Saturday, November 22, 2014

My Hospital Trip

So, the story starts the morning after Cleveland although, to be honest, it is entirely unrelated to Cleveland.

Saturday morning, when I woke up (about four hours or so after falling asleep after the long drive), I was not feeling particularly well. Congested, headachy, that sort of thing - likely related to the cold that'd been going around the house most of the week. The Wife let me take a nap, which helped.

Sunday morning, I woke up somewhat worse and spent most of the day in bed. I worked from home on Monday so I could take a nap during lunchtime. Tuesday morning I woke up feeling better and made the trek to work. Tuesday night, you see, the chorus had a performance at a senior home up north, followed by a normal rehearsal at that site. I surely wouldn't miss the performance for something like a cold.

Tuesday afternoon I texted The Wife: "Man, my stomach just suddenly starte killing me." I thought it might have been the food I ate at lunchtime, but an examination of the rest of the leftovers at home showed that they were fine. Over the next two hours, the pain - which felt like the ache after someone has repeatedly punched you in the stomach - intensified, and my ability to concentrate on anything else evaporated.

I started to drive to the performance, got about ten minutes from the office, and realized that I wouldn't make it. I made the appropriate calls, then drove myself to the hospital, checked into the emergency room, and curled myself into a fetal position for the next couple of hours until they came with pain meds.

Long story short, the next twenty four hours contained a whole heap of blood draws, viewing machines, and every kind of poke and prod and press that you can imagine. EVERY kind. The good news: they ruled out all of the awful stuff (cancers, kidney stones, et al). The bad news: they had no idea what was causing the pain.

Wednesday night, they had decided that my digestive system was just backed up (confirming what many students and colleagues have thought of me for many years, that I'm full of sh**). They backed off the pain meds, which turned out to be a colossally bad idea. I had an awful reaction to the ibuprofen based medicine they gave me and spent the next five hours in greater agony than Tuesday night, until someone took pity and gave me medicine that worked.

Thursday, they took me downstairs and did their best to clean out my insides with medicines and a device that, I'm pretty sure, has its roots as a fire hose. I'm fairly sure they dumped enough fluid (pun intended) that my eyeballs started to float independently. I'm also fairly sure that my breakfast from the day before floated back into my stomach for re-digestion.

Talk about doctors with a crappy job.

They sent me home Thursday night with a prescription for a mild painkiller. The only problem is that, at that point, my lower back was in as much agony - maybe more - as my stomach, caused by 48 hours of immobility. Instead, I took an alleve pill, which calmed the muscles in my back and let me sleep.

I'm doing better now - I'm probably at a solid 30, 35% of normal. If I'm careful and slow, I can do most of my normal stuff without any pain or discomfort. The only issue is that I'm not sure where my limits are, and when I go past - ouch. My body violently lets me know.

Best part of the hospital, UPMC Shadyside: the nurses were fabulous. Friendly, caring, quick, and universally funny. Plus, the two main nurses I had - Wednesday and Thursday day shift and Tuesday and Wednesday night shift - were geeks like me and loved talking about the comic book shows and movies. My PCP was also amazing during this - came by a couple times a day and maintained strong contact with the doctors at the hospital.

Worst part of the hospital: sleeping like a baby. Meaning, you get an hour of sleep here, then get woken up. Two hours, then woken for tests. Forty-five minutes, then another intrusion. 90 minutes here, then a random resident comes to visit. When it hurt to talk, one does not want to tell a frightened bunny the same story again,

Worst part, part deux: some bastard told the dining department that I was allergic to caffeine. That meant no coffee and no chocolate chip cookies. If that was a practical joke, it would have been the most amazing one ever. Thankfully, my nurses gave me the cup of coffee or two that I needed to avoid the worst of the caffeine hangovers.


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