You know your viewpoint has narrowed when checking into a cardiac care unit feels like the pressure is lifted. They told us this morning they were going to discharge her right away, and it happened at 4 PM, which is record fast hospital time.
Yesterday ended up with everybody exhausted by four failed attempts at a PICC line, an IV that failed overnight, a reaction to one of the IV meds that caused her arm to look burned, and the other arm still sore from the last failed IV that infiltrated fluid and swelled her arm. The intrusive ENT people determined that a vocal cord was damaged (duh, she sounds like she's been smoking for ten years) but that it would probably heal by itself. She sounds better today and we have vetoed their idea to do "swallow studies." Another bit of hospital speak causes alarms to go off for us; if they say, "don't worry, it's not a big deal," don't believe it. They mean it's not a big deal for them!
Emily woke up in some pain. She realized that a component of the pain yesterday came from her reacting to the pain and having her blood pressure spike to 150/90, which exacerbated the headache. Last week's heart never got her blood pressure above 80/50, so the new heart is putting out more blood than she's ever felt. She consciously calmed herself and managed he pain while waiting for the meds to kick in. Then, in another feat of self-control, her stomach started to turn at a liquid medicine she had to take. She said that she was not going to puke, and she ate a few dry crackers and relaxed and the wave of nausea passed. Then she got up for a walking tour of the floor to keep her circulation and lungs working.
We packed up in the afternoon and waited for our new room to be readied. While Deb and I were out, they told her the room was ready. She got out of bed and walked out of the ICU, but the echocardiogram lady just arrived to do an echo. So two nurses, a lady pushing a cart with all our belongings, and the echo lady and her big equipment followed Emily through the twisting hallways of the 8th floor. Imagine how surprised Deb and I were when we got back to the room and it was empty! We've settled into a private room now and Emily is asleep.
I marvel at this wonderful gift of a new heart, especially when we see the echoes. It is working perfectly, but it must feel a bit worse than Emily does. It went through some type of horrible ordeal in the donor, then spent a few hours in a bucket of icewater, and then it was lovingly placed in a safe new home. Even now, it has no nervous connections to Emily, and it beats away at its default pace of about 95 beats per minute, now knowing how much it is appreciated by us all. Every year millions of people die of heart failure, and only a few thousand get another chance with a heart transplant. Among those, the matches are often not as good. We are sooooo lucky.