Meanderings of the heart: out of ICU

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webmaster | 01/14/14
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This is the second of a two-part series by Tribune columnist Leon Emo on his 23-day stay in the hospital in December. He will resume his Wednesday and Friday “Musings” as soon as he is able. — Ed.

After 10 days in the Cardio-Vascular Intensive Care Unit, I was transferred to a regular room. It had been a relief to get the ventilator and the many other tubes and wires detached from this aching body. The transfer had been accomplished by gurney with staff lowering the side rails (did they think I was going to get out of bed and run off?) and sliding me across to the rolling table.

Upon the change of scenery, a nurse came in to administer medication. I still had wires and a monitor connected to my heart and lungs and three IV tubes, called a PICC line (Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter) sticking out of my upper right arm where they could inject (without pain) certain drugs and draw blood. On my own for the first time, I struggled to raise myself up in bed. It was then I felt sharp pains in my ribs and sternum. Sitting up, I coughed and doubled over with the hurt. It was then the kind nurse said, “Don’t worry it’s from your broken ribs and cracked sternum from all the CPR in Emergency.”

She then added, “Oh yes, and that cough is good because you developed pneumonia, probably from being on your back so long.” Just wonderful, I thought, and coughed in agony again.

It was Sunday, Dec. 15. My gal and my son, Michael, arrived and we watched the 49er game together. Though I tired quickly afterward and closed my eyes my gal was still there when I awoke. My son had left to write another update to send to all my email addresses. And, as had become the norm, the good Dr. Robert Chambers popped in, checked my vitals and nurse reports and offered words of encouragement...

 

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