Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hospitals... and the drama therein

Anyone who knows me well enough knows I like to joke and laugh. So does Jake. His sense of humor (and smile) are what drew me to him the first time we met. We like to laugh about the same things, although, he will tell you I'm a little more "open" sometimes than I should be and maybe that's true, but I think this week I've earned some "open" time.  Feel free to skip this post if you feel it might offend you. Not my intention. Just want to make you laugh and smile. :). So, pull up a chair and stay awhile. Here is a post dedicated to my hospital journey thus far.
I have tubes.  Lots of them.  They are coming out of every orifice of my body.  It sometimes takes two other people, besides myself, to entangle me enough to get me across the room.  I feel like a robot, connected to every plug and outlet the doctors and nurses can get their hands on.  Also, NEVER take your pulse oximeter off your finger unless it's a life or death emergency.  You will get the nurse running into your room within 1 minute, making sure you're still alive and all is well.  What can I say?  I just want to be free and one less thing I'm attached to gives me that tiny taste of freedom I've been craving.  Also, not being able to type with my right index finger is driving me CRAZY, so if there are any typos, I apologize.  Just know it's not me losing my grammar skills, it's my middle finger's fault.  It can't keep up with my brain like my index finger can.  (*** Update:  My friend, Polly, and her family came to visit tonight.  I explained to her this unnerving problem about the oximeter and she suggested, half joking, that we just put it on my toe.  My nurse, Stacey, said "Sure.  We can try that."  So within a few seconds this small annoyance was attached to my middle toe and now here I am, typing again with all needed fingers.  What would I do without you, Polly?!)
I haven't had a full body shower since June 22nd.  Doing the math?  We are going on 8 days.  Thankfully, I've had a few sponge baths, one of them given to me by my mom and good friend, Abby.  (Now we are REALLY good friends!)  Thanks, Abby.  Maybe someday I'll be able to return the favor.  Or maybe not.  I've been told the day you actually are allowed to finally shower is "the most wonderful day of your life."  I assume I will be as happy as the man pictured above.
I've had problems with my catheter since Day One.  I get air blocks once or twice a day which means it feels like I really need to go #1, but it's really just the catheter having problems.  I had a great moment a couple days ago as I was walking on the treadmill with my friend, Ashley, the exercise therapist.  She had to leave and help another patient for a minute, so I got Jeff to monitor me while she stepped out.  In those few minutes I suddenly felt wetness down below.  It turns out the balloon at the end of my catheter had shifted a little, causing some "bladder fluid" to drip down my legs as I continued to walk.  I believe Jeff was *slightly* disturbed by the incident, but have been told he is "used to stuff like this."  Hmm... for some reason, I'm not entirely believing that to be true.
Enemas and bowel movements.  Need I say more?  (I was going to say more, but Jake made me draw the line somewhere so I'm ending it.)

I'm starting to forget how it feels to wear "real clothes", underwear and all.  I can see how people in Europe find this sort of thing comfortable, and convenient, and choose it on a weekly (and I'm sure even in some cases), on a daily basis.
It seems I have become like family to people who I didn't even know existed a week ago.  We have cute Ilse, a 50-year old CNA from Colombia.  She just got married 2 months ago to her dream man, "a blond haired, blue eyed American."  Then there is sweet Anne.  Her huge smile is infectious and it's hard not to feel good around her.  She has 4th of July plans with groups of friends all over the valley and hasn't figured out where she's going yet.  (Popular girl! ;) )  Joselyn is one of my favorite night RNs who doesn't own a tv, likes working the night shift, and likes to ski at Alta and Snowbird.  Jeff is a fun one.  From first glance he looks to be a quiet, 40 year old introvert, but really, he's the guitarist in a butt rock band called Werewolf Afro.  They sing Led Zepplin and ACDC-inspired music, written by him.  Audrey is a cardiac exercise therapist who just started dating this 30 year old guy 2 months ago.  She really likes him and sees there is a potential future there, but she's worried she might be going a little too fast and might miss the "red flags" (if there are any) because she is so enamored with him.  Desiree is having her first baby in September, a boy with no name, although they are taking suggestions.  Teresa has three girls who are all grown.  It was hard for her to raise them because she is a tom boy and her girls were not.  She thinks she would have done better with all boys, but I disagree with her.  I'm sure she was an excellent mom to her girls.  Andrea, a beautiful and intelligent 25 year old exercise therapist gets teased by her 30 year old roommates that she's an "old maid."  She's watching the new Twilight movie right this very minute.  Her sister got 3 free tickets but decided in the end not to use them because the showing is down in Provo and she is in North Ogden, so Andrea got them.  (She promised me a full report tomorrow!)  My favorite story yet, Daysi.  She and her husband are from El Salvador, working here with visas.  They cannot return to their home country or the visas are taken, so Daysi has not seen her father for over 12 years.  Her parents have also been trying to get visas but her dad has not been able to. (Her mom did after a few tries.)  It's $125 to apply for a visa and they lose the money each and every time he submits his application, even if he doesn't get the actual visa.  It's a lot of money to lose, especially to people who have really no money to begin with.  Daysi would love to be a stay-at-home-mom but says she can't.  Since her parents are not doing well financially, she chooses to keep working (despite having a 6 year old son, 4 year old daughter, and a 2 month old daughter at home) because the money she earns she sends down to her parents.  When I tell her how amazing she is, her response is how she wishes she could "give more."  In my mind I see what she is giving already (her time away from her children, money that could help her own family become more financially stable, etc.)  She tears up when I tell her that.  She is a beautiful, amazing woman.  And so, well... you get the picture.  I'm slowly becoming a permanent fixture here at the hospital.  I'm already plotting out where to hang my favorite pictures, imagining a different wall color, wanting to change up the window treatments.  (Clearly I've been here too long, although, there is a 20 year old patient who spent Thanksgiving, Christmas, and his birthday here on the fourth floor.  He was living with an artificial heart, just waiting for a transplant.  He's 6'9" which means the 'big' guy needed a 'big' heart, and that's why the 8 month stay.  He finally got one last week.  He just left ICU this morning and returned to this floor today.  To welcome him back, the nurses toilet papered his room.  He is planning to go home at the end of the week.  I can't imagine being that guy.  What a trooper!)  
I have an interior jugular central line.  It has three little ports that can have blood taken out of them, medicine put into them, etc.  I think I much prefer this IV compared to one in my arm that I have to be pretty careful with, and the site needs to be changed every 3 days.  By the way, just found out this morning that this central line is stitched into my neck.  Didn't realize that until I checked it out in the mirror.  It's a little Frankenstein-ish.  (*** Heidi, thanks for correcting me.  Thought this whole time it was a picc line.  Oops.)  

Well, that's enough stories for one day.  As for an update, last Saturday the suction for my chest fluid was turned off, and then I was monitored for 24 hours to see how my body reacted.  The next day the suction was turned back on because it looked as though my remaining lung was moving downward a tiny bit and had the potential to collapse.  The doctor had me wait it out a few more days, and then finally turned off the suction again today.  I'll have another x-ray in the morning and Dr. Reid will decide if I go back on suction, or the tubes get clamped for the day.  If they get clamped, good sign.  They will monitor me for another 24 hours.  If I'm still good, the chest tubes will be removed, along with the picc line, catheter, and epidural.  I'll be transitioned to percocet for the pain and if all goes well, the earliest I could leave would be Thursday night, but the doctor said more like Friday.  We are cutting this 5K close.  We have a wheelchair ready and waiting for me to use on Saturday morning.  Crossing my fingers I'll be able to make it!

Well, that's it for now.  I will try and update tomorrow once we know more.



Becky said...

So so glad to see you posting. And that you still have your sense of humor! We love you! Hang in there and keep getting better.

PS None of the surgery pics freaked me out but the picc line gives me the willies. Glad you can use you hands though!

Andrea said...

Really like all the pictures and as always you crack me up! You are so honest and up beat! I feel honored to call you my friend. Keep up the positive thoughts and we will continue to keep you and the family in our prayers~~

The Cherry Family said...

Sorry if I kept you up late trying to figure out "HTML." I slept restlessly all night waiting for the "Drama!" Just kidding!
When we had our special moment of bathing, don't you remember me asking you if those were stitches on your neck? Yeah, they looked pretty gruesome (sp?)!
Lucy is trying to type you a message as we speak, she must miss you, too! May I come visit tonight? Jared will be home!


Ashleigh said...

Experiences that will stay with you for a lifetime, huh? It's neat to hear all the stories about everyone and to hear how you're doing. Good thing you're such an open person, or some of this stuff might be embarrassing. I don't think I have any friends who would be willing to bathe me.

We're praying that your lungs drain on their own and that you don't end up getting pnuemonia or having a lung collapse. Those docotors better be sure you're okay before sending you off. It scares me.

Wish I could be out there to help and give you company and the best dang sponge bath you've ever had! We love you!

Anonymous said...

You have such a gift for writing! Usually when I see a post this long on another blog, I choose to skip over it. Reading this made my day! Thanks for sharing! Love Ya!

peter said...

You crack me up! How many other people would know so much about people they have known only a week? I'm glad you are finding the lighter side of everything. Everyone needs a good laugh to keep 'em sane. Good luck breaking out of the joint. :)


Ashley said...

Well heck I work with all these people and I didn't even know all of that.

So a couple things...

I was cracking up at the picture of the folley catheter. Why are they wearing gym shorts? Hilarious!

Once again I promise you Jeff was not disturbed.

Hope your chest tubes come out soon! You will feel like a new woman with them out. And less like a robot.

Nurse Heidi said...

Hilarious post! I think the guy getting the shower takes the cake...ooooeeeee is he HOT! ;).

PICC lines are actually inserted in your arm - that's what I had during my last pregnancy. What you've got there is a delicious triple lumen interior jugular central line. It's about 6 inches long inside of you where PICC lines are more like 12-15 inches. (Just giving you some more hospital trivia to add to your bag of tricks.)

Thinking I'll swing by tomorrow. I've got a haircut at 2 on Fort Union, so I'd come before that for a bit. I'll text you when I'm on my way.

Iliana said...

You crack me up. Dave thinks he needs to censor me all the time too, but I say why not talk about poop. Those Taylorsville boys. Wish we could come visit too, but since we've been dealing with the stomach flu lately I think it best we don't:) Hope all keeps going well and you bust outta there soon.

fsowannabe said...

I really enjoyed this post - it made me flashback to the time my oldest was in the hospital for an extended stay and had so many tubes she literally couldn't sit up in bed (it was funny, I promise). Sending positive thoughts your way.

Bev Tate said...

wish i was with you, we would be wetting ourselves with laughter!! You know your not going to get any special treatment when you get home so make the most of it while you can. Leaving for England in 2 weeks, I'll mail you some chockie when i get back. love ya bev