This post is going to be a mish-mosh of emotions and feelings because there were things that I wanted to say when I was in the hospital but didn't want to blog while I was still high on pain meds and sedatives.
First of all, I want to thank everyone for all of your prayers, good thoughts, tweets, emails, comments, facebook posts, etc. I was not in a good state in the hospital so I did not respond to most of them, but I did read them and appreciated every single one. Secondly, I want to give a shoutout to two sweet friends and thank Little Miss Can't Be Wrong and Jordan for guest blogging for me while I was in the hospital.
This was a piece of cake for me. I was told to get to the hospital one day before for testing. Since I was going to be spending the night in the hospital, I assumed there would be complex things like stress tests and MRIs and Lord knows what else involved. Nope. They just took my vital signs and blood and urine. And that's it. Not really sure why I had to spend the night in the hospital for just that, but ok. We got really lucky and I was given a private room. It had a little table and two chairs in it and we were able to sit there and play games and stuff at the table. I came too late for lunch but was given dinner. Unlike in America, dinner is a very small meal in Germany. The smallest of the day. I had mentioned to the nurses that I don't eat pork so my meal consisted of a pad of butter, 2 slices of bread, 2 slices of cheese, a hard-boiled egg, and a pickle. I also don't eat eggs because they make me vomit. The cheese was pretty gross actually so I just ate the pickle. It was delicious. (You have to appreciate the irony of me going into a hospital for heart disease and being given a pickle as my dinner.) Obviously, this was not enough food, so TLS was tasked with a food run. He brought back McChicken sandwiches and fries. Completely heart healthy. Hey- the nurse saw nothing wrong with it. She came by with a single-blade razor and some shaving cream and told me I needed to shave my bikini area because that's where the catheter would go into. She then asked if I needed help shaving. (Ummm. No thank you.) This meant that my husband also had to run out and find a pharmacy to buy me a real razor. This was also my first time in the hospital. I had a hard time falling asleep because I was in the Pediatrics ward. My room shared a wall with a room that had three cribs in it. Two out of those three cribs were occupied by screaming infants.
Days 2-5: (writing this up as one entry because I lost all sense of date and time when I was in there and can't tell you which day was which)
I was not allowed to eat or drink anything past midnight the night before. (I had some last-minute peanut M&Ms at 11:59pm.) I woke up hungry and cranky. A nurse came by and said that an ambulance was on its way to take me to the surgery building. Insert panic and lots of hugs with my Teddy and Snoopy. The ambulance came and that was NOT an easy ride. I would have much preferred to walk into the ambulance rather than be wheeled in a stretcher. We got to the surgery building. More panic. Some tears. Got wheeled into the OR and was asked to change out of my pajamas and into a white gown. (I guess in German hospitals, the patients can wear whatever they want and the hospitals don't provide gowns for all the patients. Good thing I had brought my own pajamas!) After I changed, the doctors told me that they were going to give me a local anesthetic, put in the catheter, look around, and then when they were ready to put the stent in, they would put me to sleep. I said no. I want to be sedated right away. I did not want to see or have any recollection of the whole process. The last thing I remember is squeezing my husband's hand.
When I woke up, I was in excrutiating pain and babbling incoherently. Something about Hummers and asking who was in the canoe. (Apparently, the very first thing I said to my husband when I woke up was "where is my Teddy bear?" That can't possibly surprise anyone.) While I was in surgery, an infectious patient came in who needed a private room, so I was switched into a room with three beds in it. I woke up in a strange room completely disoriented. Less than 10 minutes after I was brought back into my new room, my husband's CO stopped by with three of his five children. I was still writhing in pain and screaming at this point, so he did not even make it past the door.
(At this point, I should mention that for catheters, they usually go through your right femoral artery. When the doctors made the incision, they noticed that my right femoral artery had started closing up and was too closed to put the catheter in. So the doctors had to stitch that up and go in through my left side. I got double the hematomas and double the pain.)
All I wanted to do was go to the bathroom, but the nurses told me that I was not allowed to move for 25 hours to avoid tearing my stitches. On the one hand, I was in too much pain to move at all. On the other, I am one of those people who cannot sit still for very long, so having to lay down in an uncomfortable bed (with a rubber sheet no less- Pediatrics ward and all!) for that long was pure torture for me. I was finally given some food and attacked my lunch. I swear, those boiled noodles (no salt, no sauce) were pretty much the greatest thing that I have ever eaten in my entire life! Also, after complaining about how cold it was all summer long, the German weather finally decided to "cooperate" and warmed up. Lovely except the hospital (much like the rest of Germany) did not have air conditioning and I was covered in layers of gauze and bandages. I was sweaty and itchy and feeling all around gross. I begged the nurse for some ice chips and found out that there was not a single cube of ice anywhere in the hospital. Seriously. Apparently frozen water is an American specialty???
The next few days were kind of a blur for me. I was so hot and in so much pain that I spent most of the time sleeping hoping that it would make me feel better. I did not eat much because I was just so uncomfortable and in so much pain. After the first day, the pain in my chest went away. The pain in my legs, not so much. When I was finally allowed to stand up, it took two or three nurses to help me and it hurt so bad, I nearly started to cry! Another thing I was not prepared for- how big my bruises would be. It looks like I'm wearing green, blue, purple, and yellow tie-dye boyshorts. Gross. I was freaked out and called the nurse over who told me that that is perfectly normal and I'm going to look like that for the next 3 weeks. Lovely. I ended up having to stay an extra day in the hospital because we live in a three story walk-up and the doctors didn't want me to walk much or do anything physical. (When we told the doctor that we live on the 3rd floor, he said "oh that's ok, just use the lift." We had to explain to him that we don't have one.) Most people post-cath use their good leg to lean on and help them get around. Since I had stitches in both legs, I didn't have that option. I was finally discharged yesterday and the drive home and walk up the stairs was horrible. It hurts to put any kind of my pressure pretty much anywhere below my hips so even sitting up hurts. Since then, I have spent most of my time in bed catching up on blogs and reading my Kindle. And napping. I have to go get my stitches taken out on the 30th and I am already dreading that like the plague. I can't get my stitches wet so I can't shower for 2 more days which again does not make me very happy. (Have I mentioned it's 90 degrees outside and we don't have air conditioning?!) I just want my life to return to normal. A sweet friend brought us over dinner last night which I devoured. Thankfully, I am eating again. Unfortunately, I won't be cooking for a while. TLS went to the commissary and bought me a lot of non-perishable snacks (granola bars, trail mix, nuts, etc.) to keep in our room so I don't have to leave it to get food. Our kitchen is downstairs and there is no way I'm going back down those stairs! Also, as a post-op side effect, I have developed a love of juice boxes. (That was what I was given every day I was in there with my meals.) I have consumed probably 4 or 5 packets of Capri-Sonne within the past few days.