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Long Haul Covid Train

Chapter 6: Doctor Long Haul & Christmas through the Window

MY FAMILY MADE SURE I FELT INCLUDED AT CHRISTMAS

Though I had different doctors and nurses, depending on their shifts, there was one constant throughout my hospital stay, Dr. Suresh Khilnani. Dr. K, by which he was known, was head of the Lung Center and the primary physician in charge of my case. He was not very tall, and garbed, head to foot, as was everyone who entered a “Covid room,” in protective hospital gear.

I saw him almost every one of my fifty days in the hospital. I discovered that he also was supervising patients in Eagle, and on the rare occasion when he didn’t make an appearance, I got a phone call from him. Because of the Covid apparel, which included a shield, hood, and mask, mixed with his middle eastern accent, I would generally understand about a third of what he’d say to me. There was no mistaking his enthusiasm however: he was clearly rooting for me and seeing my efforts to follow his instructions, he became my biggest cheerleader in the hospital, often saying things like, “You’ve got this!” or remarking on how the numbers from the blood draws were improving.   

DR. K

He did, however, make it clear that, as he repeated fairly often, I was facing a “long haul” to recovery. He used this phrase so frequently that I came to refer to him as “Dr. Long Haul.” But he would also exhort me to spend some time each day on my stomach. Every day he would ask me about that along with other questions concerning my appetite, levels of pain, nausea, or other symptoms. Fortunately, I never suffered anything more than a headache, and, once they determined I needed more “fat” in my diet, I actually looked forward to the meals.

The nurses had a way of weighing me where I didn’t need to get out of bed, and early in my stay, I was actually down to my high school weight of 155. When I first arrived, I was ordering breakfast, lunch, and dinner from a menu, but received word that several kitchen employees had come down with Covid, and all patients would be receiving the same meals. This almost always included the a Sahara Desert dry main chicken entrée, contributing to my weight loss, as I could barely eat it.

Noticing I was appearing undernourished, I was encouraged to add a substantial amount of fat to my meals and once again allowed to order from what was a pretty varied menu. I rotated between my “favorites” (steak and meatloaf, with mashed potatoes and extra gravy) and doubled up on dessert.  Fairly quickly, I said goodbye to my high school playing days weight.

As the Christmas season approached, my family began arriving also: from Alaska, Jennifer with granddaughter Joslin and fiancé Dave Porter, along with his mother June McAfee from Kansas; Amber and husband Ryan from Wyoming.  Jennifer and Amber both followed their parents into the teaching profession, so Christmas break allowed them time to return home.

Our adopted daughter, Galina, who was in Lincoln, Nebraska, where she attended Nebraska Wesleyan for musical theatre for a semester, had to turn back because the interstate was closed.

My family sent me a mini Christmas tree for my room and on Christmas Eve, perched on the steps of the parking lot, so I could see them. They sang several boisterous Christmas carols through my speaker phone.   The next day we set up a Zoom Family Christmas, which included Galina in Nebraska, so I could watch everyone open presents. I was very grateful to be included.

A PARKING LOT VISIT FROM MY FAM ON CHRISTMAS EVE DAY

He did, however, make it clear that, as he repeated fairly often, I was facing a “long haul” to recovery. He used this phrase so frequently that I came to refer to him as “Dr. Long Haul.” But he would also exhort me to spend some time each day on my stomach. Every day he would ask me about that along with other questions concerning my appetite, levels of pain, nausea, or other symptoms. Fortunately, I never suffered anything more than a headache, and, once they determined I needed more “fat” in my diet, I actually looked forward to the meals.

The nurses had a way of weighing me where I didn’t need to get out of bed, and early in my stay, I was actually down to my high school weight of 155. When I first arrived, I was ordering breakfast, lunch, and dinner from a menu, but received word that several kitchen employees had come down with Covid, and all patients would be receiving the same meals. This almost always included the a Sahara Desert dry main chicken entrée, contributing to my weight loss, as I could barely eat it.

Noticing I was appearing undernourished, I was encouraged to add a substantial amount of fat to my meals and once again allowed to order from what was a pretty varied menu. I rotated between my “favorites” (steak and meatloaf, with mashed potatoes and extra gravy) and doubled up on dessert.  Fairly quickly, I said goodbye to my high school playing days weight.

As the Christmas season approached, my family began arriving also: from Alaska, Jennifer with granddaughter Joslin and fiancé Dave Porter, along with his mother June McAfee from Kansas; Amber and husband Ryan from Wyoming.  Jennifer and Amber both followed their parents into the teaching profession, so Christmas break allowed them time to return home.

Our adopted daughter, Galina, who was in Lincoln, Nebraska, where she attended Nebraska Wesleyan for musical theatre for a semester, had to turn back because the interstate was closed.

My family sent me a mini Christmas tree for my room and on Christmas Eve, perched on the steps of the parking lot, so I could see them. They sang several boisterous Christmas carols through my speaker phone.   The next day we set up a Zoom Family Christmas, which included Galina in Nebraska, so I could watch everyone open presents. I was very grateful to be included.

Next  – Chp. 7: CHANGES: “YOU WILL BE ON OXYGEN FOREVER.”

Thank you for joining me on my Long Haul Covid Train journey. Turn in next week as my 50-day hospital stay comes to an end. If you’re a Long Haul passenger, know someone who is, are reminded of a related story, or just want to leave a comment, please do. Subscribers will receive email notifications when a new installment is posted as well as my “Sidecar Stories” from time to time (Be sure you’ve sent me your email address).

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2 responses to “Long Haul Covid Train”

  1. Just a quick observation – you’ve double posted/pasted the text. But I’m loving the ride along.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I noticed that and tried to edit it, couldn’t figure out how, so just re-posted the entire installment. Ha! Where’s my IT granddaughter when I need her?

    Liked by 1 person

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