6 March, 2022 by Erich Dunkelberger

This post is a departure from my usual offerings as it’s not really political in nature. Of course, I’m very much aware that the medical profession has become politicized over the last few years. This post isn’t about that. Continue on for as I relate an experience that happened to me.

I was scheduled for a hip replacement the first week in December of last year. Pre-operative lab tests were all good and I showed up at the appointed time for my surgery. First thing when I got there was a Covid antigen test, which was negative. I was taken back and prepped for surgery. The hip replacement went just fine. I don’t really remember, but according to my text messages, I was to spend the night and go home the next day.

The next thing I remember, a nurse is standing beside my hospital bed asking me questions. What’s your name and date of birth? Easy enough. Do you know where you are. A hospital? What year is it? Seemed strange, but I said 2021. Then it got really scary as the nurse said, no, it’s January 2022.

I had lost three weeks of my life. My wife was there at my side every day of that period. Most of the account of those three weeks comes from her. Apparently, the night after surgery, I began throwing up and continued into the next day. At some point, I aspirated and quickly developed pneumonia. Then things started cascading. I was transported from one hospital to the regional hospital. I was ventilated four times during that three week time. Granted, one of those times was because I bit through the hose. Finally, they trached me. In the meantime, I had a stroke (mild) and, in another incident, they had to shock my heart to bring it to normal rhythm.

As I said before, my wife was there every day moving my arms and my hands to keep me from getting clots. When a pulmonologist sounded as if he didn’t hold much hope for me, she waded into him, telling him I was strong and that they weren’t giving me enough credit. It was her who discovered the bruising on my arms that could lead to clots. First observation: Not everyone who works in a critical care unit should be working there.

Once I came out of it, she was there by my side as the nurse asked me those questions to which I had few answers. She was always advocating for me. She was there right up until she came down with Covid. Then, she advocated from home.

All told, I spent six weeks in the hospital. I went through various forms of trachs and regained my voice. I had PT, OT and Speech therapy. Since, my wife is a retired Speech Language Pathologist, speech was the therapy I was most prepped for.

Some of the other observations I noticed:

There are some very good nurses, but others you don’t see except shift change or you hit the call button.

You have to watch the medications you are given.

Hospital protocols don’t necessarily have the patient or the family in mind.

The biggest observation is the power of prayer. During those six weeks, I had a lot of people from a multitude of churches praying for me. For that I thank everyone! I believe I am here today through the Grace of the Lord and the love of my wife!