Progress each day! Dick walked 900 feet, tomorrow we'll reach the 1200-feet goal. We went to a "discharge" class this morning to learn more about what life will be like after our hospital stay. He's determined to make the best possible progress as he recovers, Dick: "I'm going to be a really good at rehab." Thank goodness they gave us a booklet detailing all the restrictions and instructions, there is so much to learn and remember. The surgeon told us there are 3 criteria remaining before discharge can be considered: last chest tube removed, stable blood pressure, and stable lab results. The nurses told us Dick also needs to pass a "shower test" - taking a shower properly. One requirement is not lifting your arms above your shoulders and still be able to wash your hair, or in Dick's case, his head.
We had a fairly rough Saturday night/Sunday morning. Dick has a relentless cough and must grip his “heart hugger” harness before he coughs. Taking cough medicine didn’t seem to help, Xanax at 1 am did the trick and we got a few hours sleep. Because his fluid collection container tipped over at some point during the night, an exact measurement was not possible, so the doctor decided he should leave in the chest tube at least one more day.
Each day his walking is stronger. Today he walked 1200 feet 2½ times (he got dizzy during the last go-round so we stopped). He also does breathing exercises ten times/day.
The cough continues, the staff took a gullah (sputum) sample, but it will take a few days for results to come back. Now he has a terrible ache in both ears. Sheesh! There's still too much fluid leaking from the chest tube so we're still at least two days from discharge. When Dick goes for his walks, the staff checks his blood pressure before, immediately after, and 10 minutes later. The immediately-after measurement is just over what they like to see, so he's been encouraged to slow down and pace his walking. The cardiac rehab nurse says his exercise should be "easy breezy", no sweating allowed.