Up and around

There’s a whiteboard in every ICU room with spaces where they fill in important info, like the name of the nurse and nurse tech, today’s date, family member contact, and the goal for today.

No one has been filling in the goals for me – in fact, they often don’t fill in the staff names or change the date, which really bugs me.

So yesterday I had Tom write on the board for my goals: 1) Poop. 2) Take a walk.

If you’ve ever had general anesthesia you will understand the first goal.

The second goal was important to me, as I knew it would help with everything, from constipation to appetite to mood.

But taking a walk is not a small thing when you’re a neurosurgery ICU patient. You’re hooked up to monitors, IVs, and the cerebral fluid drain. That drain has to be kept at a certain level to control the rate at which the fluid drains.

Yesterday the nurses wouldn’t take me for a walk even though I begged. They were busy, and it was too complicated. Maybe the brain fluid wasn’t ready either.

Today Tom changed the first goal to “Sara visit!” She was in Atlanta, and brought a pile of goodies – unsweetened grapefruit juice, decoration in the form of a Thanksgiving pilgrim couple, the mail including cards already arriving from friends, a pile of pretty-picture magazines.

I had a sponge bath and tucked my scuzzy, matted hair into a hair net to look presentable for this important visitor, and she squealed with delight to see me.

“You look great! It’s amazing!” she exclaimed. I don’t look great, of course, but it’s all relative. Compared to a dead or near-dead person, and considering that I had a hole cut in my head on Monday, I look pretty good.

Finally, I got to take a walk. It’s not usual to do that so soon after brain surgery (four days), but I was more than ready for it.

I’m determined to beat the curve – to be out of here in less than the standard two weeks. When I had a hysterectomy eight years ago, I literally set a record for getting out of that hospital.

Getting up and around allowed me to see how much better off I am than the other patients on this floor. Most of the rooms seem very dark and still, stationed with family members whose faces are already full of grief.

I walked. And was really grateful that I can.

Today’s penny is a 2015 because my goal is to be out of here before the year is out.