Home - I have been in the hospital for so long that luckily (?) my incisional pain has begun to improve. Putrescence continues to pour out of me. The cramping and tenseness of my abdomen are unrelenting. B is hopeful that some quiet rest will make things better. Ruthie heads home when we know we are to be discharged. The thought of my own bed seems wonderful. It is marred only by the fact that laying down is not easy. Or comfortable. Oh, well... I am no worse off and no one is constantly knocking on the door or pricking me with needles. The absent roar from the hospital's ventilation unit is most welcome. I try to eat. I try to rest.
What the???? - Having arrived home around 7pm the day prior, with trips to the bathroom every hour or so, by early am, I give up and rest in a recliner. B coaxes me into a few bites of scrambled egg. My stomach rebels and cramps. But that's appropriate, considering, right? Bizarre loud rushes and tinkly sounds can increasingly be heard within me. B and I try to pretend it is okay. Things are waking up, that's all. Around 3 pm a neighbor drops by with still-warm, freshly baked pumpkin bread. B rushes to fix me a piece. I can't. The pain is worsening. I should walk. Yes! They told me to do that and I haven't done enough. We get me up. B says, "Okay. 5 turns round the living room." On three...I can do no more. The painful cramps drive me to the bathroom. Nothing. Then - vomiting. B looks incredibly worried. He calls the surgeon. "Well, if you're worried, bring her in...but maybe things will just settle down. These things take time." Hmmm.... I try to rest. To will my innards into calm submission. The cramping seems worse. I feel like such a wimp. I thought I was tough. Zap my brain and send me home. Days later, I have the right upper lobe of my lung removed with a mere 3 day hospital stay. I've endured a halo placed with ineffective anesthesia, chest tubes, the works. How hard can this be? I am so whiny. I've got to stop. Damn. Poor B!!! By 6 pm, profuse - green and foul - emesis I cannot control. B becomes a man possessed. Surgeon called. "Which ER? We are going in." Hurtling down the mountain, the drive to the hospital is nightmarish. B's face a hard mask. I know what I am in for. ER craziness. An NGT and surgery. I am sure I am obstructed. I can NOT do this again.
ER - Rush to the ER and ~ wait. I remain in pain. The vomiting has relieved some pressure so the pain is ameliorated somewhat. After our requisite hours, another new nurse in training. Bless her heart. She is young. Still, I thought boards hard and was probably younger than she, when I first took mine. I find her intellectual abilities inconsistent with the aptitude to pass the test I was given. She cannot place the leads, work the O2 monitor, nor comprehend basic answers to her own questions. I let her stick me for an IV - twice - despite the fact that she clearly does not know what she is doing. The tourniquet is not actually on. The skin and vein she is attempting to stick are not stabilized. "This vein just doesn't want to be poked," she tells us. B looks like a man about to explode. Looking up, seemingly surprised that there are two humans in the room with her and that vein, some recognition dawns upon her vacuous brow that things may not be going well. She attains help. IV started efficiently by a nurse who seems that she, indeed, passed boards. Yes, an NG must be placed. We know. B demands a ludicrously small gauge. Smart nurse, is sympathetic, but tells him the floor will probably take it out and place a larger one if she does that. I take his hand and we compromise on one a size down from my prior experience. Yes, they will use lidocaine. (Something I was shocked that the floor did NOT do.) Lidocaine up your snoz is not fun and games. I experienced it before with my bronch. It smells and tastes horrible in ways I cannot really explain. But it definitely helps...so it is worth it. NG is placed by nurse who actually knows what she is doing, so though quite horrid, much better than the prior placement. B dictates the taping. I know I am severely dehydrated. It is mildly interesting to feel/experience all the things you have diagnosed in others for years. REAL dehydration is most unpleasant, FYI. Sadly, the IV I have is at the bend of my arm and, not surprisingly, quits running should I inadvertently bend my arm. B keeps watch as we have been left to our own devices. A liter of putrescence is rapidly removed from my gut through my NGT. We have talks with the ER doc regarding pain meds (they make me vomit) and meds to keep me from vomiting (they make me crazy and have spastic movements....which has only worn off in the past day or so!!!). He seems a bit incredulous. "So, what do you want me to do about your pain?" Whatever, asshole. I'll just deal with it. I take nothing.
I am sent to x-ray. The tech is efficient, though not as nice as the lady who let me do the slidey thing. He just expects me to lay down, hop up, stand up, go over there. I manage. ER doc, returns. Yep. Obstructed. "We'll get you to a room and let your surgeon know." I am very dry. The bag of fluid first hung runs out. B tells them. "Oh, okay. We'll clamp it off. They'll hang more when they get the orders on the floor." What? I am dry NOW! You could be fixing that. You have fluid. I have an IV. I can't get the surgical repair until I'm rehydrated. Never mind....
We arrive on the floor around midnight. Different floor this time. Slightly cleaner. Slightly less loud ventilation system with an actual labeled nob (Dare we call it a thermostat???) that can be turned to determine temperature, rather than the strange arrangement of the switch Ruthie and B had to reach blindly deep in the machine's innards in order to make adjustments at our previous location. But, no toilet paper, nor, toilet paper holder, as it had been a built-in ceramic version that is currently broken off with sharp edges that B covers in tape so I will not cut myself when I reach for the support bar next to the potty. I have not slept in years. I guess I'll never sleep again. A quite elderly appearing female tech shows up for vital signs. She sways interminably, staring at her BP machine and the distance without a word, like a similar soul in a nursing home - trying to decide whether to go over to the table to color a picture or just sit down on the sofa. Finally, she turns to me, "You've got skinny feet." "Yep," I reply. "They go with the rest of me." With a witch worthy cackle, vital signs are accomplished and she wanders off. A quiet, but efficient nurse gets us settled in. Fluids are restarted. NG continues to drain lots of disgusting material. Getting all that off makes the pain ease a bit. And...at least no pooping for the moment. Might as well enjoy the benefits of obstruction, no?
...to be continued... c