Tuesday, February 6, 2024

The Tomaso Files: My first Hospital experience

An “upright” Tomaso poses in Cosmopolis at a Blind person’s Crossing sign. (The Tomaso Collection)


As what’s that ‘Ol Jackson Browne song about “Doctor my eyes, tell me what is Wrong…”


Having Surgery for the very first time ever in my life at 60yrs young was an Eye opening experience, even if it was just an Angiogram procedure.


Now I’ve only donned a ridiculously thin paper Hospital gown once before when going to the ER for what turned out to be just a very nasty chest cold several years ago!


And since I wasn’t a priority case and my room was needed. I was ceremoniously wheeled out into the hallway and left in the corridor lying on a gurney waiting to be seen, and seen by everybody passing by! And after an hour and a half or longer? I stopped somebody and said I needed to eat something! Having a turkey sandwich before finally being X-Rayed. So that was my one unsettling “Hospital” experience…


Apparently to Mwah, something was lost in translation following my initial Cardiologist exam on November 21st, which was how I celebrated Turkey Lurkey Day! Although getting lucky once again, since this was the only appointment available in November, with everything else being in December, so I took it.


Explaining my Blindness and needing time and Help to set-up transportation to my Angiogram, for which my Cardiologist told me was my next step. He assured me thata Medical Social Worker (MSW) would be involved and He understood that I was Blind!


Thus naturally, Y’all can imagine my surprise when 24 hours later, the telephone rang with Cardiology ready to schedule my Angiogram, Say What! And being on the perpetual Fast-track, I chose the only December appointment available. Even though I could have pushed it out until January 5th, it’s check-in time was a ridiculous 5:30AM!


Fortunately, Poppa Bear Tomas Sr. and Step Mum’ Linda who’d live in La conner, Warshington’. Volunteered to drive the 400 miles and transport me to and from Springfield, Oregon, some 75 miles North East of Mwah.


Electing to spend the night in Springfield due to my 7:15AM check-in time. Tomas Sr. woke me up at 5:45AM to ensure not being late for my Angiogram. And being completely checked-in by 7:09AM and wanting to use the Loo’, ergo ‘lil boy’s room. Two Nurses were waiting patiently outside for me afterwards, to escort us to my Hospital room for the day.


My father helped me put on my Hospital gown, which although still unflattering, at least was of a thicker cotton material. Although obviously I couldn’t do up the button snaps on it’s backside! Before I clambered up into my awaiting Hospital bed.


Seated in my room and describing the beautiful, decorative curtain/room divider to me. Linda said that She guessed some of this was kind of new to me? For which I said you can take the words Kind of out of there! Since I’ve never had surgery before. And certainly have never had my groin shaved as the back-up incision site, Oh Boy!


Then my main Nurse Torina came in, who was great to me, although I kept wanting to call Her Torino. Hey, once a Car Guy, always a Car Guy! Even going so far as to explain the Torino bit to Her…


As the entire Nursing Staff were exceedingly kind & patient with me All day long! Although we swear, i.e.; my parents and I think they were using me as a Blind training “Dummy”, Hya!


Having put up two signs. One on my Hospital room’s door and another on my bed, without my knowing saying Legally Blind with a picture of a Blind person with a Cane. As I swear it felt like I had some 15-odd Nurses overall!


But every single person was exceedingly kind, polite and professional to me the entire day. Even caring to make sure my gown was pulled down when getting in ‘n out of my Hospital bed! To worrying about my taking too long in the bathroom after my Angiogram…


Even one of the Male Nurses in the operating room named Nate got in on this, saying He had a question for me. Having just transferred me onto the operating table. Asking me is there such a thing as Illegally Blind?


While another Female Nurse named Hope told me they’d be like a Pit-crew working on me. With a whole bunch of items on my chest, so if I needed to scratch an itch, please inform them. With Hope lightening the Operating “Theatre’s” mood by telling me about Her prior work with Guide Dogs and other bits of Humour.


Telling me when checking my shaved Groin about how waxing was gonna Hurt if they hadn’t prepared it correctly,  thanks sister!


And everyone was extremely attentive to me. As Audrey, the Head Nurse who read my consent form a second time in my Hospital room, before wheeling me down the Hallway to the third and final time in the Operating room changed Her words to possible Stint procedure, which I appreciated!


While I really like my Mom’s reply when I told Her I could even hear the clunk clunk clunk of the X-Ray machine processing the pictures. But of course you could! Hey, everybody knows Blind people have Super powers, Tuh Duh!


Afterwards back in my room, with a compression sleeve over my right arm’s incision. Some sort of medical monitoring device in the front pocket of my gown, and an automatic blood pressure device on my left arm Another Nurse wheeled in a portable EKG machine and warned me that Her hands were cold as She placed the various stickers All over my upper body to attach it’s electrical leads to. And then simply yanking the wire clips off before hastily departing.


While nobody told me that I couldn’t raise my arm to eat my turkey sandwich when the automatic blood pressure monitor kicked-in every 15mins. As it began beeping as I was trying to take my second bite…


And then when it was time to finally discharge me just after the Nursing Staff change, the new Nurse had a slap your forehead moment when Pops’ asked what about All of the EKG stickers still on me? For which the friendly Nurse said I’ll try to pull them off quickly…


Although true to His word, my Cardiologist got me in to “See” my Heart surgeon upon discharge. Even though the entire Cardiovascular Ward had gone home for the day. With my Heart surgeon patiently waiting round for me in His “Street Clothes”, so that I didn’t have to make a separate trip to Springfield for a consultation.


As it’s a very odd sensation being told that you’re too young for minimally invasive TVAR Heart valve replacement surgery.


And instead I’m having mechanical Heart valve replacement surgery performed on January 23, 2024, Yikes!


Musing to myself how I’ll be missing this year’s Rolex 24, and whatever else going on in the world of motor racing…


A few days later, somebody from the Hospital called to Follow-up on me. When asking for Feedback, I told Her they’d set the Bar extremely High for my first ever Hospital experience! Since the entire day went exceedingly well, and actually dare I say it? Fairly enjoyable for my first ever Hospital experience.


For which I can only hope my second surgery and subsequent five day stay in Hospital goes as well!


As it will be a very short four months and seven days from my first elongated Heart palpitation/Arrythmia episode to Heart surgery, which seems exceedingly quick to Mwah! Before I endure my eight weeks recovery period.


Or putting it into perspective. That’s 53 days shorter than this year’s IndyCar Offseason! (182 days)

For which presumably I should be well enough to listen to the first IndyCar race from St Pete on March 10th. And definitely that Whose your Daddy Sweepstakes Gala event in the Californian desert March 24th…