You know how the song goes? “What day is it, and in what month? This clock never seemed so alive.” That’s kind of how I feel about May. I would really like some of it back if I could so I could not spend it in hospital.
Yes, hospital. Steve mentioned he was running to the hospital and taking care of Tansy. That’s because I was in there for 8 days. Buh. What a ride. I don’t ever feel like repeating it. Long story short, my gallbladder flipped its lid, was inflamed, and had to come out. I guess it also had a stone. After that, the rest of me went nuts. I don’t understand the details of what exactly was wrong with my gallbladder, they were explained to me while I was under the influence of some pretty heavy drugs…heavy for me at least. You know how easy it is for me to get drunk. Maybe the same applies to pain medication. Poor Steve, tired as he was, had to act as my second, hell, my first memory since during that time, I didn’t have a memory. You know how completely crazy that is for me, the memory queen.
It all started a day after Steve’s sister’s wedding. We came home, we were super tired, so we went out for breakfast, and in hindsight, I ate the worst thing I could have. I had one of those skillets, the big pan full of sausages, cheese, veggies and eggs all tossed together and cooked. They’re delicious, but probably horrible for you, especially horrible for an angry gallbladder!
But I still had no clue. We came home, and I ate dinner, and was sort of relaxing before the weekend was over and it was time to go back to the grind. It was then that I noticed this persistent gas pain.
And then it developed into something I’ve never experienced before. When you’re laying on the floor and your legs are kicking seemingly without control and you have to speak in spurts because you’re breathing like they tell women to breathe when they’re having a baby, or at least that’s how it looks on TV, you’re not just having gas pain.
But because I’m dumb as a rock, I took some pills for gas, and pills for pain, and tried to sleep.
Haahahahaha Sleep, Carin, that’s a funny one. I woke up pretty much an hour later as if I’d never taken anything.
Since I’ve had pain before, like years ago, and had gone to the ER, and they hadn’t found anything wrong, I figured it was nothing and I’d just wait until 8 a.m. and go to the urgent care place.
Hahahahahahahaah! Also a good one. I did wait and go to the urgent care place, but that’s when things started to get cute. The doctor found the spot that hurt, smacked me there a couple of times, and I think he learned some new words. I also learned that gees I don’t seem to have much control over my sailor mouth when I’m in pain. Then he did something I’ve never had happen before. He told me that he thought what I had was serious but I wasn’t gonna keel over right here, but I needed test results faster than he could get them, and he thought I should go to the ER…and I should go there by ambulance.
So next thing I knew, Steve was being brought back so he could be with me in the ambulance…and the ambulance was being called.
And here I thought it was nothing, and had been panting “I…must…be…a wuss…must…be…a wuss!”
The next little bit was a complete blurr for me. There was an ambulance, Steve had to hold Tansy’s leash because they had raised the stretcher up high and I could no longer reach her leash. There were the moments where Tansy tried to leap on my stretcher when ever it came to a stop. There were a lot of high blood pressure readings. There was me being dumb, and when they asked me to put my knees up so they could lift me, not putting them back down because I didn’t know why they wanted them there…even though my feet were going numb. There was a general sense of disbelief and, well, fear…at least I was scared.
But the ambulance attendants were cool and tried to keep me calm as much as they could. The funniest moment was when they asked me if there was any blood when I’d go to the bathroom. I just said I don’t know, at which point they apologized profusely. They were very cool people.
They took me to St. Mary’s hospital, and in a bit, figured out I had a very angry angry gallbladder. It was so angry that discussing my options…was not an option. It was coming out, and soon. A surgeon showed up and said something like “We’re going to take your gallbladder out, likely not tonight, but probably tomorrow.” To-m-m-m-morrow?
And, they only do that surgery over at Grand River Hospital. This meant they were going to transfer me, but they couldn’t do that until Grand River got a bed open. That happened at 2 a.m.
So there I was, in a wack load of pain, also on a wack load of drugs. Has anyone else had Gravol in an IV? Have you ever had your eyelids involuntarily slam shut even though you’re kind of awake? Everything slows down, and for me at least, I say ridiculous things very…slowly.
So imagine poor Steve through all of this. He hadn’t had much sleep the night before because of a thrashing complaining Carin. He had gone with me to Urgent Care in case I needed some help getting there and back, now he’s in an ambulance, holding Tansy, having to relieve her, and eventually, having to leave me so he could take Tansy home and get her fed and taken care of. Oh…and having to go into my work and home email and let necessary people know that I was kinda out of commission. Poor Steve. All of this started with some crazy pain…and now there was a hospital admission and looming surgery.
To the people who have had their guide dogs with them in the hospital: I salute you. There is no way I could have done that. Before and immediately after the surgery, I was totally hosed. I couldn’t have fed and relieved her, and the nurses were totally run off their feet doing nursing-related things. They wouldn’t have had time to help me with dog things.
Plus, there were 4 people in a room sometimes. Where do you keep a dog safe when there are 4 IV poles, 4 beds, wheeling dinner cart things, and nurses and other people moving around with vital and blood-taking equipment. Even though it was hard to be without her, it would have been harder to have her there, and probably incredibly stressful on her.
I’ve had my first surgery, and the actual surgery wasn’t as scary as the visions I’d had. The scariest part was what they asked me just before I went under. They said “Tell me your name, date of birth, and what you’re in for.” I’m sure this was just to keep me talking long enough for the sleepy sleepy out ya go drugs to take effect, but I had this moment of terror. “They don’t know? Oh my god and I’m about to go out. Say it fast so they know what I’m in for.” The calmer part of me told myself that this was only procedure, there was nothing to be afraid of. But holy crap was I scared for a second. Yes, I am willing to admit I’m neurotic.
And when I woke up, I was talking a blue streak. My parents had come down because they’re adorable, and they were there before and after the surgery. I think I made fun of my dad, tried to sing songs, made wrestling references, and…whatever entered my head, out it came, sometimes in triplicate. Thank god Steve was there to explain things to anyone else so they didn’t think I was completely out of my mind. At one point, I heard the nurses talking about another patient. But all I heard was “She’s had a spinal block,…” I immediately thought they were talking about me, and started wildly moving and kicking my legs to make sure my spine was fine. Yup, I was totally loopy.
And somehow, I sent text messages and emails, some of which I don’t remember sending. I even offered sympathy to someone whose dog died. Wow. I’m glad I didn’t say anything absolutely crazy.
I was told that after the surgery, I’d probably be in the hospital a couple of days. Thursday morning came, I had people arranged to come get me, I was in the wheelchair, all my stuff was packed up, …
and some blood test results came back that said I still had problems. My white blood cell count was too high.
Gaaaaaa! Waaaa waaaa waaaa sniff!
I will admit here and now that while I was in the hospital, I was a total drama queen. Part of that I blame on the lack of sleep (I didn’t sleep for about 4 days), part of it I blame on some other things I take kind of going completely wacktastic, but part of it I was just totally scared. It took a while, but some other patients brought me down to earth and made me realize that really, in the grand scheme of things, what I was in there for wasn’t that life-destroying. One morning, one of them calmly rang his bell and said to the nurse, “Excuse me, but I can’t breathe. When you get a minute, could you help me?” I was kind of blown away by his calm, and began feverishly telling myself to tone it down a notch.
Anyway, so began what would become the stay that felt like it would never end. I jokingly referred to Grand River Hospital as Hotel California. “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave!”
Friday morning they ultrasounded the jeebers out of me, looking for other infection. They didn’t find anything. It was a terrible feeling, wondering where this infection was, wondering when it would pop out and say boo. They also told me that when I was in surgery, my blood pressure was mad high. They were monitoring that, and except for after the surgery, when I’m sure they had me pumped full of something to keep the blood pressure under control, my blood pressure readings were no goddamn good. When you wake up from a doze-fest and the bottom reading is in the high 90’s, Hughston, we have a problem.
At this point, I need to stop and say that I think the nurses were friggin amazing. I wouldn’t last a week doing their job, and I think every single one of them deserves a medal. I had thought about arranging for the nurses to get some kind of cake or something…but I was moved 3 times, and it’s too friggin complicated for me to thank them all. And I don’t want to leave any of them out…that would be way worse. I was probably a pretty demanding, and bitchy, patient. I didn’t want to be that way, but I was friggin scared, and I was being kept in the hospital for what felt like no reason…until they explained it to me. Also, like I said, all the levels of those wonderful endocrine hormones we all need were absolutely loopy for me, which turned me into a whining, complaining, crying, fast-talking, question-asking, non-sleeping loophead. To all my fellow patients, and the nurses, I would just like to say I’m really really really sorry. That wasn’t normal me, or at least I would like to believe it’s not.
The nurses were also cool about the blindness factor, and answered my questions with good answers that didn’t involve “well when you get home, won’t someone sighted be there to take care of you?” They also took my questions about my weird medical issues seriously, and put my mind at ease. On top of that, they were pretty cool at understanding accessibility issues, and did their best to get me my discharge instructions in an accessible format and stuff. This was good since when they read them to me, it was during that phase where I couldn’t remember anything. And man did they keep good notes. They moved me 3 times, and every single time, all the info they needed moved with me. Finally, they tried to hook me up with hospital volunteers so I could fill out my menu choices for meals. It never worked out, but it wasn’t their fault.
And about the food. I was expecting the food to be total blech, but this stuff was pretty good. Steve joked he was jealous of what I was eating.
Man, enough tangents. Friday they couldn’t find the infection, and the numbers weren’t good enough to let me go until Tuesday. Yug. Boy oh boy was I glad to be getting out of there. Everybody was nice, but it’s hard to get good sleep when your neighbours’ IV poles are beeping, and you’re randomly awakened so they can hook you up to this med or that, or check this or that vital sign. You never truly sleep soundly because you never know what’s coming. It’s not a complaint, just the nature of the beast. Plus you feel like you’ve lost control. Again, it’s just the nature of the beast. At the beginning when you’re all in pain and looped out on drugs, you don’t care, but at the end, you’d really like to take control of your life again, and it’s not gonna happen while you’re in there.
By the end, I didn’t have any surgical pain…just generally felt like you do when you’ve been laying around for too long. The pain from the surgery went away amazingly quickly. I was pretty shocked. I think my initial gallbladder pain was worse than the after surgery pain.
So now I’ve come home. Boy did it feel good to have a shower again, sleep in my own bed, wash my hair! There are things you take for granted…they feel awesome to get back. You also take for granted your stamina, but it doesn’t take long for it to be reduced to zippo. When you walk through Fairview Mall and you’re sweating like crazy, it’s a wake-up call. But thankfully, that has come back pretty quickly, and I’m walking like I always do. I also found myself getting tired super early. I felt like I was a small child, going to bed at 8 o’clock. Fortunately that has gone away too.
I’d say I feel 99% like myself, although I’m still trying to figure out what foods are on the bad guy list. They didn’t give me a restricted diet, just told me “when you find a food that’s bad, you’ll know.” But I’ve been told by everyone that I have to be super careful what I eat…so I’m trying to be careful. It’s a new experience standing in a mall food court going “Hmmm, that would be probably bad, so would that, so would that, hmmm what would be safe in here?”
So yeah. That’s where I’ve been. This experience has taught me I have a lot of friends. Thanks bunches for all the emails, tweets and phone calls, the offers of help from other local guide dog handlers, the huuuuge basket of awesome from work, and the beautiful and yummy eddible arrangement we got from good buddy J. Due to the astronomical size of this post, I might do a separate post with blind guy pictures of said basket and said eddible arrangement. You guys all rock. And work, thanks for being uber awesome about this whole thing. I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to work with. I call it “my awesome job” for a reason.
And allow me to get mushy for a sec, but Steve has been amazing through this whole thing. Without him, I think I would have gone completely nuts beyond repair. I would look forward to his visits every day, and even though I think they tired him out like crazy, he came almost every day and stayed for hours, helping me with my food, which is hard to eat when your dominant hand is tied to an IV pole, and generally making me laugh and helping me fend off the fits of tears and hormone-induced mania…not an easy task. On top of that, he kept the people who needed to know up to speed, and took care of the Tanseroo, and for that, I will be forever grateful! The guy who could not stand the idea of picking up dog crap picked up dog crap for days! Steve, you’re my hero. I mean it.
Ok, everyone can stop booing me out of the building. I’m done turning into a sap-filled mushball. I have an endless pile of posts to get through…some day, maybe I’ll be able to see the bottom of the list. Until then, everybody, stay healthy. You never know when your body might just commit mutiny. Stay healthy, have a doctor who you trust, and for Pete’s sake, if you’re laying on the floor and finding it hard to breathe, realize that your problem just might be a little bigger than urgent care. Don’t be a numbnut like me. Hopefully, future me will learn from this lesson too, but due to my moronic stubbornness, there are no guarantees.
Gaaa. Really hope everybody’s not bored out of their skulls. Honestly, I’ll come up with something shorter, and cooler, really soon.