Monday, September 18, 2017

Follow your Gut (Part 2)

Once the anesthesia wore off, the itching returned. The nurses seemed, rightfully, concerned that mixing benedryll and pain medicine wouldn't be the best cocktail but after begging them and promising I wouldn't become an addict, they relented. I also would later have to sell my soul to another nurse to get the damn IV out of my hand with the promise of lots of water drinking and reporting each time a peed.

After my first night in the hospital, and with the worry I may be there for up to 9 more, I remained optimistic and decided to incorporate some routine into my day. This started with an annoying trip to the bathroom. Between my IV, chest tube, associated machines, and general awkwardness - this took a little longer than I would like to admit but peeing on my own was a gold star in the eyes of the nurses and meant I didn't need a bed pan (or worse - a catheter). I also got a glance at myself in the mirror - I looked like death and roadkill.

Aside from looking a little skeletal from my involuntary hunger strike, I was sallow in some places and red and swollen from the hives in other. There were pinkish bags under my eyes that looked wrinkled and the area around my ears and down my neck were blotchy from scratching. Brushing my teeth felt like heaven! If it were ever a possibility to have an orgasm from tooth brushing, this would have been that moment. My teeth were in ecstasy and I never wanted to stop. It was joyous and probably one of the best parts of that first day.

After I cleaned up, I went for my morning walk with DJ. Dr. Widmann asked me to walk the halls a few times a day and spend time rotating from my bed to my chair. The walks were a nice break to the day and a good measure of progress. At first, I was holding on to DJ for dear life and feeling short of breath to, rather quickly, feeling more independent. The soreness was still very present - mostly in my shoulder blades, under arms, and chest. Interestingly, or maybe not, there was a lot of different levels of decency in the hospital. I left for my walks with gym shorts under my gown and tightly tied to avoid mooning people whereas other people didn't seem to give a damn what they flashed. This led to a lot of averted eyes and looking at the floor. As if it were some kind of treat, DJ and I would stop and the free snack and drink station on the floor too. It wasn't much - juices, sandwiches on white bread, and jell-o, but hey! free stuff!

When walking was over, I would either eat, or watch DJ eat, breakfast and then wait for Dr. Widmann, nurses, and other medical staff. I was told to do arm exercises and be able to extend my left arm fully by the time I left. Using this as a measure for discharge (and activity), I was very diligent with my practice. I was also given a incentives barometer to practice breathing into. I was less diligent with this because I was so bad at it.

When my parents came that afternoon, I was admittedly down in the dumps and exhausted. Using my appendectomy and two labor/deliveries as comparison, I just didn't see how I was going to recover from this one. The pain was so intense, the muscles that was trying to heal was simultaneously being used, and I was draining mystery liquid down a hose and into some measuring device. I was still itchy and swollen. I was miserable.

By later that afternoon, I had sent everyone home. DJ needed to be with the boys and I needed to be alone so I could wallow in peace and watch more Alaskan Bush People. That night, I actually ate all my dinner - "baked ziti" and peed with a little less fuss. Sleeping was still horrendous because I was more or less forced to sleep sitting straight up but I was making progress.

The next morning, I was draining properly enough and there was talk of sending me home. Already! I panicked. I still couldn't get my arm over my head, I was still draining into my drain thing, and was still in a lot of pain. Oh and the hives. I told DJ as much when he came to see me but he didn't think it would happen since they told me "up to 10 days" and it had only been 2 nights.

I guess Dr. Widmann saw enough improvement by the time he saw me and told me I could go home that afternoon. I was shocked and terrified. I would have to have this gross tube in for another week so DJ and my mom learned how to change the bag (ew) and dressing (more ew) so we could keep it clean at home. Since I was still a scary, skinny, itchy nightmare, we decided I would spend the night, Friday, at my parents house to see how well I managed before introducing two young boys to their mom and her drainage tube. Long, uneventful day, short - I changed into an oversized shirt, since I still hadn't passed the "full range of motion" arm test, and was home in time for dinner at my parents spending only two nights in the hospital.