Friday, June 23, 2006

CAD Monkey in the Hospital - Day 3 (Part Two)

I know that I’ve been dragging this out forever.
What the hell’s taking so long, you ask?

Simply put, I had a crappy first few days in the hospital, and I’ve been reluctant to relive them. I’m frustrated with my recovery (it’s going fine, it just takes forever), and I just want the whole thing to be over- recalling this crappy day in painful detail just hasn’t been high on my to-do list.

May 26 – Best! Day! Ever! (continued)

Little did I realize that actually getting a potty would be so damn difficult. There was no way in hell I was making it all the way to the real bathroom, so the nurse said she’d bring in a bedside commode…45 minutes later, it still hadn’t arrived. My bladder was quickly approaching critical mass; my gas-filled stomach wasn’t helping things.

My mother went out into the hall to track somebody down to bring one in; she found nothing but tumbleweeds. I rang the nurse call (which I was quickly finding out was pointless), and asked, “will someone please bring a commode in here?” A random nurse walked in, and tried to get me onto a bedpan by rolling me onto my operated hip. On the verge of tears, again, I told her to stop, and get me a friggin commode. In the middle of all this, a hapless hospital administrator walks in, and says she’s “here to ask a few questions about how everything is going.” Mom, in her finest Mother Bear voice replies, “it’s not going very well right now!” She told the lady our plight, to which she replied, “oh,” mumbled something about finding someone to help, and then scurried off into the hall. Never saw her again.

Somebody finally brought in a commode. Then began the complete loss of the rest of my dignity for the day. For the first time in 30+ years, I had to have my mother wipe my behind, because I couldn’t support myself to do it…myself. Someone walked in on me with my butt in the air, and said, “oh! I’m so sorry.” I bet. It seemed that every time I got on the damn commode, somebody would walk in.

When the rehab doctor came in to find me on the pot, he became extremely embarrassed, and said he’d come back. When he did return, he asked if I’d saved what was in there. Ew. No. He told me they were planning on getting me transferred over to Their Side, meaning the rehab wing. You could actually hear the capitalization every time he said it.

The day got worse before it got better. My stomach had swelled up large enough that I could almost rest a glass on it. The nurse said I had to move my bowels. They’re very concerned about your pooping schedule in the hospital, I’ve found. She brought in the dreaded secret weapon…suppositories. The worst part was having to roll over; it was extremely painful- cue another round of tears.

Did I mention that my mother and my husband were in the room for all of this? And for the aftermath of the suppositories? See above, “RE: complete loss of dignity.” ManThing said we’d never speak of it again- yet he is the one who insisted I finish this story.

Things calmed down a bit after the suppository adventure. The doctor said I was still anemic, so they were going to have to give me another two units of blood before I could transfer to rehab. They were very reluctant to give me blood, even though my anemia wasn’t improving. I was of the opinion, “just give me the damn blood already!” My IV had to be changed to another location (apparently, veins “expire” after a few days) before they could do the transfusion. I lost my nice, neat surgical IV, and traded it in for a nasty, painful IV that turned my arm into a purple and red tie-dyed nightmare from the moment it was in.

By the time the transfusion was over, it was 10:30 at night. I figured I’d be staying put, but hospitals work on a different schedule- they transferred me to rehab.

Thus ended the hellish part of my stay.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

CAD Monkey in the Hospital - Day 3 (Part One)

Tomorrow will be one month since the surgery, so I figured I’d better get back to work on this before I completely forgot everything. As it is, I’ve already forgotten a lot.
Day 3 was, uh, eventful, so I’m going to have to break it into a few parts.

May 26 – Best! Day! Ever!

Day 3 started off with my now-accustomed runny-egg breakfast. I didn’t eat much, because my stomach was nearly full to capacity with lovely, painful gas. The doctor came in, and took out my drains. My fever was gone, and after I talked to the doctor, so was Nursezilla. She was supposed to be my nurse again for the day, but after I related the previous day’s events to him, he went out into the hall, talked to someone for a little while, and I got a new nurse.

Despite the two units of blood I’d received two days before, I was still anemic. As a result, I was still very weak, and my pulse was pretty high just sitting in bed. Nonetheless, physical therapy would start. The first person from PT gave me some exercises to do while lying in bed. Then he went off on a soooper-long spiel about crutches, crutch tips, what not to do, etc. I only remember pieces: anemic = loopy.

The next person from PT gave me some arm exercises to do with a Theraband. No problem.

The third person from PT, Lindsey, said it was time to get out of bed, and using a walker. She brought in this 1947-looking, rickety, green spray-painted, scary walker. (Now, here’s where my memory fails me. Damn me for waiting so long to write this. I know it must have hurt like hell to move my legs for the first time in two days, but I’ve already started forgetting.) I carefully maneuvered to sitting on the side of the bed. Since my butt was hanging out of the gown, she helped me put on the robe I’d brought with me.

Lindsey told me the first goal was to use the walker to go around the foot of the bed to the other side. My heart was already pounding, just from moving to the side of the bed. With a belt wrapped around my waist, and Lindsey pulling, I got into standing position. She told me to move the walker first, and then move my right foot forward a little. I moved the walker…and then didn’t move my right foot. The signals were leaving my brain, but my leg was out to lunch from the knee up. I had to use my toes to drag my foot forward.

By the time I made it to halfway to the other side of the bed, my heart was pounding in my ears, and I was sweating profusely. When I made it to the other side, I damn near passed out. I sat on the edge of the bed, with the vision in my left eye going a little black.

This is when the doctor from Pain Management came in to remove my epidural. While I was sitting on the edge of the bed, eyelids not quite working simultaneously, he just walked around behind me and pulled it out. Then, he started talking about...something. I sat there, sweating, vision going in and out.

After he left, Lindsey looked at me and said, “did you get any of that?”
“Nuh uh.”
“I didn’t think so.”

I have no idea what he said the entire time he was there- I was too busy concentrating on remaining conscious.

Sometime after my first pitiful foray out of bed, the nurse removed my catheter. This meant I would have to get my ass out of bed to use the potty. Oh, goodie.

Because getting out of bed had been so much fun the first time.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

So I haven’t made much progress on the “hospital story.”

But let me tell you how I am right now.

Right now I’m sitting, crookedly, because I have a block of ice under my right ass cheek. I also have a bag of frozen peas in a pillowcase wrapped around my right elbow.

I have officially reached the stage where I feel better enough overall to be annoyed that I’m not completely healed, and frustrated with the things I want to do, but can’t.

Out of an otherwise completely healed 12” incision, I have a ½” area that simply won’t close up. It will be 3 weeks tomorrow since the surgery. Close. The hell. UP. My skin is raw from pulling the tape off to change the dressing; it’s also covered in tape adhesive “leftovers” that I can only remove with rubbing alcohol- which makes the rawness worse.

One trip up and down the hallway outside our apartment leaves me panting, with my heart racing. This is also the reason I’m having to ice down my elbows- my weenie arms aren’t used to having to carry my entire weight. My physical therapist hath decreed that I shall make this journey five times daily.

I’m still waiting for it to become easier.

Any time now.

At least I have no trouble feeding myself. Like that was ever an issue.

Friday, June 09, 2006

CAD Monkey in the Hospital - Day 2

I was good and had this all ready to post yesterday, but Blogger had "issues." Guess that's what I get for refusing to pay for a domain...

May 25 - Nursezilla

The night after surgery consisted of one- to two-hour increments of foggy non-sleep; broken up by my IV tower beeping (low battery, out of blood, I’m a pain-in-the-ass machine ha ha ha), the nurse coming in to check my vitals, and the tech coming in to empty my catheter bag and surgical drains.

That, and the spasms. All of my limbs seemed to have a case of the twitchies, which wasn’t so bad, until it was my right leg’s turn again. My whole leg would kick, sending a shooting pain through my hip that woke me from whatever form of sleep I had been enjoying.

Around 7:00am on Day 2, things started to look better: breakfast appeared on my overbed table. People started calling my mom to see how I was doing, and the standard answer was, “she’s got food in front of her now, so she’s happy.”

Given that my nurse the night before had been so cheerful and attentive, I had no idea what was coming. My nurse for the day seemed nice enough, if a little cranky, in the morning. By that evening, however, I wanted her dead.

I started to feel feverish at around 4, and I asked her to take my temperature. Nursezilla said she “already had taken my temperature” (3 hours before), that it was 100, and that they “don’t do anything until it goes above 101.” For the next several hours, I tried to nap, but I felt like my head was boiling.

I called for Nursezilla when the IV tower started beeping; saying it was on low battery. She didn’t come. A short while later, I called again when my epidural ran dry. She didn’t come. Did I mention that I was being given no other pain medication besides said epidural?

Finally, the charge nurse came in, and found me sobbing uncontrollably, and my mother with a vein about to burst out of her forehead. Nursezilla came in shortly thereafter, with the nurse who would be working overnight. They didn’t say anything to me at all; they just stood at the IV tower, trying to figure out how to get it going again.

Finally, Nursezilla took my temperature (I can only guess the charge nurse made her do it). 101.6. Suck it, Nursezilla. I wasn’t just whining after all! She gave me some Tylenol… and told us we needed to close the curtains, because it was the sun coming in the window that was making me feverish! Then she turned the thermostat down to 60 and left for the night, saying, “I’ll see you tomorrow!” I just groaned and lay back down. And froze my ass off all night.

My poor mother stayed with me all night- for the second night in a row- because she was afraid to leave me at their mercy. I appreciated it more than she’ll ever know, especially since she had to spend the night chasing down someone to empty my catheter bag and drains every few hours, before they burst.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

CAD Monkey in the Hospital - Day 1

I live!

I have been back home since the 1st; but there has been some craziness (which I’ll get to in a chronological manner), I’ve been exhausted, and my parents have just left this morning- all of which have made writing low on the priorities list.

Starting from the beginning…

May 24 – Surgery

My surgery was scheduled for 12:30. I was told to show up by 10:30…so I could then sit around until nearly 1:00. During these two and a half hours, I changed into a hospital gown (thus beginning the Week of No Pants!); read a trashy magazine; was grouchy because I hadn’t had food since 7:00 the night before; had my right leg “autographed” by one of the surgeons; and was offered an epidural for post-op pain relief- which I heartily accepted.

When I was wheeled into the OR, I remember the anesthesiologist starting the IV, telling me to sit up on the side of the table so they could put in the epidural, injecting something lovely into the IV…then fluffy, fluffy clouds.

I woke up in recovery; I don’t know how long after the surgery, or how long I stayed there. My mom said it was 8 hours before she got to see me again after they’d wheeled me away. All I remember is hearing the staff talking about how they’d lost my chart, and thinking, well, this is going great so far. At least the correct leg is hurting.

Boy, howdy, was it hurting. I still had the oxygen mask on, but I was pitifully mewling “eight” to anybody walking past, attempting to get someone’s attention. I was told I couldn’t have any pain meds until my blood pressure came up, and my pulse went down. This brought on thoughts of go up, blood pressure! Goooooo!! Mama needs drugs, now!!

At some point in recovery, my right leg started convulsing (seriously- no other word describes it better). One of the nurses tried to hold it down. I was told this was from the anesthesia wearing off. I wished it had chosen the other leg to torture!

Somewhere in the haze, I was moved to my room, via a painful transfer off the stretcher. They started to transfuse two units of blood into me over the next several hours. I don’t remember much else, except that my nurse the first night was really nice, and the tech became my best friend when he offered me two kinds of sorbet at 11:00 that night- my first “food” in nearly 30 hours.