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60 Days In*

I know it's been a while since my last post. The good part of being in my situation though is that even though certain news is the best news, we also accept that no news is still good news. Everything is holding steady and I'm still boring. Yay me!

But really. The news I have for right now is that I was moved out of Dickson Heart ICU and into the step-down unit. It doesn't have a name, as far as I know. But on day 45 of my Unfortunate Incarceration, around 10 o'clock, I was told "Heyyy we've got this great new room that's opening up. It's bigger, has a private bathroom, a shower, and a window!" And by 4 o'clock that afternoon I had packed up all my things and been wheeled to 7B, the cardiac step-down unit.

The problem is that I was moved so suddenly that it kind of scrambled my poor little introverted heart. Introverts find their peace within themselves. When we need to recharge, we do it alone (or nearly alone) and often in the quiet of some place that feels safe and cozy. We make friends slowly and typically aren't the first ones to reach out and seek an interaction. Introverts are often adopted by extroverts. So for me to spend 45 days with the same people, in the same place, and forge connections with them was unusual, but good for me. I had somehow managed to build a support system beyond my family and I was benefiting from it! But then when they moved me with no warning and for unclear reasons, I was lost. My heart broke a little bit because I felt pushed off. I languished for days, confused and upset and not understanding. But I also lacked the gumption to buck up and ask what the heck had just happened and why. I had bonded to a good 75% of the DHICU medical staff, maintenance workers, nutritional services workers, cleaning crew, and volunteers. I had experiences there that will be with me forever. I had made friends! And I had allowed myself to imagine seeing them be the ones to give me the news that I had received a heart. I knew they'd celebrate with me. But that was completely gone once I was moved and I had to start over.

I am very ashamed to say that I spent several days wallowing. I allowed my new situation to overwhelm me and I was less myself. I spoke only when spoken to and gave my nurses and caretakers short, perfunctory answers to questions. When my doctors and PAs came to make their checks on me I did the same to them. With my new nurses, I didn't engage in banter or ask questions about them or tease them about things. I didn't read or play games. I looked out the window a lot, just thinking. My appetite waned. Looking back now I think the best way to describe me was light-less. Or light-dimmed, anyway. Normally I feel a little glow and treating someone well makes my own light brighter. But without that I was struggling to keep a positive outlook and demeanor. My light felt smudged. Dim.

Luckily for me I have Mom and Josh and Sam. They saw it happening and intervened. They texted. And called. And visited. And pestered me about eating and going for walks and keeping up my routines. Sam video chatted with me. They engaged with my nurses right in front of me and drew me into conversations about things that made me happy. And so I worked my way out of my slump and got over myself. I was hurt, but it was not fair of me to give less of myself to these kind nurses and staff. So I started focusing on the positives.

  • I am no longer attached to a wall monitor! I have a telemetry box now that I can fit in my pocket and look at my little electric heart beats whenever I want. Which means...

  • I can go for walks whenever I want! And I actually am allowed anywhere on the 7th floor. I just can't get in the elevators because their monitor station loses the connection to my telemetry signal. But also because I have no clue where I'm going. This place is huge, you guys.

  • I have a shower! And a fixed-in-place toilet! In a separate bathroom that has a DOOR! (I can't shower without a nurses help because if we take the chest leads off someone needs to be able to tell that I haven't fallen out or something.)

  • I do indeed have a window. It's huge. Floor to literally past my ceiling, probably a couple feet wide. It has a view of construction going on in the building next door. And trees! And in the distance I get to see a good part of the Charlotte city skyline.

  • The Charlotte skyline deserves it's own bullet point because Mom found me the list of what colors the buildings are turning on what nights and why. So on the evening when they all turn their lights to bright blue, I know it's because the Panthers have a home game. Or purple was for Alzheimers awareness. And green for Veterans's Day. And a very cool red, white, and blue mix for Election Day. You get my drift.

  • I do PT! They finally got me hooked up with the Physical Therapy department and started me with daily workouts from my new exercise therapist, Jordan. I do weight training to help build muscle. The healthier and stronger you are going into a major surgery like this, the easier a time you'll have on the other side during recovery. I'd like to see Atrium make PT a part of the standard protocol for everyone that gets admitted to the hospital while waiting for a heart (or other transplants, but especially heart and lungs because those are such huge surgeries to recover from). It took them 55 days to get me signed up with Jordan. If they had started me on day 3 or 4, I could have been half way to looking like Schwarzenegger by now!

  • I have a helipad! Well, sadly it's not mine. But I have named the Atrium helicopters! There are 4 active ones: Solo, Zwei, Trinity, and Fin. Plus I see out-of-towners from other hospitals. I typically see 4-6 helicopters land a day. Obviously less--or none--on days like today: rainy, foggy, cold, and windy.

  • Josh and a friend from home have found me some work I can help them with using my laptop, which has helped me stay mentally busy and given me some purpose.

So no news. But some news? And even though it seems a small victory, it has been a win for me the last couple weeks. Hopefully my next post will see me back to my usual witty repartee. Irreverent, sarcastic wit and all.

*technically I'd been here 63 days as of the posting of this entry, and 64 days as of this addendum


Nov 27, 2022

Glad you have doors and windows in all the right places! And new friends as well.


Nov 26, 2022

Thank you so much for keeping us up to date! Your honesty encourages us to face reality with new eyes. Maybe your faith in God and medicine, in family and friends, in yin and yang is what is so amazing about you! You are one strong woman! Thank you, Elise! Peace and love, Jill k


Nov 23, 2022

Love reading your blog! You keep it so real, I feel like I am there with you! But I am not 😉

I cannot imagine what you are going through but just know that you and your family are in my prayers at least once a day! Love and 🤗 hugs❤️


Nov 20, 2022

Hi Elise. You don’t know me but I know your mom. She’s one amazing lady so to me that means you are amazing too. I have worked with your mom on a few emergencies and she is always so smart, shows a strong desire to help any person no matter the need, and calm. That must be you too…. at least that is what I see as I read your blogs. There are a lot of people praying for you. Thank you for inspiring people and keeping it real in your words. Take care of yourself, and keep up the great work. We are cheering you on from the sidelines. Pam W.


Nov 17, 2022

Elise….you are so positive and awesome and I love reading about your triumphs and struggles. Prayers and hugs to you always!! Cheri

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