August 17, 2009

Hallstrom's Log, Earth Date August 17, 2009

Well, it has been a month since my original surgical date, which got postponed three days until July 20 due to an emergency surgery and lack of space in the Intensive Care Unit. I have been recuperating these past few weeks at home after a week long stay in the hospital. I feel great and everything is healing now. The only problem I still have is some pain in the bones of my upper chest, which, I was told at my last appointment, take about six months to fully heal. I feel so good that I have been approved to return to work on Thursday, August 20, with restrictions placed on what I am allowed to do. I got a letter a week and a half ago from Meijer corporate saying that the original Short Term Disability was only approved through August 19 rather than the beginning of September that my surgeon wanted on the form that I submitted. But, I feel well enough that I don't mind going in and completing the paperwork aspects of my job including running of planograms, stapling them, item locating them and filing them as well as preparing them to be set by my team. I won't be allowed to do many of the other things that I did prior to my surgery until October 1, which is when my cardiologist said the restrictions could be lifted.

My wife has many wonderful details and pictures of my post-surgery in her blog, which is located at I can't begin to thank my wife for all that she has done for me during this difficult time. She kept forcing me to stay positive and believe that I would be alright instead of taking my usually pessimistic train of thought. In the hospital, she helped me in many ways by helping me reach things, helping me change clothes, helping me walk down the hall and just spending time with me. When we got home, she helped in changing out my bandages, making great meals for me to eat, helping me get up and down the stairs and much more. She has been wonderful throughout this entire ordeal.

I also want to thank all of those that kept me in their thoughts and prayers and sent me well-wishes during the whole time before and after my surgery. I truly believe that those things helped me to recover faster than the surgeons and doctors believed that I would recover. I'd like to thank those that came to visit me during my hospital stay. I may have been out of it at times or in a bad mood when they visited but it left a good feeling in me and boosted my spirits.

I also want to thank the staff at Nationwide Children's Hospital. They provided excellent care for me and I wouldn't have gotten better without their trained expertise. I just wish they wouldn't have come in so often during the night. At times, I would have just fallen asleep when they came in to check my vitals and give me some medicine.

After the surgery, it has been hard to fall asleep. I can hear the artificial valve ticking as it operates and the sound can drive one crazy when all else is quiet and one is trying to sleep. Hopefully, I will one day become used to it and it won't bother me. Until then, though, I lie awake for a while at night trying to fall asleep and sometimes it takes a while. At first when I got home, I was sleeping downstairs in my recliner. I left the television on with the sleep timer set just so there would be some noise to help drown out the constant ticking in my chest. Now that I have returned to our bed, Abby can't sleep with the t.v. on and I only have the sounds of a fan to drown out the noise and it is not as effective. Also, still being on a water pill to remove excess fluids from my body does not help as it causes me to get up several times during the night to use the restroom. Not fun at all and I am looking forward to the time that I don't have to take the pill.

The other day, I watched an episode of The Tonight Show that I DVR'd and I learned that Robin Williams actually had his valve replaced recently and he looked good as well. He was able to find the humor in the situation of having a new heart valve and that made me feel better about myself. He had his surgery in Cleveland at the Cleveland Clinic. He was joking around with Conan O'Brien about how he first was given the choice of a pig valve like I was given and his Jewish friend said not to take that. He then made a joke about a horse valve that was hilarious. In the end he said he took an artificial valve so it is very fitting that I can relate to him. Here's an example of his humor from things that he said in a different interview with David Letterman back in May: "I have one new valve and a repaired valve," Williams said. "I have a cow valve — which is great, and the grazing has been fun." He added, "The mechanical valve is great, but if someone uses the remote control, you fart." They say that laughter is a great medicine and he seems to be doing great with it but, when I laugh, it still hurts my chest like hell. Nonetheless, the pain is worth it!

I start a cardiac rehab program on September 1 and follow that up with visits every Tuesday and Thursday for at least 4 weeks. I am hoping that the cardiac rehab helps me to fully recover and allow me to get back to where I was pre-surgery. I also have to have my INR level checked each week to make sure my blood thinner medication is working properly and get it at the correct level that my doctors want it to be. Eventually, it will be checked once a month after it gets leveled off.

Overall, I am in good spirits. I am looking forward to returning to work and looking forward to Ohio State Buckeye football season to get here. I am looking forward to ushering at all of the home games and this year have gotten tickets to most of the road games through the OSU Alumni Association. The only road game I will probably miss this year is against Michigan. The Buckeyes are picked by the Big Ten media to win the Big Ten again and are ranked #6 in the pre-season poll of college coaches. The first game is Saturday, September 5, against Navy and that game is followed up by a big re-match against USC at the 'Shoe on September 12. Hopefully, OSU can get some payback following last year's blowout loss out in L.A.

Go Bucks!