Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Slow Fade

A big HI! to those who have stayed with me.  I didn't even want to blog about this last experience but if I suppress it, it will just stay buried somewhere until one day..."we don't know why she pulled out all of her I.V.s, stripped off her hospital gown and went screaming through the halls -- she was such a quiet girl." Sorry, because it wasn't actually the worst experience ever but I was not ready to be in the hospital (jail) again.  Mentally, it was hard to keep it together.

So, I had mentioned I spent 9 hours in the car recently.  Don't do this post-surgery.  I also was on too much Lisinopril (started on 20mg instead of the usual 5-10mg for blood pressure).  Much pain (thought I had an intestinal blockage but a side effect (allergic reaction) is swelling of the intestines).  That may not have even happened but the pain & breathing problems were very real.  I took Benadryl & avoided an ER visit.  A leg cramp developed which I thought was a sore muscle from phys. therapy, but by Easter Sunday I could barely walk & my leg was so swollen, throwing off my balance.  It was a constant charley-horse.  I was very worried about deep vein thrombosis.  The next afternoon, off to the ER anyway.  My sister & brother-in-law graciously babysat for hours since they were in town, having spent Easter with us (& the cousins had a sleepover).  Lifesavers! 

Anyone who has ever been to the ER knows how it goes.  I spent 9 hours there, between the actual ER & the Admissions bay down the hall.  In order not to get angry or freak out, I enjoy watching sports in situations like these.  Before Bea's birth I watched football highlights.  This time I caught the entire "Opening Day" St. Louis Cardinals vs. Cincinnati Reds game.  All 9 innings! Unheard of! I hate baseball! But it is utterly calming when you just stare at it for long periods of time.  Every once in a while I would check the score so I could at least know who was winning.  It also introduced me to a handsome young man named Colby Rasmus:

-- he definitely made it easier on the eyes to watch.  Who needs Pujols? Of course after further thought concerning baseball players (& I had nothing but time to contemplate this), Colby just can't replace my top guy, Tim Lincecum:

So, I enjoyed the game, got an ultrasound of my calf, found out I had a blood clot behind my right knee (my good leg damn it!) & the ER doc (think Ralph Fiennes, but from Boston, and named Dr. Madonick) called my neurosurgeon to make sure it was safe to be put on blood thinners.  Dr. Shaffrey gave him the okay since we were 6 weeks out from the craniotomy & I shouldn't bleed anywhere up there.  My heart sank & I got depressed when I heard the word "admit" though.  I have a minor hospital phobia now & I wanted to RUN.

The ultrasound was easy of course, except for the few minutes I was left alone on my bed in the radiology hallway, waiting my turn, facing the MRI Suite.  I hadn't been there since the day of my diagnosis & it all came back.  What a cliche! Grieving the loss of the "old me" whoever that was, but I miss her.  The new me may live a lot longer though.  But I'll never be the same.  I had to acknowledge this.  I cried and the poor ultrasound girl thought I was mad at having to wait for so long.  I expressed all my feelings to her but she wasn't the empathetic type.  Blank.  Some really young hospital employees aren't used to listening.  Maybe if I had texted it? (Sorry, more bad attitude.)

So, in the ER you hear things.  Here are a few examples: An elderly man yelling in the room next to me between hacking coughs: "Nurse! I'm bleeding again!", retching that sounded like Golem, and between nurses: "Can you do bay 28? It's a car wreck.  I hate doing car wrecks (laughter)".  Crying babies, moaning, "environmental clean up" or "isolation clean up" pages throughout the hallways -- what did I expect? Finally safe in the Admissions bay, Joni from Georgia asked me endless questions, some which we joked about: "Bowel movements? Titanium plates? Yes & Yes!" Dr. Kim, the Hospitalist, finally came to see me, tell me about Coumadin (blood thinner/rat poison) & what a nasty drug it is: .  He was Japanese, with a black faux-hawk, and a shiny pink shirt with even shinier pink pinstripes and black pants.  Very sharp.  The pink worked.  Not a lot of guys could pull that off.  He seemed to say "I'm sorry" a lot but I actually told him I was okay.  Business as usual.

I won't bore you with all the details of this hospitalization, I certainly didn't take pictures this time because I was so mad.  Lynchburg General Hospital's Acute Care Unit is like a hotel.  The East Wing is all private rooms with flat screen t.v.s, nice cabinetry, huge bathrooms, & a fold out couch for guests.  Nice view of the mountains.  This must be to compensate for the quality of their care.  I was admitted Monday night & on Tuesday had no idea if I would see a doctor, get on the Coumadin, or stay another night until I finally had to ask around 3pm.  I brag about my patience but then in times like these I get Ethan on the phone & just lose it: through sobs: "Why am I even here, no one can tell me anything!"  My nurse had no idea, but then again, I had to remind her to give me my Keppra dose.  After he arrived Ethan went to the desk & a Hospitalist, Dr. Woodward, was in our room in 10 minutes.  The end result was I had to stay another night.  If insurance approved the Lovenox shots, we could do them at home, & make our Thursday appt with Dr. Shaffrey for my MRI & check up.

 Wednesday morning I just really wanted to see my daughters.  My mom & dad had come down on short notice and had been babysitting since Monday evening.  A big thanks to them.  I felt very lucky for them to be so close & to have a lifeline.  Ethan's mom had done this for us too.  Another thanks to my sister & her family.  Stuck in bed again, blood work, vitals, Lovenox injections, hospital air, Ethan asleep on the couch next to me, stressed about falling behind on schoolwork, seeing the security camera on the roof out the window, & thinking JAIL...just repeating to myself -- you can make it, you'll make it, you'll make it.  Thinking of Ernie, who did this for eight years.

My last nurse was the best, Sarah S.  She was so attentive, sat on my bed and talked to me, didn't ignore my tears (waterworks man, like all the time -- I can't control it). She hustled too! I got her card so I can write a letter saying what a great nurse she is.  Dr. Woodward gave us the okay to go.  When I said goodbye to Sarah, she said "I don't want you to go!".  I was easier than most.  She had been dealing all day with an elderly patient who was a bit confused & wouldn't let Sarah leave, or would yell "please help me" out her door, or hit the call button constantly.  Sarah was waiting for her patient to be released back to her nursing home so she could have more time for the rest of her patients.  Again, I could never do this job.

Definitely left a piece of myself at the hospital again, just not literally like last time.


  1. Hey, Cathy! Post 'em all, good, bad, and ugly. I'm trying to think of a word, but it's too late for me to think . . . I want to say your intense reluctance (but there's a better word) to be in the hospital again is understandable. Hang in there. We'll be listening. :-)

  2. This tale makes me think of Michel Foucault's Madness and Civilization. Have you read that? It pulls back the layers of the idea of a hospital and what it really is and what if functions for. I don't blame you at all for how you feel and in fact, if it were me, I think I'd be handling it it much worse. You should be proud. Keep fighting so that you won't ever have to go back more than once a year for a check up.