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  • Writer's pictureToni O'Connor

Adventures in the Hospital

This originally ran in The Winchester Star on August 1, 2016.

When he was moved from the recovery room, he was sent to an ICU step-down room. Due to the pain medication, things were coming out of his mouth that unmedicated he wouldn’t say. (At least in polite society.)

Before the transplant, many people, including one of the surgeons at UVA, told him that when he awoke he would feel better immediately. When Esme, Pete, and I got to the room one of the first things he said was, “So much for what people told me about feeling better immediately. I feel like (expletive deleted.)”

Not long after a young resident came in to check on him. The doctor introduced himself whereupon Adrian said loudly, “Where’s Kelly? Dr. Vranic. I want Kelly. I like Kelly!” (She is the transplant coordinating doctor and her name is actually Gayle.) The resident said, “Well, she’s home. She can’t be here all the time. She’ll see you tomorrow.” My husband’s response was, “Well, she’d better! I like her.”

The next exchange was Adrian saying, “Where are the dancing girls? I’m gonna need some entertainment in here.” The doctor’s response; “I see we have a comedian here!” Adrian’s reply: “Not usually.”

The doctor began to take his leave with this remark, “Mr. O’Connor, you’ll feel much better in the morning.” The reply this time, “I’d *@#& well better as much as we pay you people!” On that note, the poor man left.

The next day was an endless round of people from the transplant team educating us on what to expect and how to get along after transplant. The one that stands out the most is the one I call “The Oracle.” She was the dietician who looked about 19. Rachel, her actual name, spent a lot of time “explaining” to us what a protein was. I wanted to explain to her that we had four degrees between us and knew what a protein was. I refrained.

We did think that after surgery his diet would be unrestricted. He would move out of the land of unhappiness. “Not so,” explained “The Oracle”. The restrictions are just different. She also explained that we should try to never, ever eat out again. Ever. More on that later.

That evening he was transferred from the luxury (it truly was nice) of the step-down unit to a regular room on the transplant floor. It wasn’t good ole Winchester Medical Center; it meant a room less than half the size of the one he left… and a roommate. One whose cell phone rang a lot.

On Saturday Adrian was off trying to produce what has to be produced after surgery before you can be discharged. I was alone on our side of the curtain. A gentleman in scrubs came in, nodded and went to the other side.

From there I heard the following exchange: “Good morning, Mr. S. I am Jason, the physical therapist. Have you had a walk today?” “Nope.” “Do you think we could take one?” “Sure.” “Do you have anything on under there?” “Nope.” “Where are your pants?” “I don’t know.” “Did you have pants when you came in?” “Yep.” “Well, where did they go?” “I don’t know. I hope my wife will bring me some. I’m supposed to be released today.” “Well, is there a gown around here somewhere?” “Yep.” The gown was recovered and the wife did bring pants later.

The next person to speak to us was Lisa, the nurse practitioner. One of the things she asked us was if we had any questions. We told her about our conversation with “The Oracle” and asked if it were true that we should never eat out again. Because, as I explained to her, if that were true then they should not have scheduled our return visit the next Tuesday during a time period that stretched over breakfast AND lunch. Lisa said, “Well, there is best practice and then there is real life.”

Good to know.

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