Thursday, March 10, 2005

The Catheter Chronicles

I wish to apologize, from the bottom of my new extended catheter, for not updating in some time. I've been drowning in pain, and my body comes up for air with the use of true Vicodin. Not that OTC crap mixed with Tylenol they always send out, but the good stuff. Here now is an overview of what happened, starting on Thursday, March 3rd...

I didn't go to sleep at all Wednesday night because I kept having flashbacks about a past anesthesia nightmare. It always starts the same way, at the end of the terrifying experience. I suddenly come out of my anesthesia fog and the mist in my vision clears, revealing a number of nurses and assistants all looking down at me.

The doctor, who didn't even acknowledge me when he entered an hour earlier, wasn't present. He didn't even look me in the eye when he entered the operating room. If your doctor commits the same sin, ask for another doctor.

All the nurses and assistants are still staring down at me (remember?) and I suddenly can't breathe. My arm is burning from the earlier dialysis graft surgery. They have some sort of mouthpiece locked between my mandibles. My body tenses up and I feel as though I can't breathe. One of the nurses screams for me to relax, but I can't. I keep feeling as though I'm going to die.

And then the nightmare ends. At least for now.

It was nearly dawn when I decided to head to the hospital. You know that type of darkness. You can just sense that night is nearly over and morning is about to arise. I paused before I entered Memorial Hospital East and glanced up at the boxey three story building.

This was my last chance. I could bow out now.

Then I remembered all the times I had to sit, patiently, while my arm felt as though it would burn away to cinders.

That thought pushed me in the back and I stepped inside. I was willing to allow the surgery to give me a chance for a slice of my life back.

I love having my name called in waiting rooms. Because every time...every time...when my name is called, everyone is expecting a woman.

This happens at the bank, the grocery store, every time I use my debit card.

"Is this your wife's card?"

"No, it's mine," I say for the four hundreth time, whipping out my ID.

The nurse called my name and it happened again. At least I'm getting noticed.

Nurse Kelly was one of those nurses who, just by observing her face, you knew she had been a nurse for a long time. I found out she had been at the very same hospital for over 20 years. I told her what I tell every amazing nurse I meet:

"Nurses are the backbone of the medical industry, you know."

She gently smiled and pulled out my IV pack.

I have had more nurses, doctors, ER techs attempt to shove needles in my arms, regardless of how much I protest. Now I simply ask ahead of time, "I'd like a shot of lidocaine where you're going to administer the IV, ok?"

Now this is the one request where, if they comply, they're qualified, compassionaitte member of the medical field. If they don't, we're going to have problems.

Fortunately, Kelly was the former.

She was an awesome stick, and I told her so, because there was very little discomfort. Kelly finished my pre-op in about 20 minutes. It was now 6:05am. I wouldn't be wheeled into the operating room until 8:35am.

If I didn't spend a good portion of my life in hospitals, this would have annoyed and frustrated me. But it was expected, so I just tried to lie back, stay warm and take all thoughts about the surgery and throw them into my mental trash.

All the personnel in the operating room were cordial and more than willing to make me comfortable.

Except for the anaestesiologist. What an ass.

I told him the same story I told earlier in this blog, about my nightmarish anaestesia experience. He then proceeded to talk down to me as though I were a 4 year old. I gave him a look of "who the fuck do you think you are?", but he couldn't read my glare.

Since I was exhausted and anxious to have the entire proceedings come to a quick and easy conclusion, I allowed him to finish.

Now I have heard stories on late night AM radio about people who become conscious during surgery, but because of the anaestesia, they can't move, speak or gesture that the scalpel feels like a welding torch.

I don't know about you, but that has to be the living imbodiment of hell on earth.

My energy level just nosedived, so I'm going to conclude today's blog. Part 2 of the Catheter Chronicles commences tomorrow.

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