So I was talking this week with my parents, who remember the polio epidemics of the 40s and 50s. Each summer the virus would flare up in different cities and regions. When there were outbreaks in a particular locality, movie theaters and bowling alleys would shut down, and swimming pools and beaches would be closed. It seems to me the present situation is not unlike a polio outbreak where the air is a swimming pool, the entire country is a movie theater.
11/26/2019 and Beyond: Aftermath
Although I had been discharged, that wasn’t the end of the recovery process. As previously noted, I had to stay on the nimodipine for another three weeks, which meant waking up every four hours to take two gigantic pills. I’ve never had so many alarms set on my phone in my life. (The tone I chose for these alarms was the “Barking Dog” sound, because that was the least jolting one I could find. After 20 years of having dogs around, you get used to all the barking.) Annoyingly, my “hip flask” refused to adhere to the same schedule as my medication, so in between the times when my phone was barking at me, I had to get up at odd hours to empty that thing out. As a result I didn’t get more than two or three consecutive hours of sleep for nearly a month, and I doubt my wife did either.
Saturday 11/16/2019 – Monday 11/18/2019: Telemetry
Once I was well enough to leave ICU, the hospital transferred me to the “step-down unit”, also called Telemetry. (If you never heard of a unit called “Telemetry”, you’re not the only one.) I was moved by wheelchair on Saturday evening, schlepping most of my stuff—my blanket and pillow from home, the get well cards I had accumulated, the posters made by our friends’ daughter, pictures of the animals, and, of course, Substitute Charlee—on my lap. The rest of the stuff was transported in a bag by a courier, A.K.A. my wife.
Monday 11/11/2019 – Saturday 11/16/2019: ICU
I was in the ICU for a total of nine days while they kept my blood pressure very tightly controlled and checked me daily for vasospasms. (They got a concerning doppler reading one time, so off I went with Substitute Charlee for another CT scan; it did show vasospasms were occurring, but I remained asymptomatic, and scanned clean the next day.) My cousins and a few friends continued to drop by to keep me company, which was nice, and I had a series of terrific ICU nurses to take care of me. After a few days in ICU they decided to take out my IV and put in a subclavian PICC line, so they could administer medications and draw blood without having to stick me all the time. That was a relief, although the process of getting it put in was far from fun. Once the PICC line was there I mostly forgot about it; funny what you can get used to when you have to, and when the alternative is multiple jabs with sharp pointy objects.
Saturday & Sunday, 11/9/2019-11/10/2019: ICU
As noted in previous installments, I spent a lot of time on Thursday and Friday being unconscious or semi-conscious, and I wasn’t enjoying it very much. When I had been passed out in the living room on Thursday, and for the next several days after that, every time I fell asleep, I experienced very unusual dreams.
Friday 11/8/2019: ICU & Interventional Radiology
I remember a little more from Friday, the day after my aneurysm ruptured. Not a lot more, but a little. I woke up in the hospital with no real idea exactly where I was, how I had gotten there, or how long I would be staying. One of my cousins was in the room with me, and I remember being a little surprised by that. All my previous experiences of going to the emergency room (for stitches and kidney stones) had been that I was there for a number of hours and then got patched up and sent home. So why would I have a visitor? It was because this time I had been admitted with a ruptured brain aneurysm and was in ICU. I figured, okay, I’ll be here for a day or two and, and then get sent home, which turned out to be some seriously wishful thinking on my part.
Thursday 11/7/2019: Emergency Room & ICU
So November 7th, 2019, was the day I could have died three different ways before breakfast.