Today was a day that involved my leg muscles very little. Instead, it :really: used my brain muscles! By the end of my amazing experience at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, I was at the point that I was asking to go home and rest my brain for a bit. But, as always, I’ll try not to ‘jump the gun’ and I’ll tell the day’s story in some sort of order.
Stats (Just for fun):
Time woken up: 7:00am
Time spent at HUP: 3 hours or so
Time spent at HUP five years ago: 336 hours or so
N : stands for Neuro[logical]
I : stands for Intensive
C : stands for Care
U : stands for Unit
Doctors met today: I lost count!
Media interviews I was in today: 3
Distance rode: ~6 miles back from HUP
So yes! I went to an intensive care unit! And not just any ICU, too. The one that kept me alive five years ago, in a hospital bed with broken bones, pneumonia, a tracheostomy, a feeding tube, countless sensor wires in my skull, and the occasional bicycling poster on the wall for 14 days. It was a real blessing to be able to come back to HUP and not only spread some more hope (and hopeful inspiration), but to see, shake hands with, and meet doctors who helped save my life. I could easily get emotional here – but there’s just too much to talk about to do that.
Upon arriving at HUP (for the second time since we wanted to put on a show), I was welcomed by cameras (video and photo), cheers, and smiles! Hospitals are so often the place for very tiny smiles and quiet joys, to give respect to people who are in pain or mourning. But nope, not today! Right when I rode up, a channel 6 – ABC news reporter ( Ali Gorman, R.N. ) asked to do part of an interview. I was so glad she could help capture the moment. I’ll spare you my details about her interview… You’ll have to read the rest of this post to get to the link for the news report video!
So then for the really great stuff – I was lead to HUP’s new NICU, to meet doctors and nurses, and to see the cutting edge of NICU facilities. HUP’s new NICU is astounding- I really really loved how much natural sunlight the room I visited had. This, I should mention, is actually mandated by the state for all hospital rooms now (brilliant idea). The newer NICU rooms have much more room, which allows for BOTH doctors and patients’ families to be happy and do their individual jobs happily. Doctors and nurses can actually walk to patients’ heads much easier, thanks to the beds being in the center of the rooms (as opposed to the head being closer to the wall). Families? They have lots of space around the bed and a few comfy chairs in each room, away from the nurse’s stations in each room. I told the nurses and doctors that the room I toured was better than a number of the random hotel rooms I stayed in along my way.
I’m going to keep the commentary out for the first part of this post, so that there’s a progression. After visiting the NICU, I got a chance to meet HUP and the University’s brain injury research team. Wow- their research is very far-reaching and vast. I told them this! From studies and development of portable xenon gas cat scan machines, to updated biological chemical sensors for monitoring brain function, to determining links between brain injury recovery and exercise, the University of Pennsylvania has it going on. I really can’t wait to begin collecting and reading literature and publications that uPenn has on their research. They thought I was interested in layman’s term literature…. Nope!
Commentary? I can’t smile enough. Special thank you goes to Robin Armstrong and Kim (remind me your last name!), who planned and arranged the whole event. Both of you were amazingly friendly and fun to talk to. I blame you for my face hurting!
Dr. S, who told me that the last time he saw me wearing cycling clothes was 5 years ago when I was admitted: a bike race will be planned between you and I (you know you want to). Almost everyone I met confirmed my main hope and told me explicitly: I am an inspiration. And no, this isn’t me accepting success, it’s just me telling you. Coming from the ‘start’ and near-finish of my cross-country ride, your encouragement and congratulations meant a lot to me. I can’t wait to keep in contact with all of you.
Finally, thank you to Tabitha, who met me outside the hospital and is a fellow TBI survivor of 2 years. You’re kicking butt and taking names! We’ll talk more soon.
Okay, so there will be more details oozing out of this memory for a few more posts, later down the road.
Finally, here’s the link to today’s news report: http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?section=news%2Fhealth&id=8316462
Here’s a link to the story my new friend, Brian, wrote about DougTrails:
WHYY’s NewsWorks.org story