I was actually hoping to avoid this. Those of you who are regular followers know I've been struggling to deal with a lingering cough since mid-December. I've been making regular trips in to see the doc, getting stronger and stronger meds, and still not getting it beat down. It became clear yesterday, to both the doc and me, that I wasn't going to win this one without a a change in plan. So yesterday I became one of the honored, temporary, live-in guests of the local medical establishment. I'm a card carrying member of the Most Royal Order of the Knights of Pneumonia (as if there really is such a thing) so I've done all this before and kind of knew it was coming. I packed a bag with most of the essentials before going in for my re-evaluation. Pajamas, skivies, my own toiletries, cell phone charger, Kindle, MP3 player, my "I'm not Dead Yet" Monty Python t-shirt.... Yeah, I've done this before.
Being in the hospital is always an adventure and this time is no exception. After a little confusion during check-in (the orginal paperwork indicating I had a condition pretty much confined to toddlers) I began what I hoped to be a two night stay ,at most. More on that in a bit.
During my last extended hospital stay I wrote a mostly humorous email for friends and co-workers about the adventures of life as a patient - The View from the Hospital Bed - mostly out of boredom. Upon informing my friends and co-workers about my new, temporary domicile I started immediately getting inquires as to whether I was going to revive the genre. How could I say 'no' to that? I had De bring in my laptop and off we go!
It should first be noted, that if you're coming to a hospital to rest, you're far better off trying to nap at a high school basketball game. It's far quieter, it's usually obvious who is supposed to be in charge, and things pretty much run to a schedule. One does NOT come to hospital to rest. You come to a hospital to be poked, drugged, tested, pumped up, bled off, re-drugged, re-tested, listen to machines twitter back and forth to one another - all night, have various body parts removed, repaired, or replaced, and eventually sent home tired but in better shape than when you came. Vitals are taken and recorded - all night, IV bags are pumped in and replaced - all night, breathing treatments come and go - all night. You get my drift. You gotta have your head right going in. Everyone is better off that way.
It should go without saying there's not a lot to do in the hospital. This is somewhat by design, but I've always been a bit of a rebel. There is, of course, the adjustable hospital bed that can provide some amusement. Unfortunately once you get past "Look at me! I'm an astronaut", "Look at me! I'm in an elevator!", and "Look at me! I'm..... um... a 'V'!" the fun kind of wears off. All that takes less than two minutes so ya gotta start getting creative. There are skills to be learned that do help occupy the time. First and foremost is "The IV Tree Waltz". If you want any sort of independence you have to convince the nurses pretty quickly that you're easily capably of getting up, unplugging your IV tree pump, skipping in perfect coordination to the loo, (Think 'Lawrence Welk', not 'Dancing with the Stars' here), then reassembling the whole thing on your return. This is key to hospital happiness.
I am blessed here with the care that is shown. The nurses are great, the aids are great, the docs are great (I have two doing the tag-team thing), but the best are the are the respiratory therapist. They are a fountain of information. "The folks remodeling the rooms below have only hammer-drilled all the way up through the floors up here a few times, and mostly in the ICU. You should be fine." Mealtimes, what the drugs are for, what's good and what to avoid on the meal menus: Ask the therapists. Knowledge is power, or so it is said.
Days and nights are pretty structured. It goes much like this:
Labs and vitals, skip to my loo.
Shots and pills, skip to my loo.
Treatments, CAT scans, skip to my loo. Skip to my loo, my darling.
Did I mention I'm getting a LOT of fluids? At this moment I'm down to three bags hanging - usually there are four. I wonder if I'm getting away with something. Hmmm....
There have been some really good things, too. Extended text chats with a sister. An old friend came to see me and we just sat and talked for a couple of hours - something our schedules haven't allowed for a long time. Catching up on Kindle reading. A night shift charge nurse taking 5 seconds, as she breezed in to give me some meds, to take my hand and tell me sometime we just have to thank God for slowing the train down once in awhile.
Thanks to modern medicine I'm improving, but I'm going to be here at least into Monday. That's longer than I hoped by twice, but it's gonna be alright. You just gotta have your head right going in.