Friday, June 26, 2015

The Sequel. And Braggin' Rights

This was The Normanator's first  "outing" following his 3 way heart bypass procedure!
The man you see  here, flanked by a couple of trained and highly skilled professionals holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture from the University of Nebraska.  He has taught school; he managed farms and worked as a surveyor.  He did appraisal work, he served admirably in the United States Army.  He painted houses  to keep body and soul together and raised three of the finest young men you'll ever meet.
Together, he and I built something of an "empire" when we represented a company who dealt in health products.  We always declared we really got an education while we worked with them.  We learned a great many things about water, air, food, sleep and people! We even learned about our selves!

I mention all this because The Normanator's excursion through the Nebraska Heart Institute was a real top notch education and it came even though we did not expect to learn SO MUCH in such a short time.

There is always much to be learned, no doubt.  But I was in for a real awakening  when I was "just an innocent bystander" to the proceedings.

The very first thing I learned was that an epidural would not only be appropriate for laboring mommies; it would be a wonderful adjunct to The Normanator's recovery.  It kept him as comfortable as possible in order for him to cough, following the surgical procedure!  That's an important component to recovery.  No one wants to suffer with pneumonia while recuperating;  it's critical to cough!

I was busily tending to Norm's needs-reaching tissues, cleaning his glasses and just acting the role of the wife when the Registered Nurse and Pod Leader, Nicolette, sashayed into the room with her usual cheerful demeanor.  She made some small talk and then turned to me: "I'm sending you to Cardiac Camp!" she announced with authority.

Hm...the little girl in me immediately (and incorrectly) presumed I was being disciplined. But I dutiful appeared for Cardiac Camp at the appointed time and place, pen in hand for taking notes.
Besides yours truly, there was a motley assortment of patients in varying stages of recovery lining the room's perimeter.   Family members of folks who were having surgery at that time sat in on the Camp and there was one woman who had  heart surgery long ago but was there on that occasion to help a relative. 

Registered Nurse and Pod Leader, Kevin Mendenhall, was the instructor that day.  He introduced himself, gave us the long list of his impressive credentials and put us all at ease with his sense of humor and easy manner.  He gave us the lowdown about what to expect from the patient and from ourselves through the process of hospitalization and recovery.

We were given a binder, a cook book and sheets of information about diet, exercise, symptoms -- where to call and when to call---it was all very reassuring and there would be no reason to feel abandoned after we got home and all those professionals were not at the end of a call button.  I was grateful to be a part of this and it was good to share what I had assimilated with The Normanator.

One at a time, a legion of Respiratory Therapists appeared every 4 hours during every 24, day and night to administer breathing treatments.  They were all educators of the first order, sharing tidbits of what worked well with using the nebulizer for medicines to keep the lungs open.  They talked about why they became the professionals they were.  They shared stories about their families which helped us to really understand lung function and treating the body well to encourage squeezing quality right out of the air we breathe!  They encouraged both of us.  They even gave Norm a PICKLE:

This is an adorable gadget.  When he blows into it, the silly thing vibrates and makes a fluttering sound, much like a child talking to a running room fan!  Those vibrations match the vibrational rate of his lungs and help to loosen mucus.  This is very helpful!

The team assured us that Cardiac Rehab was in the works and it would begin in 6 weeks post surgery.  They got that a little wrong...he was two weeks ahead of schedule when he reported to the local hospital's Cardiac Rehab specialist, Dee Othmer, RN.  She is like one of our family already!

So know you have the overview of how the whole process took place.  We have taken out braggin' rights on the entire Nebraska Heart  Institute and all the professionals there.  They deserve no less.

Connie Baum

PS/When I tell you that EVERYONE was helpful I want to share this example:  Hospital rooms are notoriously chilly by nature.  One chilly morning a gentle man came to mop the floor.  He started on the wall farthest from the door and cleaned his way to the opening to the room.  When he finished, he leaned on the handle of the mop and asked, "Is there anything I can do for you?"  I teasingly suggested he could warm the room.  He smiled, nodded and disappeared.  Seconds later he returned, carrying a warmed blanket for me!  *I ask you, "Is it any wonder we have claimed braggin' rights?"

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