Thursday, April 14, 2005

Week of Hell: Day Two

Tuesday morning near 5am I couldn't take the pain anymore. Now keep in mind I'm used to pain, so it has to be unbearable for me even to approach the vicinity of an emergency room.

But there I was, weak, nauseous and walking funny as I stumbled into the E.R. at Memorial Hospital.

I described the problem to the nurse on duty, but all she wanted to know was my basic info like name and insurance coverage.

I held back my frustration and tied it up with a used shoelace I had stored deep in my soul for later use. I answered her questions and was escorted back to one of the many gurney's they had lined along one of the back walls.

I must commend the staff at Memorial. Once I described what was going on (i.e. my catheter was stabbing me in the bladder), they went right to work. A veteran nurse slipped an IV needle in my arm and started adminstering pain and nausea medicine. Within a good ten minutes I was feeling much better. I laid there awaiting the next miserable test they felt they needed to perform.

Dr. S is the individual who has attempted to place a peritoneal catheter in my abdomen so I could become mobile and free in my everyday life. I use the word "attempted" because I felt like a guinea pig after the second surgery. Second! This man was unqualified to place the catheter in the first place and I let him go back in...twice!

I can sense some of you smell a lawsuit. I understand. So did I. But my understanding is that once you file a malpractice suit, no one in the medical industry will come near you. Although I may lambast it's lack of complete competency, I still need Western medicine to survive.

Dr. S. dropped by not long after I was given my own hospital bed on the third floor. I walked in and was relieved to find I wouldn't have a roommate.

That relief was quelled by "Dubya" five minutes later.

I don't refer to him by this nickname because he reminded me of the president. His first name started with a "W" so it suits him.

Plus he was a complete and utter nimrod.

As I said before, Dr. S. had dropped by again to give me the lowdown on my catheter. The 2nd CAT scan revealed nothing visually wrong with the catheter. So it came down to a choice, 100% mine: I could allow him to go in again (surgery #3) and shorten the tubing OR remove it completely.

I felt a wave of satisfaction and relief wash over me as I quickly answered, "Take it out."

It was now Tuesday afternoon and I was not to have any food or water for the remainder of the day.

Sounds easy, doesn't it?

I was still having nauseous flashes and the catheter felt like it was stabbing into my lower abdomen, so I asked the nurse for medication for both afflictions.

Here's where I found out how smart I was. The pain medication knocked...me...out...completely. For at least a few hours. This came in handy because my neighbor was the noisiest individual I had ever had the discomfort of sleeping next to.

I'm not really sure what his affliction was, but I know he was deaf because he blared daytime talk shows all...day...long.

And the hacking. Gee-zuss-chirst-o-rama. Every few minutes he would hack up some phglem and blood and keep it a handy jar for the nurses. "Dubya" was 68, had worked for PG&E for 37 years and had been married to the same woman just as long.

This would have been a nice beginning to a conversation...if we had been having one.

I was dead asleep when my eyes opened to find him leering over my bed.

"Ugh...how ya doin?"

I mumbled a few curse words and carefully turned over, not wanting to add too much pressure to my bladder, or the impending conversation.

He stood for a few more moments before walking away in a huff, which is what I wanted him to do in the first place. I instantly hit the nurse button and asked for more pain medication. I wasn't in complete discomfort, but if I could sleep through the next 24 hours without listening to "Dubya" laugh at "Dharma & Greg" and "Gilligan's Island" every hour, I could at least manage.

Which brings up another frightening point...who, in the history of television viewing, has ever found "Gilligan's Island" actually funny? Dubya would chuckle to himself and slip in the words, "Huh huh huh, that Gilligan..."

Listen to me very carefully. The only reason "Gilligan's Island" ever...EVER received any notoriety or attention at all is because, and I'm going to say this slowly...it...was...the...only...crap...on...TV...sometimes.

Sheesh. When I was growing up we had four channels, five if the weather was cooperating and the wind blew just hard enough: the three networks and one or two UHF channels. That's it.

This conludes my rant on "Gilligan's Island." Oh, and Mary Ann was sexier.

The combination of medication and lack of food and water made me delerious. It seemed as though Wednesday would never arrive. And when it did, I had to wait ALL DAY for Dr. S to finish goofing off at Infineon Raceway before he'd ever think of operating on me.

Schmuck.

So here I sit before you, scars all across my belly and my soul, wondering what the point of the entire procedure was. Once the catheter was working, I would be able to finally meet my 15 month old nephew, I could visit my parents in Oregon, I could take my best friend to see Don Rickles in Reno.

But none of the before mentioned activities will be happenning, at least not for me.

Dialysis has stolen my health, whittled my life down to nothing and prevented me from advancing in my career.

If dialysis were an actual individual with a true identity, it would have been locked up for all the violations it has committed against mankind.

But no, it continues to roam free, ruining lives and stealing futures.

And there's not a damn thing I can do about it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Week of Hell: Day One

We must now travel back in time to Monday, April 11th. Or as I like to refer to it, "The Beginning of the End."

It was about 3:30 in the afternoon and I had just returned to the airwaves after being out for the last four days due to the repositioning of my catheter. I was energeized, funny and having a swell time. Suddenly, and without warning, sharp pains erupted in my lower pelvic region. I stood up to maneuver my body and before I knew it the only sense available to me was planted firmly in my nose.

"Stinky," is all my brain could muster. And "OW!" Probably the latter more so.

I was face down on the floor smelling the studio carpet. Keep in mind when they clean the carpets in the building, they never do the studio. It just "slips their mind." After years of use there is vomit, urine, feces, semen and a number of other five letter substances meshed into the fibers due to circumstances I probably shouldn't elaborate on.

Anyway, there I was enjoying them all with pains continuing to shoot through my abdomen. I missed one live break. Then two. Then another. Someone from traffic came down and found me on the floor. I should mention that the entire time I was down there I was cursing rather loudly and felt the urge to allow tears to flow.

I fought that last one since you don't want anyone to see you cry. It's unmanly. And unbecoming a pseudo-famous broadcaster.

"Ok...ok. What's wrong? What do you want me to do?"

All I could muster is..."...ambulance."

It took them ten minutes to get to the studio since my show isn't #1 in afternoon drive, only #3.

When they finally arrived, all I heard was, "Oh hey, my daughter listens to you every day."

"Well don't tell her you found me on the floor, ok?"

Even at my lowest moment I could still muster up enough humor to make the EMT guys chuckle.

I believe I have a small sense of what condemned men feel like when they're escorted down that long hallway to the gas or electric chamber. Everyone glancing at you, seering into your soul how pitiful and sorry you look.

That's how I felt on the gurney when they led me to the ambulance.

Fortunately they had enough brains to take me on the breezeway instead of through the building. It's hard for a salesperson to sell a show where the host is traveling with an entourage.

Once they finally had me encased by the ambulance the morphine started flowing. I started to relax a little because I thought, "At least this will take away my searing pain away."

But it didn't.

You must understand that most drugs and medications take three times the dose to even begin to work their magic. I asked for something stronger, along with something for nausea.

Once I mentioned that I might vomit all over their nice clean ambulance, the syringe's started flying.

I felt every bump, every pothole, every crack in the road on the way to the emergency room. They should use me before they begin to do road repairs.

We had to be diverted from Memorial Hospital, where I usually go, to Sutter. I felt like Han Solo in Empire, "I have a bad feeling about this."

I was admitted and my vital's were taken by Nurse Jim. Nurse Jim was a cross between a hippie and a beatnik with his long grey hair and sharp build. I believe people call them "bippies."

First came the blood test. They stabbed my hand three times before they found a vein that was operational.

"I don't know why you're so upset."

"Because you're a fucking nimrod. Shouldn't you practice on stuffed animals?? Or is the medical field so desperate for personnel they'll take people from the bus stop...??"

That's what I should have said. Unfortunately, it remained as really loud thoughts in my head.

Sigh.

Then came the IV, which I didn't really see the need for unless they were going to give me pain medications.

I ended up wasting four hours in all, in incredible pain, before I decided to take matters into my own hands.

I had dialysis at seven o'clock that evening and it was already 6:25, so I stood up (ouch) and grabbed my IV bag off the pole. I used my other hand to keep my gown closed so my skinny, pale, pimply ass didn't become a late night joke while the staff was drinking with their medical friends at the local pub.

"Excuse me. Excuse me, someone? Bueller?"

For some reason, my sense of humor never runs and cowers when I truly need it.

Apparently I awoke a John Hughes fan because someone finally took notice there was a half naked goon in their lobby.

"What can I do for you?" asked the nearest stethoscoped dolt.

I spoke quickly and with conviction.

"I've been here four hours in seering pain and now I'm going to miss dialysis if you don't disconnect me from this thing."

He escorted me back to my gurney and I met someone who I didn't think existed there: an ER doctor.

"What's the problem here?"

Jesus. I had told my problem to four other people who had already taken notes. Shouldn't you by up on my condition by now??

The IV left and so did I. What a huge waste of time and resources.

Plus it took $16 for a taxi to get me back to my truck so I could drive to dialysis.

Let's recap, shall we:
  • Humiliated in escort out of workplace on gurney.
  • Loss of wages due to leaving show early.
  • Loss of patience as I realized Sutter has a worthless ER.
  • Suffered for hours due to neglect.
  • Wasted an ATM $20 on a less than IQish taxi driver.

And to top off my first day of hell week, a less than comforting dialysis treatment.

Coming up...on tomorrow's Week of Hell Blog:

  • Another ER visit.
  • Another IV.
  • Hospital admittance.
  • Catheter debate in the halls of medicine.
  • The best pain medicine ever.
  • And...more suffering for the kids.
  • Plus...the worst hospital roommate in my medical history. (I call him Dubya.)

Don't miss tomorrow's blog, where you'll hear Stacy say, "M*****F***** A******."

That's right, massive frightening asparagus.