Monday, July 5, 2010

The Pale-Skinned One

This is the view from the treadmill I walk on every morning and afternoon.  It is quite beautiful.  I see the entrance to Murray Park straight ahead.  Up on the right is Best Buy and south of the hospital is Costco.  Then of course, I get the gorgeous mountains to look at, with the sun shining bright, no clouds in the sky.  That's when I realize, oh wait... that's out there, and I'm in here.  As I walk on the treadmill, looking below at the people busy with their own lives, I wonder if they can see me, the girl with the tubes sticking out of her, wearing an oversized gown, tousled hair, no makeup.  The nurses tell me I'm lucky I haven't been outside for awhile because last week it was 98 degrees and everyone was sweating to death.  But then I have a day like yesterday, when everyone tells me how 'perfect' it is outside.  Yes, I'm pale.  I haven't stepped foot outside the hospital in TWO WEEKS.  I have only left the 4th floor twice and that was in a wheelchair, down to the first floor to get an xray in the radiology lab.  Usually I just have xray techs come to my room and perform it in my bed.  Pretty cool they can even do that.  Anyway, I realized for the first time this morning that I am going stir crazy.  I want to feel the sun on my skin, the cool breeze against my cheeks.  I asked my nurse if it was even possible to break me out for a minute or two and she said that was up to my dr.  Well, we asked him this morning and he gave me permission to take a little stroll outside for a bit this afternoon.  I'm counting down the minutes until I can take a few steps out of the hospital.  It's hard to believe that there are people who live here for months and months, even years at a time, like our good friend, Dylan, I had mentioned a few posts ago.  (He was the guy waiting for the heart transplant, living here on the 4th floor for nearly 9 months.  He was finally discharged on Friday.  I heard lots of whooping and clapping and looked out in the hall to see what was going on.  It was Dylan, telling the nurses and staff thank you for everything, then he smiled and waved, turned around, got in the elevator, and left.  Some nurses wiped the tears from their cheeks.  It was such a sweet and tender moment and I felt honored to be here to see it.  Good luck, Dylan, wherever you are.  Enjoy that new heart of yours and I hope you live a healthy, long life.  You deserve it!)  By the way, to get this picture I had to take myself off suction (gasp), make a mad dash to the exercise room making sure to cover my bum because of the unflattering hospital gown with the big gaping hole in the back, unlock the door with the coveted security code that all the nurses want, sneak the picture, then rush back and get my suction hooked up again.  I felt a little like an escaped convict, waiting for alarms to go off and nurses to come chasing me down the hall.  It was fun to get a small adrenaline rush. :)

Saturday night there was a firework show at Murray Park, just east of the hospital.  I was told by one of the CNAs that the fourth floor was going to have a party in the exercise room that night.  Everyone was invited to come in and watch the fireworks together.  My mom was with me that night so at 10pm when we heard the first couple loud BOOMS we headed to the exercise room.  The nurses had blacked out the windows so we didn't see the light from the nurses' station shining into the room.  My mom and I found a spot next to one of the treadmills and I sat on a table next to her.  I looked around the room and saw other patients with their families.  There was an elderly woman, probably in her late 70s who had a heart valve replaced.  There was another woman who looked to be in her 50s who said she had double bypass surgery.  A few more patients came in and within 10 minutes the room was packed with patients and their families, nurses, and CNAs.  The firework show was awesome and at that moment I felt so thankful to be where I was, in a hospital with skilled doctors and nurses, getting my body healthy again.  There was a funny moment when a grandson of one of the patients asked his grandma if she thought the show was beautiful and she, very unenthusiastically said "It's okay."  It took everything in me not to laugh when my mom and I made eye contact.  At the end of the show, one of the fireworks burst into the sky and formed a red heart.  Everyone loved that one and the daughter of one of the patients said "That one was made for all of you." (since nearly everyone on this floor right now are cardiac patients.)  Then I said, "Well, I'm feeling a little left out.  The next firework better look like a lung."  Everyone busted out laughing, a few mentioning they didn't even know what a lung looks like.  It was a pretty funny moment.
Yesterday my nurse reminded me it had been four days since my IV site had been changed.  Dang!  That means it was time to take out the old IV and put in a new one.  The first I had was on my left wrist, then my right, so the nurse tried to get one in on my left wrist again but my vein was rolly and she couldn't get it.  So she decided to put it on the inside of the crick of my elbow instead.  Let me tell you, I hate having an IV in this spot.  It hurts to fully extend my arm and it aches more than the normal IV in the wrist.  Not a fan.  I'm counting down the next three days until it gets pulled out and we try the wrist again.
Jake spent the night last night for the first time since I've been here.  I warned him of my busy schedule so he could be prepared for a sleepless night.  First a nurse checks on me at 9pm and gives me my pain meds.  Sometimes the nurse's shift ends at 11pm, so my new nurse comes in at midnight to check on me.  Then I get woken up at 1am to check my vitals and am given more medicine.  Then at 4:45am I get weighed.  The nurse comes in at 6am to do vitals and give me my pain medicine.  At 7:15am the xray techs come into my room and take my xray.  8am I get my breakfast.  9am the dr comes in to chat about the xray.  Between 10 and 11am I go exercise for 30 minutes with a therapist.  Then I get lunch at noon.  Jake's response "You've been here too long, knowing each minute of your day."  I was told that exact same thing this morning by one of the xray techs, as I undid my own leads and knew exactly where to put them after they were done. (Smoke over fire, clouds over grass, chocolate in the middle, which means the grey lead goes on the upper left spot, red goes below, white on the upper right spot, green below, and brown in the middle.)  Yes, I've been here too long. ;)

So, an update.  Today was the big day, the second try, to see if my body did what it was supposed to and got the air out of my chest cavity so my lung doesn't collapse.  The xray showed a slight change in the air around my lungs, but not a good change so we all know what that means... "one more day."  The dr put me back on suction for a few hours, and now my tube is clamped and we wait until tomorrow for another xray.  Dr. Reid (yes, he came in today, on his holiday... he loves me too much to stay away ;) ) said if the pneumothorax (that pesky air in my chest cavity causing pressure around the lung which causes it to collapse) is still there and bigger tomorrow, then they will put a tube in the front of my chest to relieve that air pocket above my lung that is causing all the problems.  Part of me just wants to do it today and get this done.  So we just wait and see tomorrow.  Wednesday is the earliest I'll be leaving, but really, I don't take the doctors seriously anymore when I hear a potential release date.  I'm just trying to stay positive and know that the doctors are not keeping me here for the fun of it.  I'm here because I need to be.  The last thing I want is to go home, have my lung collapse, and be right back here getting chest tubes again.  For now, I'm really looking forward to my little stroll outside.  I hear it's another 'perfect' day.  Can't wait to feel the sun on my skin!



Anonymous said...

That was amazing writing! I am excited you get to walk outside today... you are so wonderful and inspire me! Love Amy

Anonymous said...

I am so encouraged by your positive spirit! DC is seeing record highs - 100 degrees today, and even the dog is refusing to go outside. Strength to you from your FSO friends...

Anonymous said...

As soon as you are out I am coming to get you and we are going to go where ever you want for as long as you want!