Last year when I was hospitalized for open heart surgery, I was very sick. I have not told a lot of people this, but by the time I went into the hospital, I believe I was very near death.
I had a heart attack in June 2016, but felt good afterwards. I was given some medication which I was to place under my tongue and allow my body to absorb it in the event of chest pain. In July and August I did not need to use that medication for chest pain, none at all. In September, though, I started experiencing some chest pain and maybe once a week I would need to use one of those pills. By November, when I went to the hospital for my heart surgery, I was using 5 or more of those pills every day. I was just hoping that I would be able to make it through the surgery.
I have always been a survivor, though. I am very strict on myself when it comes to recovering from sickness or from major medical procedures.
After my surgery, I spent a couple of days in the ICU. After I was awake and well enough to reason and to talk, my nurses would be urging me to just rest, take it easy and such. Of course, right after surgery the patient must rest and take it easy. I told my nurse, though, that I am a survivor and I know how to recover. I am sure that she just agreed with me and kind of chuckled, thinking it was the drugs talking, or I was just blabbering. But, it is true. I do know how to recover, and I push myself hard when it comes to recovery.
After only 2 days, I was sent from the ICU to my regular hospital room. Other patients who were in ICU even before I was there were still in ICU when I went to my room. I believe that is because I pushed myself to recover.
The morning after I returned to my hospital room, when I woke up, I asked my wife where my shoes were. She pointed to them and asked me why I wanted my shoes. I told her that I would be going walking. I was determined that I would put my shoes on, get my IV on a portable pole that I could push around, and go walk around the hospital. She was surprised, but she did not interfere with my wishes.
After getting ready, I headed out into the hallway of the hospital, the intern of my surgeon happened to round the corner of the hallway, and saw me! She was shocked! “What are you doing, are you already out of bed?” Yep, I was, and I was going for a walk. She did not say anything, just sent me on my way. But, she must have informed my rehab nurse, because that nurse came and visited me later that day and told me that I was not to exercise in any way without her being present.
When she told me that I had to wait for her to be present for any walking or other exercise, I asked her what time we would do it the next day. She said that she would be at my room at 9 AM. I told her that I would be waiting for her. The next morning, it was 9 AM, and I told my wife that I wanted to walk up to the veranda (not far from my room) and sit outside while waiting for the rehab nurse. She got there a short time later, and she did not complain that I had walked to the veranda to wait for her!
I do stuff like this, because of my hard hotheadedness when it comes to recovering. It is important for me. I don’t like to wait around for others to tell me what I should do, I decide what I think I can handle and what I need, and I do it. Ever heard the saying that “it is easier to get forgiveness than permission?” That is my motto!
One of the things that I force on myself is that whatever amount of exercise I do today, tomorrow I have to do more. If I exercised 15 minutes on day 1, then on day 2 I need to do 30 minutes, and so on. It has always worked well for me. In addition to my heart attack and heart surgery in 2016, I had a stroke in 2001, and this was my same strategy.
When I was released from the hospital, the hospital staff said that of all of their heart surgery patients, nobody had ever been released as quickly as I was sent home.
When I had the stroke, I was not able to walk when I went home from the hospital. I also could not talk very well. The day after I got home, my wife bought a walker for me so that I could slowly learn to walk again. The doctors had told me that I may never walk again. The day that my wife bought the walker, I used it, and did pretty well with it! Within about 3 or 4 days of using the walker, I threw it aside and said that I would never use it again, and I started walking unassisted. Within days I was doing all kinds of exercise. A few months down the road I started daily swimming. Within a year or so, I had fully recovered from the stroke, and people did not know that I had ever had a stroke, my recovery was that complete.
Now, post-heart surgery, I have fully recovered again. People who don’t know that I had a heart problem would never be able to guess it, unless they saw the big scar on my chest. I feel great, and I am able to function better than I have in many years.
If you suffer a health setback, my advice to you is that you should take charge of your recovery. Push yourself, within reason. Don’t wait for others to tell you what to do. Tell yourself what you are going to do to recover and do it! This has paid off well for me.