At some point in the second week, my stay in the hospital became not about the gigantic, stapled hole in my side, but the problems with my plumbing. This may sound like an improvement, but in a lot of ways it wasn’t. When I had pneumonia, I knew there were certain things I had to do to get better, and then it would all be over. When my body started basically rebelling against the medication it was being given, all we could do was change the drugs (note: non-narcotic pain killers are not as effective as narcotic pain killers) and wait for my body to work itself out.
I lost twenty pounds, and I suspect most of it was in that last week. I was on a liquid diet, sipping chicken broth and ginger ale three times a day. The thinness of my meals wasn’t really that bad, since I didn’t feel like eating anyway, but the weakness that came with it certainly contributed to what came next.
I’m sure I was edging toward clinical depression. My stomach was a mess, I didn’t have any energy, my ankles had gone all Fred Flintstone on me, and I hadn’t been able to take a shower for over a week. A feeling of wilted grossness had settled over me. I was sweating buckets half the time and freezing the other half. Trelina wasn’t able to come see me for a day or two because she and Jasmine were both sick, and I hadn’t seen Jasmine at all since just before my surgery.Two weeks in a hospital, in this day and age, seemed ludicrous to me. I felt like I was never going to get out of there. I knew, intellectually, that I needed to get out of bed more, but all the steps involved in sitting up and making sure my ass wasn’t hanging out of the hospital gown and sorting out my drainage tube and my IV and then carting them along with me wherever I went, would quickly overwhelm those thoughts. I’d wake up in the morning with the intention of doing a lap around acute care every couple of hours, and maybe manage it once or twice in a given day.
Most of all I missed my kid. I called home one night and Trelina put her on the phone for me. She said, “Hi, daddy!” and I simply broke down. I couldn't talk at all, I was crying so hard. I had to hang up and call back when I’d pulled myself together.
That was the kick in my uncovered ass I needed, though. I started getting out of bed more, even when getting out of bed sucked. While I was awake, I made sure to spend more time walking or sitting in a chair than on my back. The improvement wasn’t immediate, and I was probably pushing myself harder than was healthy, but eventually my mood improved, and my health improved with it. The sun came out and the cankles went away.
On November 17, sixteen days after I’d gone to the emergency room, I was given my walking papers. I still had a drainage tube hanging out of my chest, and a pile of instructions and prescriptions an inch thick, but the hard stuff was over.