Sunday, June 22, 2008

fully operational

The worst, I think, is over. The haze of morphine is blocking out some memories from Wednesday and my general delirium is probably not going to lend much to the clarity of this entry. But I am stuck with a week of bed rest and what better way to kill some horizontal time than to write?

I can't begin to count the number of times in the past few days where I've had those moments where I am waiting for the next 'happening', where all the words and feelings are bubbling up within me and the means to express it perfectly were all RIGHT THERE... and of course these are the same moments where there is no paper to write on, no laptop... only wheels scooting me from one room to the next. So this is what you get: me, touched with codeine, laying in bed, my mother yakking away at me from the chair across the room.

privacy © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday morning, hungry, sleepy and clean, Michael and I drove over to Chestnut Hill Hospital and were met by my favorite admissions nurse at the Surgicenter, Georgette. She knows me by name now, smirking when she sees me, always quick with a quip about me not being able to stay away, then releasing a string of comic complaints about the insanity of the day thus far and/or pen stealers/waiting area cell phone users. She ferries us to AM Admissions to my least favorite admissions nurse... who I shall refer to as Nurse Pane. She, too, recognizes me... but is completely humorless and even though she knows I know the drill will repeat the same info roboticly and slowly... while denying AGAIN that I will be admitted overnight again even though the orders were clear, and acting like she didn't really want to give me Teds despite my expected two-hour surgery and week of bed rest... then left us rot for an hour and a half.

When I met Michael and explained to him what was going on with me health-wise, I told him that I hated saying the name of my condition (or disease, depending on how you look at it). So he named the hole Herbert, so that I wouldn't ever have to say the actual name if I didn't want to. It just so happened that the man who took me from AM Admissions to Pre-Induction was named Herb. When he came in the room and introduced himself, Michael and I locked eyes in comic recognition and I took this as some sort of omen. Once Herb deposited us, we hit something of a stride, all cheery familiar faces, my favorite anaesthesiologist, who nails an IV like nobody's business and historically has kept me from getting sick, The Butcher for pre-op pep talk, the residents and other nurses. I informed the Butcher about some problems I had been having the past couple weeks and we had to make some last minute decisions about how to handle the possible problematic outcomes... He suggested we might put off surgery for a few days and then do a complete colonoscopy prep to clean out the system, with four days of clear liquids following the surgery. We opted to go ahead as scheduled without the prep and have a day of clear liquids, followed by a week of low residue diet, so, yeah I've been living on beige food...

flush © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

The spinal took three pokes to get to the right spot, then I had to lay on my back have my foley catheter inserted... fortunately the spinal had started to kick in already, though the sedation had not, so I had the pleasure of watching all these things happening to my body while completely unable to feel them. Including the team of six it took to roll me over to the operating table onto my stomach. I laid my head on the foam pillow and stared at the black and institutional green tiles on the floor until I knocked out. I actually awoke before the procedure was over and recalled hearing people talking about their vacations. I looked up at the anaesthesia nurse who was sitting by my head and she gave me some more sedation... and once more I woke up a few minutes before they were finished. The spinal was still effective but the awareness that things were still going on behind me was bizarre. I remember them rolling me over onto another gurney and taking me into recovery, more coherent than ever, post-op.

mr. bones
mr.bones © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

The lidocaine spinal wore off relatively quickly. Foot-wiggles were had within the hour... which also meant I was in face-twister pain within two hours. The recovery room nurse (who was named Shannon, who I made myself remember because she shares names with the Shanners) started giving me 2mg of morphine at a time as sensation started returning. She must have dosed me four or five times and every time the pain just seemed to get worse. Each time she administered it, I tasted copper on my tongue and then a curious warm, crampy sensation radiated out from my belly button, and the pain muted a touch. The combination of the surgery site pain and the constant nagging of the catheter was pretty unbearable... it felt rather like my entire groin had been seared off, which left me writhing in discomfort.

clear liquid diet
clear liquid diet © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

Anxious to get to my room and see Michael, my mom and friends who were visiting later, I asked Nurse Shannon if they had contacted Michael about what room I was going to be in, since he was letting everyone know where to show up that evening. It was then I found out mom got lost, and was practically in Collegeville. By the time I was rolled up to my room, mom and Michael had actually beat me to it and were chatting away while my new nurse, Linda, hooked me up to my morphine drip with saline to keep me super hydrated (a state I am unaccustomed to).

em oh arr pee aych eye en three
em oh arr pee aych eye en three © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

The order of things that happened that evening is a bit of a blur, but I do recall my mother running around collecting answers from the nurses and residents along with hijacking beverages and water ice from the nutrition center for me. Michael took cell phone pictures and sent them to my people with directions on how to get to the hospital. Gwyn was the first to arrive, with a gift that gave me my first good laugh of the day: an Uglydoll with a gauze bandage taped to its butt, just like me. Solidarity, man! We goofed about and chatted and Shanners showed up not long thereafter with a monster gift basket, that included a phenomenal, anatomically correct stuffed toy octopus (replete with a beak on its pink underside), a miniature plastic skeleton, The Shy Little Kitten (to be read by Michael before I go to sleep), a white fluffy ceramic cat, balloon, magazine, crackers, markers, and card.

octopussy © Michael Alan Goldberg. All Rights Reserved.

Not allowed out of bed, and not even able to turn and lay on my side, I got pretty antsy in no time and had Michael get the camera out and we handed it back and forth as the evening progressed. Shannon also had promised me that she would take lots of photos as well... and she did. But she was disappointed I was not more messed up on the morphine than I was.

the poor housekeeper I terrified by wearing a stuffed octopus on my head
the poor housekeeper I terrified by wearing a stuffed octopus on my head © Michael Alan Goldberg. All Rights Reserved.

When the first housekeeping lady came in to remove my tray of unpalatable liquid diet delicacies, she found a room full of raucous people, and the patient wearing a brown and pink octopus on her head. She came in, startled, scurried half out and then snuck back in... Michael caught her and she exclaimed 'oh he captured me!!' and shuffled away with my unsalted chicken broth that tasted more like the metal spoon I ate it with.

shanners shade
shanners shade © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

Daniel and his girlfriend Nancy showed up close to visiting hours ending. He informed me that according to the posted rules, patient's visitors are to keep their visits short and quiet. Daniel informed me that Nancy is short and he was quiet, so it was all under control. We did manage to get pretty rowdy, half of which was caused by the one resident coming into the full room and rolling me over to check my ass dressing in front of all my friends and then shortly thereafter, Nurse Linda marches in and tapes a sign to the wall over the head of my bed that reads NOTHING PER RECTUM. Attention somehow shifted then to The Pee Bag, which was indelicately placed right by where visitors would sit next to me bedside. Awesome.

nothing per
nothing per © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

Five minutes before visiting hours ended, the announcement came on the PA system to tell everyone to leave. Of course my posse stuck around a bit longer than was legal and managed to get themselves locked into the building. We broke every rule. Most visitors claimed it was the best time they had ever had in a hospital room. For me, the presence of so many of my people made the pain much more bearable. My night nurse put a quick end to the fun by being a cold grouch. I conked out around 10.30 but was awakened numerous times throughout the night to have vital signs taken, be gifted with a Voldyne spirometer around midnight... and around 3am my IV started beeping about its emptiness. Wide awake, I asked grouchynurse for something to help me sleep, instead she gave me a fabulous new drug for my pain, Toradol. It worked way better than morphine, making both the pain at large and even the foley annoyance dissipate completely. I slept for another three hours before morning rounds started up and the anti-climatic thrill of solid food... squishy french toast with scrambled eggs! Destroyed! The Butcher stopped by early to check in on me and told me all looked well.

discharging © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

Michael and mom showed up at the top of the visiting hour while the residents were making rounds. New guy said he would try me on some codeine orally and see if it affected me adversely, get me some lunch, take out my cath, then discharge me. Sounded quick and easy but took almost another 4 hours. In the meantime, the three of plotted the next few days, mom stole more Jack and Jill water ice from the nutrition room and tried to light fires under the asses of the appropriate people to get me sprung, and once I was uncathed I got up and roamed around the room and took more photos. As I said to my visitors, I am paying $250 a day for this studio space, I might as well get my money's worth.

betadine teds = teh hotness
betadine teds = teh hotness © Michael Alan Goldberg. All Rights Reserved.

I'm not sure I could get used to having people take care of me in a long term way... even though I am more or less doing that now for a couple weeks. Reporting to people on the details of my bodily functions will never feel quite normal or comfortable. The same goes for rolling over and letting random strangers look at my butt.

stylin © Michael Alan Goldberg. All Rights Reserved.

After discussing with nurses, The Butcher, mom and Michael, it was decided that I should stay at my apartment rather than going home to Lancaster, or staying with Michael. Mom and Michael just split up the watch shifts into manageable pieces. Mom stayed til late Friday morning and Michael came at noon and stayed til later in the evening. I felt pretty good by Friday night but decided against performing acrobatic feats, instead, falling asleep watching tv on the couch.

When I awoke I went to get ready for bed and much to my chagrin, I discovered a bit of bleeding from the surgery site. Whether it was from bleeding, the drugs, or just the idea that something might be very wrong, when I stood up I was so light-headed and dizzy I was certain I would pass out. I immediately went and laid down in bed and called the Butcher. He said if I wanted to I could go into the ER and he would let them know I was coming or I could wait and see what the morning held. He said I likely felt like passing out just from worry alone, since, by the time I got on the phone with him, I was rather worked up. I decided to wait until morning.

Awakening was painless and refreshing for about a minute, before it was shadowed with dread. I didn't want to get out of bed for fear of what I would find. And not without reason, today. There was a lot more blood than last night. Knowing full well I would be going to the ER, I resolved to not eat, to take a shower and prepare myself as though I were going to surgery. I stood in the shower and cried. Its hard to go through so many procedures of ever-increasing intensity and watch them fail repeatedly. The last fix surgery in April, I knew was failing, The Butcher knew was failing before he even told me he knew... he didn't want me to lose hope, but also made me wonder if he would really tell me straight up if things were going wrong immediately.

I let Michael know we needed to go to the ER. Mom was already on her way back from Lancaster to meet us there. I registered and the triage nurse called over to ask me if I was pregnant... my comfy dresses and awkward walk are obviously flattering me all the way. I was given a room and seen by a doctor within the hour. The Butcher appeared quickly thereafter... he was on call for the weekend and had started the day with a burst appendix in the OR. Once he came in to examine me he quickly determined the source of the bleeding, which was one not to be worried about. The sutures were holding, we were in the clear.
Something I do has to work for once!
I should hope so.

Mom made it in time to finally meet the Butcher and hang out with us while awaiting discharge instructions. I am still strictly forbidden to lift cars off of small children, kickbox, etc. We all went home together and Michael made us scrambled eggs and english muffins in lieu of more inspired brunches that I was pining aloud for.

Oh, fiber, why must we be strangers, when we have been lovers so long.

As boring as it is, I am actually glad to have a little peace and consistency to my day now. Finding a schedule within the Doing Nothing will make it a bit more bearable. Eating, reading, receiving visitors, napping, writing, working on photos & projects, watching tv... I can handle it, despite the not being able to go out walk/exercise/be publicly social. Friday I check in with the Butcher again and we should know by then if it has all worked, then I can switch my diet back to high fiber, after giving the system this rest, another week and then I should technically be better.

Like fixed better.

This is almost impossible to imagine. It is such an unfamiliar state anymore. I forget what it is like. I can barely wait.

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Anonymous Gwyn said...

I suggest a celebration of the low residue sort on Friday after the Butcher determines you FIXED!


11:07 AM, June 23, 2008  

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