I'm Free!

Friday, November 6, 2009

I cannot believe it has been one month since I came out of surgery! I feel
great most of the time, but my body is so weak. I have a very short battery
life: physically and mentally. I got to the apartment at around 6:00 p.m., and I
was pretty exhausted from getting ready all day, and packing everything that
had accumulated in there over the past 54 days. I am so happy to be here it is
so normal, but unusual for me since the hospital had become normal and
secure to me.

Coming "home" yesterday was not without its obstacles. To begin with, a new
fellow (these are actual doctors who doing a type of internship in their area of
specialization) came into the room and informed me that he would now be
taking care of because the other fellow, whom I really liked, was on vacation.
This got off with me because it was my last day, and I didn’t want someone I
didn’t know discharging me. Plus, after almost seven weeks you get tired of
telling your story from the beginning. Next, another inpatient coordinator came
in to see me and said Cindy was on vacation as well. I felt the tears coming
from the back of my throat. Just a moment later a social worker came in, not
my social worker. Ahhh! That was it. Just as I lost Ashleigh came in the room,
and of course she began to talk to me and comfort me. Just a moment later
the fellow returned to take out my PICC line IV, and I had not calmed down.
Just a moment later Dr. Ventura entered with an entourage of doctors and
assistants. When he asked what was wrong, I just couldn’t get it together then
he said, “and don’t say ‘nothing’ like my wife.” At that time, Ashleigh asked
everyone to step out and leave us alone for moment. He came and sat next to
me in his black dress pants and grey cable-knit pullover. He made feel much
better then hugged me tightly. He smelt of tasteful cologne and spray starch.
I got some rest for a bit and began to pack and fill out paper work.

After my room was empty, the closets bare, and all of cards and gifts
removed, we began our exodus to Levee Run. Which, hysterically, is about 85
seconds from the Oschner parking tower. The apartment is the perfect size and
the furniture is nice and up-to-date. Both bedrooms are almost the size of our
spare bedrooms at home, and the bath is about the size of our guest bath, as
well. Each room has two great closets and night stands. The kitchen and dining
areas are tiny, but the living area is nice. The entire outside wall is made of
sliding glass doors that lead to large courtyard that is absolutely precious. It’s
like a little villa back there; it is enclosed by the surrounding apartments and
open breezeways. There are beautiful trees, walkways, a chocolate brown
gazebo, and a koi pond that weaves through it.

The weather has been divine and requires a light jacket and sunglasses
everyday. I checked at the lab this morning at eight and had my first clinic
appointment with Tara, my post transplant coordinator (PTC). She is very nice,
but not too sweet and fake like some of the hospital staff can seem. She is
seems to be very smart and straightforward: a good balance. Transplant
nurses are at least RNs and CRNs who have come to work in these office/clinic
jobs to work on a more personal level. She reiterated several points to me:
one, we will probably be talking everyday; two, always call or page her 24/7
with any little thing; three, if it is something she cannot personally do she will
still get it done; four, if I call the emergency line on a weekend or after hours
and they want to give me to a fellow rather than a doctor on call, page her;
five, she loves her job, along with everyone in the post heart transplant clinic
(PHTC). She is the director of the clinic as well…and pretty, skinny, and tan, bit
we won’t go there. However, it didn’t help my feelings to be sitting there with
my whole “I ate Bethany on the way here” steroid look, also known as moon
face, this morning. On the other hand, the whole experience of coming into the
lab and clinic is transformed as soon as you step into the building out of the
garage, beginning with the automated glass double doors, into the bronzed
elevators, and through the beautifully landscaped four-story atrium that smells
of delectable coffee beans from Espresso Coffee Shop, the inviting whiff of
fresh biscuits from CafĂ© Zucchini, and my personal favorite – the charming
aroma of holiday merchandise from the gift shop. It is not like coming into a
doctor’s office, hospital, or, for that matter, any other medical facility I have
ever been in. There is also a glasses shop, a kids center, a neat and cozy small
medical library. All of these things are on the bottom floor, the lab is on the
second floor, and the clinic is on the fourth. The escalators, ramps, and iron
railing make it much more appealing than grey walls and dark rattling

The lab only took about five minutes; they simply draw you blood. Most of the
workers I recognized from the 4:30 a.m. bust-ins prior to the gift of my PICC
line that freed me from their brutal malice. The woman who actually drew my
blood today remembered coming in on my birthday. We left the lab, and
visited the gift shop, where I picked up a bag full of my favorite Tyler candles
to knock out the lingering ”historic” smell in the apartment.

The meeting with Tara went well at the clinic and next week I will start my
weekly labs/clinic/echo/biopsy visits. She made some more adjustments to my
meds as well, but I am not taking any fewer pills. I will, however, get to quit
three of them when I am done with the cold and cough. I can deal with
something that small; one of the doctors in the hospital joked that they were
going to make a decorative poster to of all of my complications and crazy
symptoms. They quite pleased to get me out alive. When we left Zac drove me
down S. Carrollton St. and back up by La Madeline and Cooter Brown’s by the
levees; they are only about two minutes from the apartment. It was such a
beautiful day and enjoyed feeling alive again. My prayer fingers are interwoven
tightly that I will be home by Thanksgiving Day.