Thursday, January 6, 2011

Part 25



THE SECOND HOSPITAL STAY


 I was reminded this morning how little our lives resemble those on television. I awoke, threw on sweatpants and a robe over my gown. I emerged from my room with hair askew, my volumetric infusion pump apparatus in hand (that's an IV Christmas tree to the layman.), and an unlit cigarette dangling from my lips. I looked around expecting to see a nurse hold her hands to her face, tears forming at the sight of recovering me. Nope not like TV at all.


This morning like the previous one I sat smoking and watching the sparrows feed. A group would eat until they had their fill, then others, who had waited and watched, would take their place. I was reminded of the importance that order and ritual play in our daily lives; fellowship, a communal meal. They are crucial indeed even if mine only involve an infusion of nicotine/caffeine followed by a bowel movement while playing a hand held yahtzee game.
There's something else I do whilst in the smoking "area",  I have taken to taking five or 6 less drags off of each cigarette. I then butt it out carefully, and leave it in the ashtray for the benefit of those sad individuals who skulk around scavenging them. I try to imagine the look of happiness on their grizzled faces as they discover this unexpected, random act of kindness. Charity begins at home my friends.



See, I do what I can. Actually I smoked them right after I shot this picture. Do you have any idea what smokes cost ?


The astute reader will by now have rightfully surmised that I am back in the hospiital. Chalk this one up under the "ills you don't expect to find category". In January, then again in April, I experienced severe stomach cramps that went away after a couple of hours. These attacks were of a severity that forced me to consult my physician, and was advised to get bloodwork done immediately should it happen again. Well it happened again on Monday last, so I found myself at Foothills Hospital emergency at noon. I checked in, then waited eight hours until someone saw me. They did blood and urine analysis as well as an ECG, which all showed nothing. They concluded that my bowel might be impacted, and it should pass. (No pun intended.)
I arrived home at 9:30 PM. At midnight the pain I'd been having suddenly doubled. I spent the night and most of the next day in pain that was so consistent and unceasing that I was almost delirious. On the medical scale it was a 9 out of 10.
This time though I took an ambulance ride to Foothills, foolishly believing that this would get me seen faster. Wrong, not only did I waste $400.00 on the ambulance, but waited another five hours. Five hours of the worst pain I'd ever experienced. The sad/funny part was that I was in that much pain and could get no relief in Alberta's finest hospital ! I got the feeling that the triage nurse didn't believe me when I told her the pain was almost unbearable.. Maybe had I collapsed to the floor, and kicked my feet around yelling, "succour, succour" !!! that would have made the difference. The fact that I will not show weakness and try to maintain my dignity doesn't make me a liar or a fucking drug seeker. All I am going to say about this is that Alberta Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky is not right in saying that the system is working well, far from fucking right...


Allow me if you will a small aside here, as I just this moment returned from a break in the smoke pit. While there I overheard the most fascinating conversation that segued from the origins of white magic to how todays physicians could learn a few things from the Roman Empire. Apparently the Romans used many natural remedies including urine. Not only human urine, but they also collected urine from birds; how they accomplished this seemingly amazing feat was not revealed to me. They went on and on about how superior their ancient medical knowledge was compared to our modern understanding. It took all the strength I possess not to walk over and say, "They had an average life expectancy of 25 years fucktards" !!!!


Anyway this time besides repeating yesterday's tests they took X rays and a catscan. The catscan revealed that I had a blood clot in my liver occluding blood flow to the rest of my circulatory system, and as a result I had an ischemic gut.  Not the prognosis that one wishes for, but very treatable. I could only shake my head when the doctor said, "you must be in a hell of a lot of pain". So now I am on blood thinners,  heparin on IV, and coumadin (which every MD and nurse refers to simply as "rat poison") orally. Within 24 hours I was back to feeling 100%. I will though be wacky on the rat poison for at least six months, which will require a daily blood test for at least the first 60 days, and less frequently thereafter.
With luck I will be out of here in two or three days. The upside of all this is that the tests showed that I am cancer free and otherwise functioning normally. The downside, of course, is that I am at a greater risk of bleeding. Those who know me know that I was seconds from bleeding out 22 months ago. I believe I wasn't meant to die then, and I'm not meant to now. I am not going to live these six months worrying about a hemmorrhage, as my friend Lori put it, "you've never lived your life in fear of anything, why start now ?"


I thank you all for your well wishes and love these last few days, it means a lot in a lonely hospital. Thanks to my Sis Tania for lending me this little Acer laptop that I'm using.Thanks also to the doctors and nurses at Foothills emergency and unit 36. The system may be fucked, but the care I've received has, for the most part, been exemplary. (The exception being those who simply cannot insert an IV line in me, leaving me with hands and arms that make me look like I'm Mel Gibson's girlfriend.) I would be remiss if I didn't make special mention and express my deepest heartfelt gratitude to morphine. Love ya !!! Finally, thanks to Susan who has taught me to be as good a patient as I can be given my temperament. It makes these stays much easier.


I'll share one more thing with you. There is a very nice doctor here who is one of the heads of internal medicine. We had a really nice chat yesterday, he's very frank and down to earth, qualities that I appreciate. As you know I do love a person with a dry wit, as he left my room he turned and said, "Don't get in any car accidents"............




This sign outside the hospital elevator amuses me. Were there patients pushing the buttons with their hard, weeping cocks and offending fellow passengers? Who enforces this?




-James Saito