I had a lot of visitors while in hospital. And a lot of nurses. These work in 12 hour shifts starting at 7 in the morning. They run the gamut of nice to really serious and strict.  Some appear to treat the whole thing as a job, and why not, we are all transient after all. There for a few days and gone by the next shift. So it goes with the new rules at the hospitals. Minimal stay. I, on the other hand, managed to extend my stay by a few days. Such a genius.

My visitors included my cousins from Vancouver, Habib and Soheil, Nancy, Diana, Morris, Maryse, Steve, John, Judith and Arlin, Paulee, Leslie, and the list goes on. I felt a bit bad for my visitors. I kept sleeping. I would open my eyes to see people still sitting there, say a couple of words, and go back to sleep. Not much control over things. I thank all the people who visited and hope the show was worth the effort.

They dress you in stockings, white, very sexy and tight. Their purpose is to prevent blood clots from forming. The nurses also force you to walk from the very first day. Not long walks, but out of bed and out for walks on a regular basis. Probably the most painful part of the stay.

The drugs they give you are amazing. I was on IV, some sort or saline solution until the second to last day. The solution keeps you alive and is removed only after you prove that you can survive by yourself. In general, that means that you have mastered the ability of eating and drinking without throwing up. As it turns out, not a skill to be taken lightly. They use the same IV tube to administer drugs. They had me on a drug called Hydramorphone (Superman morphine!) for a while. They give you a gun of sorts with a button that you can press whenever you fell pain to get a boost. What they also tell you is that the button works only once every five minutes. So there you are lying in bed in pain and you press the button. The IV dispensing machine beside you emits a confirming beep, and you have instant relief. Amazing stuff. But then you have more pain, so you press the button again… and nothing, no beep and no relief. So you press it again, and again, and again, and nothing. You lie there wondering what part of this cruel joke escaped you. Then suddenly beep, and relief. So you decide, clever lad that you are, that you will make note of the time from the big clock on the wall.

Pain comes back, and you look at the clock to see if it is time yet. Herein lies a problem. The trick about making note of the time is to remember the time noted. My drug infused state did not help the process. I looked at the clock and had no recollection of the previous time. And so the game continues. Click, click, click, beep, ahhh!

I developed an allergy to the drug within a couple of days. Started itching all over. I ignored the itching at first, but as it spread, I became concerned. The itching really did not register in my brain as being important until some other parts of the body started itching as well. The nurses were very calm about the whole thing. Yeah, it happens, no big deal. I will be moved to oral pain killers, which, while not as effective are a good thing to move to. Wean me off this Superman Morphine. In the meantime, time for some Benadryl to get rid of the itching. We have all had Benadryl to relieve itching in the summer from allergies or mosquito bites. But the stuff they gave me was through the IV. A tad stronger. And remember the part of me being opiate naive? I was asleep with 30 minutes. Gone. Out cold. Woke up a couple or three hours later, but could not open my eyes. Said something to Janet and Devin who responded that they had no idea what I was saying. No kidding! I could hear myself speak and was fully aware that what was coming out of my mouth was nothing near what my brain was formulating. I could not understand what I was saying.I was quite distressed over this. Not sure how long it took for this all to work its way through, but I did eventually manage to open my eyes and put a sentence together.

The doctors also decided to move me to a liquid diet. This consist of imitation apple juice, accompanied by imitation Jello. Think about this for just a second. What the hell is Jello that these people fell compelled to imitate it? Red Rose tea with water that is no longer hot enough to make tea. The couple of the meal is a bowl of broth. People have asked me about the flavour of the broth. Beef? Chicken? Vegetable? I remind you that this place serves IMITATION JELLO! I had a couple of these before moving to solid foods. What the staff do not tell you is the following: You do not have to eat the whole thing. I am afraid I come from a background where you eat the food that is placed in front of you lest a child somewhere starve. And so it was that I ate everything that was placed in front of me. I was grateful for the real food. I had not eaten anything of substance in a few days, and whatever was in front of me eas worth digging into, even the imitation ice cream.

So onto to oral pain killers. First dose went without any issues, and they appear to work quite qell. Second dose, no issues. You know there is an issue coming up, don’t you. Third dose. No sooner did I swallow the third dose that I threw up. Lucky I had one of those cute throw up bowls beside my bed. They truly have these bowls that are shaped like kidneys that are used to throw up in. And I obliged. Looked like green bilge which was enough to make you throw up again, except I had nothing left in me to throw up. Off solids, and back to a liquid diet. And time to rethink the pain killer regimen.

I was without pain killers for about a day.  I was instructed by Ruth to not be a hero. When in pain, take a pain killer. This was repeated many times by other people. It turns out that pain gets in the way of recovery. To all those who want to man it out and bear the pain until the last possible minute, I say to you, stop it, and take the pain killers. You will heal faster. Pain begats low emotional states which hampers recovery. All of this stuff is interconnected. I have no hero impulses in me when it comes to pain. I have a high pain threshold, and figure that it must be pretty bad if I can feel it. They finally decided on plain old morphine as the ideal solution. I was allowed 4mg every 4 hours. They opted to give me 2 to begin with and monitor the situation. We finally settled on 2mg every three hours which worked wonders. No nausea, or drowsiness, and most importantly, no pain.

The morphine went on for a couple of days. I had to remind each nurse to give me the morphine every three hours. At some point, one of the nurses forgot to give me the morphine, and miraculously, I felt no pain, and so we dropped the pain killers after 7 days in hospital. The only drugs I was taking were the stool softener, the ant-acid, and the blood thinner.

I threw up a second time a couple of days after the first episode. My nurse was a very nice person, but she liked things to go her way. If there was a directive in the book, it had to be followed. She would get very irritated when you argued with her or refused her advice. She was quite hard with me. Until I threw up the second time. She went all soft and caring and insisted I take Gravol. I was too weak and resigned myself to the inevitable. As expected, I was knocked out again.

This turned out to be the turning point. I woke up from the drowsiness around 3. I was taken to a second operating room to have a portacath inserted in my chest. That was a 90 minute operation with a charming duo Doctor/Nurse. They gave a local which allowed us to talk and laugh through the whole procedure. Move forward I say.

The next day, the wonderful Dr. Shawyer suggested we try ArrowRoot cookies and one of those amazing Booster Juices that are available all over town. I drank from the juice very tentatively and had a couple of cookies. Then waited to see what would happen. That was the beginning of the recovery. Janet got me some pasta from Mercato, solid food from the hospital was next. Salmon, mash potatoes, and squash which turned out to be surprisingly good. Never looked back.

I was discharged on Saturday with strict instructions to call if anything goes wrong. We have all kinds of numbers of people and places to call.

I have joined to alumni.

2 Responses to “Sleep, wake up, walk, nausea, sleep, drugs…”

  1. Excellent post, what cms do you use in your blog ?

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