Mary Arneson knew how to take her Toni doll’s vital signs way back in 1951. After wearing out a nursing kit she received at Christmas, Mary went on to pursue a career as an occupational therapist, helping those facing medical challenges of a different sort.
For the last week, all my family has thought about is hearts.
My husband lost 20 lbs this year by controlling his diet, and we took to taking daily walks during quarantine to continue the trend, boost our lung health, and stave off any ‘rona respiratory issues. By minute 10, he often felt a chest tightness, would stop for a few seconds, and then continue on the walk. By minute 20, he would need to return home, and off I would jog for another 30.
Hearts are important. I urged him to see his primary (which was no easy task in full corona mode in early April), who referred him to a cardiologist, who suggested a catheter procedure to check for any blockages. This could have been done the next day in our “old normal.” But not now. First, he had to go through a drive-through COVID testing spot, have an 8″ swab shoved through his nostril into his brain, then go into a mandatory 7 day quarantine, meaning yet another missed week of work.
Eight days later, off we went (masked up with handy bottle of Purell at our side) into the hospital. Doc said they’d check the blood flow, throw in some stents if necessary, and send him home that afternoon. But that wasn’t how it went down. They found three blockages, and within 24 hours, my husband would be recovering from a triple bypass surgery–and still several years away from age 50. It all happened so quickly–so many tests and terms and rotating nurses and blood and stitches and pills, fevers and chills, difficulty breathing, nausea, and pain the likes of which I’d never witnessed in him. I was so grateful for the skill of all those folks in keeping him alive.
But now he’s home, and we have a “new new normal” of life on the recliner, surrounded by the myriad items one needs at the ready, in order to prevent both pneumonia and blood clots as a “cabbage” patient (coronary artery bypass graft or CABG, pronounced “cabbage“). And I am the exhausted servant of mon petit chou.
2020 has been unpredictable and anxiety-producing and we’re not even halfway done yet. But God has hand His hand on us, and we will march right through this, just as we all have during these decades of life we spend here. Another day, another blessing.
My husband had unexpected triple bypass surgery on Friday, and today he had healed up enough to ambulate throughout the cardiac unit. He has progressed well after his coronary artery bypass graft (CABG), and this acronym is why the nurses call them their “cabbage patients.” Here’s hoping you never have to be one.
Perhaps your state will start re-opening as per its Phase I guidelines on May 1st. Perhaps it’s May 8th. All I know is it WILL be May, and folks will be getting prepped and ready to shine.
Betty can breathe on Martha, and Martha can cough on Mary.
Carl won’t have to wipe down that wooden chair seat after he gets up.
The line at Great Clips will stretch past the adjacent Subway and Pizza Hut in the strip malls.
The cleaners will be packed with piles of people’s threadbare sweats and yoga pants.
Cobblers will be cobbling.
Diners will be packed elbow-to-elbow.
People might even board public transportation.
Ew. Seriously gross. Kirk is even having second thoughts about cushions never cleaned.
Butchers will be butchering, fileting, de-boning, and slicing deli meats and cheeses.
Department store racks will be scoured for wider waistbands.
Bars and restaurants, clubs and dance halls will throw open their doors and welcome the traumatized masses, stumbling in to relearn dances, to rebuild their tolerance to cocktails, and use public restrooms.
The streets will sound with joyous rapture and merry harmony. “So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye” to coronavirus.
At least…for now.
Today we continue in our appreciation for the medical field, who has been streeeeetched to their limits during these past several weeks, and will probably all be suffering from PTSD for the rest of their lives. But back in July of 1970, high-haired Connie Wharton and Jean Davis were keeping it casual and lowkey while lifting newborns out of stork/kitten/kangaroo boxes at Jefferson Davis Hospital, the first publicly-owned Houston hospital to accept low-income patients.
Fun fact Friday: the hospital was largely abandoned in the 80s, thought to be full of ghosts, named a city landmark, and then
destroyed renovated into artist lofts for the rich and crafty. Plus, everyone knows buildings cannot be named after a former president of the Confederate States; we’re too busy erasing history to make everything PC.
This next image shows nurses and patients at Houston’s St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in the Fifth Ward in March of 1959. Nobody likes to be barefoot, donning a hospital gown, but some encouragement, attention, and a fire truck can go a long way toward healing.
Our final Houston-based medical subject is Dr. Katharine Hsu, a pediatric doctor who came to America from China in 1948. She served as Chief Resident Physician in Pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital in Shanghai, but when the Japanese invaded the city in l94l, she fled through enemy lines and joined her husband at Chung Cheng Medical College as Head of Pediatrics. Here she takes vitals of a shirtless youngster in July of 1953 at–you guessed it–Jefferson Davis Hospital.
Fun Fact Friday: After tuberculosis took the lives of her brother and sister, she made it her goal to stop the spread. She established a one-room, one-nurse pediatric TB facility which later expanded into the Children’s TB Clinic and Hospital, where she worked from 1953 to 1969.
Per her obituary in 2007, she died at the age of 93.
When the use of the drug Isoniazid proved beneficial in treating TB patients, Katharine envisioned using it as a preventive against the disease. Since her extensive testing and studies proved overwhelmingly successful, the preventive treatment was adopted worldwide…The International Biographical Center of Cambridge named her International Woman of the Year in l996-l997 for her contributions to medicine, research, and education.
Today we salute the men and women in past and present medical fields, doing their best to keep the rest of us alive, with all the skills to treat and diagnose when we are helpless and vulnerable.
Henry L. Hohl Elementary, April 1955: The first Houston-area students await the newly available Salk vaccine.
Needles aren’t fun, but they’re even less fun while wearing formalwear, like this group below.
Just like little Casey Carl Vaughn above, I, too, received an injection of the vaccine as a youngster. I imagine that’s also why you don’t have polio. Unless you do.
Below you’ll see a free clinic offered by the Houston health department in May of 1961. Residents lined up at the Minimax Store, where volunteers doled out 50,000 inoculations in one week. Ain’t nobody got time for paralysis.
Albert Sabin provided a cheaper alternative to Salk’s vaccine, by adding drops of vaccine to sugar cubes. No injection necessary.
This Houston nurse followed suit in 1962, adding drops of vaccine to sugar cubes.
But it was too little, too late for these polio-afflicted children in Philadelphia, shown way back in 1950 at a meeting with the chairman of the city’s March of Dimes organization. (Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries). Sometimes timing is everything.
Every year in the United States, over 300,000 people with appendicitis have their appendix surgically removed. While over 11 million cases are reported annually, deaths lie somewhere around 50,000. Still seems like a huge number and a bad way to go, right? The percentage of deaths was much higher before this fabulously-stached bald man in the middle, Charles McBurney, came up with what is called “McBurney’s Incision.” Rather than cutting through the abdominal walls, he made a diagonal incision that split the appendix to expose it.
In this 1900 pic, the surgeon is assisted by both staff and students. No surgical or scrub caps here. But at least most of them are wearing gloves! The interwebs says only 7-14% of us will ever have appendicitis. Personally, I don’t know anyone who has had it (or at least made mention of it). What about you? Do you have your appendix? Have you lost anything else? Some wisdom teeth? I got rid of my tonsils at age 22.