Sunday, January 19, 2014

The rest of the story

Okay. Where were we?? Let's see......the surgeons decided not to cut and signed off on the case. The abscess was draining on its own. Whew!!! My dear friends continued to visit and I am touched by their care and concern. 
   On Thursday, since I was on the mend, I tried to convince the doctor to let me go home. He declined saying that although I was getting better, I still needed to finish the antibiotics and acyclovir IVs and needed watching since I'd had a terrible infection, they needed to make sure I was going to STAY better. One more day in the hospital was preferable to being readmitted in a few days if things didn't go well because of an early release.l
   My anxiety was pretty high, especially since I had stopped taking my antidepressant the Saturday before because I was afraid of drug interaction with the meds from the minor med clinic and (mostly) because I forgot to take them. They didn't accompany me to the hospital because I never thought I would be admitted. I didn't bring my purse or my bra either. So by Wednesday I was not in my happy place the celexa makes for me, and asked if it was okay to have my daily dose. Good for me, celexa doesn't interact with the meds I was being given, and the little pills were added to the plastic cup with everything else. 
  But I still had a pity party or two or five before my happy pills kicked back in and a couple of crying jags in the dark hours alone. Waaahhh!! I want Dr. Cooper!! I almost called him, but talked myself back from the edge when I realized it was 3am. My last session was back in the middle of December and I had to move my next appointment due to a conflicting attendance in court to get the divorce finalized. I feel like I have made a huge step forward in dealing with emotional upset on my own, but I have been seeing him for four years, sometimes once a week, mostly every other week. It's been almost six weeks, so he better hold onto his hat when I get in his office next week!!!
   I think it was Wednesday night I decided to do something I never do, since I had so much free time, and stayed up all night watching tv. Saw lots of Modern Family reruns, a cop movie, and a very interesting program on PBS. It was the story of the first forensic laboratory in the New York City administration back in 1920 something. Mostly stories of poisoning and alcohol abuse connected to prohibition. Crazy stuff like you can't make up. So around dawn, I was ready to snooze, but comes everybody at shift change to draw blood, change IVs, take my blood pressure, take my temperature, give me some pills, and fuss at me for not drinking water. Just as all that settled down, the parade of doctors began, bringing students to have a look at my shrinking lip and asking me  if they could have a look at the pictures on my phone. There's nothing like documentation, I must say. 
   So between the fitful snoozing and interruptions, my mind wandered to silly places like it does when I need to entertain myself. The whole time I was in the hospital, there was a constant white noise close by and a couple days into the stay, I figured out it was the bed. But why did the bed make a constant noise? Soon after that discovery, I realized the bed was in constant motion as well. Every time I moved to adjust myself to a more comfortable position, the bed moved too. When I asked the nurse, she explained it was to relieve pressure points so the patient would be less likely get bed sores. Oh, okay. 
 So lying in the bed was really laying on top of a robot.....hmmmmm. That would explain the bizarre dream form Tuesday night that I had been abducted by aliens and wrestled with one of them. I pictured myself tossing and turning, from pain and meds, and the bed responding to each and every movement with its own motion to try and compensate, trying to keep me from getting bed sores. That was its job!!! A step further in my imagination, I concocted a scenario, of a robot bed with artificial intelligence, that would learn from the movement of the patient and it's own responsive motion. Because I have a goofy sense of humor, I thought about the bed getting frustrated in its attempts to comfort such a restless patient and just dumping me on the floor. The bed was named the Skynet Model 647 in honor of one of my favorite science fiction movie franchises, The Terminator. I want to write that story, too, someday. I did find out about thirty minutes prior to leaving, there was a way to turn the bed off. Grrr.
   Thursday dragged on and the doctors said they would spring me from the joint on Friday, since the surgeons had signed off and the infectious disease guys seemed to think the abscess was draining sufficiently on it s own. The course of IV meds was complete and I was to take similar meds by mouth according to the directions. Thursday afternoon, I called my friend and had her bring clothes since I had nothing but one pair of clean undies since Tuesday morning and she had taken my shirt to wash. I certainly did not want to ride home with my coat over my bare bosom. The nurse wrapped up the place on my arm where the IV port was sticking in me, and I showered and washed my grubby hair. Aaahhhh....I slept like a baby Thursday night. Don't remember too much of the periodic jabbing and recording of vital signs. Friday morning, the doctors came by to declare me fit to return to the world and resume my valiant march towards improved health. I called my good friend Sam to give me a ride to my vehicle, which was at his house since Tuesday, when he and his wife, my long time besty, had come to visit and retrieved my truck from the ER parking lot. 
   Papers were ordered and signed in quick time and I gathered my plants, candy, and magazines, got wheeled to the automatic doors, where my ride was waiting. Soon I was back in my house, in my jammies, cuddled in my bed. My lip still looked pretty rough, but the pain was much abated. 
    As much as I didn't want to be there, the hospital stay was a very good experience. The nurses, aides, and even the doctors were kind and concerned with my well being. Everyone was nice to me and I tried to be pleasant and grateful for how well they did their jobs, helping to make me feel better. 
   The other lesson I learned from this is to NEVER touch a booboo and to wash my hands a thousand times a day!!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

More hospital drama

 At the end of the last post, I was in a room on the third floor of a giant hospital in Memphis TN. The next few days are kinda jumbled together because of the pain, the meds and the fact that being in the hospital is like going into a time warp. It didn't help that I was installed in the room in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. I'm pretty much a get up in the morning, take care of my business during the course of a normal day, and go to bed around the same time after watching a little tv or tidying up. I like the comfort of my routine. It didn't help either that I had spent most of Sunday and Monday in an addled state as well as in pain. 
  The pain was really bad sometime during the early part of my stay and one of the nurses insisted I take something so I could sleep. I'm thinking he wanted me to stop crying and refusing the pain meds, because he had lots of other patients that needed his attention, and knew I just needed to chill in a huge way. So I took the lortab and at one point came to a little, saw the drab walls surrounding me and saw the rails of the bed in my peripheral vision and immediately thought I was my mother. 
   Although she passed away at her house, per her wishes, she had a rough year or two before she died. She was in and out of the hospital and I spent quite a bit of time with her there. It took me a moment or several to realize I was indeed myself and for a split second wondered what was going on, before it all came back to me in a sickening rush of pain and anxiety. 
  The other reason time gets twisted around in the hospital is because people come in at seemingly all hours of the day and night to stick needles in you, wrap your arm with tight bands and poke meat thermometers into the side of your mouth. Beep boop hiss. The reality of this intrusion is the schedule of the shift changes of the health professionals, checking on your progress or demise, whatever the case may be.
The bed goes up, the bed goes down. At one point I was joking with the two kind ladies helping me regain my normal state of good health, that I would tell everyone they were running an amusement park with cool rides and people would be lining up to get in. We laughed at the fact the bed rose at a glacial pace, but yet threw our hands in the air like it was a roller coaster on top of a building in Las Vegas.
The doctors chose to grace me with their presences on Tuesday. A veritable parade of white coats, except for the surgeon who arrived in blue scrubs, in serious life saving mode. They all wanted to touch my ever swelling lip, and for the most part were gentle, or maybe were afraid it would explode on their clean white attire if they got too close and prodded too hard on the giant purple-red monster clinging to the lower part of my face. It looked that bad.
 I'd had sense enough to take a photo-a "selfie" if you will--of my constantly changing countenance since the Sunday before. I showed the pictures on my phone to one of the doctors who was truly impressed at my record and appreciated the fact he could also see the progression of the infection. The next day he brought students in to view the mess that once was my mouth and asked if I would show them the pictures. Intellectual curiosity satisfied all round. I continued taking pictures everyday and couldn't believe my own eyes when I looked at them. 
  So time slipped away. Time for meds. Time for an IV. Time to check my blood pressure. Time to check my temperature. Time to draw blood. Time for an injection of stuff to keep me from getting blood clots. That one I figured pretty quick and made a deal with the nurse that if I got up and walked around, would she discontinue those shots. I particularly did not like them, because they were administered in my belly. And even though my lip hurt like nobody's business, I could still get up and move around as long as there was no IV running. 
   Amazingly enough, I was able to eat soft foods as long as they were cut up small enough to poke into the space on one side of my mouth that was the least swollen. Fruit and soft sandwiches washed down with juice or Sprite were on the tray at my request. The surgeon told me to drink carbonated beverages as the bubbles would help destroy bacteria. And I thought sodas were only good for cleaning car batteries and emergency spermicide!!!
   My dear and wonderful friends came to visit, bringing the phone charger, clean undies, magazines, flowers, candy and yogurt. The most important thing they brought was love and caring. None of them was really grossed out with my looks, but we did joke about a possible career for me in freak shows. I could be walrus woman or people could toss coins into the opening above my massive protruding lip for points and I would keep all the coins! 
    Friends who didn't stop by texted their concerns and encouragements, so I didn't feel all alone in my battle with staph. The nurses and other staff people were very, very nice to me, too, and I was grateful for their help and kind attention. 
    Wednesday morning, I got to take a field trip to radiology for a CT scan. Modern medical technology is so amazing. I can only think of Star Trek episodes I watched as a child when I see the advances made in non invasive testing. I also remember my parents talking about a sick friend back in the old days, having to undergo "exploratory" surgery to find a cure for their ailments. Absolutely barbaric in comparison to today's procedures. So that was fun. Then back to my room for more waiting and time travel. 
  On Wednesday afternoon during a visit from gal pals, the abscess decided to drain. Ewwww! Yet I was so relieved, physically and emotionally, knowing the end to my trauma was getting closer. The doctors had discussed surgical intervention with me at the beginning of this ordeal, but after looking at the scan results had decided it wasn't necessary and now, thankfully the rotten crap was leaving on its own! It was pretty yucky, but the pressure and pain abated almost immediately. 
   Still, I had to finish the course of antibiotics and other meds being pumped in to my veins as well as my mouth. They were throwing everything at my system to kill any and all variety of bacteria that had mistakenly decided to linger.
   Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion and the tale of the robot bed.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Happy New Year.....when?

Oh my!! That little inspirational thing I wrote last week makes me laugh and weep alternately this weekend. The "bump" in the road turned into a full blown mountain I crashed into. 
I came back from the visit to the minor med clinic full of rosy thoughts, no doubt prompted by the shot of painkiller administered to my left buttock. Don't get me wrong, I'm still blown away with the kindness and care of hard working people, and I was dead sure the bottles of pills and a little bed rest (enhanced by a couple of pain pills), would set me right in a few days. NOT!!!!!
    By the time I came to on Monday evening, I felt a thousand times worse and my face was swollen as well as my lip. I rolled around on the bed for a little while until I felt sober enough to drive, stuck my wallet in my pocket, threw on my coat--by now it was bitterly cold as the weatherman had predicted--and took off for the emergency room. Not really sure which hospital to go to, I headed east, then decided I was not in the mood for stopping at a hundred red lights and got on the interstate. I figured I could go to the hospital in Germantown the back way in and stay off the main drag. When I took the exit from Sam Cooper Blvd onto I-240, I thought it would be a piece of cake to navigate the construction zone, because I'd done it many, many times. But this time it was DARK!!! And I probably didn't have all the faculties I needed to be transporting myself in a full size pickup truck with other kind and caring citizens risking their precious lives driving on the same roads as I. At one point I vaguely remember looking at the speedometer and I was doing around 30 mph. Oops!!!
   I managed the exit and headed east. There right before my eyes was a hospital that I hadn't considered for some weird reason. I drive by it at least twice a week. So I thought, screw Germantown, and pulled into the emergency room driveway, attempted to pull into a parking spot, but wasn't confident enough of my driving abilities to think I could get in the space without taking out some other vehicles, backed up and found a more suitable spot to wheel the truck into. 
  The doors to the er slid open, I yanked off my wool hat, which caused a great deal of static electricity, making my hair crackle and stand straight up all over my head. I walked to the admitting desk, where two of the three health professionals were wearing face masks. Their eyes widened as I approached and one of them immediately asked me to sit and explain what had happened to me. I relayed my sad story of pain and swelling, gave them my vital statistics, got my name put on the list, and was directed to sit "over there", but not before the guy asked me if I was self conscious about how I looked. He was wearing a mask and I guess figured I should join the party. So I put on a mask. About a half hour later, I was called to follow the health professional who was not wearing a mask and went to one of the inner exam rooms, to wait a little more, but at least I was on a bed. The doctor came in, took one look at me, poked on my increasingly large and painful lip, asked me what happened, to which I answered with the same sad story I told the three at the admitting desk.
  The doctor started talking about nasty infections, that if in such close proximity to your brain, can go there, infect that fine and wondrous organ, then kill you! Taken aback by his direct manner, I figured I was in for stronger drugs, and to be sent home with the admonition to obtain plenty of rest and check with my primary care physician in a timely manner. You can imagine my surprise when he told me I was going to be admitted to the hospital!!!!!!!
   "NO" I said. "I have too many things to do in the morning!" and I began to cry. A very sweet young woman patted my shoulder, told me I was going to be okay, then stuck an IV port into my arm and hooked me up to fluids and antibiotics. A couple hours later I was ensconced in a room on the third floor. 
  The only time I have been in the hospital was to tend to my dear departed mother or sister, to have an out patient procedure, visit a friend, welcome a baby into the world, or give birth to my darling boys.
Now, I was a patient. Oh my god!!!!!! Stay tuned for the rest of the story.....

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Happy New Year to me, sort of.......

This is the first weekend of my new and improved life and wouldn't you know it, a bump in the road. 
My bottom lip started swelling yesterday and I just knew I was getting a fever blister, which is bad enough, but it got worse and worse and became quite painful as well. No sleep for me. 
   I drove to work in the yuckiest rain--the cold, windy kind--and wound up coming back home 30 minutes later. Then I waited in seemingly agony (okay that's a little dramatic) for the minor med clinic to open and drove the excruciating five minutes, got signed in and less than an hour later had meds for this awful abscess on my lower lip!
  The nurse gave me a shot in the rear end for pain, so after a shorter wait at the pharmacy, (across the street from the clinic) I got back in my comfy bed and had a few hours of blessed sleep.
It could have been worse, like last Saturday, when my truck got stuck in the mud and I had to wait 2 and a half hours for the tow truck!  These nasty episodes could've been worse too, except for the kindness and care shown to me by the people surrounding me during both traumatic ordeals. I have to thank the people I work for, as they are the salt of the earth and I will be forever grateful to them for taking a chance on a stranger and welcoming me into their business.
 It's also good to know there are dedicated health professionals working on crappy Sunday afternoons, so they can be nice to cranky complainers, whose biggest problems are sleep deprivation. 
  When you think of all the folks out in the world who are working hard to make a living for themselves and family, keeping ungodly hours and just doing what needs to be done, it makes it easier, at least for me, to be nice to that service tech on the phone who's trying to sort out your internet so you can watch YouTube videos and keep up with your Facebook page. Sadly I used to be hateful to people who's only job was to help me solve my petty problems. One day I tried being nicer and got a lot better results. 
  So when things look terribly grim for you, remember there's plenty of help, if you are gracious enough to accept it. Plus, when you are called upon to help someone else in need, that good feeling is also on the other end of the spectrum.
  Didn't mean to get preachy and in an effort to inject a tiny bit of humor to my sad situation, I look like a cosmetic procedure gone horribly wrong! Or as if I wanted Angelina Jolie lips, but could afford only one!