We will get to the setbacks in a minute. But as the week progressed things did get better. After a few nights and a few less tubes in my body, I was told that I was doing too well to stay in the CTICU and that I was being moved to the “Step Down,” unit.
I was familiar with the Step Down unit as that was where I spent a day and a half before all hell broke loose and balloons and surgeons and bypasses become a major part of my life. Leaving the ICU means you are getting better, but it was bittersweet as I had to leave the most amazing group of nurses behind in the ICU.
Having been in the Step Down unit prior to the surgery I recognized a few faces upon my return. One thing I love about nurses is that in addition to all their knowledge and care they give, is that they are human. They have emotions just like the rest of us, some show it more than others, and some patients are better at bringing those emotions out.
As I was being brought to the Step Down unit I can remember the faces on every nurse that I encountered. The ones that didn’t remember me just smiled and went on their way but there were a handful that recognized me with a face that read, “Holy shit, you’re alive?”
My wife, mother and brother were there to help move me into my new room. I still had my yellow “Fall Risk” bracelet and my yellow socks on and set about getting rid of those immediately. For those of you that don’t know the yellow means that a patient can’t walk around by themselves or even get out of bed without the aid of a nurse. The beds even have alarms, which I learned the hard way when I tried to stand up without permission and was greeted by a loud noise which had nurses running to see if I had escaped. I had not, I was just trying to pick the underwear out of my buttcrack.
At the first sight of the physical therapist I hatched my plan to get that bracelet off and move on from the shackles of the yellow socks.
“Would you like to try and walk?”
I answered in the affirmative before she could finish her sentence. We took a loop around the Step Down wing, then another. When she came back hours later we did it again, and we even did a few stairs. When we returned to the room I asked her about the socks and bracelet, and while she didn’t take them off, she said that I did great and she didn’t see why I couldn’t move on to the coveted “blue socks.”
So she didn’t say no. So when the nurse arrived I informed her of the good news. Asked her to cut off the bracelet and take these yellow weights off of my feet. She looked a bit puzzled but I was convincing, and away they went.
The alarms were deactivated from the chair and bed and I felt great. Another nurse brought me the blue socks, which were actually gray, but whatever, I was free to move around and that felt great. Next step, home.
Not so fast. I was only able to sleep two hours a night, so to fill that time the next morning I was starting to pack my stuff as I was sure they were releasing me. Just then I felt light headed, dizzy and not in the fun way. The nurses checked up on me and it was clear. I needed blood, and a lot of it. So a blood transfusion was ordered.
It took awhile for the blood transfusion to take effect, it is an odd feeling to have other human being’s blood travel through your veins. I had the same issue the next morning. More blood had to be transfused into my body and we had to wait. When my wife and family left that night I was feeling a bit defeated.
Will I ever get out of this place?