21 June 2013

Private Room

I didn’t want to come home from the hospital. Especially after being moved to a private room.

DIEP Surgery
My Happy Place
My first room, post ICU, was shared with a 19-yr old recovering from thyroid cancer. You’d think a giant wound across her throat, plus three drainage tubes would keep her quiet, but it seems that no matter how sick you are, you can't miss ‘Keeping Up with the Kardishians’.

When she would finally fall asleep, her family would curl up on her comatose body, crank up the volume, and settle down for a night of TV. Occasionally there’d be a ‘knock’ on the curtain, and her mother’s face would poke through offering us some Coke-flavoured jujubes, or sweet potato chips. (No thank you).  Jim thought they were just one Hibachi away from a family reunion, so it was with great relief when I could pack up my belongings, and shuffle down the hall towards the quiet luxury of a private room.

Liquid Lunch
And it was good. By that time I’d lost the IV and catheter – so was relatively comfortable with just my four drainage tubes. The compression stockings, they insisted, stayed on. But I had started walking, and was pretty comfortable propped up in bed, watching movies on my ipad, and eating the gelato which my family kept bringing up form the Gelateria in the lobby downstairs.

My mobility dictated when I was to be sent home. And by day four I was starting to feel pretty good. In fact, I liked the whole set-up. The bed could be adjusted for a minimum amount of work. The patients had their own kitchen, where we could store our non-hospital foods, and we’d meet there at three in the morning,  hanging on to our IV stands and walkers, eager to satisfy late night cravings with coconut ice-cream or  Jell-O.

The hospital food was atrocious – but as I was on a liquid diet, I observed it like something from a science experiment, placed in front of me for my entertainment.

So when the doctors asked how I was doing, I’d feign a little extra weariness. ‘OK…I guess.’ (Please don’t send me home)
Surgery Pedicure
A Good Pedicure Never Goes to Waste

And then one afternoon, sister Sue & cousin/friend Marilyn came to visit. We were going for a short stroll and I told them not to have too much fun when we passed the nurses stand, because I didn’t want to look too happy.

I didn’t have to work too hard to fake the effort that came from walking. My belly hurt, and felt like I’d just received a 200-yard pass from a giant burning-hot lead football going at 300 miles and hour that got lodged in my stomach. My drains dangled around me, with the drain-balls pinned to my gown like the Christmas lights on a Charlie Brown christmas tree. Also I couldn’t stand up straight – and my shoulders hurt from the weight of the world.

As we passed the nurses station, talk turned to my flat stomach. It was definitely flatter, but other parts of my body were swollen. Sue suggested cheerily that I was starting to look like Sponge Bob Square Pants.

Of course we started laughing. And by the time we passed the nurses station we were chuckling merrily like three ladies  coming back from a day at the spa.

Shortly after I got sent home.  For being on good behavior.

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