Tuesday, October 10, 2017
The man is looking good. He went for a follow-up MRI of his spine today, and I went with him. After the procedure, on the way out of the hospital, we saw one of the surgeons who assisted with his heart surgery. He and some other people in scrubs were wheeling a post surgical patient in a massive hospital bed with a forest of blinking, beeping monitors and tubes and wires and IV poles attached, to the ICU. The doctor saw my husband in the hallway and said, "You're looking good! Are you back at the museum yet?" They were all fascinated by the fact that he is an ichthyologist. He was, for most of his medical team, the first ichthyologist they ever met. He just might be the only black ichthyologist in the United States, because he knows almost all the other ichthyologists, and yeah. My husband laughed and waved his cane at the surgeon, as if to indicate that he was not yet in fighting form, but getting there.
After they were out of sight he said, "Is that what I looked like after surgery?"
Yeah, buddy, exactly like that.
He is once again hard to keep up with when walking, his strides are so long, and his New York City default pace is kicking back in. All this is good. Last night, in bed, he remarked that he was not only getting better on the outside, he could feel his insides healing, too. Tonight, a box of limited vintage wines arrived, which he had ordered. Even though he can't drink any alcoholic beverage for another month or two, he had noticed that the stores were low and wanted to replenish them. These are things one only notices when more pressing concerns have abated. And then, he got down on one knee and restocked the wine fridge, bending his body to do so. With no pain. So good.
At his check-in with his main cardiologist yesterday, she adjusted his blood pressure meds slightly, and this evening, his numbers are perfect, according to the cheerfully talkative infusion nurse Daniel, who comes once a week to change the dressing of his PICC line and take his vitals. After Daniel left, we looked at each other and he said, "Is that it for the week? No more doctors, nurses, therapists, or medical tests?" That's it, I confirmed, the rest of the week is entirely yours. But you'll need to check your own blood pressure daily and walk, walk, walk as the cardiologist advised. I love his cardiologist. She's a feisty, bossy little woman, born on the same day (not year) as my husband. He listens to her. This is also good.
The twice daily IV infusions continue. He is now able to administer the medicine to himself, although it's easier when I do it. Still, he mostly performs the 10-step process by himself in the mornings and allows me to work, while I do the night shift. The infusion has to be slowly delivered over five minutes or more, so a timer is required, but the yellow liquid appears to be doing its job.
There will be other steps ahead—cardiac rehab, which cannot begin until six weeks after surgery, and further medical procedures, which must wait until three months post surgery. And then there's the appointment with the ENT doctor to check on his vocal chords. As soon as we made the appointment, his voice began showing signs of coming back. It's still raspy, but fuller and stronger, and maybe one day soon, I can finally exhale.
Thank you, everyone who sent prayers. Please don't stop. You are powerful, loving, and healing souls.