Update on John Johnson ~ John Has Been Moved Out of ICU ~ Sent from Ross Altman on Sunday
- Dear Friends of John,
John was moved upstairs today just after 6:00 PM to the 5th floor of the same building that houses ICU into room 520, the transitional care unit; next stop will be Rehab, which will be determined tomorrow. It’s a sign of progress in his recovery; the drainage tube was pulled out (well, actually John accidentally pulled it out), and there was still blood left to drain from his wound. Fortunately, it was sufficiently close to being ready for removal that it did not have to be reinserted.
His ICU nurse Olena, a Russian immigrant who regaled us with her own story of a long struggle to fulfill her dream in nursing since emigrating from Russia twenty years ago, handled the transition upstairs with enthusiasm and grace. When I mentioned that I was sorry she would no longer be John's nurse and added, "The ICU nurses are the best," she replied, "Put that in writing!" She looks forward to being able to teach nursing within a year.
Olena also removed the IV from his neck so John is beginning to look close to normal, though he has a Lyndon Johnson size scar going down the front of his chest which will either remain as a proud ornament of his death-defying surgery or await the attentions of a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon—more than likely the former. He was quite tired today and for the first time in the past three days was unable to walk around the ICU unit with his physical therapist.
His sister Linda Hoffman was there for part of my visit and along with John filled me in on some family history, including their (deceased) older brother Eric, a former nuclear physicist and businessman. When I asked her if she was also a radical she shot back, “No, John is the only radical in the family, but I am very liberal.” I liked her very much and she was clearly very affectionate towards John.
Sheila Goldner, who responded to these email updates early on with specific information that John in fact had a double bypass and valve replacement, also visited John today with the good news that she had replied to my earlier email about John’s manuscript needing to be retyped onto a computer so that it is not in all capital letters and can at long last be put into circulation to seek an agent or publisher. Sheila is an experienced legal word processor (in addition to being a longstanding LA activist herself) and has offered to type it for John; a real blessing.
And just after I left for the evening I got a call from vegetarian activist Marr Nealon who was also headed over to visit John. I was happy to be able to tell her that John had just been moved to a regular care unit and she could visit him there. She expressed concerns about John needing help in the near future when he transitions out of Rehab back home.
I told Marr that John’s cardiac specialist Sayed Hasan came to see him as soon as he was relocated and among a number of other issues mentioned that a social worker would oversee his case as well. We will need to ask for in-home support services for John after what may be only a week of Rehab before he is discharged. That is not a lot of time to recover his full ability to walk and care for himself, and John revealed his own concerns when he asked about the possibility of Meals-on-Wheels.
I bring these things up to let John and Change-Links' friends know that John’s recovery is very much a work-in-progress, and he will continue to need his friends’ care and support for some time to come. We may each contribute a little perhaps, but together make a significant difference to enable him to continue to bring the light of his community calendar and newspaper into our lives and work.
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