It was late Wednesday night, everyone was tired. My brother and mother had retired to the hotel while my wife and I quietly waited in my room. She wasn’t leaving until they took the giant hunk of plastic out of my neck. I couldn’t blame her, I’m sure, despite my best efforts to hide it, she could see the pain every time I moved my head.
After some delay my nurse swapped the neck apparatus for an IV line in my left arm and we could all exhale. We had now had all the elements assisting my insides removed, I junked the oxygen tubes that were living in my nostrils that afternoon.
I woke up early the next morning. I felt good. I got up on my own and walked around the room. Had breakfast and watched the news. Nurses popped in from time to time and seemed surprised I was up and in good spirits. The lightheadedness never appeared, I never got dizzy and when my family arrived I told them that I thought today was the day.
“Ok, before you get too excited we have a lot of things to check,” a nurse from the doorway.
I slumped into my chair, somewhat defeated before a second nurse came in and told me that I had no time for sitting down. I was off to get x-rays just after she was finished removing more blood from my body.
After a couple of chest x-rays and an electrocardiogram I was wheeled back into the hallway to wait for someone to push me back to the Step Down unit. I was tired, my voice was weak but my spirits were high --- speaking of spirits.
“What are you doing down here?”
My eyes opened, his voice was unmistakable and his presence was a balm for my soul.
“Doctor Shahani. I was getting x-rays.”
“How do you feel?”
“Are you ready to go home?”
“I think so.”
He told me he was going to go check the ECG and x-rays and let me know how they looked before we could make any decisions about going home. I waited on the bed, staring at the ceiling tiles.
After a few minutes I felt a hand on my shoulder. One of the hands responsible for fixing my dying heart, think about that for a second, the hands that saved my life were now resting on my shoulder. That is just one of the many things I have yet to process.
“Unbelievable, your heart is already functioning at 50 percent, a healthy heart operates at 60 percent, and you are already at 50 percent. Amazing.”
The doctor smiled, he looked just as tired as I felt, but his smile told me all I needed to know.
“You should be grateful that you had some Angels from above watching over you.”
“Nevermind the angels, I’m grateful I had you,” I answered.
I almost teared up as he walked away. Someone wheeled me back into the room and I shared the news with the family. I needed to sleep, but just as I was fading away the nurse came in and told me that they were beginning the release procedures.
We were all excited. The procedures included another walk, a few pills, the signing of some forms, and a shower. After being confined to a bed for over a week you can imagine how badly I needed a shower. Add the sweating, fluid intake and outtake and all those other glorious smells the human body produces and you can imagine the stench permeating from my pores. That, my dear friends, are why hospitals smell. It’s not the smell of death as most like to surmise, it is the smell of decay.
After the shower my wife helped me get dressed, we talked to some doctors, some nurses, signed some forms and just like that, they told us we could go home.
A nurse said to me, “We can bring you a wheelchair if you would like.”
I looked around the room, by now my wife, my mom, my brother and my uncle were all standing looking at me.
“Thanks, but I’m walking out of here.”
Everyone, including the nurse, smiled..