Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Road Back from Surgery

by Pa Rock

Six months ago today I underwent one of the scariest moments of my life:  open-heart surgery, just a few short weeks after I made an off-hand remark to one of my medical providers about getting winded on the treadmill.  That good man, Dr. Chet Monder, decided that a referral to a cardiologist was in order. 

Tim, my youngest son, came out and chauffeured me to and from the test that determined there was a serious problem with my old ticker.  The results came in while I was still lying on the exam table – arteries clogged to the extent that a triple-bypass would be necessary.

 Days later I found myself being pushed down an unfamiliar hallway on a gurney and watching as my sister and daughter walked away.  My last conscious thought as I was being wheeled into the operating room was that very likely might be the last time I would see either of them, or anyone else for that matter.

My first thought as I came to in my hospital room several hours later (although it literally seemed to be just seconds) was that I had survived after all.   My second thought was about the need to get that damned hose out of my throat and to shed some of the wires and monitors.  (I had expected all along that the hours immediately following the surgery would be the worst – and they were.)

I was in the ICU, and my sister, Gail, and daughter, Molly, were dutifully sitting by my bedside as I regained entry into the world of the living.  I spent two days in the ICU and two more days (including my 65th birthday) in a private room.  By the time I was finally dismissed, on the 24th of March, Gail and Molly had both returned to their homes, and my oldest son, Nick, was on duty.  He drove me home and spent most of the next week helping me get set up to manage my own recovery.  Gail replaced Nick and stayed two weeks, and then Molly came out for another week.

All in all, I was very well taken care.  I have some visiting nurses and a physical therapist, and someone was always available to drive me to doctor’s appointments.

I purchased some living room furniture, a needless luxury, prior to surgery because I did not want to appear poor or needy to all of the people who would be visiting during my recovery.  It turned out to be a very smart investment because I couldn’t get out of either of the beds in my house, and I was able to pull myself upright on the couch – so it became my bed for a few weeks.

I resumed driving and returned to work just four weeks after the surgery.  All of my doctors were pleased at the speed of my recovery.

Now, six months later, I feel great, no longer get winded on treadmills or anywhere else, sleep in my old iron bed, and eat plain oatmeal for breakfast instead of Sausage and Egg McMuffins.  My scar is slowly disappearing – to the point that I can now go and sit in the hot tub at the gym and not feel self-conscious.  I am twenty pounds lighter and my attitude has improved to the point where I almost tolerable.

The only thing keeping my attitude from fully recovering is the regularity with which medical bills keep appearing in my mail box.   I have insurance and had just signed up for Medicare Part A (the portion that pays hospital expenses) just prior to the surgery.  My insurance company paid out thousands of dollars, but the hungry doctors and their mega-staffs keep demanding more and more.  Medicare decided that the surgery must have occurred in a provider’s office and never paid out a nickel.  But I keep writing those checks and giving out my credit card number over the telephone because I am a good American.  

God bless Obamacare.  Anything has got to be better than what we have now.

And God bless Congress.  May they defund themselves and collect future salaries in food stamps and school lunches.

See, I am recovering!

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