Wednesday, November 17, 2010

So I Woke Up In The ICU......

There I am....faux painting in a stair well in a house near Boston, 
using ladders, and daubing the wall with multiple layers of color
to make a beautiful finish....I'd been painting for 35.5 years, 
since Sept. 19, 1976 actually, starting in Skowhegan Maine.

At the time of my first attack, I was staining a house by hand
in vertical drops with a 32' ladder for a month...Good thing I wasn't
on the ladder when it happened, 'cause thats where I was headed !
I also have been playing bass & guitar since around '71, in   various             garage bands in and around Natick MA where I grew up. 

Music was and is my life, and most of my thought life in the hospital was 
imagining playing music in the current band I am in called Nexus, 
after the lyrics in a Jackson Browne tune...We play what I call 
"White Classic Rock"....I'd been in Blues bands, Zydeco Bands, 
you know, I date myself among the younger players who play 
Alternative and Punk, but I still love it, and cant imagine life without it!

Thats me in "Heaven", realizing one of my actually be playing with the Blues 
band I was in called the Wildcats, warming up for Johnny 
Winter! I had idolized Johnny's playing, and for 2.5 years I 
played his stuff quite a bit, loving every minute of it, never 
realizing that one  day I'd actually be on the same venue 
with him ! We played at  The Stadium Theater in Woonsocket
Rhode Island, next to the legendary Chans Restaurant, 
which also had many great Blues artists jam there. We 
played there as well....

So you see, Dreams Do Come True, 
sometimes by chance, sometimes by dint of hard labor and 
pushing with all your might and all you have to do is "Be There".  

Keep pursuing what you Love, and were born for, and good things can and do come !


My surgeon told me that my operation took 14 hours, that my aorta had "split" in multiple 
45% angles, and that he had to close each and every one of them, taking my heart out, 
putting it back in, and looking for leaks, taking it out, and fixing it again...he replaced my Aortic
Arch with some kind of ribbed plastic pipe, and connected my Descending Aorta to it....
he also repaired my Mitral Valve Prolapse while they were in there,a major operation in and of itself!

Amazing what they can do these days in medicine, ain't it?  He saved my life. I was told 
that they even had to use the paddles on me at one point, and that altogether I was in the 
top 5% of people who live with what happened to me...

Apparently they put me in a coma, and I woke up 2 weeks or so later in the ICU with pipes
going down my throat, and my first memories was using a pen and paper to communicate
with the nurses and my Brother Nick, My Girlfriend Belinda, and My friend Lisa...who had 
traveled an hour each way from where we lived to keep me company and wait for me to
come around! The Love they showed me was uplifting and comforting, and I am eternally 
grateful for it....It's good to have people who care in ones' life, and the healing power of it
cannot be measured, but only appreciated with Thanks.

I also realized I had various complications that I woke up to, including strong hand tremors
from a lack of oxygen to the brain....I couldn't get a spoon of soup up to my mouth when 
they finally took the pipes out of my throat....this was one of the darkest moments of my life..
wondering if I'd ever be able to play bass and guitar again! My lifes' pleasure, and my painting
that I had taken so much pride in were suddenly gone....and I was looking at a totally 
unknown future....

I also was told that I had pneumonia, and was made to gag my lungs clear on a daily basis...
multiple times a day...and given an "Incentive Sirometer" I had to suck air through to make sure
my lungs were clearing to the bottom....That completely "sucked" more ways than one!
To add insult to injury, I was the told I had a super parasite in my blood from the surgical 
field called "Serratia", and that I had to stay in the hospital for 30 more days to receive
transfusions twice a day of an antibiotic called Vancomycin (sp) to make sure it was dead!
Altogether I was in the hospital for 47 days that first time, and since I hadn't moved around 
too much, or eaten very much, I'd lost over 45 lbs! Then, they discovered Thrombosis (clots) in
both my calves, and they put me on a course of Heparin, and told me I would have to get 
the INR of my blood measured by a visiting nurse at my home and that I had to take Cumadin 
for 3 to 6 weeks.....

To say the least I was depressed, even though I didn't complain about my stay in the hospital. 
I was told that I was a good patient, and that made me feel better...but my life was so completely
interrupted that considering a life as an invalid was so awful and scary to me....I cried at the drop 
of a hat.....patients came and went in my room in the bed next to me, and I was in for the long haul.

I learned to walk with a walker up and down the hall...and finally without a walker, and then 
up and down a flight of stairs.....nevermind a ladder! They told me to figure on a year or more
of reconditioning at home....

Gosh! Would I ever play music again???? Would I ever be able to paint, or even earn a living at all?
Would I have to get a lawyer and fight the system to get SSI for the rest of my life?
Would I ever be able to do anything without totally losing my breathe? Would the pain subside to 
the point that I didn't need those dizzying pain pills? Would I ever have any fun with friends like 
I used to? So many questions.....So much time to think of 'em....

The story gets even worse before it gets better.....but this blog is about facing lifes challenges, 
seeing things that I never saw before....and realizing the amazing Power of Love through it all...
Please stay with me , and share your comments, lets get through this together ! 

Love, Smilinsteve 

P.S. I gotta live up to my "nickname", don't I?

1 comment:

  1. You can smile and cry at the same time. Just getting it out of you and onto the blog is good I think.