Friday, 28 December 2012

A Little ICU Action

December 14

While laying unconscious throughout the operation, I had an experience. I exited my body and floated around the operating room, checking to make sure all the medical professionals were getting their respective parts right, that they were indeed following my "Transplants For Dummies" manual and that there were neither scalpels nor chainsaws left in my chest. I also played a few hours of Tetris and completed a Rubix cube. You decide if any of that happened.

Merely hours post double-lung eyeballs fly open. 

There is a tube down my throat - I'm on a ventilator. There are tubes everywhere; pieces of octopus were obviously implanted in my body during the operation as I look like an octopus - 2 arms, 2 legs and 4 chest drain tubes. Machines beeping all over the place...and of course the paparazzi's flash bulbs.

My new lung debut

Actual photo of me in the ICU

People's faces fade in and out. Mom, Pamela, Chai, my nurse Penny. 

Most immediate feeling: Thirst!  

It was unbearable and unrelenting.

What I begged for..
...what I was given
Mouth swabs dunked in water. I begged, begged for those. Nothing had ever felt better in my whole entire life. I was supposed to just let them swab around my mouth, but, seriously, who were we kidding? I clamped down on those suckers and drained every last drop of H2o hiding in there.

I was scolded, but what were they going to do to me? Rip my body open? Take out some organs?

As I was attached to the ventilator, I was unable to talk. This was very tragic and most people I know are still in counseling. I was left with mouthing my feelings, thoughts and frustrations. This was tough, as it is difficult to put coherent silent words together while in such a drugged out state.

My first mouthing was "help, help!" Followed by, "water, water".

I didn't just resemble an octopus post-transplant, but also a cow. Not only did I have the ridiculous pleasure of having the chest tubes protrude from my body, but I also got the experience of being "milked".

Picture this: nurse bracing legs against bed while heaving on tubes to bring the fluid out of body and into chamber. It's beautiful really. Thankfully, the potent pain meds are in full force at this time.

If not, someone was getting a punch to the jugular.

I've been told that I had some what of a love affair with water and kept exclaiming how much I liked it. Apparently even asked everyone else in the room if they liked water. My eyes would light up at the word and when my nurse would offer me a swab I would look at her like she was my everything.

My writing was pretty impressive. I managed to do a lot of this:


The day after surgery (I believe) the surgeon took out two chest tubes. He had me doing some kinda breathing exercise to prepare and then...YANK.

All good...remember those pain meds?

Dude, pick up!
My time in the ICU is very hazy. I remember faces, bits of conversations, foot massages. I remember the amazing moment when I woke to Brad's face. Everything felt better once he was with me. Unfortunately, the drugs made me a bit cranky the first couple of days he was here. He started to worry that my lungs weren't the only things transplanted.

Nothing was funny. I was hallucinating. I couldn't understand why my little brother, Justin, was hiding under my hospital bed (even though he was actually in NS) and why Brad wouldn't pick up the phone, as didn't he understand that Elmo was calling? 

I remember asking my nurse if I really had new lungs - and this was every single time I woke. Even while laying in the ICU, hooked up to machines, with a breathing tube shoved down my gullet, it was hard to grasp and believe that the surgery had actually happened.

My second chance at life was granted. I would live. The crusties would die.

Next step - ICU step-down...


  1. I don't think I've ever been this excited for someone I don't know! I'm so, so, SO happy that you got some sweet new windbags! I look forward to your life as you enjoy this awesome gift!

    As I keep you and all involved in your recovery in my thoughts, I'm also thinking of your amazing donor and his/her equally amazing family.


  2. This beats all the holiday movies or story telling so far. This brings back memories of my child hood when we would listen to superman on the battery operated radio (no electricty) and have to wait for a week for the next episode. Can't wait to read the step down. Happy New Year angel.. kisses and hugs from our home to you .. Lee and Gladys Fraser

  3. Congratulations!

    I can appreciate your experience feeling parched.
    When I underwent spinal surgery, I begged my wife for ice chips.
    It is impossible to clearly articulate that feeling.

    Happy New Year!