Monday, January 9, 2012

How Phoenix Tried to Kill Me - Part 8

I was in the hospital for almost two weeks, so I got to meet A LOT of nurses. That sounds like the beginning of a Penthouse Forums letter (“I never thought it could happen to me...”), but that's definitely not what I 'm getting at. What I want to say about the nurses at Howard County General Hospital is that 99.7% of them are amazingly helpful, patient human beings, somehow maintaining compassion for their patients no matter how whiny, belligerent, and/or needy those patients happen to be.

Unfortunately, two weeks is enough time to encounter a couple representatives of the other 0.3%, both of them in the ICU. The first one I don't even remember, but she gave Trelina a hard time early on during my stay in the hospital. The other left me moaning and squirming in pain, not responding to her call button for over an hour, and treating me like a junkie asking for a fix when she finally did respond. Lovely woman.

The rest of my nurses and techs (more than 20 cared for me over the course of my stay) were wonderful. I particularly remember the woman who helped me into the ICU bed after my surgery. She rolled up some blankets and taped them together for me so I could wedge them under my side. This allowed me to sleep sort of on my back without putting any pressure on my incision or jostling my drainage tubes. She called this wedge my buddy, so I decided in an anesthesia-induced fog that it should be named “Tommy”. I slept on Tommy for the rest of my stay.

The surgeon came back to check up on me the day after the surgery. Everything looked fine, but for some reason, he decided the higher drainage tube, the one that was practically in my armpit, should come out. I'm not sure if that was part of the plan all along or not, but he cut the stitch holding the tube in place, then had me roll over onto my uncut side and bear down like I was “having a bowel movement” (his words). At which point he just pulled the tube right out. It hurt, but that was probably just because everything hurt at that point. It was mostly just unpleasant, like I suppose anything sliding out of your body from a new and strange orifice would be.

Then he slapped what must have been five pounds of bandages and tape over my side and bid me adieu. I still had the lower drainage tube sticking out of me, but otherwise I was officially on the mend. After a day or so in the ICU, I was moved back up into a “normal” room in acute care. Now I could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. I was sure I'd be home by the end of the week.

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