Monday, January 26, 2009

My hospital adventure


Thanks, friends, for all the prayers and kind thoughts during my unexpected hiatus.  Boy, did I learn a lot during these last four days!  

What follows may be TMI (too much information, Mom), so you may want to stop reading now. Okay, still here?  You've been warned.  :-)

I felt as fit as a fiddle on Wednesday.  Lori Copeland, my Heavenly Daze co-author, popped into town, so we went to lunch and had a great time.  About six o'clock, I had some cable guys at the house to repair the phones, and I was fine--but while they were here, I was hit with some MAJOR stomach cramps--really bad.  Knocked me to the floor, and I started perspiring so profusely that water was dripping from my fingertips.  One of the cable guys called out to me, and I yelled back, "I'm sorry, but I can't talk to you right now."  Of course, they couldn't come to me, because I was being guarded by Babe, the man-eating mastiff.  :-) 

So they left and after a while I got up and felt better, but went to bed early.  And I'll skip over a little bit here, and let you fill in with your imagination.   Anyway, at two a.m., I woke up hubby and said, "You want to take me to the ER now, or wait until morning?  It might be quieter there if we go now." 

So he took me to the ER, and I sent him home to sleep. I thought they'd just run some tests and send me home, but they admitted me.  Hubby came roaring back at five a.m., wondering why I hadn't called.  (I was trying to let him sleep!)  

I had a room to myself for a few hours, but on Thursday, they brought me a roommate--an older woman who had slipped in her tub and broken her hip. She had stayed home and self-administered painkillers she'd bought who knows where, but when she ran out of drugs, she came to the hospital.  She seemed to be quite bitter, but I tried to be nice and show a little kindness where I could. Hard to know what to do in that situation. 

My worst night was Thursday night--I had to prepare for the colonoscopy (which I was going to have next month anyway, on account of being over 50), so I had to drink that nasty stuff that purges the system.  My omnipresent stomachache got MUCH worse; in fact, lying down and giving up the ghost sounded pretty good.  :-/  I found myself in an odd situation--staring at this cup of tasteless salty solution I had to drink, knowing that a few minutes after downing it, I was going to be in PAIN. There's some familiar imagery in that, but it sounds blasphemous to point it out, so I'm going to skip it. 

 But by the next morning I felt better, and the actual procedure was blissful.  Whatever anesthetic they use, it's effective and it doesn't leave you groggy.   Verdict:  part of the intestine was inflamed, which equals colitis. What caused it? Probably an infection, virus, or . . . something.  But the doc says my 24 hour fast, plus a couple days of liquid diet should help it heal. 

Hubby brings me some beautiful roses to inspire me to feel better.  They look much prettier than I do. 

In the mean time . . . my roommate is getting angrier and angrier.  She needs a smoke, but she can't get out of bed.  Her surgery goes well, and she sleeps quite a while, but when she wakes up, she is constantly calling for our compassionate nurse, a really cool guy from Haiti.  She keeps begging for more pain killer, but they can only dispense so much.  She spends a lot of time insisting that the dispensing machine isn't working, but it is. 

By Friday, I'm feeling much better and trying to get my book club book read.  I'm also emailing my friends, tapping out messages on my phone with one finger.  Also keeping my Facebook page updated, without telling the world gruesome details.  Roommate is more antsy than ever, and keeps calling people, cussing them out, and hanging up on them.  I'm . . . perplexed.  

By Saturday, we're watching Titanic on TV, but then she begins to think we're on a boat.  I am even more perplexed.  She is even more agitated.  By seven p.m., she is screaming out the door and purely paranoid, weeping and wailing that the nurses are conspiring against her, they've been in her house, they've stolen her computer passwords.  The sweet nurses who have helped her all day are now being called . . . unprintable things.  

By eight o'clock, I gingerly get out of bed, unplug my IV pump (tenderly nicknamed "Henry", and I have no idea why, he just looked like one), and go out to the nurses' station, where I whimper, "Help."  The nurses assure me they're trying to find an empty bed for me.  As the woman continues to rant and rave and scream, they have to go in to sedate her, but she screams, tears off her clothes, and won't let them touch her.  

Long story short, they end up restraining her and giving her a sedative, which wears off LONG before it should.  By the time I'm in another room, she's screaming again, which she does all night long and when I leave on Sunday morning she's still screaming and I can hear her from down the hall . . . 

The nurses explain to me that perhaps she's an addict of some kind, because the third day is always "eventful" for those who have to go through withdrawal.  Which leaves me wondering why anyone in the world would ever think drug abuse is a good thing.  (And I know that many, many become addicted to pain killers without intending to. An awful thing, as the withdrawal is not fun.)   The sight of that woman tied to her bed and out of her mind . . . not anything I'd wish on my worst enemy.  

But when God had me out of that room, He had me fall into conversation with this sweet little woman in a baseball cap--she was keeping vigil over her husband who was in the room next door. Her native language was Spanish, and I was able to use enough of my espanol to learn that her husband was ninety-two, wouldn't eat or drink, and she was all alone and terribly worried. (And the screaming coming from next door wasn't helping.)  So when hubby came up, he went in and prayed with them, and before I left, I gave her a hug and wept with her for a few minutes.  "Jesus es con usted," I told her, and she nodded that she agreed.  If you think of her, please pray for her husband. He was having surgery for a bowel obstruction on Sunday afternoon.  (And I wish I could say my Spanish was really good, but it isn't.  Her English was great.) 

And so I left with a new appreciation for nurses and technicians and dietitians and everyone who gets to wear those comfortable smocks and provide care for others.  I witnessed dozens of acts of mercy, most of them performed with a smile.  I left my roses at the nurses' station, because they surely deserved them.  

If you are in health care, I salute you! 

But it's good to be home.  And I'm so grateful for your prayers. 

Now . . . in which book shall I use this adventure?  And can anyone tell me why after fasting for 24 hours, then having two days of broth and Diet Coke, I came home six pounds heavier?  The 2009 diet is not going well.  

~~Angie

17 comments:

Stephanie said...

Wow, I was moved by your post, thank you. I am so sorry that you had to go through all of that. The roses were beautiful and so are you :) Enjoy your week, especially being at home now...ah!

Kathy said...

The room mate sounds like a nightmare!! I don't envy you.

Caitriona aka Catherine said...

The roommate is sick in body, mind and soul. What struck me in this post was prayers for the quiet old man but not for the insane old woman. Addicts who go through withdrawal especially when they are not looking to are like a tornado roaring through every life she touches. I am sorry that you, Angie had to put up with her while you were hospitalized.
May the mercy and grace of God invade her life.

Angela said...

Oh, I prayed for the woman, too, but from my bed. She wouldn't let anyone near her. A hospital chaplain came and tried to pray for her, but she only started cursing and ordered him from the room.

But you're right--addiction is a terrible thing and hurts not only the addict, but everyone in the family.

Angie

Mocha with Linda said...

I imagine you had a fair amount of IV fluids, didn't you? Especially in the ER? That would likely account for the weight gain.

I'm actually impressed they could restrain your poor roomie. There are so many people sitting behind desks making laws that really just tie the nurses" hands.

This brought back so many memories. You would have been one of my favorite patients!

Glad you're home and on the mend.

Leslie said...

Wow. That is an...adventure.

Glad you are better. I know other people with that lovely disease (where its brought on by foods)... so be careful!

Maybe you need to write a book where the main character is a nurse (I think you've aleady done so, but not sure)

Angela said...

The fluids have to be the answer, Linda--and yes, I was pumped so full of fluids that my arms looked like sausages! :-) They're still slightly inflated, but I'm gradually returning to normal. Whatever "normal" is. :-)

Angie

Smilingsal said...

Linda is right with the fluid/weight answer.

I was a CRAZY lady after my first total knee replacement, although I did not have to be restrained. Believe me, I am NO addict. You may have been given misinformation from the nurse.

A surgeon explained to me that when the pain gets "ahead," drugs never seem to get "caught up." The surgeon (who was not the guy who replaced my knee) went on to explain that this should never happen! Therefore, my heart goes out to the poor woman in such pain that she literally goes NUTS. After a time, sanity is restored.

I am praying for the espanol gentleman and his esposa.

Colonoscopy is a wonderful test; it's the prep that's awful. If you were inflamed, I cannot imagine how gruesome your prep experience! Poor baby.

You've certainly got plenty of research, and you did it the hard way. I can't wait to read this book! What will you call it? Nightmare in ER?

Holly said...

AW, Angie! I am so sorry for your ordeal and so glad that you in fact did not give up the ghost. We were praying for you here in CO. And this week, I pray that God will restore all the strength and energy you had before this began.

Did you notice these words you wrote on the post prior to your illness? "I cracked up, then felt slightly queasy." Perhaps the queasy was beginning right there.

Much love to you!
Holly

PS Praying for the ones you encountered, as well.

Kay Day said...

Sounds like my worst nightmare! I hate any kind of stomach illness! I'm so glad you are better.

I once had a patient who became psychotic from a reaction to anesthesia. It was very similar to what you described in this lady. Before he was discharged, he was a normal, nice man.

Kimberly said...

So glad you are ok, and don't worry its the fluid from the IV, it will go away as soon as you are up and around! :)

Momstheword said...

Perhaps we can factor in dementia with that lady's behavior. Or a long-standing mental illness. God bless her. Your opportunites to pray were planned for you before you entered the hospital. One of my sisters led people to the Lord every time she was in a hospital.

Rel said...

Sorry for what you went through but glad it wasn't anything more serious.

Take care and hope the fluid disappears rapidly!

jan said...

so glad that you are feeling better!
jan

The Dynamic Uno said...

I'm glad you're back at home and feeling better. I also wanted to let you know that our book club at work--TRASH (Teachers Read At Sickles High)--has decided to read "The Elevator" for our book this month. :)

Terri L. Gillespie said...

Angie, so glad you're home and feeling better. What an adventure. I can't believe you were on your knees and didn't tell the cable repairman. What is that?

Andrea said...

Angie,
I'm so glad that things ended well for you. Who knows exactly what was going on with your roommate, but being in the mental health field, I can attest to the fact that there are many people out there addicted to painkillers who go through absolute hell when they cannot take what they are used to taking. I am constantly surprised at how poorly this is handled in non-substance-abuse-treatment medical settings. The good thing is this woman now has much prayer ascending to the throne on her behalf!