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TCU time: pain, sleeping, feeding and walking (Surgery + 3-4 days)

After just about 30 hours in the ICU, I was transferred to the TCU. My body started to recover at a faster rate.

My pain dropped dramatically. No oxycontin in the TCU and by the time I left only Tylenol once a night to help me sleep. The doctors and nurses were all surprised that I didn’t have any more pain. As a man of faith, I can only say I had a lot of people praying for this time to reach this level of fast healing. I am not able to attribute this to any of my body’s own healing abilities, as my body was not in good shape to begin with. This was a complete gift from God.

Sleeping actually got a little worse initially. You’re no longer sick enough for your body to pass out whenever it wants to and now your body is reacting in several ways to the surgery and hardware put in your mouth and my nasal corrections.

Fluid was constantly draining out my nose like a leaky faucet. They gave it a few sprays of Afrin which helps clot in the nose but also caused it to drain more. Only solution to sleep was to tape some gauze underneath my nostrils to catch the drainage and replace it every 3-4 hrs. I had to do this until almost a week after surgery.

Drool. Drool. Drool. I drooled way worse than any baby I ever had. Puddles would just spill out. This makes it hard to sleep when you are not used to swallowing anymore and you have lots of drool and fluid.

Funny enough, I also started oversleeping in the daytime thinking I needed it. But then the nurse made me realize I was oversleeping so much that my nighttime sleep wasnt needed. I needed to stay awake more in the daytime or else I wouldn’t sleep at night.

You have to sleep at an angle too, for all the drainage. I found the ideal angle to be near vertical. Lol. Bed all the way up and then multiple pillows behind my back.

Feeding . I started working on the awful initial liquid only diet requirement. For my body I was supposed to pound down 80 grams of protein in Ensure Clear and 1000mL of water. You have to do it with the syringe+catheter combo I mentioned in a previous post.

The first challenge is to even swallow, as I noted previously. You basically hold it at a plane that’s higher than your head, and have to pump out 2-3mL into the back of your mouth to initiate a swallow and then gulp it down. Initially, I would choke half the time I did it, and could only gulp down 2-3 gulps before feeling tired. It’s a muscle and you have to rebuild it from what seems like scratch initially.

Again if I didn’t do the myofunctional work I would’ve had absolutely no idea how to get thru this first challenge. Fix your swallow before you do the surgery!

Eventually, swallowing got easier, and I could take in more liquid each time per gulp and in successive gulps.

The second challenge is drinking Ensure Clear. Ensure, if you are listening or reading this, please please please get an unsweetened clear version for Mercy St. Louis. I’ve got a sweet tooth as bad as any other person, but that stuff is like taking already sweetened apple juice and then adding 50% more sugar on top of that. It was awful and I had a really hard time drinking it. It’s also sticky, so while you’re hacking and spitting it everywhere the entire room gets sticky. Not cool. Luckily, they also had these gel protein packets. These packets had 18g of protein each. I dissolved two of them in the Ensure and could thus reduce how much Ensure I was drinking.

Mercy St. Louis, if you’re reading this, the other thing you could do is get some bone broth. Protein without the sugar! Gel powders plus that would’ve been better. Way better.

Walking was easier than I expected. There was certainly a mental block where I didn’t want to get out of bed. I was tired and slow in the head initially.

First thing was to get out of my bed and walk over to the chair, sit there for a while, and eat from there. At some point though, I decided, “Let’s do this. I’m going to walk.” So, the nurse took me on a lap around the TCU. This required unhooking everything you’re connected to, and then after that I felt ok and we went again. 2 laps! But it was super tiring. The goal was 7 per day for discharge. I took a nap almost immediately after that first walk.

However, it’s one of those things just like with swallowing. The more you do and wake up your body the more it can handle. My final laps ended with me dancing down the hall with my nurses and supporting staff laughing and cheering me on.

This is me and my TCU homies when I was about to discharge.

Not even a full 4 days post-op, I was finally discharged. My brain at about 35%, and my energy level was at about 20%. I couldn’t care less how my wife was driving or which way. I just needed to get to my Airbnb and veg.

Discharge ready
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