August 20th, 2006
I wanted to write about the last couple days I spent at that care facility and going in for surgery, before I forget stuff. I never want to forget how amazing some people in my life are and to never take for granted all the little things I can still do (especially once I can do them again!)
Tuesday night (July 25) is when I started feeling a little sick to my stomach, but I chalked it up to something that would be gone by morning and didn’t let it bother me. That was the day my friend Shawna was driving in from Winnipeg, and she arrived around 9:30 p.m. She came up to my room to say “hi” and get my keys. She was quite vibrant and energetic for someone who had just spent about 14 hours in her car! She looked great and very happy. Probably just happy to finally be here!
I gave her my keys and explained where all the cat stuff is and reminded her which cat is which (although, it’s pretty safe to say, “Pita is the one that will be all over you the second you walk in the door”) and wished her luck with her allergies. I told her if the cats drove her nuts, to sleep in my room with the door closed.
The next morning, I still felt sick but it wasn’t too, too bad… the nurses kept me in bed again and brought me breakfast, which I ate and probably shouldn’t have. By lunch time I could barely touch my food, which was sweet n’ sour meatballs and I really wanted them! I ate half a meatball and then switched to soda crackers and gingerale.
After lunch I headed for physio to get fitted for a new splint with velcro that I could easily pull on and off, and while there Kevin and Christine from the Pub came to visit. We hung out for awhile, and I told them I was leaving the next day, so Christine said she’d get some food ready for me and Kevin would drop it by on Friday, along with the two months of work they have sitting there for me.
After they left I crawled into bed, my tummy was really acting up by this time. I asked the nurses if they had anything for gas, because that is what I was so sure it was. I was given a Gravol and told they can’t give me anything else unless a doctor sees me and prescribes it. So, I can go to the store and buy my own Diovol or Pepto-Bismol or whatever and take it, but they can’t give me any because it’s not on my “PRN”. They’re so strict with that stuff - I am glad I had my own stash of vitamins and supplements they never knew about, or they would have been taken from me.
Anyway, Shawna glides into my room with some Tim Horton’s and Purdy’s chocolate for me!! I almost cried, because I was too sick to have any. Still thinking I had gas, I was wishing for some baking soda and water to burp it away. Before I knew it Shawna was asking where the nearest grocery store was, and she took off to get me some! What a sweetie. I took several doses of that and did get a few good burps out, but no relief. Shawna hung out with me for a few hours. Karen, my favourite RN, came on shift so we went out there to say hello.
Knowing it was my last night there, Karen had a “surprise” for me. She went down to her car to get it… and came back with this big basket she put together for me!!! It was in a tin pail that had sunflowers and a bee painted on it. Inside she put a sunflower bookmark, sunflower push pins, some candles, toffees and caramels, a nice smelling hair conditioner and a card. The card had a little silver kitty charm hanging on the front, and she wrote inside: “Gonna miss our talks together. I am really glad you are recovering well. Keep in touch, you are very special”. I was dumbfounded. I did not expect that!! Is it any wonder that she became my favourite from the night I arrived there at 2:00 a.m. and she did my intake report? We hit it off right away.
I was in bed early again, and Shawna left taking a bunch of stuff with her back to my apartment to lighten the morning’s load. I had trouble sleeping because I was in pain, so around 5:00 a.m. I begged for something. Karen phoned the doctor on call and he recommended some kind of medication that is for nausea and helps gas pain too. I had not been feeling nauseous (although I was wishing I could throw up, because maybe it would help!) I took the pill and it allowed the pain to subside enough to get a few hours sleep.
The next morning the nurses left me in bed again, but I got myself up and started organizing my stuff to go home. I felt sooooo sick. Bob arrived to take me home, so we packed everything, signed the discharge papers and left. I felt too sick to make a proper round of goodbyes… I figured I’d come back in a couple days when I was feeling better and say goodbye to Blanche and Clive and some of the staff I missed.
When we arrived at my apartment Shawna was nowhere to be seen, but her car was outside and my bedroom door was closed so I figured she was in there sleeping (it was about 10:00 am) . I settled in my La-Z-Boy for a bit and cuddled my kitties. I finally decided I needed my bed and would have to kick Shawna out. I knocked, waited, knocked again, waited, and then opened the door and she wasn’t even in there! I was quite puzzled. But too sick to really put any thought into it so I crawled into bed. Shortly after, Shawna walked in wearing shorts, a tank top and headphones… she had been out for a walk! Duh. Anyway, she was tired too so she went to lie down on the couch and we both tried to sleep.
By 4:00 I decided I better get myself to the hospital. I was only feeling worse, and this had gone on too long, it couldn’t be “just gas”. Shawna offered to drive me of course, but I figured arriving in an ambulance might get me in faster. (Wrong!) I called the non-emergency ambulance line and they sent the EMT and paramedics. They helped me on to the ambulance, put in an IV (taking my one good vein on my right hand!), took my vitals, etc. To get me from the ambulance into the hospital they used one of these hard white plastic wheelchairs that are terribly uncomfortable. Once inside, the emergency paperwork was taken care of without me needing to stand in a line, but then I was placed in the waiting room with everyone else to wait my turn. Okay, okay, I guess “tummy troubles” isn’t exactly more of an emergency than “brain bleeding” so FINE. I will wait.
And wait and wait and wait. In that hard plastic chair. I was so uncomfortable and in so much pain and sooo tired and three hours had passed (this is the same waiting room a woman recently suffered a miscarriage while waiting) that I figured I may as well go home and be in pain there, at least I could lie down. I called Shawna to come get me and just as she walked in they called my name. Perfect timing! So Shawna was there to hang out with me while I was tested and seen by a doctor and stuff. On a side note, I was so tired and out of it I didn’t even notice how HOT the doctor was until later, when my pain had subsided a bit. Then I looked at Shawna and was like “woah, he is CUTE!” and she said “I was wondering when you were going to notice that!” She just kept shaking her head because all the doctors sent my way were cute. Hehe! They figured it was my gallbladder, and wanted to admit me for more tests in the morning. I slept on the emergency cot until a bed became available at around 1:30 a.m. and they put me in a room.
The following morning I was wheeled down for an ultrasound. I was introduced to a student and told she would be doing it. That was fine with me, however, she took 3 times as long as any other pelvic ultrasound I have ever had, and all that pressing down on my painful parts almost brought me to tears. It was an hour and 20 minutes of sheer torture. After she was finished, I breathed a huge sigh of relief and then another technician came in and said “okay, my turn!” He had to do everything over again to make sure the student didn’t miss anything. THEN I did cry. Just a slight whimper but I was tired and stressed and in pain… at least he only took about 20 minutes.
Then it was back upstairs where I was immediately jumped on for another attempt at drawing blood (a lab tech had failed earlier… my damn veins!) This one’s attempts were worst than the first and she poked me and shoved the needle around in my arm to the point that I screamed, made her jump, which hurt me more, and soon I was all out crying and hyperventilating. I guess it was the fact I had just been subjected to two hours of intense pain and was tired and stressed and this threw me over the edge. So they left me alone for awhile and didn’t attempt to get blood again for several hours.
The doctor came by and told me, yes, indeed, my gallbladder is very inflamed and needs to come out. Since the chances were fairly good I would not be getting surgery that afternoon, he allowed me “fluids only” until 6:00 p.m. (you can get called for surgery at any time of the day or night, and you can’t have anything in your system!). So I started drinking water, and when Shawna arrived I sent her right back down to get me a coffee lol They brought me a supper tray - a popsicle, jell-o, vegetable broth, tea. It was Friday afternoon and the last time I had eaten was soda crackers on Wednesday afternoon, so bring on the jell-o!
From 6:00 p.m. on I was not allowed anything, and was finally called for surgery the following night at 6:00 p.m. 24 hours without so much as a glass of water! I was back in my room close to midnight and was given a popsicle. Mmmmm. The next couple days were kinda like that, all fluids. When they finally brought me a roast beef sandwich for lunch on Tuesday, I just about cried! It was the best sandwich EVER. (Totally not, but it seemed like it at the time).
As mentioned in another entry, my MS meds block narcotics so no pain killers helped, yet they kept pumping them in me to see if I could get some relief. It didn’t work. It was hell! The first day after surgery I was hooked up to a catheter THANK GOD because I would have rather killed myself than try to get up for the bathroom. I was in so much pain it hurt to breathe and the nurses kept FORCING me to take deep breathes to prevent pneumonia or a collapsed lung (while in surgery they turn off your lungs and the machines breathe for you, filling your lungs with phlegm, so it is very important to cough that up and work your lungs back into breathing mode!)
Anyway, I was in the hospital about a week, much longer that usual “day surgery” gallbladder removal patients. Shawna left a couple days before I was discharged, but while in my apartment she unpacked my stuff, fed my cats, etc. She had to spend the last few days in a hotel because she was ready to scratch her nose off by that point. Lisa and Russ continued to take care of my kitties after Shawna left, and AH came by to visit me and get keys back as well. He needed to take over that weekend shift (and even brought his kids and made his son clean the litter boxes… he has been bugging his parents for a cat, but that cured him! “Dad, it SMELLS!” “Finish it!” “But it STINKS!” “I don’t care, you finish it! This is what you have to do with a cat!”) Hehe
I was then sent to my mom’s where I stayed for a week, feeling completely helpless and pathetic. I could barely walk, I was in pain, I couldn’t do anything for myself and at that point I wasn’t even able to get myself to the bathroom in time so I was wearing Depends at night. Yes, you heard me, I admit it! I would just sit there and cry every day, I was so depressed and hated my life. It’s like, over the years I have gotten used to my limitations and what I can and cannot do. I have learned to live with it and am okay with it. But take that and make it 10 times worse, and I am one depressed and grumpy bitch. THAT I don’t want to live with and get used to, it ain’t gonna happen, that is too much to ask of me at this point… My friends Jay and Katrina drove out to visit me one evening and brought me trashy gossip rags, which cheered me up a little. Talking on the phone with my friends helped, and knowing Rob would be here soon helped… I just prayed I would be in better shape by the time he got here.
Luckily, I only needed the Depends for a few nights… that was the first amplified MS symptom to go away. I got to the point where I could wash myself (but not shower) and dress (in sweats and a T-shirt, no bra!) and by the time I moved back home I wasn’t much better than that, but I knew I would get better faster at home and being forced to walk around more and get stuff for myself. Rob arrived the day after I got home, and the rest you’ve read about.
Oh yeah, that ambulance ride?? Who knew - I was sent a bill for $364.00 or something. Holy cripes! My health insurance covers it but I guess they never got that info so I called them to re-bill. I had no IDEA it cost that much though!!
Next up, I need to write about yesterday!! But my wrist needs a big ‘ol rest first.