I may have worked lounging around into an entire field of expertise, but even I can admit that this may have been taking things a little too far. I mean, when you're so lazy you're not even breathing on your own, well...

This was my situation 4 years ago today. After 15 hours of surgery, partial removal of 1 of my lungs and replacement of 6 inches of my aorta, I was cooling my heels on a ventilator. I also weighed 30 pounds more than when I arrived at the emergency room the day before.

Therein lies a story.

When you have had all your blood removed and your heart switched off as part of a surgery, restarting you involves getting your blood pressure up. And, I am told, getting your blood pressure up involves pumping you full of fluids.

Several nights later in intensive care, around 2:00 a.m., a nurse came in and told me it was time for me to weigh. Setting aside the obvious questions regarding the hour of the day (there may be "no night" in heaven, as Revelation says, but it is equally true of intensive care) it was a project involving a cast of thousands to get me out of bed at that point. I was attached to, at peak I think, ten different machines.  Moving me anywhere was a feat of civil and mechanical engineering.

On the positive side, however, I was kind of interested in seeing how much I weighed. No one had bothered to fill me in on the fact that I looked like a bloated pig. All I knew was that it had been over a week, at this point, since I had put one bite of food in my mouth and I was kind of hoping I had dropped some serious weight in the interim. So through great efforts to manage all of my cabling (as you can see in the photo, my appearance is vaguely reminiscent of an Apollo rocket preparing for blastoff), I was pulled and hoisted aloft to stand on the scale.

Looking at the readout, I was at first aghast and then just plain mad. How is it remotely possible to refrain from eating for over 7 days and yet gain 30 pounds!?

That's when they told me about pumping me with fluids. That's also when they starting injecting diuretics into my IV. Just three days later I weighed 40 pounds less than I did that night on the scales.

I wrote the following a couple of days later, during the several days after weigh-in that they were basically denying me access to water. I was a little bitter about it, as you might be able to tell from my snarky comment about "a communion cup of water":

My current daily routine: It's 4 am and I am descended upon by a horde of young women in nursing uniforms. They jar me from my sleep without warning and demand that I answer shockingly personal questions about my bathroom habits. After answering their questions, they seize upon my body with sharp needles, siphoning off my blood and injecting me with what seems to be some kind of marinade.
Then they demand I sit up in a chair, whereupon they shove a cup of pills in front of me the size of a 55 gallon drum. They insist that I swallow them. (One of the pills is the nefarious "potassium" pill. It is made with microscopic tongue grippers to make it completely un-swallowable. It is the bane of the pill swallowing community.)
I am allowed a communion cup of water to accomplish this task.
These women, as weird as it may seem, are the pointy end of the spear in driving back the forces of darkness. I'm not kidding.

Lo these four years later I have just now returned from my daily gallop around the neighborhood and I do all my breathing on my own.

I have much to be thankful for. Not least among my blessings are the friends who gathered around us and held us up during those terrible days.

Soli Deo gloria

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