Two weeks ago, in preparation for a medical procedure, I went on a liquid diet for 12 hours then fasted for 38 more hours, only having a single cup of tea 26 hours before the event. The end result? The doctors found nothing. I guess that's good (at least better than stomach cancer), but being so dehydrated and starved my system was down and I developed strep throat that I'm just now getting over 10 days later. Just remember, if I didn't have forced health care from my job, you guys would have paid for all that and, as statistics show, the uninsured get billed the highest costs (go figure that incongruous one out).
I tried calling my Senators today to get them to stop being a bunch of cowards and start acting like Democrats (you know, the majority party in a state that's largely democratic) and push health care reform. I couldn't get through to Schumer (no voicemail? really?) and Gillibrand number sent me to Verizon (not that that mattered, all I need is Schumer, as she votes however he does). Anyway, if someone wouldn't mind giving them a ring. These are the numbers I got. Tell them to stop being pussies and give me health care. Senator Charles Schumer Phone: 202-224-6542 Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Phone: 202-224-4451supporting thin
My recent surgery scar had a hard, sharp bump in it. Well, that "bump" has popped and now I have two ends of stitches sticking out of me. OK, this picture isn't of my scar, but I thought it looked delightfully nasty.
The world didn't stop. Tons to catch up with and barely the fortitude to make it through the day. No idea how this all happened to begin with; no idea if it could happen again. Must rest up; litany of test are on the horizon. Use a cane to walk. Don't need cane to walk, need cane to not get knocked out of peoples way, to not get in fight with guy who thinks he owes the sidewalk, to maybe--just maybe--get a seat on the subway (happens less than one in ten trips). Having a foot long laceration through abdomen, needed to take out and sew up stomach, permanently disrupts body's core which is key to all movement, yet visually no one can tell anything is wrong. Cane sends message of "look, something wrong, have some social grace." Few do, fewer still care.
[Please forgive the delay in posting. I've been dealing with stomach pain and other such issues resulting from my surgery. Typical.]
Shower, take a brisk walk, make some calls to catch up with work and friends, that's the plan. Past time to go home, avoid this infectious atmosphere, get some rest and get back to life. Doctor says the good news is discharge is mere days away. Shower's too cold, the floor is dirty, get in touch with people another time.
A different doctor doesn't see the need to stay. Take the opinion that best fits the desired answer. Check out of the hospital. Feel like celebrating. Feel like crying. Try hailing a cab wearing sweats after a week without bathing.
Finally home. Have to use the bathroom non-stop, still as swollen from the waist down as an obese person, still in pain, still waking soaked in sweat. Welcome home.
Largely established a routine at this point. Walking, pissing, sleeping off morphine. Nurses and doctors make rounds. Nun, Minister, biology student, Jewish outreach volunteer, therapy dog as well; sounds like the beginning of a joke. Started liquid diet: salted, warm, tan colored water; apple-juice; coffee and milk (forbidden to have either); and cherry jelly. Never give red anything to a patient who had internal bleeding and who is constantly asked the color of bowel movements. Last time in hospitalized there was a girl and friends with free time. Not this time around. Disappointing. Want to go home but dealing with nausea and heartburn and not even allowed solid food. CT scans are miserable. Drink foul liquid and spin around for X-ray despite being partially immobile. We can put a man on the moon, but can't make a contrast drink that doesn't taste like evil?
Be prepared for future hospitalization. Have mindless books, a charged mp3 player, DVDs and a player, ideally a laptop with internet connect too, but let's not be greedy.
Gossip: "I hate this place, this lack of life; I hate this job; I hate these people!" Apparently yelled by one of the nurses.
It's the smells. Every sent is pungent, unavoidable, and overwhelming. Sweat, urine, feces, halitosis, gases expelled from both ends, antiseptics, medicines, detergents and soaps, perfumes, even materials such as plastics and leathers are olfactory assaults. It has become painful just to breath.
Fantasies take on new meaning in the hospital. Victoria Secret girls, infinite funds, kicking Dick Chaney in the throat? Of course! Yet after just these few days the mind turns to other, far kinkier, desirers. So I'd take this cup, right? Yeah? Fill it with ice and water. Yeah?! And drink it. Yeah, baby, yeah!! Had nothing but IV since checking in.
Unperturbed when arm swelled due to fluid build-up, took ballooning of feet, ankles, and legs up through the thighs calmly, but now genitals resemble elephant man's head in size and shape. Get that doctor in here f#$%ing NOW!
Hospital is freezing. They do an ultrasound on one leg (they were suppose to do both, but then they were suppose to do the ultrasound yesterday) to see if their are blood clots. Left waiting in a wheelchair in a hallway. Four times attempt to get the attention of a secretary. Finally acknowledges with "WHAT?!" Apologize for disturbing her and ask if someone is coming. When someone finally shows even she is appalled at how long it took. How do people survive without family? Relatives come everyday to check up, cheer up, and pick things up. The relay messages to friends, school, and work. Could not do this solo. Don't know what would happen without them. Don't want to know.
Wake from bizarre nightmare. Happening a lot. Always about not quite being human and desire to escape. Don't need Freud to understand, yet wake soaked in sweat. Change gowns, take another shuffling walk down the hall and back again. This time is different only due to the fire drill. Dawn ushers in screams from immobile neighbor. His pain is bad enough, but its couple with his constant spilling of his bedpan. Somehow feel lucky.
Ten pounds underweight yet IV arm and legs are swelling to obese proportions.First steps in the hallway, dragging my tubes of morphine, glucose, antibiotics, antacid, and catheter with me. Hospital looks just like the last one I was in, which looked just like the one before that, which looked just like the one before that. Pain intense, strength nonexistent, walk the equivalent of a block and long to sleep, but sleep doesn't occur in a hospital, only respites between blood drawing, blood-pressure and pulse checking, injections of anticoagulant, and shift changes of staff members. Three hours instead of eight. How does that promote healing? Arm swollen because IV isn't inserted correctly. Medicine flooding into body rather than vein. No wonder morphine doesn't seem to work. Arm slowly returns to normal when chief resident takes charge and finds a vein. Legs are swollen due to fluids in general and won't subside without constant walking. A foot long scar cutting through stomach severing abdominal muscles makes standing upright a joke. Swollen feet also makes it harder to walk. See the circular nature?
Still can't see very clearly so readings out. No public internet means isolation in the digital age. MP3 player's batter is low and must conserve. Brother-in-law brought a laptop from work but it now its really is only a DVD player. Only one movie to watch. Can write documents too, which is important as work calls about twice a day since entering the hospital. They want to know who will cover classes, what lessons should be taught, and to take me off payroll and put sub on. Health care comes from work. What will happen if suddenly off the books. Half blind and largely incoherent, lesson plans are written, promises to pay subs out of pocket made, and assurances given of a quick return. Want to rest, no time to rest.
Out of ICU and in gen pop. First sign was the orderly shoving me off the gurney onto the plastic bed that will be home for the next week. Can't see well due to morphine, but hearings fine. Homeless woman screams in agony, hippster rants at his roommate/staff/management/doctors, deranged septuagenarian complains that he hasn't been fed in two week (staff assures him he's only been here one week), bedridden roommate curses as he spills his urinal on himself. Physical pain cannot be recalled. Emotional, yes, but not physical. The pain is often terrible; however, hours later it is hard to put into words. First night was intense but attempted to limit use of morphine pump during the day. Foolish move. Press the injection button. Hit it and time how long it take before it reactivates. Then hit it again. And again. And again. The pain will return soon enough, better to have preempted it. There are good and bad nurses. The good ones are easy to discover as you will hear their names constantly, called by the other staff members too lazy or incompetent to do anything themselves. There are good and bad resident doctors but it's harder to tell from them as they come and go like a whirlwind. You have to be ready with your questions and make sure they are short. Yes and no questions are tricky as no one wants to give a definitive answer. Except for the filthy floors due to lazy janitors, this is nothing like Scrubs.
Bed Bugs. That was my concern as I left my apartment as work had bed bugs. Maybe that's why I ignored the ever increasing pain in my gut; ignored it until the sweat dripping in my eyes made it as hard to see as the fact that my classroom was spinning. I knew I was going to pass out. I knew I wouldn't make it to the emergency room. I knew if I called for an ambulance they would come to me and take me quickly and carefully to the hospital. The ambulance went to the wrong address and refused to be dissuaded of this. Eventually they came and took me away. I think they purposely hit ever pothole.
Ulcer. Internal bleeding, Hole in stomach. Acid burning from the inside out. I tell them I have my own doctors, I tell them I want to get a second opinion from them. They tell me: If you leave here you will die. I don't know their Dr. T; I don't know how good he is. They roll their eyes, grind their teeth, flush red with rage. They tell me: You will die. I try to placate them, to calm them down, to try to explain my point of view, but it's hard to think over the howling (the howling is coming from me). They tell me: Die. Ok, I say, take me to Dr. T.
I'm awake, but I can't really see. Everything is a shade of brown, my vision's range is only a few feet. I watch my fists slam against the bed's guard rails; my feet lash out at nothing. Please, I say, Please, knowing what the answer is before they tell me that they can't give me anything more for the pain. If they do my blood-pressure will fall and I will never wake. Ok, I say, Ok, do it. The anesthetist walks by; he tells the nurse to increase the medicine. Before I pass out a hand takes mine. I cannot see the person but a recognize the ring, the hand, and the touch. My parents have been in the room, forced to listen to their son beg strangers to kill him.
Since Halloween is fast approaching (the store down the block has been advertising for it since after Labor Day), I thought it might be good to put a scare to my readers (all four of you). No, not ghost and goblins, but more mundane fears such as a tale of madmen cutting open an innocent and shoving their malicious hands inside to fondle internal organs, maniacs determine to torture through sleep deprivation and stabbing a poor soul with spikes just to see blood flow, sadists pouring wicked chemicals into a helpless fool's bloodstream to horrific effects of mass swelling, and callus sociopaths watching others writhe in agony. That's right, I'm going to blog about my recent week-long stay in a NYC hospital due to a rupturing stomach. Be afraid, be very afraid.
I hate barium. I hate having to chug that vile paste while dehydrated and hungry. That's why I should be happy that the procedure I was scheduled to undertake today was canceled. It was another fluoroscopy (although I didn't realize it before hand). It seems neither my doctor nor those doing the procedure noticed that I already had one. When I saw what I was about to undertake I cried foul and set in motion the calls that lead to my reprieve. So I should be glad, right, because I didn't have to drink the barium. Never mind the fasting, scheduling, traveling, that I still don't know what's wrong with me, etc. I should be happy. Right?
There was only one time in my life that I felt good about the way I looked. Four years ago, having been single for far too long, I started a strict regiment of exercise. After all, I can't change my face, women obviously cared nothing for my wit or intellect, so only my body could be worked on. I would bike, lift weights, and take yoga and pilates classes. Within the year I had done it. No, I wasn't a buff stud or anything, but I was trim. I simply don't have the body type for huge biceps or broad shoulders, but when my abs started to take shape I was happy. It was the first time I ever liked the way I looked; it was also the last time I would ever look that way. Just over three years ago, following the moronic advice of my nutrienist, Tina Y, I stopped taking Nexium. The purple pill is evil, I was told interminable, it interferes with digestion. This was important as I needed my meals to support my exercise regiment. Within no time my stomach acids, which I produce an overabundance of, ripped away my stomach lining and an ulcer bore a hole through it. The emergency surgery required that part of my stomach was sewn back together. To do that meant cutting a half a foot long hole through my abdomen.
It took months before I could stand straight, and even more months before I felt secure about working out. I started slow and without the pilates or yoga as the crunches and stretches were simply too much. I went back to school and the studying/working routine made a normal gym regiment almost impossible. A year ago I was determined to start again, to return to the body I had not so long ago. Certainly, it would be harder, and my scar would always disrupt my stomach muscles, but surely this could work. Couldn't it?
To date my body has remained stagnant. Currently, I have torn muscles in my shoulder and hand; a pinched nerve in my back; and four, yes, four hernias related to my lacerated midriff. I will never regain the strength, or the appearance, I once had. Yoga and pilates will do more harm than good and without them I lack the flexibility and core strength needed for a more productive work out. I miss the way I looked, and more importantly, the way I felt looking as I did.
Due to my interminable health problems, my doctors must have decided it was better to have me die of radiation poisoning rather than admit they have no idea what is wrong with me, never mind how to make me well. Therefore, after an inconclusive CAT scan, I was sent for a Fluoroscopy. This procedure takes "moving" pictures of your inner workings by continuously x-raying you on a moving examine table while you chug foul white paste (for x-ray contrast), which is the first substance to enter your body in over twelve hours. It's actually kind of neat if you think about it and it isn't happening to you.
I just had a Cat Scan, one of the many and constant medical procedures I consistently go through in the vain attempt to keep myself alive for another day of misery. I never had one before and want to warn others that the procedure, which only take a few minutes, involves (after a 12 hour fast) chugging a liter of banana flavored paste. I then had to wait for an hour to see the technician (typical) while the office TV showed Still Standing and The People Court. I've never seen either, and if you haven't, let me give you a run down: The former is a cliched filled, unfunny sitcom that features the equally cliched fat, stupid, hideous man married to a stunning woman; the latter has an attractive woman impersonating a judge whereby she proceed to scream at people who dare seek justice. I hope my scan results are more favorable than the quality of those shows.
Ah, the holiday season is upon us and I already have my gift. It seems I have Giardiasis. What’s that? Well you could click here for an in-depth description, or I could just tell you that it’s an intestinal parasite that I caught through eating/drinking something infected with feces (that’s pooh to you). I’m not sure when I got this microscopic invasion as I’ve suffered from all sorts of stomach ailments for years (feel free to search this blog for tales of everything from bleeding ulcers to e-coli adventures), so any symptoms have been written off as more of the same. It was only caught through my annual upper endoscope, as I like to check yearly to see if I’m dieing. I swear, looking at my medical records you’d think I was the most unhygienic person around. Currently, I’m on a generic form of Flagyl to kill off my little visitors, which has done more to upset my stomach than the disease. It’s stuff like this that makes me wonder what plethora of ailments I still have that I’m ignorant of.