You know not sick-minded, that’s a perpetual state of bliss. No, a bona fide sickness.
I was away from my home for almost five days and it was far from vacation. It’s been so much new my brain is struggling to catch up now.
Together, my Blackberry Storm and my iPod Touch kept away feelings of isolation. I took a lot of notes along the way on the Touch’s Notes application since I got to the hospital on Saturday. Here’s the non-fractured version of them.
Hospital: Phoenix Baptist
Walked into the emergency room to get a gall bladder ultrasound recommended by a comically somber Dr. Cooper at NextCare Urgent Care Desert Ridge the day before.
For some reason I expected mass crowds in the emergency room waiting room. I’d been there twice before as chauffeur and they were there. But I was the second person in line.
I mention it’s a good, slow day for the hospital to the lady doing very basic intro questions. “It’s good day for health.” She says yes it’s a good day to come. I say no I mean for everybody else it’s a good day.
I get a red non-allergy bracelet with NKA on it tightened to the 7th hole out of 13. … I was told, don’t drink in case you need surgery. Also, take this and produce a urine sample. So I had brought a huge Extreme Gulp for the wait that never came.
They don’t tell you about stages but you have to know there exist and act accordingly. People really are as stupid as they sometimes appear but often they’re just incredibly bored. Boredom can easily be misinterpreted as stupidity because the link is a lack of imagination.
First stage was the admittance lady who seemed so cold. Second stage registration, however, was with a very pleasant lady even through amplification and Plexiglass. Took insurance card and ID to record.
In very short order I was Inside the hospital, past those thick windowless doors. That’s when you become your second name. Not good that the lady who walks you back is easily 400 pounds. Place was very clean but if you want to think healthy all the way that stops you cold even if she can touch her toes.
Take your shirt and pants off she says reaching into a cabinet for a generic hospital gown. That’s a psychological bridge right there from dressed person to semi-dressed patient. That’s the second name part as well.
And my red non-allergy bracelet on left and patient bracelet under Dr. James Snarrenberg on my right. Not a person, a patient. A waiting patient.
There is a stain mark on the sheet below my right thigh. I don’t know if that’s normal or not but you’d think not. It’s about the size of two quarters laid next to each other. I imagine if it was a huge stainmark they would actually not put it on another bed.
Turns out Dr. Snarrenburg is a small quiet man. Street drugs? he asks. Smoker? Drinker? Heavy drinker?
Oddly I couldn’t take a full breath at all all week. It hurt but I actually couldn’t do it. Today I really hurt a lot less and I could take full breaths. I did tell him a few times, I’m not being brave in saying this – translation, not bullshittimg you – but I do actually feel better today.
While waiting heard what sounded like a bone saw and then a woman moaning in pain.
Chest X-rays done before any gall bladder ultrasound. Taken straight front and then turned to the right with my hands on top of my head elbows closed … Taken by a guy who reminded me of a seasoned Australian surfer. He put up the other rightside arm barrier cage and was about to wheel me. Oh I said, you’re going to wheel me in? Followed a beat or two later by, I can walk. Sso we did and a tall skinny college-aged guy with two-inch spiked hair was there waiting. All told that took maybe three minutes.
Back in room wondering why most hospital doors and my room door – nineteen – has to either be all the way open or all the way closed. Unless you can balance it with considerable effort in finding just the right spot. Otherwise you get everyone passing by unable NOT to see you. But you have to be able to look out. Even about 11 3/4 inches open I’m overhearing conversations about advanced college placement courses and lame TV shows. “No walking or running around” and sports strategies between mothers and sons about the next soccer game.
You know I actually debated this morning whether I should wear tighty whities. I really only have any left as legacy underpants. But I decided to keep on the pair I slept in and had worn the day before. For some reason my brain was telling me the likelihood that anyone would see them in any case was pretty small. After all, at Urgent Care I had not even taken off my shoes much less my pants. And had only unbuttoned the front of my shirt but not taken it off. Which by the way, yesterday, left open the possibility that the tiny little gel slips that were used for the EKG could be left behind. Which they were, I noticed this morning, one on my arm and another one on my side. She had put about 10 on me including 10 on my shins.
Started reading Pontoon by Garrison Keillor which I’d bought a couple of months before for five dollars from a bargain bin at Fry’s Marketplace.
Woman down the hall just one room kept begging please please please please for something in a fuzzy voice sounding as if she was just learning to speak. And the nurse replied a couple of times that she was not her doctor and could not. She, the patient, used various words of pleading but it didn’t work and it got quiet for a little while. I have absolutely no idea what then went on but that’s what it sounded like …. Then there was commotion and what sounded below it was a thick sound of thick fluids being released. “Oh you can’t stay in the bed after that.” “Look.” I missed a lot of adjoining words, of course. About three minutes later she got wheeled to the bathroom where I’d peed into a bd vacutainer (urine cup kit with UA tube) earlier.
About 1145 I’m called over by a Marine-looking guy with a high but quiet voice. Gallbladder ultrasound. He uses acoustic gel and a conducer to take pictures. The gel is rubbed across as he moves the conducer across. His first push may not have been the hardest but it seemed like it as it took me by surprise just above the solar plexus. A swoosh followed every picture he took. Like the sound after your e-mail goes through.
I saw a little bit of the sonograms after I asked whether he was taking pictures. He turned the screen and though I couldn’t see much the general image looked like every baby ultrasound I’ve ever seen. Except no baby, of course.
He said he was going to focus in on a blood vessel to the liver just to make sure the blood was flowing. I saw a throb of red but I turned away because it was a tight angle I was looking and neck and eye strain not worth it. I turned on my left side at request with hand on head and he took a few more.
I asked him about gel and what the mechanical part against my skin was called. In the middle of his explanation that the need for the gel was all physics he said he wad studying physics and had a test next week.
He had taken me a different direction from the bathroom and the xRay room – left down a very short hall to exit doors then through a couple of card swipes to his ultrasound room.
We passed the lady who was and is having problems but I’ve lost any slight grasp on what’s going on with her situation. I did not stare but in a glance she looked slightly above healthy weight normal height with long grey hair. On second thought now though I’m not sure of the grey hair as it just seems so picturesque of woman on movies or tv programs who might make that sound.
With the door slightly open apparently my room is “the only one” that has small gloves in a box attached to the wall and nurses keep popping in.
The room across the hall now has its door slightly ajar and a worried black woman can be seen almost perfectly in profile sitting. I’ve only looked twice. The first time she was looking my way; both times appeared worried and lost.
I tried to take a camera phone photo of at least part of myself in the hospital gown / half thigh length “skirt.” It refused to work. I got one of my hand and a stitch of the gown but then it wouldn’t take any more photos. I’ll try one more time in a little while.
Ultrasound guy said it would take about thirty minutes for doctor to come in and give a rundown on results. It was longer.
“Dr. Van physician holding line 1. Dr Van physician holding line 1.” That announcement suddenly came to my room at 1254. Then at 1255 “Dr. Van, phone call 5689 Dr Van.” There had been plenty of other anonymous to me announcements not going to my room. There were several more after a while, as if a calculated move to keep me awake or something.
James an Ed Tech came in and told me he was going to draw blood and was surprised it wasn’t done already. It was in same place as yesterday. He drew 18 ml of dark beet red blood in 4×4.5 ml tubes. I had asked what size.
By the way still haven’t drunk anything though I should and could as I brought flavored water in an Xtreme Big Gulp cup. So that did or make me think it would make it more painful to give blood. It was poked about for mm from other hole in inside elbow join in right arm.
The remainder of my urine sample is still sitting on the steel desk tray.
How much should what’s been done cost so far? About $1,000? How much will it cost me and my insurance company. Who knows. I know the price will surprise and slightly disgust me.
Back to reading about Evelyn’s death in Pontoon. 13:26
Two announcements for my doctor came thru at 1348. “Call for Dr. Snarrenburg 5748 call for Dr. Snarrenburg.” Then like ten seconds later, “Physician holding Dr. Snarrenburg 2257 physician holding.” About me?
Maybe because about 1358 Dr. Snarrenburg comes in and without any preliminary says, “You have gall stones, sludge in there and you need to have it removed. … You can go home and come back but you should do it today. Have you had anything to eat or drink today?”
Any surgery is a big big deal to me. I asked him whether he could show me anything to back up what he was talking about. No it’s all on the screen.
Then just a few minutes ago still he said I could go home it could get better but one of the stones could block something and it’d be a whole lot worse and they’d have to bring me back anyway.
I asked him a little about the surgery. He said they’d scope it. I asked what that meant. Instead of big incisions they’d scope to get it out. I asked how big the gall bladder was. He indicated about as big as an elongated navel orange. But he said he wasn’t the right person to ask. That Dr. T would answer my questions. (He gave the name but I couldn’t begin to know how to spell it except that it ended in I)
A new patient across the way has gallstones too. Sounds like she was already told that at a different hospital so ..
The hospitalist came in. I’m down for surgery today but when I asked if there was an ETA for the surgeon he said she wouldn’t make her rounds until six. That was at three and it’s four o six now. But if I have surgery today I’ll have to stay overnight in any case. It’s still up in the air whether I have it tonight or tomorrow.
Made round of phone calls and will send out a pic text to friends family and twitpic at fiveish. Me in my hospital gown.
Not exactly sure why but they’ve moved me up to a different room. In wheelchair with a child’s view of the hallway kids poking their heads out of rooms. Not being able to see into the gift shop very well but it looked bright and colorful. And from room 19 to room 552 with bathroom so that’s good.
Carmen came and stayed for about half an hour I’d asked her to bring my Blackberry charger cord which she did thank you. That means I can happily txt send pics, call, Twitter without worry about an end to connection.
I am sickenimgly healthy I told James my new nurse. He’s got a script and you can hear the gears shift the stages. Alma is his nurse’s assistant and Stephanie is a medical student observer. Found out the hospitalist’s name was Dr. Shahid A. Mughal because it’s on this what third patient admission form I’ve filled out. Fine keeps me busy, right?
So the thing bugging me most now is this IV. For a while the first tape Rm 19 nurse put on didn’t stick at all. She finally camee back to move me up and put different tape on which works best. But I can’t bend my arm up too much to type to write up a form or to hold a book. And it’s gonna be a pain when I go to the bathroom because I’m going to have to roll it with me somehow.
All in all though doing fine care great nothing to complain about. Oh except the whole thirst and hunger thing.
It’s 1740 20 mins before surgeon is supposed to arrive.
Blood pressure last two times have been 117/62 and 115/61 with temp 97.4 and now at 711 was 98.0p
At 2035 given Pepsid into my IV to help prevent acid since I haven’t eaten anything all day so said night nurse Helen and new asst Ellen but that was a while ago now
So the surgeon came in a few minutes before 6 about 1752 and started asking me a lot of the same why are you here today questions and backgrounds.
Lathroscopic surgery indeed is the procedure an inch thick hole next to belly button where the gall bladder will be extracted. Also four incisions further up my chest where other instruments will be inserted.
My chest abdomen will be shaved. My chest cavity will be expanded with gas to allow for mobility for surgery. There should be no complications but if a gallstone already got loose she’ll have to track that down as well.
In the very smallest of percentages something comes up where they can’t get the gallbladder removed this way; already too inflamed (“pretty certain this isn’t you”) or it sits backwards or awkwardly. Then the four incisions at the top become one and it becomes open surgery without any of the delicacy and a lot more muscle cutting pain and recovery time.
All told the surgery should take an hour to ninety minutes the surgeon said. The part that set me surprised was that it would take about three days before I would even want to go back to work and a lot of people just took the whole week off.
Woah and I had still been thinking of going to work Monday (until I heard surgery postponed until tomorrow).
She seems an extremely pleasant woman and even though I saw her name on the surgery and (if needed) blood transfusion consent forms. Still not going to attempt writing it. Except that there’s an A and I think its the second letter.
2058 now and heading to toilet with IV in tow for first time.
A Lil Luv
So I did reach out further than I usually do to get a little love. And got a few calls and lots of txts and tweets as a result. I’ve read most but not them all in case I need an uplift tomorrow.
It was something i needed even without surgery just to know people care. I don’t ask it enough because when i hear it I want it to come organically not as a result of me injecting guilt hormones. But sometimes – duh – people don’t know what’s going on unless you tell them.
I debated throwing a public picture out there on Twitpic of me in my hospital gown. But I did just because it seemed innocuous without oversharing. Photo title: Temple In Gown. (Here at this post there are a few more in-innocuous.)
So thank you even if you never read this post whenever it actually goes up. Some / most: Janell, Trish, Steve, Cynthia, Roger, Stephanie, Brian, Lisa, Charlene, Chris, Lynette, Scott, Jill, Jason, David, Kelli, Tiffany, Charles.
2249: Someone with a beautiful singing voice is lilting out music phrases from tunes. The only one Ive recognized is “Wind Beneath My Wings.
NOV 8 – Surgery Day
Not much to remember here. I woke up on my own at six thirty went to the bathroom but couldn’t figure out how to flush it. When I opened the door there were two women waiting and surgery was the plan. I laid back down and they rolled me up to floor six into an alcove waiting room. They prepped me there explaining more about how the aneasthetics were going to work – countdown and so on. They were going to transfer me to the operating room table and back to the recovery room.
I had a few moments of near panic during the night and a quick flash of it in that waiting room. It passed because I shut my brain from going into its great vast plain of imagination. They took my glasses off and took me up. I remember the room looking somewhat chaotic with tables and equipment at weird angles. To be fair, mostly looking at the ceiling. And then I don’t remember anything else whatsoever until I woke up I’m the recovery room. Apparently everything okay and fears of being allergic to anything they gave me while I was under unfounded thankfully.
Rest of the day spent in bed not moving and getting bed sores. Not as much pain as I thought might be there but was given morphine and demeral I think. Water. Jello. Juice later too.
Surgery done. When I might leave who knows. Maybe as soon as tomorrow??
Kexberg or Kexburg Incident. I’ll look that up but I asked this morning how the cleaning guy was doing and two sentences into striking up a conversation he said he’d seen a UFO with a group of friends when he was eighteen, near where Kexburg happened. In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania they’d all just won a pickup game of football and were excitedly talking about it late but not too late. The police had already been by to pleasantly shush them. One of them looked up in the sky and saw lights the kind they’d never seen before. And they weren’t just motionless but jagged across the sky, the guy said.
He also said Jackie Gleason wrote about a time when then-President Nixon called him over to the White House one night, got him a limo to drive him over, and showed him five suspended-in-liquid aliens inside the White House. “What reason would Jackie Gleason have to lie?”
A few sentences about Area 51 and the incident over Arizona that an Arizona governor finally admitted to seeing years later. He said people are detected near Area 51 by chemicals in their skin. He ended, swear to god, with, “The Truth Is Out There” and “I’ll add us to my prayers.”
My first few minutes of getting out of bed at about 1045 were the worst moments since I’ve been here. I knew I’d need to get walking eventually so I wanted to have a go. Nurse Jennifer stood by to help as I painfully pulled my legs around and stood up. I got immediately dizzy and had to sit down but in a chair. There I sweated profusely for 15 minutes and everything got a little too bright.
I got up with IV tower trailing and sat down again for awhile in a different chair. Nurse told me at some point that my goal for the day was to walk the hallway. So next time I got up I toddled out my door and hooked a right to the shortest stretch of the hallway.
I made it up and down the hallway. Slowly but it atually felt good.
I had new PS bottoms to do it. While sitting 25-year “Cornerstone” veteran nurses’ assistant Claudia made the bed, used this shower cap thing to wash my hair and I sponged myself down a bit as well. That felt good, especially the clean hair.
Saw my surgeon again who said I was either being stoic or had a high tolerance for pain because my gall bladder was so enflamed others would have been doubled over. My last nurse for the day agreed. She said I’d taken last pain medication about 10, before I went walking and hadn’t had any since. Others, she said, would want it every two hours or so.
I’m still here because I’m not passing gas and haven’t had a bowel movement. Also fluids are draining put of my body cavity at too fast a rate still. But I didn’t know most of the day whether I’d be leaving tonight or not. But NOT
Well, I am passing gas (woohoo?) and walking a bigger loop around floor five. I’m also trying not to cough with an itch in my throat because that absolutely kills. Just walked the floor loop for seventh time, two more just now as someone cleaned my room.
Sem to be going out of their way to show compassion and be helpful, Nurse Jennifer, Claudia especially, but also Dr. T. and Dr. Mughal
Was given Arestrica, a blood thinner, to prevent clots since i’ve been lazing around. No idea if I spelled that right.
I was practically jogging around the hospital floor like 20 times. While doing so late afternoon-ish was told I would NOT be going home today. Fuuuuck. I can see my car from a couple of windows when I walk around. Saw my surgeon and got her card so can spell her name Ela Timbadia MD. She took my dressings off and I saw the small staples there. Took pictures of that and of the four incisions above that. It’s all shaved. Looks strange.
“Occluded – Patient Side” The IV beeping because the line bring pinched or blocked is the absolute worst thing about staying here. I can’t type or read or hold a book without a green light going amber and the pump going quiet. Then if I don’t catch it in time, beeeeeep. James did tell me how to hit reset. But damn, so annoying, limiting further my already limited movement.
Ate an actual dinner. Broccoli and corn, turkey sandwich, chef salad.
So I finally get a post-op bm going about 2320 – and I break the dang toilet!!! No really. And it’s not like I filled it up or anything it just didn’t want to flush though it’s been flushing gallons of pee down. I already had been told whichever nurse was on duty had to look before I could flush. Poor security guy had to come in and try and unclog it. He didn’t.
At 430 in the morning they had to get me one more time with the blood draw. It had been almost two days.
At 515ish IV had to be changed. A different beep. Got cold turned up heat. Just now 0845 they gave me more anti-clot shot in belly – left side. And I ordered breakfast ext 5744 left message for Blueberry muffin English muffin, fruited yogurt, Cheerios, and orange juice and apple juice. A medicalist came in and confirmed I could go home if I could tolerate food which I have. So sometime this morning???
About 13 minutes ago a regular more solid No. 2 in the public bathroom because mine’s still broken. I looked at myself in mirror for first time just to see what everyone else was seeing. My hair is so short and dirty it looks black. I knew my stubble beyond stubble was there – close to a week I think without shaving.
At 1100 the dreaded IV came off with some pain considering it’s been stuck there awhile. I have prescriptions. I have abdomen drain instructions. I can go. Gonna pack up get dressed and go before someone changes there mind.
Will get tiny payday loan and prescriptions I think after Carmen comes home and can drive me a little. But having that IV off is the best feeling ever.
A thing I had to breathe through – suck up like a straw – called the 2500 Voldyne made by Hudson Eco. It started low but I’ve been able to get the floater thing higher and higher. They’re making me take it home so I can open up. … Also for not sure how long at least two days had antibiotic Levaquin in my IV.