And We’re Back

OK, so that’s the good. There is bad.

Attention HSR! There are a few things you need to change.

It has been, to say the least, an eventful few days for Helaine and me. I’m back home having undergone a lumbar discectomy.

A few weeks ago I was in horrendous pain. Two epidurals later it improved to terrible pain.

Now I have no pain!

Well sort of. Now I have different pain which I expect to quickly heal.

Wednesday’s trip to the neurologist brought a recommendation: surgery. Nothing else had worked, nor was it likely to.

Truth is this is what I was hoping for! After a few months of suffering my whole outlook had changed. My pain was pretty constant. There was little I could do comfortably other than lay on the sofa.

I felt sad for myself–never a good thing.

Chronic pain is a bitch. I was willing to take radical steps to effect a change.

Boom! We were off to the races.

An associate of our doc would perform the surgery Friday. He wouldn’t be available for a meet-and-greet for a few more hours so I hobbled my way to what had been The Hospital of St. Raphael&#185 for pre-op testing.

Blood drawn, EKG taken, questions answered and surgical consequences explained. They do this stuff every day.

We headed back to the surgeon’s office, met the guy who’d carve into me and scheduled my procedure for Friday. The plan was get there by 5:30 AM, hit the OR at 7:00 AM and walk out in the afternoon.

Yeah, right.

Thursday afternoon I got a call from the surgical anesthesiologist’s office. Something had shown up on yesterday’s EKG. I’d need to see a cardiologist at 4:00 PM. I sprawled myself across the back seat of Helaine’s SUV and headed to New Haven.

Hour-by-hour my leg was getting worse. I wore shorts and dock shoes in case I needed to undress for an exam. Long pants were too tough to deal with.

No one knows why Wednesday’s EKG had the data it did. Still, surgery is serious stuff. More tests were needed to make sure my heart was OK.

“I want you to go the the hospital now.”

And with that an ambulance was called and I was off to HSR.

Too much detail! Let’s cut to the chase. The tests were negative enough to allow surgery Friday. All outward signs say that surgery was successful. Yea me!

There are a few things I want to say.

I know nothing about medicine, equipment and facilities. I know people.

There are no kinder, more loving people than the staff at HSR. There was not a moment I was not bathed in gracious care.

I was under the influence of morphine. There are names and blocks of time I’ve forgotten. Bethany was my nurse in the ER. Upstairs in the SICU it was Julie, Kate and Katelin. I never doubted my well being was their first concern. They were assisted by a coterie of techs and specialists.

When the guy wheeling you to the ER is in a good mood it does make a difference.

I know, I’m the guy on TV. Trust me, that ‘thrill’ is gone in the first few minutes. Everyone gets the care I received. This staff is incapable of less.

OK, that’s the good. There is bad.

Attention HSR, there are a few things you need to change. Your rooms and systems are designed in such a way a patient can never get any rest!

My bed had a pump that ran around 75% of the time. It was a loud pump. I finally begged one of the nurses to turn it off.

I was going to be there a day. Was anyone really worried about bed sores?

If paper at the nurses station ran out, my monitor beeped. Thanks. I was afraid I wouldn’t always be up-to-date with expendables.

It’s an annoying sound designed to draw attention. And it’s persistent.

Were you expecting me to change the paper?

I was wired with electrodes for a continuously running EKG. If one lead disconnected (I am the first person ever with hair on his body) it set off another beeping alarm in my room.


No, really. Why?

I was trying to sleep with a blood oxygen probe on one finger, inflating blood pressure cuff on my forearm, intravenous line to my hand and at least a half dozen poking electrodes on my chest back and side. Quiet was the only thing I wanted.

I know there’s a lot the hospital can’t control, but you’re in charge of the noises in the room. You can fix that tomorrow. You can.

Other annoyances, like an automated blood pressure cuff which inflated every half hour as I moved toward deep sleep is pretty beyond your control.

No warning. No nothing. All of a sudden a pump started and the cuff expanded until my arm was ready to explode. I need an hour alone in a room with the person who invented that.

Thankfully my earlier heart scare got me some extra time in the joint, because I wasn’t lucid enough to leave until 3:30 AM Saturday when I snuck out of my room to hang with the nurses. My actual discharge came at 11:00 AM.

So, here I am again on the couch. There’s a deep hole in my back a little larger than a quarter that needs to heal. I have been told to take it easy.

My back hurts at the incision. That will heal.

My leg pain is gone. My hope is that’s permanent.

I don’t know exactly when I’ll return to work. Two weeks is everyone’s best guess.

I haven’t driven a car in seven weeks! Except for doctors appointments it’s been over a month since I left the house!

I am ready to reclaim my life.

Thanks to the doctors who diagnosed and treated my ailment. Because of you my future should be pain free. You have my gratitude.

&#185 – The Hospital of St. Raphael was recently folded into Yale/New Haven Hospital. It isn’t the Hospital of St. Raphael anymore, but I will refer to it as HSR for old times sake.

22 thoughts on “And We’re Back”

  1. From the sounds of things, you are definitely on the mend. As for getting sleep in a hospital, that’s par for the course in any hospital. I’ve always said, hospitals are no place to get well. You need to go home for that where you are the one in charge of your peace and quiet. Sometimes I wonder if it isn’t the goal of the hospital administration to make us as irritated as possible so that we want to get home as quickly as we can. I’m very glad to know there is such a quality staff working at HSR. You never know when you’ll be in need.

  2. I am so glad you are feeling better. The hospital is no place for people who need sleep. It;s tough to rest with everything that needs to be recorded. Good thoughts and prayers for a quick recovery.

  3. I’m glad to hear your pain is “healing pain”!
    There must be a conspiracy with those Pre-surgery Ekgs because I went through the same thing – what a (necessary) pain in the neck!

  4. Geoff, hospitals are not for sleeping, guess you have not been in one very often, than God! They need all those noises and equipment to monitor you and make sure you are not dead or in distress. If they turned them off and something happened to you – they would likely be sued. I am glad you are feeling better and hope you don’t have to spend any more nights in the hospital.

  5. Geoff, I’m glad you’re on the mend. It’s been too long. However, as much as you loved HSR, please don’t be disappointed about it becoming part of Yale/New Haven. My son was treated for leukemia at Y/NH and my feelings about that hospital and it’s staff are exactly the same as yours about HSR. He was in the hospital for more than 2 months overall, in 2 different areas. In Oncology after diagnosis, undergoing treatment and in another area after undergoing a bone marrow transplant. I can tell you, after having what seemed like dozens of nurses and aides taking care of him, there wasn’t even a handful I could find fault with (they are all human, after all). His entire treatment lasted about 2 years going back and forth for tests and biopsies and we couldn’t have been happier with his treatment. Dr, Marks treated him pre transplant and Dr. Seropian after transplant. They are both wonderful, nothing short of miracle workers in my opinion. I could never find the words to express my gratitude to the entire staff for their loving, kind care. By the way, my son is now in remission so after going to hell and back, we are all in a good place right now. In fact, he just became a father for the first time, something I never thought would be possible. Anyway, sorry to go on and on, but I just wanted to say I’m thrilled your procedure seems to have worked and you’ll be up and at ’em again soon. And PLEASE, be happy and not concerned that HSR and Y/NH are now are now together. It can’t be a bad thing, two GREAT hospitals merging and working together…….

  6. Geoff, While reading your cons of a hospital stay I have to say you gave me a good laugh. You are so fortunate to only have been in the hospital for a day. My back surgery stay was long but then again so was my procedure and problems, spine broke in front and back for how long I don’t know I took ibuprofen and went to work, herniated disc, spinal stenosis, bone spurs. When I went home sat for a while and had to crawl to a standing position where the pain was manageable I finally went to a doctor. Why I went so long without seeing a dr. I can only say the pain wasn’t bad enough. You brought back memories of not being able to sleep and wanting to leave the hospital as quick as possible!! This was at Backus in Norwich, I have also been in Yale where they were also wonderful but I was on Dilaudid every 4 hours so I was pretty much sedated. I have worked in the medical field so I understand what the staff goes through and the need for the care you received albeit keeping you awake. You are funny. I am so glad you are pain free and approximately a 2 week recover is amazing. Keep up the good work and catch up on your rest now that you’re home. By the end of 2 weeks I’m sure Helaine will be at the door with your car keys in hand, ready to wish you a great night at work!! Congrats on a successful surgery 🙂

  7. Relieved to hear your life is no longer defined by the pain in your leg. Chronic pain will change you to the core. Glad you made it back with your dry sense of humor in tact. Has Helaine turned on the heat yet?

  8. Hi Geoff. I hear you on the noisy hospital issue (no pun intended). With all of the advanced technology available today there has got to be a way for the patient to be adequately monitored without all the noisy machines that keep the patient from getting the sleep that he/she needs in order to heal. There is plenty of research out there that shows how important sleep is in order for a person to be healthy both physically and emotionally. Glad you are healing and feeling better!

  9. Hello Geoff! Does misery love company? After my back surgery last fall and a 3 day stay at HSR, also with great staff, I can empathize with you about the noise and what you are hooked up to in the room. You are right. You don’t get any sleep! BUT, wasn’t it worth it to be nerve pain free? I am so glad you are feeling better and hopeful you will continue to be pain free once you get back to your normal life. We can’t wait for your first week back at Fox! You must write and give us the heads up on your schedule and the hours you will be back on the air! Be a good patient. You are almost there! Hang in there!

  10. HI Geoff, glad it all went well! As I wrote before my experience there was excellent. I was able to change some things. The staff would wake me up at night to take my vitals, which drove me nuts as it never coincided with the next dose of pain meds which I needed to sleep. I finally spoke up and asked them NOT to wake me up, that I promised to ring for them when I woke up on my own (bedpan time!) and they heard me. Sleeping on my back in a hard neck brace was a challenge for sure! Soooo glad you are home with no pain.

  11. Now that you are on the mend, I think it’s time for someone to give Helaine some sympathy. Taking care of a sick husband is no small task.

  12. Geoff – I am so glad you are Blogging about the hospital’s shortcomings! Sometimes I think that the people in control of one’s surroundings should spend a couple of days IN THEM. However, for all those folks who don’t say anything because they think that nothing can be done …. Shame on You! The system will never get fixed if everyone gives the impression that they are OK with whatever happened – from a loud pump to a dripping shower, Always feel free, as Geoff did, to call attention to those things which can be fixed…and they will be – eventually!

  13. Geoff, I know of what you speak about when talking about getting sleep or rest in a hospital. I have been in and out of a few in the last 6 years and I have learned a great trick! Whenever you most stay overnight in a hospital, bring along earplugs. You can get use to the blood pressure machine and almost everything else if you can fall asleep. The ear plugs make that happen. You will still get woken up by the staff to do the things they are required to do, but you will sleep in between! I hope you never have to put the trick to use but keep it in mind if the situation occurs!

  14. I sympathize with your stay. My friend’s daughter is an ER nurse at HSR. She was admitted as a patient there for three days last week. Her #1 complaint was the noise. One cannot even close the door. Her room was right next to the nurses’ station. So all night, there was a constant racket.

  15. I had my 4 back surgeries at Hartford Hospital. They were wonderful there, but as you said Geoff, not a place where you are gonna get any sleep. I had to change rooms at one point because it was SO hot in my room they had to change the sheets twice. After my spinal fusion, I woke up in recovery room, to the sound of screaming. Apparently the man in the next bed refused to use his morphine pump, and as soon as it would wear off, the screaming would begin. I could not be moved to a regular room until the epidural wore off and I had feeling in my legs…..I kept slapping them hoping for some signs of life! Morphine and I do not agree. I started scratching to the point of bleeding. No one would remove the morphine drip until the Dr arrived. His office was across the street, and was not expected for hours. I was beyond crazed at this point….picked up the phone and begged the woman in the office to get the Dr to call the Hospital to remove the morphine…..He DID! Last day there I cannot wait to go home. All this time I had been in a room alone. At 6am an elderly Spanish speaking woman came in with her entire family. Kids running around, cartoons blaring, and 3 family members trying desperately to translate to this poor thing what was going on, and why the nurse need to give her an IV ect…..I was never SO happy to see my husband in my life! I slept for the first time in 5 days….and never so happy to be home!

  16. As Yale being a teaching hospital, I was awakened every hour on the hour,after my operation, each time by new faces.. First question always being, are you in pain?,,my answer always the same. ” you just woke me up, I think I’m fine”, yet there they stood at the foot of the bed with the needle filled with morph, just eager to hit a tender spot. This went on for 23 hours, finally, I had enough, reached for the phone and called for a ride home… They weren’t very happy but I honestly couldn’t deal with the 24 questions every hour. Yes I was still Sara, yes my brithday was still the same as it was an hour ago and I was pretty sure I was in the hospital and not at a local bar during happy hour…. They all advised me it wasn’t a good idea to leave so soon, but then again, that was 20 years ago, today, if they could, they’d boot you out the door an hour after you wake…
    Heal fast, but remember,, “baby steps”, even though you may feel strong and eager to go…

  17. I bet the numbers for your return to the air will be almost as high as when you did your first broadcast at Fox61. I for one, will sure be watching and will be very glad to see you back.

  18. The TLC at HSR is remarkable. I had a spinal tap there and the nurses literally held me in their arms. I hope that doesn’t change with the merger.

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