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Nov. 6th, 2007

I didn’t mean to go MIA, I’m sorry for freaking some of you out! Time just slipped by so quickly. And it’s only been the last few days that the fogginess has left my head. The back pain is killing me. Sometimes it’s so bad I almost vomit. I don’t know what to do.

But I finally wrote about everything! Over the course of several days due to the aforementioned grogginess and pain. There a few pictures that you might find gross but nothing really awful!


Monday, October 22, 2007
I had to check into the hospital between 5 and 5:30am which meant leaving around 4. I dozed for about an hour before it was finally time to get ready. I say, bye as I walk out the door and my dad says it back. Thanks so for your words of kindness and concern!

I almost murdered my mom on the drive there. The speed limit is 65 mph so the second I would pass it, she’d freak out. That was a fun-filled hour! Because all I needed at that moment was my mom yelling every five minutes. Oh my god, I’m going five miles over the speed-limit, we’re going to die!

We get there at 5am and the lobby is still locked. We wait awhile but it’s not opening and the entire front of the hospital is dark and empty. So we go to the emergency room and they lead us to the lobby through the back way. The admitting woman is rather snotty in the beginning which isn’t helping my level of stress. I fill out and sign a lot of papers and give her a credit card number. Then my mom and I go to the lab and I have a bunch of blood drawn. Then to the pre-op room. They show me to a bed and tell me to take off everything and put on the gown, open at the back and untied so it can be moved for surgery.

I realize that I’ve forgotten to take out my piercings and replace them with the acrylic jewelry I bought. Shit. I ask if they can tape over them all. They refuse. It takes forever but I manage to get them all out except for the plugs in my ears. They won’t budge so they put tape over them. I’m hoping everything remains open long enough to put the jewelry back in. (It doesn't. Sad panda.)

I put on the gown and get into bed.



I’m asked a million questions, a million times. Everyone is super sweet and comforting.







Whenever I’m asked who my surgeon is and I tell them, they say how good he is.

The anesthesiologist comes and works on inserting my IV. It doesn’t go well. After a good half-hour of being jabbed, I ask if I’m his toughest patient ever. He says no, I’m the second toughest. The first toughest had to have the IV inserted into her neck. But I’m close.



My heart is racing and I try so hard to calm down. It doesn’t work. My surgeon comes and checks in with me. And it’s time for me to put on my little hat and be wheeled into the operating room.



I give my glasses to my mom and I can’t see anything clearly. The OR is cold. They have me scoot over on to the operating table, which is damn difficult. My heart is racing and I’m chit-chatting with the nurses and suddenly I’m out. No counting backwards, no warning…just out.


And just as suddenly I’m awake.

It’s so dark and I can’t open my eyes, no matter how hard I try. My throat is raw and full and I can’t speak. Voices and activity from all around me.

We need her to wake up. Wake up, Heidi! You have to wake up. Heidi, wake up! By the end they’re yelling. But I still can’t open my eyes.

My muscles start spasming. I’m shaking, jerking, and flailing uncontrollably and they’re getting restraints to strap me down to the bed. I fight against them. Hard. Voices telling me to stop fighting. Calm down, calm down, we need her to calm down, her heart rate is sky high, Heidi, you need to calm down! They talk about how my skin is burning and the sweat pouring off me.

Oh my god, what if I spend the rest of my life like this!? Blind and mute and paralyzed but completely conscious. Open your fucking eyes, Heidi! I’d been hearing my mom’s voice mixed in with the others and then I feel her hand taking mine so I squeeze tight, wanting her to know I’m there.

They remove the breathing tube from my throat but I still can’t speak; I open my mouth and try but nothing comes out. I tell myself to calm down, it’s going to be fine, just calm down. Eventually I’m able to move my head and start nodding and shaking my head in response to their questions. Do I know where I am. nod. Am I okay, shake. Am I in pain, nodnodnod. My mom asks if it’s my back, NODNODNODNODNOD. They adjust my bed until I’m nearly sitting up. Thank god.

My mom squeezes my hand and tells me she has to leave. I still can’t speak or open my eyes and am barely conscious but she has to leave. Because she doesn’t want to hit traffic. I just nod in response. I don’t want to let go of her hand but I do.

I fall back unconscious. When I wake up, I can finally see and speak. A nurse comes and asks about my pain level. I tell her my back is locked up from lying flat during surgery and I need a muscle relaxant. Instead she shows me what button to push when I need more painkillers.

My throat is really, insanely dry. Dryer than I’ve ever experienced and I beg for water. I’m not allowed water. Not until it’s approved by the doctor. I ask if I can suck on ice, please, I’m dying. Nope. Fuck.

The surgeon comes to see me and tell me that the surgery was a really hard one. It was hours longer than usual and was extremely difficult. They’d had to cut in another hole and use an additional camera. They’d also had to insert a drainage pouch, which they never do. It went well…it was just difficult.



I have a total of six incisions. Plus the hole for the drainage.



Janet comes to visit and bring me presents. I don’t really remember any of it. But she got them to give me packages of mouth swabs. I ripped them open, swabbed every bit of my mouth, and sucked out every ounce of liquid in them. At least I no longer feel as if I was going to die from dehydration.

My left thigh and forearm are completely numb. I also can’t feel my fingers. My abdomen feels fine but the pain in my back in unbelievable. The morphine is doing nothing.

They bring me a wide chair to sit in, hoping it’ll alleviate my back pain. The nurse takes off my nifty massaging leg wraps (used to avoid blood clots) and helps me up. I somehow manage to get to the chair without dislodging the million tubes and wires sticking out of me. Sitting in the chair helps, but not much. They want me to start walking but that isn’t happening; I can’t move. So I sit in my chair with my face on my tray/table and doze in and out for a few hours.

The nurse changes my bed, empties my drainage and catheter bags, helps me back into bed, cleans my lady parts, and puts in a pad since I’m menstruating (as always.) It has been an insane day and I just want to sleep. Which doesn’t come as easily as I expected! Nurses and assistants come in and out all night long. To check my blood pressure, to take my temperature, to make me do my breathing exercises,… It never ends. And the pain. Holy fucking crap, the pain. I can feel the rods under the mattress digging into my knotted up muscles and I just want to scream.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007
I’m woken around 6am for something or other and am introduced to my day nurse. I don’t see her again for hours. She doesn’t bother checking in on me at all. Then whenever another nurse asks if I need anything, she runs over and tells them I’m her patient and she’s taking care of it. No matter how minor my request is, she acts as if I’m demanding she give me one of her kidneys.

The assisting surgeon stops by and I beg him for muscle relaxants. He, too, shows me how to push the button for pain medication. Why does nobody in this entire fucking hospital understand the difference between muscle relaxants and pain killers!? But he gives permission for me to sip water. I want to kiss his feet. There are no words for how good that first sip of ice water tastes. (It’s been almost two weeks and I still find it tasting more amazing than it even did before.) He tells me that the surgery was very long and very difficult. That I was under for a very long time and there’s still a lot of anesthesia in my body.

This is very clear. I try to get a phone number from my cell only my hands won’t cooperate and I drop it on the linoleum floor, cracking the screen. I try to use my iPod but my fingers are numb and I can’t even get the headphones in. Using my camera and recorder both prove equally impossible. I try to write but between the numbness in my hands and the overwhelming fog in my brain, I can’t read or remember what I’ve written 30 seconds before. So I give up and watch Judge Joe Brown instead. And sip my ice water.

My coworker comes to visit and he brings me sunflowers. I don’t know if I’m making sense when I speak but I do my best.

The pain in my back and tailbone is worsening. A nurse asks if I’m okay because he can see from my face that I’m not. I tell him what’s wrong and he offers to help me to the chair. Cue my nurse running over and insisting she’s taking care of it. Right, lady. She unhooks everything from me and I get myself to the chair. She says I’m menstruating and that I need to go to the bathroom and clean myself.

I stare at her in disbelief and say, “Uhhhhhh, yeahhhhhh, I’m not exactly physically capable of that right now.”

“You need to do it.”

”Well, last night my nurse cleaned me and inserted a pad. (Long pause.) So I guess I’ll have to wait for her to do it again tonight.”

“You can’t spend all day like that.”

“Well I don’t have a choice since I’m not physically capable of doing it myself.” This woman is insane. I’m in ICU, less than 24 hours out from surgery, and she’s expecting me to go bathe myself when I can’t even stand without help.

She leaves and I assume she’s coming back with wipes. Until I realize she isn’t and that she’s returned to the desk. So I yell out my door, “excuse me!?” When she comes in I say, “Shouldn’t I be hooked up to my IV?” She totally left me unhooked from everything. She hooks me back up to my IV and monitors and, of course, acts like it’s some massive ordeal. She leaves without saying a word so I say, “excuse me!?” She comes back. “Would you please hand me the painkiller button and the call button? And could you please move my tray here so I can have water?” She moves the tray over and leaves again. “EXCUSE ME!? The pain dispenser and call button, please?” My god. I’m totally upset and pissed at this point. And hurting like hell.

Janet comes to visit soon after and I tell her what’s happening and I start tearing up because it’s just so frustrating and upsetting. And she’s having none of it. She leaves and demands to speak to the nursing supervisor. Who, it ends up, had helped me several times that day. I tell her what’s been happening with my nurse and she’s incredibly apologetic and clearly embarrassed. Apparently they’re short handed and had to accept any stand-in they could get. Janet also tells her that my back is in spasms and I need a muscle relaxant and no one will give me one.

So she takes over my care for the rest of the day and calls my surgeon and gets me on an anti-inflammatory. It’s a fucking miracle. Janet comes to my rescue, once again.

Eventually the night nurse takes over and wants me to walk the perimeter of ICU. Which looks like miles to me. They have to get me a walker because I literally can’t stand due to the back pain. We slowly walk around ICU, me shuffling behind my walker and the nurse pushing my IV stand. I’ve barely gone a few feet before I’m in agony and can’t breathe. I have to stop four more times before making it back to my room. I’m shaking and hurting and gasping for air. I realize I need to walk but how about taking into consideration the fact that I couldn’t walk this far before surgery? I watch the other wls patients zipping around the ICU, a few are practically speed-walking. I kind of hate them for making me look bad.

I doze for a couple of hours again. God I’m tired. And god does my back still hurt. But I’m not hungry…which is really weird.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007
God I’m bored.

Today I get my gastrointestinal x-ray to check for any leaks. If it’s all clear I can start eating. And by “eating” I mean “drinking” as my meals will be liquid. I can’t even have water today until after the x-rays are taken and the surgeon approves it. Annoying. Ice water is the only thing I’ve got going for me. Ice water and court shows.

The tech shows up to wheel me to radiation and, oh man, is he cute! At this point so many people have seen me naked or near-naked that I have zero dignity. I make him hold my catheter bag for me and pay no notice to my ass-baring gown flapping in the breeze. This scenario repeats itself four times because they need clearer images. And, major ick, does the barium I have to drink before each x-ray taste foul. At least the wheelchair I sit in between each attempt is more comfortable than anywhere else I’d been sitting. After he gets adequate images, it’s back to my bed where I await approval. And watch court shows.

Approved! Yay for no ruptures or tears in my intestines! And I get lunch!



A fairly tasty protein shake and broth that yummily tastes like cream of mushroom soup. And hot water and a tea bag that I don’t use. I only manage to finish part of the shake and a few spoonfuls of broth. The no hunger/disinterest in food is just…weird.

I won’t be released until I can take in a decent amount of liquid. I also need to be moving. So today isn’t the day.

Janet visits again! Big yay for that! I’d have lost my mind if not for her visits.

I’m finally being moved out of the Intensive Care Unit. I get my own room and a few more channels come in on my TV. And a private bathroom. They even bring my wide chair and fan up for me. The nurses are much sweeter. The nurses are all Filipina girls in their 20s and the nursing assistants are all Latina women in their 40s. The nursing assistants take no guff from the nurses, even the supervisors, and don’t hesitate to put them in their place. The nurses and assistants all call me “honey” and sweetie” and they get all excited and proud when I pee on my own after having the catheter removed. When I finally have a bowel movement, I hear, “Good job! You did a good number two!” It’s all very comforting and mothering.

My back is feeling a little better and I assume I’m on the upswing.


Thursday, October 25, 2007
I assume incorrectly.

My back is killing me. Absolutely killing me.

A physical therapist comes to see me. She’s the first person to actually take my pre-surgery condition into consideration. We walk back and forth in my room, sitting when I need to. Which is often. They’ve ordered me a walker to take home. My surgeon has ordered a physical therapist and nurse to visit me at home…daily. Um. I can’t even afford the surgery I’ve already had much less daily visits from two healthcare workers!

My IV comes loose. I realize this when I see the blood dripping from the needle. The only place she’s able to find a good enough vein to insert it in? My thumb. Oh my fucking god.



I talk to a few friends; watch court shows; and eat broth and protein shakes.

The IV comes loose again. This time it goes into my index finger. No words. By this point my arms are covered in bruises.





suckmylolly calls me from Japan! Which made me insanely giddy! (I’m sorry I wasn’t more coherent, Sharnee!!!)


Friday, October 26, 2007
It’s fucking unbearable. Every inch of my left side from ass to mid-back is screaming in pain. I can’t sit still and am constantly shifting, trying to find a single seated or reclining position that gives me some relief. But none do. I’m begging for muscle relaxants. I put my head down on my tray and cry. I regret this entire fucking surgery and I wish I was dead. The pain is indescribable and no one will help me because my surgeon isn’t returning their pages.

I’m seriously having a breakdown. Every 15 minutes someone’s coming into my room to poke me or jab me or question me. Telling me to walk; telling me to do my breathing; asking me how I am. All I fucking want is to be left alone. Leave me the fuck alone. Please please please. I feel like screaming and throwing things. I want out of this fucking hospital. I want out of this fucking bed and chair. I want some privacy and silence. I want to sleep for more than a couple of hours. But, oh god, more than anything in the entire world, I want this pain to stop. I snap at everyone and refuse to walk until I get my pain killers.

Finally, after four fucking hours, my surgeon is doing his rounds and I beg him for muscle relaxants. He says the bed is the problem and it my back won’t improve until I can go home. Fine, fine, fine, give me some fucking drugs. He finally approves it and they inject me with Flexeril…my old friend. I can’t even tell if it helps.

They finally take me off my IV and monitors. I proceed to have two nose bleeds due, I assume, to the oxygen tubes that have been in it for the last five days. This also means I’m off morphine and am now on liquid Tylenol with codeine. Which does nothing.

Jolene calls and we talk for a long time. I feel saner afterwards.


Saturday, October 27, 2007
Back pain…wanna die. The assisting surgeon visits and removes my drainage pouch. A long tube being pulled out of a hole in my stomach!! Freaky!









The weekend physical therapist comes. She wants me to walk the perimeter of the unit…five times. This has to be a joke. I’m in tears trying to explain to her that I’m not physically capable of that. She doesn’t listen.

I use my walker and manage to walk a quarter of a lap before I can’t breathe and I’m shaking and feel like my legs are going to give out. As I’m sitting in the hall, gasping and shaking, she finally gets what I was saying. I’m not being lazy, my body is just not capable of this right now! I’m so sick of not being listened to in regards to my own body. After I’ve caught my breath, we walk back to my room and call it a day.

For the next 20 days I need injections of a blood thinner in order to prevent clots. I get my nurse to show me how because I’ll be damned if I’m paying for someone to come to my home and give them to me. (By the way, those injections cost me over $400 out of pocket. I swear, I should’ve just risked the clot.)

I’m told I’m being discharged! Wooo! I call my mom and tell her. My dad refuses to go to work early so I have to wait four hours to be picked up. They let me stay in my room and I’m finally left alone. God do I hurt.

My boss comes to visit me! And he brings me a Mr Potato Head and kitty ears and many other cute things. He stays for awhile and it’s nice. Those are the moments of sanity in this whole psychotic experience.

After a million years my mom arrives and they wheel me and all my stuff down to the car.

You’d think that when her only child is next to her, crying in pain, she could, just once, drive faster than 55 miles per hour. You’d think she’d at least go the speed limit! But then you’d be thinking wrong.

Two hours later I’m finally home sitting on my own bed. And the hospital adventure is finally over. At least until the bills start arriving.



Present
The last week has basically just been me in bed, in pain. Sitting up because it hurts too much to lie down; heating pad, Flexeril, and a back massager. It was finally starting to improve!

Friday was my follow-up appointment so I trekked out to the clinic and met with the assisting surgeon. Everything looks great. He removed my staples and answered all my questions. And I was shocked to discover I’ve lost 24 pounds. I don’t even know how that’s physically possible. I’d gained weight before surgery so I was actually at 550 and I’m now 526. It’s all very weird.

I leave and I’m starving for the first time since before surgery. So I get a chicken soft taco and a fork and just eat the meat and cheese. Then I turn my key aaaaaaaaaaaand my car won’t start. Motherfucker. The battery is dead beyond dead. The pop-a-lock guy had to attach something in addition to jumper cables after the fourth try to get my car to start and stay on. By the time that’s over with, it’s fucking rush hour. I walked out of the clinic at 3 and didn’t get home until 6:30. My back is fucked. The last hour I’m holding the wheel as tight as I can and screaming through my teeth.

I realized the next day that he missed the staples in one of my wounds because it was hidden beneath my breast! So then I tried to remove it myself. And ha was that a mistake! I just slapped a band-aid over it and will wait until I see him again.

I found a full bottle of Vicodin from when I had my tooth extracted and have started taking them along with my muscle relaxants. I’m still in constant pain but at least I’m not crying! I’m hoping that heating pad for most of the day + massager several times a day + muscle relaxants = getting rid of the massive knots that just won’t budge.

Comments

( 65 Bunny Pat(s) — Pat the Bunny )
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lilacpoohlover
Nov. 7th, 2007 04:51 am (UTC)
I'm so glad you're doing ok. I've been worried about you Ms. Heidi.

I'm sorry your back is still messed up. Heat, massage, and muscle relaxants should do some good. Give it some time hunny, it will get better.
implicate
Nov. 7th, 2007 05:04 am (UTC)
♥ i hope yr back feels better soon lady.
fadingaway420
Nov. 7th, 2007 05:10 am (UTC)
Good God, I hope you start feeling better, and soon.
subwaystitches
Nov. 7th, 2007 05:22 am (UTC)
Really, Heidi...you are so, so amazing. I don't even know what to say beyond that. If there is absolutely anything I can do, please let me know.
(Anonymous)
Nov. 7th, 2007 05:26 am (UTC)
Heidi,

I am so sorry that you are in so much pain and as for the people that wouldn't listen to you, I just want to come pop them in the nose.

(POP...POP...Take that..and that...be nicer...the people you are suppose to take care of need help not hate...Grrr...POP..POP)

I just want you to know that there are lots of people out here rooting for you and keeping you in our prayers. I am in awe of your honesty and wish I had even a fraction of it myself. Maybe someday. But for now, take care of yourself. You seriously deserve it!

Juana-Bee
coco73
Nov. 7th, 2007 05:26 am (UTC)
So sorry about your back, but so glad you're doing ok, all things considered. I'm excited for you and relieved.
definatalie
Nov. 7th, 2007 05:26 am (UTC)
My god what you've been through! You write so well I was wincing and squirming in my chair!

I hope you recover really really quickly bella.
jananaphone
Nov. 7th, 2007 06:31 am (UTC)
I know I squirmed in terror at all the IVs. Eek!
bubblegumgoods
Nov. 7th, 2007 05:31 am (UTC)
aww, miss heidi. i'm so glad you managed to pull through that surgery.

keep us updated on your progress.
oh_anna_awesome
Nov. 7th, 2007 05:32 am (UTC)
<3
and_old_lace
Nov. 7th, 2007 05:32 am (UTC)
i'm sorry you're having such a rough time and hope you start feeling more alive soon
zcme
Nov. 7th, 2007 05:33 am (UTC)
thanks for the update. wow, what an intense ordeal. i hope each day brings less pain and a speedy recovery.
thewayoutis
Nov. 7th, 2007 05:36 am (UTC)
jesus, that sounds like a nightmare.

i'm glad you let us all know what's up, and i hope you feel better. ♥
duckyfun
Nov. 7th, 2007 05:43 am (UTC)
Wow. What a atory. Heidi, I'm so sorry your back is still all messed up. That sucks so bad.

I'll send you happy healing thoughts.
thisisjusttosay
Nov. 7th, 2007 05:51 am (UTC)
listen to me, young lady. be careful with that vicodin. please please please.

and i would also recommend not eating processed foods.

...I'm sorry. I sound like a big jerk. I am very happy that you made it through and you're on your way to better health!
i_get_stabby
Nov. 7th, 2007 05:51 am (UTC)
Eeek! Thumb AND index finger IVs. That must have been so painful.

Glad the surgery went well and you're home. You sound in good spirits, in spite of the pain. Take care of yourself.
twinkiechan
Nov. 7th, 2007 05:54 am (UTC)
hey lovely! so good to see an entry from you! i saw you online a bit ago, but my internet connection keeps giving out. i really hope your back feels better soon. 20+ lbs already! look at you go!
jananaphone
Nov. 7th, 2007 06:30 am (UTC)
Oh dear lord. What an experience. I hope it starts to look up from here, though. It'd certainly suck if it were all for naught. But I know you can get through this (you've gotten through everything else thus far!) and I'm cheering for you.
bluebellrock
Nov. 7th, 2007 06:57 am (UTC)
Good on you for making it through. wewewewewewewewewewewewewewewenjhw222222222222jhjhjhjhjhjhjhjhjhjhjhjhjhjhjhjhjhjhjhjhjhkjljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljljjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj

Sorry about that. I had to take a phonecall and my cat took it upon herself to wish you a speedy recovery. I wish the same for you as well. :)
saucepot
Nov. 7th, 2007 07:57 am (UTC)
i'm really glad you're starting to feel better. and that you're out of the hospital. i hope your back feels better soon... and let me know if there's anything you need!
1900mixalot
Nov. 7th, 2007 09:48 am (UTC)
I'm so glad you're home and on your way to the mend... you wrote this so vividly, it totally brought me back to my surgeries as a teenager. Stables are the worst! Also, your ICU nurses best hope they don't meet me in a dark alley... HAYMAKER!
lady_cereza
Nov. 7th, 2007 10:54 am (UTC)
♥ I'm glad you're on the road to recovery... sounds like nurses are evil, with an overinflated sense of their own importance everywhere. Every good wish to you my dear xx
shannonsays
Nov. 7th, 2007 01:04 pm (UTC)
i love you. and i'm really glad you're okay. i'm coming to la (culver city) in a month. maybe i can drop by for a visit or something. we'll keep in touch.

janet deserves a medal. seriously.
cindie_loo
Nov. 7th, 2007 01:35 pm (UTC)
oh honey, i hate your parents and half of that hospital staff and i wish i lived closer to you. i would be there helping you out. gosh.
have you tried thermacare back patches? i threw my back out the same day i had my gall bladder removed so i can totally understand what you are feeling in regard to back pain plus stomach surgery. its a hard combination because the back supports the stomach and so on. they helped me so maybe they can help you.

just try to relax and drink fluids as much as you can. just watch TV and take your time getting into anything.

sending good thoughts your way. i hope you feel so much better soon, and i know you will. xo
xreesex
Nov. 7th, 2007 02:52 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad your ok!!!

I couldn't help but laugh, and cringe, and smile, and go "yikes" while reading this. I just love how honest you are. Thank you for sharing this with us!!

I hope your back starts feeling better soon. It's great to see you posting again!
anne7134
Nov. 7th, 2007 03:00 pm (UTC)
I don't know if a doc will go for it, but you may want to ask for lidocaine patches for your back. I've used them and they really help. That said, I hope that you start to feel much much better soon.
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