyone else going through a tough time….Covid or not.
And as always, “mask-up,” keep your distance and do anything you can to avoid Covid or accidentally passing it along unknowingly to someone you love who may react like I did. Take care and be safe!
Have a great weekend! Let’s hope the Bruins can get back at it this week!