October 24, 2021

I Wake Up Sneezing…From hospital to home….the transition.

 I just sneezed. No big deal, right? 

Now try that with your sternum recently wired back together. 

Coughing is excruciating, and laughing can be a roll on the floor crying. 

But sneezing is sudden and explosive.  The pain reverberates, crashing in your chest cavity, slamming your rearranged lungs into your redesigned heart. Probably some other organs too.

Walking is a painful challenge as I still have a fresh healing 14” wound/ scar on my left leg from the knee to the ankle. It generally gets a bit better as the day goes on.  Mornings or middle of night situations feel as if I cannot put any weight on it. And it’s not because I am overdoing things. 

So far, I am only hobbling from bed to chair, to couch to bathroom. Three times a day I try the hallway walk. Then I’ m exhausted again. 

But every day a bit better.

What about nights?

Seventy percent of heart surgery patients experience sleep difficulties after surgery.  In the hospital, my desire to sleep was compromised by the sounds of the guy in the bed next to me, his CPAP machine, a nice gurgling wave like noise, air going in and out with a mechanical pattern, punctuated with groans, swearing, big flappy farts etc.

One morning a guy down the hallway was screaming I CAN’T SEE!!! 

Only to have the nurses tell him that he had strawberry jam on his nose.

One of the nights toward the end of stay in the hospital, I was trying to wean off the opioids. Around  9 pm the nurse came in to see if I had what I needed.  I said I understood we were weaning, going from two morphine pils to zero was a bit a of jump.  I was consumed with anxiety.  It was like every cell was alive shouting me, me, me.  She said they were too late to get the morphoids, and would I like to try a melatonin?  

My inside voice screamed WHAT THE FUCK-  what the fuck is a stupid over the counter “ natural” supplement going to do to help me with coming off the opioid dependency  that they  had facilitated?  

My polite Canadian patient said instead, sure.  Let me try.  I need something. 

I closed my eyes and the movies began. 

Nonsensical never-ending, rapidly changing images.  



As the hairdresser said, Who the gel knows.

Eyes closed, you are strapped in. 

The wheezing of the CPAP. Gassy flaps, lights on. Lights off. 

Crazed but boring, just plain exhausting images parade inside my eyes.

This dream is like a release of effluent.  Not art. No memory of it, thank god, 

Awake again about 90 minutes.  What a fucking night. 

Relentless. Boring. Painful, No Control or Relief.  

At one point I shifted on the hospital bed and could no longer find the call buzzer. 

Around six in the am, my feet were uncovered and freezing.  The sheets were tied around me,

I grabbed one of the blankets and tried in a very weak and unsteady way to try to “ shake the sheet”. 

What a stupid mistake! It was like a knife was stabbed in my back.  Self inflicted jab to the left shoulder blade.

I lay back and should have done the adult manly version of crying.  But instead,  I was too exhausted and in too much pain now to even cry. 

That was seven days ago, and my shoulder blade is still fucked and in pain.

So sleeping from home is definitely better. It took me about three days to find the right sleeping positions. First consideration is finding best position to breathe. Then the chest must be situated to allow not only for optimal breathing, but also for escape when being in that position no longer works.  

Nothing is static in sleep.  And don’t forget that the leg with the wound has yet to find a place where the wound is supported, but not touching too much. 

As I said before, coughing or sneezing or laughing are all very painful. Now imagine how a full night of that lingers and intensifies, then just transfers to the next shift.  

There is no zeroing.  

However, there is sleep enhancement. 

The little pill dissolving beneath your tongue.  

This minor relief gives maybe 2-4 hours.  

In the night shift, brief respite beats relentless. 

And every day and every night is a bit better. 


  1. Heavy. You're in my prayers.
    Much respect and affection,

  2. May I dude you, Dennis? I am going to presume so: Dude! That's awful. Weirdly, the medical system has been very facilitating for me and my tongue cancer surgery, when it comes to opioids. It's bloody weird and a bit offensive, tho', how stingy they can be; I am pretty sure the gov't directive to not give out opioids more than is absolutely necessary has facilitated sadists, power-trippers, and pencil-pushing idiots in the system in being stingy and denying people the help they need... It's been not so bad this time out, for me, but when I had kidney stones... when my Mom was basically dying of complications from an infected gallbladder and screaming in pain... when I've had wisdom teeth out... they made it REALLY hard for me to manage my pain, and it sounds like that's what you're undergoing too: BUT WHY? Because you and I are RESPONSIBLE ADULTS, right? (Well, mostly). I've just come OFF opioids on my own steam after three+ weeks recovering from my tongue surgery, and it's NO PROBLEM, at least at the levels I was prescribed them. I had a bit of diarrhea, a bit of sweating, some runny nose stuff: BIG feckin' DEAL. It lasted three days and I seem to be on the other side of it now, which is par for the course every other time I've had surgery. So I gotta conclude that mostly it's hysteria, and it is driven by bureaucrats who need to be able to say they are DOING something about the opioid crisis, and not driven by doctors. Speak up about it - it's just wrong. People in pain need pain meds, and it's offensive that folks in your situation are being made to endure unnecessary discomfort so some politician can pat himself on the back.

    But anyhow - I am wishin' you well in recovery, and if you need anything - good books? movies? (if there is a DVD player you have access to?). Pot cookies? Music? Do send me an email or a PM or something... would be game to make a gesture in solidarity!