Friday 20 June 2003
Tales from the House of Horrors
A True Story
Some of the names have been changed to protect the guilty.
I was told not to have anything to eat or drink after midnight the night before going in to have a pesky organ removed. Well, it's not like eating & drinking was on my list of favourite things to do anyway - or I wouldn't have been going for god damn gallbladder surgery, now would I? But okay, I'll admit it. I cheated. I finished my Rita's watermelon Italian Ice at 12:10a.m., and had a half a glass of pink lemonade at 12:30a.m. My sister, who is an RN, said that 8 hours is the critical period, so I don't think I was too terribly "naughty" on this point at least.
By 3a.m. I was thirsty as all hell. And then I realized that I forgot to shave my legs. And remembering the last time I went to have my belly slit open at the House of Horrors, afterwards, they made me wear these leggins that give new meaning to the word "tights", and I had hairy legs at the time, and the hairs were pulling all sorts of the wrong uncomfortable ways. Heaven knows how men put up with that. I'm telling you guys, get waxed like a drag queen before going to surgery - those leggins aren't fun! So I took a shower & shaved.
I didn't get any sleep at all. Not like I planned to. I mean, who could sleep knowing in a few hours someone would be harshly intruding into their torso?
I was told to report to the House of Horrors for 7:30a.m. Unfortunately, Uncle Early Bird wanted to pick me up at 6a.m. I said 7a.m., and we compromised for 6:30a.m. (And believe me, it was a hard bargain to drive at that. I knew then I should've taken my neighbor up on her offer to go with me! I could've arrived there at 7:31 like normal people!) Really, I could've left at 7:20 and made it there on time. I know because I once did a temp stint at the House of Horrors for some crazy reason.
I arrived at "Admissions" to the House of Horrors before 6:45a.m., because you know, I only live about 15 minutes from the institution during rush hour, and Uncle Eary Bird beat that window by a gazillion years.
I immediately apologized to the receptionist saying, "You know, to be honest, I didn't want to come at all, but Early Bird over there that wanted to put me through 45 extra minutes of agonizing anxiety."
Strangely, they were only too happy to have me there early. Bloodthirsty villians that they are!
So they sent me to a room within a half hour. A fantastic double occupancy accomodation about the size of a room at the YMCA near Lincoln Center. (I know, because I stayed there once.) Not only did the air conditioner waft out the glorious stench of institutional food, but I got the window seat, which sported a terrifying view of the cemetary across the street.
Yeah, I was pumped to "go under the knife" at this point, baby! Bring it on!
Uh-huh, that was when I started plotting my mental-patient-esque escape from the hospital. Of course by this time, I was already forced to put on the dreaded "gown", which would've looked pretty silly as street clothes, so some of my escape fantasies were pretty elaborate.
Why do they call it a "gown" anyway? Gowns are nice flattering articles of clothing that women wear to formal affairs, not worn out stained pieces of cloth with holes for the arms that let in chilly drafts and give strangers & family members alike views of things they should not see!
I was left alone with my 79 year old Uncle Early Bird for about a half hour, in which time, he gave me a verbal tour of what it's like when you get older. Yeah, this was exactly the time for such information to be imparted, when I'm already living it! Okay, so unfortunately except for the part where you can no longer smell what the air conditioner is pumping out.
Then the great Asian anesthesiologist comes for his token visit. I swear, either I'm an incredibly ignorant white girl who can't tell middle-aged Asian men dressed in full scrubs apart from one another, or it was the same guy who was my anesthesiologist the last time I had surgery 5-1/2 years ago. No, I'd bet my fully stamped Rita's Italian Ice card that it was the same guy. He started giving me a lecture on having a positive attitude, facing nausea instead of "running away", whatever that means, and he did this little stance about 6 times, posturing as an example of "facing the nausea". And he hooked my uncle in on it. Particularly at the point where he asked me how much I smoke. And then my uncle was all hyped up, saying things like "I tell her all the time to stop breathing that garbage!"
And even stranger, that guy had a really odd effect on my uncle... who continued after the anesthesiologist had left - there was my uncle giving me a sermon on positive attitudes! This is the guy who thinks I'm going to die a cold lonely death of starvation because I don't toil 70 hours a week, and regularly complains about how likely it is that some yo-yo is going to kill me in a car accident because of the way people drive "these days". For a minute there it was like Leo Buscaglia possessed him. Kind of got my hopes up... only to be shattered later, as you will see!
At that point the epitome of the day-shift floor nurse came in to give me yet another interview. I thought the phone conversation I had the day before covered all this nonsense, but apparently they misplaced that paperwork. Naturally!
Nurse Day-Shift then proceeded to tell me they were going to start my IV. I informed her that if they send in the little slip of an IV nurse I had when I went for the CCK HIDA scan, they better send in 2 strapping young orderlies with her, because I didn't see anybody administering sedation yet. I could tell just by the look on her day-shift nurse face that her exact thoughts were very likely - Screw this, let the O.R. people handle this piece of work.
And then a pretty young woman did come in... But as it turned out, she didn't have any sharp objects with her, just a tape measure. To measure my calves & thighs for the leggin tighty tight TEDs. Oh joy, like Cinderella at her first ball. Yeah, right.
Now, this nurse was very pretty & all, but why couldn't they send in one of those strapping young orderlies to measure my thighs, I ask you?
And then upon leaving she said they had to "order" the TEDs for me. I imagine my thighs must be an unusual size? That's not too flattering a thought. I mean, specially ordering them? I said to her, "From a catalogue?" And she said, "No, no, from the supply storage." I was doing a lot of dead pan humour, in anticipation of being dead, so I don't think anyone was catching onto my humour.
And then Nurse Day-Shift came back in with a cup of gelatinous Vioxx in a cup. Oh yeah, that was refreshing after spending the previous 7 hours thirsty as all Hell. It was like drinking cold, over-cooked rice noodles.
She informed my uncle, as if he cared, that Mr. Surgeon O' Mine requires all his patients to be given Vioxx preceding surgery and afterwards. I could be dead wrong, but I swear I heard a hint of rolling-eyes-tone in her voice, as if she was talking about a fastidious master she was butler for.
I guess one of the side-effects of Vioxx is drowsiness, because I was suddenly feeling very tired. Of course it could've been simple exhaustion from being up all night, not having anything to eat or drink for hours, and then being put through the gambit of nonsense up to that point.
I think the drowsiness was the only thing that got me to lie down on the gurney when the big man came to take me away.
I mean, who really gets on that cart willingly to go get cut? I mean, does anything about that kind of behaviour sound natural? Yes - take me away to be cut! Bring in the court leech, I want to be bled! No, I don't think so. The only thing that got me this far is the rotten stinking pain & sickness I've dealt with for months, coupled with not being able to sit in a god damn chair like normal people do.
Desperate people do desperate things. And surgery is obviously for the desperate.
Now, the only thing that I found more bizarre than the big man saying to my uncle, "You need to wait here, so say your goodbyes now." I mean really, after I'd just spent an hour staring at a view of a cemetary! - is that my uncle may have, in response, said to me, "I'll be seeing you"... or maybe that was my interpretation of "Yeah, that's good." - because I think that's what he said - "Yeah, that's good." ?? Where was Leo Buscaglia when I needed him? Pfft!
So then I was taken to this crowded room full of about a dozen other patients in close quarters, all on gurneys, with medical professionals rushing around like chickens with their heads cut off. I don't remember this kind of place from my last surgery, and I would've been better off never seeing a place like this, frankly.
A woman I presume was a nurse came to my side and said, "They didn't even try to hook up your IV upstairs did they?" She seemed to be smarting at the situation. My response was something like "You look like you can handle it, just don't try to use a tourniquet and everything will be fine." She said, "But we need a tournequet..." Yeah, I cut her off at that point, and said "An IV nurse in this joint started my IV just fine without a tourniquet in March, and they've drawn blood from me twice recently at the testing facility without a tourniquet, and the last time someone tried to use a tourniquet, chairs got overturned, I don't think there's room for that here." And indeed, the last time someone tried to use a tourniquet on me was when I was with my psychologist in therapy for "acute medical phobia", and the psychologist and I learned that day that it was the tourniquet that set me off. Ever since then, I've refused tourniquets, given the technicians instructions, and before this, 3 out of 4 times, things went smoothly.
Well, congratulations to that woman who thought she couldn't do it without a tourniquet. She did, first try. Good thing because she wouldn't have had a second chance, I had my escape fully planned by this point. She should've been proud of herself ranking among skilled professionals instead of mouthing off to Mr. Surgeon O' Mine about it. And besides, you know, I warned Mr. Surgeon O' Mine what was going to happen. If he was smart, he would've prescribed a Marlin Perkins type to be sent in with a tranquilizer gun to run me down like an animal on Wild Kingdom. I mean, really, they'd already tagged me on the wrist by then anyway.
I guess I must've used profane language while they were sticking me, though I don't remember it, I was busy concentrating on not jumping up & running at the time... because the woman said to me, "You need to be careful what you say because you know, there are old people in the room." Um... I had to hear the technicians talking about the guy next to me getting something up his butt. Like I wanted to hear about that! I would've prefered hearing the worst profanity! I didn't want to know what was going on behind that curtain!
And you know, if she said there were children in the room, I would've felt bad at my loss of control, but my only thought was - you know, if there was anyone over 65 in this room who hasn't heard the f-word yet, then I feel pretty bad for them, because their trip to the House of Horrors bunked in a wild prep room with an hysteric & someone getting a suppository is probably the most excitement they've had in their lives.
Give me a break!
I mean, come on, hasn't this medical facility ever heard of walls? Makes you wonder why they're all so uptight about this HIPPA thing... they obviously don't know the meaning of the word privacy.
So then I was taken to what I learned was the operating room. The last O.R. I was in, I don't remember much about because that surgeon had the sense to sedate me before I got there... But I do remember clearly being dropped onto silver table, and flailing my arms around saying "Where do I put my arms?" because the table was too narrow for me to fit my arms on it next to me. Flailing my arms was the last thing I remembered from that experience before waking up in what looked like a hallway, feeling like my belly had been slit open. (It had been.)
I don't know why all these people talk about being told to count backwards, because 2 times running now, nobody's said that to me!
In this O.R., in this House of Horrors this time... I remember too much.
I did get a pillow this time, I'll give them that much. Beyond that, I can't say much for this room. The ceiling had these ugly lights that reminded me of the cheap silver lights you can by for your Sims, except upside down & hanging from the ceiling. And frankly, my mechanics' garage has more ambiance... and it smells better too!
The people in this room made Day Shift Nurse seem positively relaxed. They were slapping things all over my arms & torso... (I later learned that they were "3M Red Dots" for electrodes, when one dropped off me when I went home, and it freaked me out. Apparently they often forget to remove them all.) And then they stuck this gushy weird thing on my finger.
Unfortunately, at this point, it was becoming increasingly more difficult to breathe. On the one hand I was still plotting my escape, on the other hand I wished they'd just konk me out so I wouldn't have to put up with all this awake.
And then it became absolutely impossible for me to breathe. I couldn't draw a breath for some reason. I really thought that was it. I mean, logically and rationally, were I to stop breathing for any reason, I was in the right place for it, I guess. But just find yourself not being able to breathe and see if you trust these people. Running on pure self-preservation instinct, I tried to get off the table to go find some air. I quickly had the woman on me shoving me back down on the table. This pissed me off. But I realized in that split second that obviously I needed to communicate the problem. I think I was able to whisper, "Can't... breathe." And the last thing I remember was feeling the gushy thing on my finger maybe pulling off when I jerked my arm, and the woman calling to someone across the room saying "We better [garble garble garble] fast.", and me thinking "Um.. how about some oxygen fast?"
That's not the way you want to go unconscious, let me tell you.
And then nothing until I woke up what seemed like a second later.
Although I don't like to say "woke up" because being under anesthesia is not like sleeping. I've now had 2 experiences with it, and I can safely testify that it bears almost no resemblence to sleeping at all. First off, you don't awaken feeling refreshed - hell, you don't even awaken feeling as if you had a rough night for that matter. You don't dream, no time passes, and you just come aware suddenly in a different place in a different position, with the realization that someone has done something nasty to you, and you pick up from where you left off.
For example, last time I had surgery, I awoke to immediately lift my arms... because the last thing I'd remembered was flailing my arms about with nowhere to put them. It was kind of like when you have that dream of falling, and wake up kicking your leg. Thankfully, at that time, I had been relaxed (doped up) at the time I went unconscious. This time I had no such luxury.
This time, I woke up gasping for air. I mean, the last thing I remembered was not being able to breathe! Who could blame me?
Wise Guy in the "recovery room", that's who. He told me if I didn't stop "breathing like that" he wouldn't give me medication for the nausea I was having! Oddly enough, it worked... I stopped breathing heavy, because I was so nauseous I didn't have a choice. That's a pretty nasty position to put someone in, I think.
And speaking of positions... After spending the last 6 months unable to sit upright comfortably in a chair, I quickly was demanding to be sat upright. Wise Guy came & sat me exactly upright, knowing full well what would happen, no doubt. Of course within 30 seconds I was so much sicker I had to say, "Okay, so maybe that wasn't such a good idea." Strangely enough, I had exponentially less pain in the upright position than I had lying reclined, even though it made me sicker. I settled for being halfway up. I'm sure Wise Guy thought I was being difficult, but you know, if so, he shouldn't have gone into a service profession.
I informed the wise guy that the pain was worse after my other surgery, but this time the pain was just all over and I certainly hadn't felt this sick... I thought maybe something was wrong. And then the guy comes out with the explanation for my nausea & discomfort lying down by saying, "Laporoscopy. This time they had you blown up like you were 9 months pregnant." Yes, thank you for that image of myself at that very harrowing moment in time. That's just the visual I needed right then.
Though actually, I've been a lot more sanguine about pregnancy since one night about 2 months previous, when my pain was so bad I was downstairs with my neighbor crying late at night, and my neighbor said that she had kids, and childbirth wasn't as painful as what she went through when her gallbladder went bad. I figure hell, I've dealt with this pain daily for over 3 months... I've never heard of labour lasting that long.
But back to this "recovery room". I don't know how you're supposed to recover in a room where the Wise Guy is taking care of several other people at the same time. There were at least 6 of us in this room, in a circle, with some kind of an island of equipment or something in the middle. Larger and more open than the preparation room, but no nicer visually. It reminded me of something out of the film Brazil. Only exposed heating ducts could've made the ambiance complete.
And yet again, I was next to the guy getting something shoved up his ass, and I had to hear all about it, again! I didn't want to know what was going on next to me, even if they had pulled the curtain. And besides, if I was that guy, and had to have something shoved up my butt... Well, you know what, I'm not even going to go there.
I was still having some trepidation over my breathing because they'd told me not to be breathing so heavy. Then the guy started telling me "Take deep breaths." Well, I was all kinds of confused. First he tells me not to breathe heavy or he won't give me anything to stop the nausea, then he tells me to take deep breaths. I actually had this horrible thought that he was playing some kind of sadistic game with me!
I was suddenly very scared, and for some stupid reason, I said so - out loud. I actually said, "I'm scared."
Now, ordinarly, in such a traumatic situation, you would think that upon hearing that, someone would be attentive & consoling. But no.... I had Wise Guy lookin' after me. His response was, "There's no reason to be scared now, the surgery is over."
Uh-huh, this has to qualify as some kind of frightening complex statement. I mean, first off, it's not very consoling for that moment, but second, it kind of implies I had good reason to be scared before the surgery!
These people who work in the House of Horrors really need some sensativity training. Maybe they should read some books by Leo Buscaglia, for example.
At this point I was actually looking forward to... or maybe even longing for, Uncle Early Bird, just for the possibility that he would get some Buscaglia-esque attentiveness going, and I don't know, like maybe hold my hand or something?
But no, I was stuck in this, ahem, "recovery room".
And in this recovery room, about 8 feet from me, was a security gaurd. He was dressed in uniform. And I thought to myself - Oh, how relaxing to know that there's probably a hardened criminal in this room with me, and a security gaurd who might have been packing heat, and god knows what would happen if there was a disruption, because I was in no position to do anything, I wasn't even in a position to be in a position where I felt less pain!
My next thought was the realization that the convict was very likely in no better shape than myself. And there I was, snapping to, following orders from a guy threatening to withhold my nausea medication. If I were the convict, I'd probably fall in line just being promised that I wouldn't get another suppository. Thank the heavens I didn't need any of that kind of thing, or they would've really found out what 'difficult' means.
I was feeling so sick & bad, and even Wise Guy was too busy for me, so I found myself staring at the security gaurd. And I thought - Hey, that security gaurd is sitting there doing nothing, why can't he come over & talk to me, or maybe hold my hand because I'm scared? Heaven knows wise guy isn't any comfort. I'd even take a prison gaurd's consoling at this point. Yeah, I really was thinking that.
(Even my sister, registered nurse for over 20 years, and veteran of about a dozen surgeries on her own body - even she said "awe" when she heard about this. So don't tell me it doesn't make you want to volunteer to come hold my hand at my next doctor's appointment. heh-heh.)
Eventually I was taken out of that god-awful "recovery room", because I was writhing around on the cart, and wise guy said to somebody, something like, "We need to get her to her room before she wiggles right off the gurney." If I knew that's what it would take to get out of that blasted "recovery room", I would've started writhing around a lot sooner. I'd actually been restraining myself up to that point.
So yeah, they took me back to my room. And then they told me to get off the gurney and into bed, and I was so out of it & nauseous that I kind of tumbled over... only to hear Wise Guy saying all high-and-mighty-like "No, that's not the way we get into a hospital bed". And I thought - well, geez, Wise Guy, wasn't that your job to get me into the bed the proper way? And besides, we aren't getting into the bed, I am, I'm the one who's just been stabbed, have a little care!
It probably wasn't his job though. It was probably the job of the 20-something young man who I then realized was struggling to get my hospital gown back onto me, which had come clear off in the tumble so that I was sporting full frontal nudity, breasts flopping around untethered and all.
Ideally if I were in this situation it wouldn't be occuring in a hospital room, and the young man would not be wearing a hospital uniform. But then, ideally, I wouldn't have been wearing a hospital gown in the first place. Ideally I wouldn't be in a hospital at all, for any reason.
And then Uncle Early Bird came to me. He seemed completely uncomfortable. Now thinking about it, I wonder if he arrived in time to get a view of the full frontal nudity, the poor old guy. That would make any uncle of any age uncomfortable, never mind someone who grew up in the 1930s.
And of course I had these Leo Buscaglia delusions that Uncle Early Bird would sit with me and hold my hand for a moment, since I felt so sick. But that wasn't to be.
Uncle Early Bird asked me how I was doing. I said, "Well, I have some pain, and I'm really nauseous." And Uncle Early Bird said, "Well then, I'm going to go now." which came out sounding like, "I'M OUTTA HERE!"
But before he left, he handed me a photo... a photo of my gallbladder - in a cup!
And before you get irritated with my inclusion of a visual aid... it should be noted that there's nobody more squeamish about innards than myself.
I'm a person who never even looked at even an anatomy diagram until I was forced to try & figure out what was wrong with me because my first family doctor didn't seem to give a damn to try & find out what was going wrong in the right side of my torso. I was forced to try and find out what could be in that area causing the problem, so much to my disgust, I started looking at pictures of anatomy a few months ago.
Back in March, I nearly passed out when this one goof tried to show me my own cat scan films. Dr. Goofy actually led me, unwittingly, into a room overwhelmingly loomingly plastered with a whole wall of photos of my innards! To boot, he gleefully tried to point out the kidney stone and my liver as if we were at an art gallery and he was pointing out some particularly interesting detail of a painting.
I almost jumped out the window after tuning into David Letterman 2 nights before my surgery, to see David Letterman getting the tip of his finger stitched back on.
And I was already nauseous from surgery when Uncle Early Bird handed me a photo of my extracted gallbladder... as an after thought to "I'm outta here."
At that point, I'd had it. But really, I was too exhausted to be freaked out. Either that, or I'm actually getting desensitized to innards. Yikes.
And then when the nurses came to give me that mandatory post-surgery Vioxx and whatever else, I was not in any mood. I refused it 5 times, the pain wasn't bad, the nausea was terrible and I was afraid pain medication would make it worse, but was told that it was absolutely commanded by Mr. Surgeon O' Mine who was already in another surgery and could not be contacted. They seduced me into accepting the medication by telling me it contained something to quell my nausea. I still wonder if that was a hood-wink.
Though I'll admit that I fell asleep, and when I woke up, I wasn't nauseous anymore, despite the fact that I opened my eyes to see my pal Ron hovering over the bed with a little flower arrangement. That's just what I needed to make the hospital moment complete.
Especially after he admitted to standing there for awhile watching me sleep! I had no idea he was going to crop up at the hospital. Heaven knows, it's a huge deal for me to crop up at hospitals. My friend Heather was shocked both times I came to see her after she had children, and that was the relatively nice maternity ward.
People should be given awards for visiting people in the hospital. Unless they say things like "Yeah that's good." or "I'm outta here." heh.
And then I realized I needed a pee. Now, the last time I was in the hospital and needed to get to the bathroom, it was a major ordeal to get out of bed, even with assistance, and that was 24 hours after having surgery. Ron called in the nurse, who was thankfully a 2nd shift nurse and not Nurse Day-Shift (by this time Nurse Day-Shift had left, I presume).
The nurse came in to help me out of bed, and said, "Now remember, you have incisions on your abdomen, so you have to be careful getting up. Hug me." Well, not that I couldn't use a hug after my harrowing morning, but I didn't need any assistance getting out of bed. I was okay!
I actually started laughing because I thought to myself... Where the hell was this nurse when I did need help getting out of bed to go to the bathroom? Like all these months for 2-6 hours a day almost every day!! When I'd lie in bed in such agony, needing a toilet, trying not to writhe around, and having to put it off 10 more minutes because I literally could not get myself out of bed for the queasiness, dizziness, and terrible pain. And yeah, at that time, doctors were telling me I just had the flu! Yeah, they were on the ball. They understand what it means when someone who ordinarily refuses to go to a doctor says, "I'm in pain, please help me." Thanks people for letting me suffer for months, only to be finally feeling better and then finally offered assistance out of bed - and a hug to boot!
There's no question in my mind that nurses are nicer. Even Nurse Day-Shift.
Soon after I went to the bathroom, Alison & her husband came to visit me. Her husband was carrying, of all things, a video camera! I mean, as if my humiliation wasn't already complete, but to be shot on video in a hospital bed? I believe he brought it to show me the footage they got of Nicole Kidman on the street in New York City the day before. But I've since found out that he did indeed shoot some footage of me! I'm having nightmares now about it winding up on the internet.
But Hell, in the past few months, the most intimate details of my toilet habits have become common knowledge, so what the hell. Why even care about being private anymore?! Let's have that video footage on the 6 o'clock news already.
After Alison & her husband left, I fell asleep again. And the nurse actually woke me up to ask me if I wanted something to eat, even though it was obvious she knew I was going to say no! I mean, she actually phrased the question, "Interested in eating right now? No, I guess not."
I'm absolutely positive that what she would've offered me something like dreaded gelatin. Or some god-awful institutional soup. I don't even like soup as a general rule. Unless it's Thai, of course. Never mind some kind of soup that's cooked in a huge vat in an institutional kitchen. Hey, I'm not a snob, but I do have my limits.
That is exactly why I made Sherry promise to come & bring me Italian Ice. Which she did, thank goodness. Oh yeah, and she brought Shelly as well, which was nice of course.
By this time I had almost no pain at all, which was quite a turn-around since, say, the last time I was at Shelly's house in February and wound up slumped backwards over her ottoman 2 hours after eating the near deadly combination of a piece of pizza and a piece of cake. I probably looked better in the hospital than I did that night!
Yet when I went to get out of bed, Sherry lunged forward to grab me, when I didn't need help. She said it was force of habit, she thought she was at work for a second. Obviously she's worked in a hospital for too long. And that besides, last time she was with me in the hospital after having surgery, I wasn't even allowed to get out of bed that same night - nor could I have if I had wanted to.
That's the paradox. Last time I had to go to the House of Horrors & allow the Frankensteins to poke around inside me... I had less pain before the surgery. I went to the doctor vaguely concerned, but calmly saying "This doesn't seem quite normal and it's not letting up." Thinking I had some kind of infection or some bizarre menstrual cramps. And after a brief examination and one ultrasound test, I found myself sat down in the center of a semi-circle of a resident, an attending physician, a physician's assistant, and Sherry, all saying things like "You have to understand that you need to have surgery." and "You won't make it unless there's medical intervention." And then after the surgery I didn't feel like I was going to "make it"! This time, I was in horrible pain for months, sent for over a dozen tests, begging doctors to help me, and then finally after someone cuts 4 holes in my torso & removes an organ, voila, I actually feel exponentially better within hours. Pain gone.
When I say I had almost no pain at all, I should say that I did have some occasional fleeting pains... Which kind of felt like a surprisingly strong helium balloon with a sharp edge was trapped in my torso, and trying desperately to float out through the right side of my neck. But thankfully it was only occasional and usually very brief.
I was informed that this is pain caused by the carbon dioxide gas they pump into so that, as Wise Guy described, "you're blown up like you're 9 months pregnant". And I was informed that most people have this type of shoulder pain afterwards. Why they leave the gas in and not just take it all out after they're done, I don't know. I guess these surgeons' mothers never taught them to put their toys back in their toy boxes, so now the patients are left to deal with the results of their habits.
To be fair, I didn't have much reason to complain about my hospital roommate. Thankfully, she wasn't in need of any suppositories or rectal probes or anything like that, at least none I had to hear about, anyway.
And when I was unintentionally eavesdropping, it took me a full 15 minutes to realize the instructions she was giving to her husband about "the girls" was in fact referring not to children, but to dogs. I got some amusement from that because I swear, it was hard to tell.
Interestingly also... The roommate, who was in for the same thing as me, told me she too had to repeatedly ask her family doctor for help because she was in pain, wound up just going & finding a surgeon herself! And she too was out of pain within hours after her surgery. Seems outrageous when I've heard stories of people having one gallbladder attack, one single attack and being sent for surgery lickety split! While other people, like me, endure hundreds of attacks while doctors stand around with their thumbs where a suppository goes.
Now at one point I was kind of disgruntled. The roommate and her visiting husband decided to watch war news on television. So I had to hear the reports. Bush nattering on in a whiny voice. Her husband complaining about what's been going on in the Middle East.
I've assiduously avoided the news these past 5 months because I had my own serious problems debilitating me, I didn't need the stress of the world as well. And I don't like Bush's voice at the best of times.
And besides, for months of not being able to sit in a chair comfortably, without having pain, I was of the opinion that the president should forget about stupid war, and focus on issuing a "recliners for the people" edict.
Of course, I should admit, I'd rather listen to George Bush read War and Peace in its entirety, while sitting in an uncomfortable chair, than than hear about someone in the same room with me getting something shoved up their ass.
And then, things were better once the Mr. Night Shift Nurse came on duty. Why are 3rd shift nurses always so much more hip? This guy actually seemed genuinely concerned about whether I was having a pleasant time of things or not. He seemed more like a classy chef at a fancy restaurant than someone who pokes people with needles. If I closed my eyes and held my nose, I would've thought I was at a hotel when Mr. Night Shift Nurse told me about the array of popcicle flavours available to me.
And let me tell you, I took advantage of those popcicles once I learned of their existence. No pain, no cigarettes, trapped in the House of Horrors with nothing to do. I ate popcicles and walked around all night long.
At one point Mr. Nurse asked me if I was getting any relief from pain by walking around or if I needed anything. But thankfully he didn't try to force anything on me.
I told him then that I didn't have any pain, just nicotine withdrawal. And I asked him if it was okay that I was pacing around so much. He said, "No, no, it's good, it's good that you're walking around." And I felt like a boxer on the stool in the corner with someone rooting for me. I thought he was going to squirt water into my mouth, and say "Go get 'em slugger."
And then the sun rose and Nurse Day Shift was back. Offering me, of all things, blue gelatin. Who eats blue gelatin? Do we even know what flavour that would be? I mean, I've had to deal with odd abnormal colour crap for months now, the last thing I need is to be poopin' smurfs at this point. I declined in favour of something they called Italian ice, but more closely resembled sherbert.
And then the roommate's Dr. Snappy Smile surgeon came for a visit. He asked her if she'd been up and walking around, and she proudly announced that she had walked around (once) the previous evening, and he was all upbeat, smiling and congratulatory saying, "Good! Good!"
And then Mr. Surgeon O' Mine came in, and started lecturing me on "behaviour in the operating room". I was too flabberghasted to even respond. I mean, I was up walking around all night, where was mycongratulatory pat on the back? I mean, here I was thinking -- I've been put through hell, scared out of my wits, treated like so many bags of groceries... and then he comes in and starts giving me a run down on O.R. DOs & DON'Ts?!
I'm picturing this guy going into his kid's room after the kid's woken up from a nightmare, and instead of consoling him, giving the poor kid a lecture on leaving the cap off the toothpaste the night before.
Poor honey had to hear a complaint from that O.R. nurse I guess. The one that was holding me down when I couldn't breathe no doubt. Well, I'd been complaining for months with nobody seeming to care. So why should I have to feel bad about this? I mean, really, I warned him I was nervous. He chose to ignore my warnings. So be it. He could just deal with the results as far as I'm concerned. I've been through enough!
And then to top off my glorious stay at the House of Horrors... Nurse Day-Shift finally came in to unhook the darn IV so I could leave the premisis. And as she did so, it turned out that the IV hadn't been shut off, so the drip fluid went squirting out of the tube all over the place! It scared the hell out of me! I actually started crying because it was the very last straw! And Nurse Day-Shift casually half-heartedly asked me if there was anything wrong. I think I actually did that thing they describe characters in books doing, looking up to the heavens with a sigh.
To be fair, I don't think it was Nurse Day-Shift's fault that the squirting incident happened. I watched her click the valve on the IV tubing myself before removing it. Maybe it was faulty. Maybe it got broken from me dragging the drip stand around with me all night. Who knows.
The final irritation was having to sit in a wheel chair to be escorted off the premisis. I felt like running. And I probably could have too.
posted by Chloe | Friday 20 June 2003 12:39 PM