Writing Thank-You Notes for Donkeypunches

Powerful headache here. Here I am, with the usual great long list of Things I've Been Meaning to Post But Somehow Don't, Despite Having Photos and Everything, and what sets off the typing fingers is the fact that I'm in no mood to type.

Here comes the sudden close-up for the dramatic line, then the cutaway: "That's how it is when you've been sleeping in hospital recliner for three days."

(In the same pair of jeans, with the vinyl chair seat guaranteeing a sweaty bottom every time you shift an inch in search of comfort.)

Dum dum dum!

(And now the cutaway while I stagger to the bathroom. I think it's all hitting me, gale force peakyness.)

I'm going to leave out a bunch of details. I've already written enough emails, rang enough numbers, thumbed enough texts, and updated enough Facebook statuses (mine and Mike's) to where the story is now in danger of changing, and what was once the tale of a man who woke at 7 a.m. one Saturday morning with a tummyache is in danger of becoming a legend about a magical unicorn (don't you hate the plain kind?) who had to beg Zeus for a new horn after his was crumpled in a parking lot swerve-by.

I haven't gotten into the codeine, I swear. We don't even pick up the prescription until tomorrow.

Also, as much as I want to talk about all of the good things and people about our hospital stay (if only because the list too short to be strenuous), I couldn't possibly do so without mentioning all of the bad things, and I can't really mention all of the bad things when we staying in peaceful relations with our nearest hospital is important. Sorry, it's true. Bloggers aren't necessarily journalists.

Let us breeze through the short version, with a few photos.

The really short version.

Mike woke up with stomach pain. He tried some indigestion remedies and tried to ignore it. When I woke up, the ignoring didn't seem to be working. We went to Urgent Care. Things got urgent. We transferred to the emergency room at a nearby hospital. About an hour and a half after going through triage, getting a curtained ER cubicle, and starting some tests, with Mike near tears and thrashing and biting back moans this entire time, he was given morphine.

That helped.

Chest X-ray, EKG, blood work. Doctor goes "Hm." Ultrasound. Bingo. Gallstones.

And there's me, always with the lame joke. "Mike! Gallstones are my thing! You always level past me!" (I don't know if that last sentence makes sense if you don't play level-based computer games, but if you do, you totally got that.)

Honestly, it was like being hit by the Transoceanic Karmic Orwellian Express. Except, if I can claim one good trait about myself, it's that I would never be like Winston and yell "Do it to Julia!" I realize the entire point of that book is that everyone thinks they would never say that, but I would never wish my woes on Mike, really. A control freak like me? Never.

So, here I've been quietly ignoring my own gallbladder issues for the past few years, taking the odd codeine as rarely needed and giving up most fried foods, and WHAM out of NOWHERE here is Mike in the hospital with a gallstone attack. Pretty sneaky, universe.

With all else eliminated (see, here is where I don't even snark out a story about how incompetent the people were about the urine testing), Mike was admitted to the hospital.

The morphine still helped.

MikeandMorphine

MikeandIV
 
And so Saturday night passed. I was given a little recliner and allowed to come and go at will, for which we were both very grateful. I came home for a short nap and to gather some things.

FeetCommunion
Like the striped blanket my dog used to sleep on. We slept at right angles, my striped legs to his hospital-issue burgundy ones.

On Sunday morning, Mike was off the morphine and surgery didn't look so imminent. Just as well - they couldn't get enough people to come in on Superbowl Sunday to do it that day. (I have these huge, juice, imaginary blisters by my ears where the metaphorical steam is coming out now, holding back from a diatribe on how much I hate football, misplaced cultural priorities, etc.)

The surgeon visited. Mike said he was going to wait on the surgery. (Oh, believe me, this is definitely the short version.) Mike's doctor visited. Nope, no surgery, not yet, decision final, could we go home?

Alas, no. Mike's white blood count was too high. The original course of antibiotics wasn't working. Mike had to stay for a new dose and more observation.

(You see how it is. He can't just pass me up with a gallbladder attack that lasts 2x or maybe 4x as long as one of mine. He can't just require morphine where I only need codeine. He has to get a gallbladder infection as well.)

MikeDespair
Visions of hamsters and the comfort of one's own bed slip away. Sadness.

At least plain "real" food was allowed. We feasted on Subways without cheese or sauce. (I lie - I asked that they put Mike's cheese on my sandwich. Hey, maybe I could have a gallbladder incident at the same time. We could entwine our morphine drips. Que romantica!)

The Subway was okay, but it surely had to be better than the sausages they served Mike for breakfast.

EmperorMichaelus
(Emperor Michaelus, pictured above, is not impressed. Select kitchen staff are at risk of decapitation by discus. To that list we should add whoever said, "What's the best thing for a gallbladder patient. Sausage? Eggs? Got it!")

Equal time for looks of despair:

Spectre
Or we can play "too grim to pull off kittenish":

AntiCoquette
And so another night passed. Mike felt fine, except for the IV and where the ultrasound paddles had squished him. He really wanted to go home. I really wanted to go home. Or sleep comfortably.

At 2 a.m. Monday morning they took more blood to check his WBCs. By 8ish we had the results: normal WBCs. Now it was just a matter of waiting for Mike's doctor to show up and release him.

About four hours later, the surgeon shows up. "So, how's it going?" Um, fine? No change? Still don't want surgery? Still want to go home? Why are you here? He leaves again, having relived yesterday's conversation. (And if we get charged for that "consultation," there will be a problem, I tell you.)

Hours continue to pass. The nurse says our doctor will come when he's done with his (office) patients. What? The "financial counselor" from billing comes to say the hospital co-pay (as opposed to the emergency room co-pay) is so-much for two days, but that-much much for three days, if we say. I say that if we're here a third day, we're going for a lawsuit, as we've been sitting around for twelve hours since the blood was taken and, according to what the doctor said yesterday, have no reason to stay if the WBCs are fine.

She takes our Visa card and charges a lot of money on it, because we are lucky to have health insurance.

Mike has a fit, completely boggled once again, wondering why we pay steep insurance fees every month then still have big co-pays plus whatever fees will come from the various tests, drugs, and consultations, which we won't know about until the hospital sends the surprise "and this is what your insurance company didn't pay" bill. And then Mike has to see me be grateful for this, because - compared to the average bear - we "have it good."

(So many rants deleted.)

Another hour passes. The nurse comes in with a new dose of antibiotics. Wait, what? We're going home - we don't need another drip. No, no, until discharged, the orders for daily treatment must be followed. "But if your doctor comes in and discharges you, we'll just take the antibiotics IV out."

What? Does the "must finish the course" rule of antibiotics not apply if it's trickling through a hose?

Another hour passes. Mike's doctor shows up. "So, what did you decide about the surgery?"

WTF. I said I wasn't going to tattle and burn bridges, but WTF. And Mike says, "I told you yesterday. No surgery for now."

"Oh, okay. Well, let me find out what your white blood cell count is."

"Doctor, it's 6000-something. We've known that for, oh, nine hours. When the lab results came in this morning. From the blood taken at 2 a.m. It's now four o'clock. In the afternoon."

While the doctor went to sort out the discharge papers and prescriptions, we waited - me on the bed, Mike in my chair. Too bad it was only in the last few hours of our stay that Mike discovered he really liked the recliner better than the bed, whereas I thought the bed was wonderful.

WeSwitch
(I have so many stories. I can't believe I'm going to sign off without the full version of the nurse who said, "Oh, they forgot to give you XYZ drug last night. Be sure to remind them to give it to you tomorrow." That tale was such a keeper that I couldn't hold back on sharing when the kind charge nurse came by to ask how our stay was. Made the stories of waiting 20-30 minutes for call buttons to be answered look right puny. Oh dear, now I've "gotten started.")

The important thing, of course, is how the big story ends. It seems to end with Mike home, safe, comfortable, and better informed, perhaps buying time and/or perhaps making the most of it. A happy ending, if a cautious one. And me, I feel like poop, but poop is acceptable, and it's what sick days are for. Tomorrow morning we'll go pick up Mike's five prescriptions but not any lovely paneer in creamy sauce, but first, sleeeeeep.

09 February 2010 |



Hamsters

 WE BUILT A HOUSE 

 RABBITS TOLERATE US 

 RECENTLY PLAYED 
 BOARD GAMES: 



 CRUISE REPORTS: 

Carnival Elation (2009)
Carnival Splendor (2009)
Carnival Spirit (2010)
Carnival Spirit (2011)
Carnival Splendor (2011)
Norwegian Pearl to Alaska (2012)