Life (Changing) Scare?

I had hip replacement surgery on Wednesday, July 1st. Complications came up in the operating room and my oxygen levels started tanking. Apparently, fluid filled my lungs, and doctors had to intubate me.

They were not sure which way it’d go. It was far more serious than I ever thought it could have been. It was very humbling to hear that.

Twenty hours later they decided to remove the tube and the ventilator once my lungs were providing 60% of the work.

Upon gaining some level of consciousness I was ready to go, unaware what I had actually been through. Clueless that I was still requiring oxygen, that I had a minimum of motor skills, and that my lungs were far weaker than they were just a day earlier.

My nurses, doctors and girlfriend humored me. “Okay, let’s just see how you are in a few hours, okay?” “Probably not going to go home just yet.”

I was at the hospital till Sunday the 5th, three of those days partially in the ICU. I had to get my lungs back. Apparently they don’t do well not working even for a relatively short time. Getting off any assistance. Off of oxygen. Off of monitors. Those were the steps I had to go through.

It wasn’t until I was mostly out of the woods people started telling me the reality of things. Apparently, I had to be restrained while intubated… fought off nurses and tried to rip the tube out… fighting the process.

I actually met one of the male nurses the next day, who came in laughing, saying we had met earlier under much different circumstances. He says it’s pretty common, that people react that way.

My air volume bounced back quicker than anyone predicted, and soon doctors and nurses were surprised how much air my lungs were pulling in a game they had me do several times a day. It is very probable that having health lungs, that were trained to sustain pressure and volume for classical singing in live venues quite literally helped saved my life.

After two/three days my lungs were better off and I started with physical therapy, and walking with assistance.

On one of my dark, semi-conscious nights in the ICU, after I realized how close the end of life came for me, I broke into tears…. thoughts of friends and family members, fears about COVID and being touched by dozens of people, and regretting that I hadn’t sung more songs. I never would have predicted that thought and feeling. Never realized how important a part of my life my voice might be…

Side note: once I woke, before I could speak, I finger spelled “Sanitizer” to my girlfriend when she held my hand. Yeah, I’m some kind of character. An idiot.

I thought of songs I hadn’t yet sung. Thinking that people didn’t care to hear me. That I had nothing to add that hadn’t been expressed before with certain songs. That the breath through my vocal chords didn’t matter enough… but in a moment when I realized I could have sung my last song… It all became so very important.

I am believing I will continue to heal and strengthen. And that the humility I was faced with will make me better.

Singing may have saved me, and I never want to have that feeling of regret again. I will sing Both Sides Now in the near future, with a full voice.

I’m not writing this for any reason other than to say, life is precious. Do what you love. Be passionate. Have no regrets. Dance. Paint. Sing. Act. Bike. Golf. Boat. Fish. Walk dogs. Whatever…

  • Quiche Out

Side note: I wish we as a species we c/would be more compassionate, understanding… less narcissistic. Treat others and strangers the way we want to be treated, regardless of anything. That we would all be gentle with each other and care. I have worn a mask from very early on, sanitized (just ask my girlfriend), hunkered down, and been extremely responsible because I wanted to take care of others in our society. Now, for a little while at least, I’m probably considered compromised… Oh how quickly things can turn. How precious life is. How delicate we are. Please breathe. Pause. Understand. Care. I was fortunate there was a ventilator and room open for me… Let’s make sure there are ventilators if needed. And rooms. And healthy and happy health care workers.

BTW. Ventilators are no joke.

9 Comments »

  1. Hi Tom, Thank you for sharing your life-changing story. I know how amazingly talented, kind, and resilient you are but it made me weepy to even consider if things had gone differently. You made it! More life ahead…nothing better. Easy does it for now. Enjoy the calm. You can breathe.
    Much love,
    Janet

    Liked by 1 person

  2. YOU WERE PRAYED FOR TOM AND GOD LISTENED TO ALL OF US. KEEP GETTING STRONGER AND STRONGER. OUR PRAYERS WILL CONTINUE FOR YOU.

    BE WELL AND STAY SAFE. YOU ARE A GREAT PERSON . HUGS SENT YOUR WAY

    CAROL FITZPATRICK

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tom,
    Happy living….I just saw your videos of the complications of your knee, no hip surgery. I am so glad that you fought the battle and survived. Hope to see you in person soon.

    Mitch Gries

    Like

  4. Every time I think of your surgery and all you went through, and your speedy recovery, I thank God, His Blessed Mother, all the Saints in Heaven, and all the people here on earth that Prayed for you.
    We are so happy you are doing so well with your physical therapy and we are looking forward to many more songs and shows. We love you Tom, Mom & Dad

    Liked by 1 person

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