Monday, 2 September 2013

I want my ME TV.

The days were flying by quickly for me on the REHAB Floor of BELLEVUE and the days seamlessly turned into weeks.
I went with the flow and in no time had formulated a routine.
The Night shift Nurse's Aids would wake me up, help me get washed and dressed  around Five  Forty Five AM.  Breakfast was typically served between seven fifteen and seven forty five, and then Speech Therapy followed with a session from eight thirty to nine or nine Fifteen. from there,I'd have Occupational Therapy from Nine Thirty to ten thirty,followed by Physical Therapy from Ten Thirty to eleven thirty. Lunch was served back in my room  at Eleven Thirty , allowing  me time to lay low until Twelve Thirty PM. From Twelve Thirty until One Thirty,I had, group Occupational Therapy, followed by another instalment of regular Occupational Therapy until Two Thirty. I'd then conclude each day with a final hour of Physical Therapy,getting me back to my room by Three Forty Five.
From Four to Nine Pm everyday,my room was a revolving door for a Hodge Podge of friends,family and acquaintances paying a visit.  I pretty much welcomed all who was welcome to take the time and energy to come see me. However, I asked that everyone, and anyone who made the trip, to make a pit stop at the Au BU Pan in the Hospital lobby and grab a Large  Decaf Iced Coffee. Due to the Heart precautions that I was regulated to,I wasn't yet allowed to consume much Caffeine,so the Iced Coffee was the one thing that I looked forward to each day.  I would rarely eat the Dinner that Bellevue provided,so I mostly relied on family to bring me  more nutritious selections.
My numerous guests would normally all clear out  by Eight Thirty each night, allotting me some daily Television Time. The Hospital Television channels were basically restricted to a basic eight or so stations,no cable. But it did carry a station, called,ME TV. IN my mind,ME TV is like a poor man's version of NICK AT NITE or TV LAND. The station carries, syndicated reruns of  The BOB NEWHART show,MASH,  The MARY TYLER MOORE Show, and other classic Television shows from the 1950's to 80's.
It was easy to get used to falling asleep to that channel.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

A Screaming Banshee,Ramen and Brown Sugar.

With no further delay, I finally transferred to the rehab floor,and began the ever going saga of Therapy on February 1st,2012.This time around I was assigned to a roommate,but that was short lived. Due to the fact that I had logged in so many visitors on the ICU Floor,I  was granted a Private room and was moved there only after two days with a roommate. Rehab in BELLEVUE was a three tier Attack on Speech,Lower Left Extremities (Foot and Leg) and Upper  Left extremities. (Arm and Hand).
My Speech Therapist was a Cherubic gal,who left the ball in my court by providing me with Speech exercises to work on during my own time, instead taking time out of her  twice a week visits to work on them. With that being said,I reviewed my worksheets, lips, and Tongue exercises twice a day, every day.The primary goal of  BELLEVUE Physical Therapy was to get me walking again.
I made a pact with myself that I would out of the Hospital doors,not be wheeled out of them.
But that was still weeks away,so the first order of business was teach me how to use my Wheelchair.
Considering that I had a healthy and able body up until two weeks prior,tooling myself in a Chair was a new wrinkle for me. The hardest part for me was locking down the rhythm  of my right foot with my right hand.  Most people have either their hands or feet in sync when pedalling and navigating,but I only had my right foot and right hand. In those early Post Stroke days my left side was kind of useless. It some time for me to get the kinks out by crashing into Doors and walls,but I eventually became a seasoned pro in my Wheelchair. In fact, doing laps around the rehab floor and Hospital Lobby became my go to Exercise routine during my Residency at BELLEVUE. That first day in PT was difficult because I had  to stand up,try to balance for the first time,all the while trying to tune out the other patients who were doing their thing in the PT room. There was an Older woman in the opposite corner of the room,and she would begin to shriek off the the mere thought of being touched by her Therapist. The Therapist wouldn't even be next to her,and the screaming would be in full throttle.If I didn't see her reflection in the mirror,I would swear that a Banshee was in the room.
It was quite distracting and took laboured effort to ignore forty  five minutes of racket. I think it was safe to say that I was the youngest person in PT during that time slot.
Being that is two turns down the hall, the trip to the OT room was the ideal distance for me to  practice my Wheelchair skills.. Unlike the patients in physical Therapy,in Occupational Therapy I was surrounded by guys close to my age. Ramen was a slightly built Indonesian cat in his mid twenties.  His partner in crime was D'Angelo,a  mischievous ,young, Black man. Both of them suffered from  some sort of Brain Injury and now had deficits similar to mine. Given our closeness in age,I  was assigned to sit next to them during our Group,Occupational Therapy sessions.
The first moment he met me,D'Angelo told me that I looked like I listen to Eminem. I interpreted that as meaning,I look like a white guy with swagger. In our daily time together,I'd like to think that I brought the best out D'Angelo.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Not quite ready...

 As you can imagine,Post Stroke living  up in ICU on the tenth floor was much more difficult than it was when it was only post Dissection. For starters,I was pretty much restricted to a bed, Day Chair and  once in a Golden moment,the fold in toilet.  Being that my Heart, Brain and Nervous System were all put through the ringer within two weeks,Bowel Movements weren't easy to come by. Liquid Laxatives, Pills,OIL, Prune Juice suppositories,we tried and failed,and tried and failed some more-anything to get this boy to  make a NUMBER TWO.  I felt like I was in a Metamucil commercial with Wilford Brimley. Finally, after close to a week of trying to make the magic come to fruition,I completed my task while I was asleep in bed. I was quickly approaching a month stay in the country's oldest Hospital,when I received word that the time had come for me to transfer down to the sixth floor to begin my rehabilitation. The start of some sort exercise being back in my life would do wonders for my mind,body and soul,and I yearned to be fortunate enough to have that.
Anyway,I was all packed up ready to make the move downstairs,I was just waiting for the transport Orderly to show up and formerly escort me there.
Either I was disoriented by the anticipation of waiting for the orderly or I suffered a mini stroke,but something recognizably confused me,and that was the Catalyst  for me being suspended up in ICU FLOOR for two extra days.

Monday, 1 July 2013

NEVER alone for too long.

ONCE I was allowed to eat and drink again,it was all downhill from there.
The first thing to return Post STROKE was movement in the left side of my face.
Finally,I could  chew,talk and make funny faces, all of which were my favorite things to do as a boy.
A cherubic Speech Therapist worked with me to make sure I was properly exercising my lips,Tongue and cheeks.With the help of a Tooth Brush,and Tongue Compressor anything was possible.
if only my left hand arm cooperated as well as the face did. The arm/hand took much longer and much more work to come back around. My Father would place a rubber ball or squeeze Toy in the Palm of my left hand and  it would just roll out. At best,the visiting Physical Therapist could get me to stand up for 10 seconds.
It felt like all i did for 10 days straight was eat,sit around, interact with Doctors,Nurses and Therapists and host the myriad of visitors who dropped by my ICU  room at the HOTEL BELLEVUE.
Most of my visiting  friends  and family members would  enter my room with a decaf iced Coffee in hand for me. By the time of my discharge after 9 and a half weeks in Bellevue,I must have tallied way over a 100 different visitors and consumed at least 300 decaf Iced Coffees.

Monday, 24 June 2013

More ice chips,please?

No longer in a Step Down room,I was  demoted to a standard ICU room and once again,I found myself hooked up to a smorgasbord of wires,and tubes.
The morning after the Stroke,I woke to the sight of my MOTHER and HEART SURGEON holding hands and crying together. At that point,I couldn't move my fingers,hands, feet or legs. And it ended up being a Month until I could move my fingers and six months for wiggling my toes.
Due the swelling in my Brain,the only form of food or drink that I was allowed for 4 days was a limited amount of Ice chips. A family Member or Friend would place a spoonful in my Moth every four hours  and that would be it for nourishment. Finally, late on the fourth day,a cherubic Speech Pathologist administered a Swallow Test. The Test determined if I possessed the ability and control to swallow or not. Passing it would bring me back to the Promise land of Diner food and Fresca, failing would limit me to a I V Smorgasbord.  Of course,I passed the test of GRAHAM Crackers with flying colours. Almost five days with no food and limited drink,pushed me to make for lost time. By week's end,I was averaging a box of Melba Toast a day.

Thursday, 20 June 2013


As of Sunday the Blood Thinners appeared to have finally stabilized My Blood I&R level. The Consensus was that I would be home bound by Tuesday the latest. Anticipating it might be my last supper at Bellvue,I had my family order me a Turkey Burger from the Sun Flower Diner,my favorite Manhattan Diner. I  topped off my meal with entertainment in the form of watching the Golden Globe Awards. I was in luck because  the Hospital TV set only picked regular Channels. I managed to remain awake for my of the Meaty TV awards,but by 10 pm,I started to dose off. What I took for tiredness was actually weakness, so during a routine Nurse's visit,  my slurred speech was her spot on give away that I suffered a Stroke.  A Blood Clot had Attacked the right side of my Brain,severely effecting my Left side. By midnight,I was once again on the Surgical table. However,this time I wasn't has lucky as I was two weeks prior. They were able to contain the Brain swelling that was caused by the Clot,but they weren't able patch up the Clot all together.
Later that night or earlier that next morning, a weekend, fresh out of MED SCHOOL, Neurology RESIDENT shared his assessment with my Parents and Uncle. He swore to them,"your Son will never walk, use his left hand or swallow again"  With that,MY Mother replied with,"YOU Stay from my SON and never show your face at his room again. To make matters worse,the Stroke caused me to lose a patch of hair from the spot on my Scalp where the Clot spit it's Venom.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Doc,will my Dick work okay?

I was rapidly becoming the Mayor of the ICU FLOOR. And I now held the equivalent to the key to the city;Authorization to shower in the Doctor's private showers/locker room. It was now the Friday morning of the 2nd week of my residency at BELLVUE HOSPITAL MEDICAL CENTER and I was transferred to a Step Down room. STEP DOWN  rooms are the most Medically liberal rooms on all of the ICU Floor and the last step before being discharged from the joint.
Upon returning to my new room from what felt like the best shower in the world,I was greeted by friends,Toby and Adam. They surprised me by flying in from LA. A brief break from their band,H20 playing their special brand of HARDCORE music around the world,allowed the boys to help their pal get through the biggest test of his life.Coupled with anticipation of going home in 3 to 4 days,Toby and Adam, dumped a dose PMA (POSITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDE) into the IV that was tapped into my left arm. See, five days prior to suffering from my Dissection,TOBY and I both had the letters LYD (LIVE YOUR DASH) on our bodies. The dash is the space on a TOMBSTONE that symbolizes the years that a individual lives. And now I as fighting to keep mine flowing. WHO WOULD  HAVE THOUGHT?  LIFE is so PRECIOUS and IRONIC!
A few more of Toby's pals swung by and my good friend,Ben Lynn made it a point to use his lunch break to join in on the festivities as well. BY the time,Doctor D and his team made their last rounds before the weekend break,there was a practically a drug/booze free party in Full Effect in my Step Down room. My SUPER Surgeon and his team basically paid me a visit so that they could prepare me for the next 3 months of at home recovery.The Good Doctor crystal clearly explained that  3 months of no activity besides walking, sudden bursts of depression and  a loss of appetite were all to be expected. My Aorta was fixed by starting with an Incision nearby an Artery in my Groin,so naturally,  I was concerned about Sex. Of Course,I bluntly asked,"DOC,will by Dick work okay?"
I guess I was a little surprised to hear,"yes,you'll be just fine down there".Saturday began with Oatmeal with Toby and Adam, followed by two days of visits from various filmmaker/Actor pals, my Brother IN Law  and John Joseph,The toughest Vegan you'll ever know.