Saturday, January 07, 2006

Technical difficulties, please stand by

OK, sorry to all of y'all for being away for so long, but you know, life changing stuff was going on. I had the big leg-removal surgery in October, and the readjustment back to civilian life has been a little bumpy. But oh, how much I've learned! It's like my Grinch brain has grown three times it's size! For example:
- You don't want to have surgery in the afternoon. You can't eat or drink anything for at least 24 hours before and if you have a 6am call time, you're so out of it that you don't register how hungry you are and your caffeine headache is not incapacitating. My call time was 11am with surgery two hours later, so I felt physically craptastic along with being emotionally bereft for a couple of hours.
- It is comforting to have a nurse give you a small beanbag lamb to squeeze while you wait for surgery.
- It is not comforting to have lots of scalpels, saws, knives, and assorted sharp metal instruments be the last things you see before they put you under anesthesia.
- In the U.S. they don't gently cradle your head while someone else sticks a needle in your back for an epidural.
- Anesthesiologists all work from the same script; they all tell you that they are going to send you to 'a happy place' just before they put you under.
- Under sedation, your hands do feel like two balloons.
- If someone you know is having serious surgery but you are not part of their family, you DO NOT stroll into the ICU to visit them on that same day while they are recovering. Especially if you have been specifically told NOT to come see them until they want visitors. A good rule of thumb is if the patient still has an oxygen mask on, it's not visiting time.
- If you have been told by the patient's family that you should not be here and that they will call hospital security if you don't leave, you really SHOULD NOT come back to do the same thing the next day.
- If my sister tells you to leave the room, that 'you are NOT my friend,' and her husband is being silently menacing, you should leave and NOT COME BACK THE THIRD DAY. YOU ARE NOT WANTED THERE AT ALL.
- If uninvited people are still showing up at the hospital, make a list of allowed visitors and give it to security.
- The push-button-instant-morphine-delivery system RULES. Simply press button and enjoy not feeling anything.
- I have a frightening tolerance for painkillers. They gave me three different painkillers which did nothing for my excruciating pain before giving me Dilaudid (a heavy duty opiate featured in the movie 'Drugstore Cowboy').
- When you have taken too much Dilaudid, you will stop talking in the middle of a sentence, your mouth will drop open, and your head will flop back like a broken doll's. Drooling is optional.

More hospital learning to come!

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