Emerging from the Post-Esophagectomy Abyss
Journal May, 2001, Several days post-surgery.
The nursing staff challenged Werner to walk ten times around the pod in the surgical unit. This was the amount of steps needed to walk a mile.
Of course Werner, the athlete rising from the abyss, accepted the challenge.
Once he committed to meet this goal nothing stopped him; not excruciating pain, not difficulty breathing, and not the weakness that prevented him from standing without his hands on the walker.
Instead of wearing hiking boots and a back pack, he became a mobile life support, oxygen carrying, container holding, walker hiking machine. Multiple tubes protruding from his body anchored him to the IV poll. With me as the poles helmsman, we shuffled off.
After a few days and several completed tours later, I saw normal steps creep into Werner’s journey. Now each time we rounded the corner to the nursing station, more doctors and nurses waited and joined his cheering squad.
Often his surgeon visited to check Werner’s progress, and sometimes just to chat. One day he visited and asked if Werner would be willing to visit one of his surgical patients experiencing extreme difficulties surviving the post surgery.
Later in the day, Werner’s nurses arrived, gathered all the paraphernalia needed on the walker for Werner to travel to the patient’s room. Werner, nurses, IV pole, walker left on their mission in hopes Werner’s visit might encourage the patient to continue to fight. I did not ask the outcome of that visit. It was not mine to know.
What I knew…
Werner, in typical Werner character, said nothing as he stepped away from his distress and suffering to uplift another patient’s in his distress.