23 March 2015

The Walking (un)Dead

Over the weekend, I was reminiscing with Matt about the difficulty I had walking right after open-heart surgery. The physical-therapy team came in and forced me up and out and around the nurse's station. It was torture. I joked then that, if they really want to get a terrorist to confess, all they had to do was perform open-heart surgery then make him get up and walk. At that moment I would have told them I shot Kennedy, if they asked; that's how horrible it was.

Each day, the nurse came in and made three little squares on my personal white board. Next to the three squares, she had written "walk 3x/day." (see photograph) I had to take three walks that day. One square would be marked out when I took one walk until all three were checked off. The same routine was followed each day I was in the hospital.

Three times a day a nurse would come in. "Ready for your walk?" I always answered "no" but still got up and did it. One day I was so exhausted I flat-out refused to walk. The nurse wasn't happy, but she understood.

About four days into my hospital stay, I was taking one of my torture walks and encountered a man who was undergoing the same torture as me, but moving slightly faster and appearing to not be in as much pain.

My ICU floor had patients who had had heart surgery (like me) or lung surgery. I asked my nurse whether this guy (who I actually referred to as "Speedy Gonzales") had had the same procedure I had, thinking that it would bode well for me.

My nurse explained that he was an esophageal cancer patient and had a lung transplant. This meant they took out his esophagus (the thing food flows down to the stomach) and switched out his lungs. Clearly, a much more serious procedure than my little heart surgery.

At that moment, I resolved to walk three times a day or more if I could and not complain a bit. I mean, seriously, if this man (who looked to be my age) could be up and walking in his condition, then who am I to complain? 

After that, on several occasions, I got myself up and started my walk unassisted. I then proudly (but slowly) marched back into my room and checked off one of the boxes.

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