Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Hospital tales 8: Gee, but it’s good to be alive

When life sends you into a tailspin, tell the tales.

After the procedure, I encouraged Sarah to go home and get some rest because she would have had to sit up all night in ICU with me. I thought she needed sleep.

By 3:30 a.m. I had a headache and nausea and felt so alone. I lay there thinking, when somebody from Plow Creek is in the hospital we ought to always have someone with them.

Sarah called the ICU nurses on Tuesday morning and in my infinitesimal wisdom I told the nurses to tell her to come at noon. Poor Sarah. When she showed up at noon I kept weeping because I had been feeling so alone in my misery for the last eight hours. Also, apparently the medicine they gave me for nausea made me weepy.

I went back to interventional radiology where they took the catheter out, peered around inside the vein, and saw that the clot was gone from the knee to groin. Thank you, Lord. They sent me back to ICU for four hours because I guess I was still a high risk for dying.

“I just want to get out of here,” I said to Sarah.

When I got to a regular hospital room Tuesday evening I was exhausted. At one point I woke up and Sarah was on the phone with Heidi and Jon. She asked if I wanted to say hi to them. I greeted them cheerfully and then woke up a bit later. “Did I fall asleep talking with Jon and Heidi?” I asked, feeling very embarrassed.

“Yes, they laughed when you started snoring.”

Uffda. Later, to Sarah’s utter amazement, I slept through getting my blood drawn.

The next morning a young doctor sauntered in and began spelling out their plans for putting me on a blood thinner and regulating it over the next few days.

“Ah, what about Lovenox? I understand that if I went home on Lovenox I could get home sooner.”

He looked a bit taken aback and said, “I’ll go check on that.” He left.

“You can go home,” he said when he returned. My head was spinning. Fourteen hours before I was in ICU because I might die at any moment and then he casually announces I can go home.

When Sarah and I questioned him about what kinds of activities I could do once I was out of the hospital he said, “Use your common sense.”

Sarah, who teaches a lot of non-medical people at her job to provide basic medical care for people with developmental disabilities, knows you never tell people to use their common sense. You never know what people think is common sense.

“He should write that in the chart and then have to go to court and explain that he told the patient to ‘use common sense’”, Sarah snorted to me.

Hopefully he was a first year resident and will learn to move beyond “use common sense” before he’s unleashed on patients on his own.

At home I took a shower. Ah the simple pleasures of life.

But during the shower I noticed my back was itching. “Oh, know,” Sarah exclaimed when she looked at my back. “You have a bright red rash.”

Then she explained that a rash can be the first sign of an allergic reaction to a medicine. The second stage is anxiety because our system realizes something is amiss before we do. The third stage is difficulty breathing. The fourth stage is shock and you need immediate medical attention (or you die).

Great. I lay in bed checking to see if I was anxious.

Of course, I was anxious.

But was my anxiety the normal “I might die at any moment” anxiety or was it the second stage of an allergic reaction to a medicine?

Fortunately, I have an amazing ability to fall asleep at night. I kept waking up and I was always alive.

Gee, but it’s good to be alive.

1 comment:

Hannah Hackworth said...

Hey Daddy

I'm so happy you made it through that scarey time. Praise the Lord you made it home when you did! Donny wanted me to tell you he loves you. We're about to head for bed. I felt like reading my Daddy's thoughts first though. I can't wait to see you in a less than 2 weeks. Love You. D/D&H/F