Hospital Recap: Day One

Hospitals are never fun. Even when you’re there to have a baby you can’t think of anything but getting the Hell out of Dodge. Nurses and doctors are constantly poking you with small, medieval torture devices, asking you loudly about your bowel movements, and coming in and out of your room at all hours of the night – making sleep impossible. Following these general rules my hospital stay did not disappoint. Here’s a recap of my first day there:

Day 1:

I love people watching – I find it fascinating. How they interact with the ones they’re with, how they interact with strangers, it never ceases to amaze me how many different characters are out there. Luckily for me, I had plenty of entertainment in the waiting room where I sat for hours while the staff searched for a bed for me. An older couple was sitting next to me (I’ll call them Joe and Eileen) and were making small talk with each other to pass the time. Suddenly, in walked Trevor (another made up name, I tend to do this a lot) with his hair tied in a messy ponytail and his pants below his ass. A typical look for some of today’s youth, but one that nevertheless seems to evoke feelings of rage in people with any sense. After a few minutes Trevor left the room and Joe loudly exclaimed “It looks like he made a doody in his pants! How does he even walk like that? ” Eileen looked amused but slightly embarrassed, the rest of the room smiled to themselves while nodding their head in approval. Encouraged by the sympathizers in the room, Joe continued “He looks so stupid! Why would you wear your pants so low that you have to walk around like you crapped yourself?” At this point I burst out laughing. Satisfied that he had made his point, Joe finally listened to Eileen’s shushing and quieted down. It was a simple exchange but one that brought a smile to my face and helped me take my mind off of the pandemonium of the last few days. Thank you Joe for speaking your mind!

After finally locating a bed for me (this was a VERY long process, one that had people fighting not two feet away from me about who’s responsibility I was, I guess they thought they embolism made me deaf) I settled into my room. Luckily for me it came fully equipped with a walker (not meant for me, just being stored there), a TV that didn’t work, an IV machine that beeped constantly, and a window overlooking the construction yard. I was all set! The day’s events had worn on me and, after feeling too nauseous to eat the meal they brought me (I’ll get to the hospital food later), I settled in for what I hoped to be a good night’s sleep.

No such luck. As soon as my head hit what was being marketed as a pillow I realized I had forgotten how non-existent hospital bed linen could be. Let me preface this by mentioning that, while I do enjoy my creature comforts, I am by no means a snob about it. I’ve stayed in shitty motels, slept on floors at parties, camped in the mountains, etc.. so I am not a stranger to discomfort. But this pillow was not a pillow. It was a sheet of 8.5 x 11 paper with a pillow case wrapped around it. Had there been a pen handy I would have pulled the it out of the case and written my grocery list on it. This was STRIKE ONE against having a good night’s sleep.

Beeping – constant fucking beeping – is an ADHDers nightmare. I don’t know why, but any repetitive noise makes me want to strangle someone (strange then, that I fell into the House music scene. Maybe the mind-altering substances made me more tolerant). The hospital itself beeped incessantly. My IV machine, my roommate’s IV machine, other patients’ heart monitors, anything that could beep decided to do so all night long. STRIKE TWO.

And finally, the pain. Oh God, the pain. Every time I took a breath it felt like someone was stabbing me in the ribs with a thousand dull knives. No one seemed concerned about this but me, and the regular-strength Tylenol I was given shrank in terror from the pain it was confronted with. All of this was complicated by the fact that I couldn’t move my leg because even a slight shift in position would cause a mind-numbing ache that made me fantasize about amputation.  STRIKE THREE.

Sleep did eventually take me, but it came in short spurts, usually interrupted by a nurse checking on me or my roommate. I was slightly amused at one point when one of the hospital staff shined a light in my face, presumably to see if I was still alive. I smiled to myself when the light was gone because I used to do this to my son. (I was a crazy first-time mother terrified at the idea of crib-death. My son weighed less then 5 lbs. and so it was impossible to tell if he was breathing. After accidentally waking him a few nights in a row while checking his vital signs, I discovered that if I shined a light in his face he would squint, but continue sleeping. I used this tactic for at least 4 months! The poor child will probably have an incredibly strange association with strobe lights. Hopefully they don’t bring on a craving for breast milk!)  I was glad to see that I wasn’t the only one brilliant enough to come up with the flashlight trick. Thank you Karma, for showing me what a pain in the ass I was!

Day One finally rolled into Day Two, where a whole new level of boredom helped me make some unexpected friends. I’ll introduce you to them in my next post.

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Pulmonary Embolism: Don’t Panic

It all started with a pain in my leg. After days of walking around on, what I thought to be a pulled muscle, I decided to self-diagnose. I visited page after page of symptom checkers and many fretful hours later I concluded that I had deep-vein thrombosis (DVT). Now, I have to admit that this is not uncommon for me. I am constantly telling people that they are idiots when they have given themselves a diagnosis based on something they read online, however this has not stopped me from convincing myself that I have had every ailment under the sun. Stuffy nose and low grade fever ? Why YES! I do have Ebola! Hacking cough and pain in the chest? How the hell did I get Leprosy? As you can see, I took my own DVT diagnosis with a grain of salt.

It wasn’t until later in the day when I came home from work that I started to really worry. My parents were at my house watching the kids and my Mom’s first reaction to my leg pain was “Oh My God! It must be a blood clot!” (After all, I get my medical knowledge from somewhere). My dad told us we were both ridiculous but as the night wore on I decided to call a medical hotline. To make a long story short, they told me to get my ass to the hospital ASAP.

The doctors in the ER said it was unlikely that I had DVT but treated me for it to be on the safe side. The sonogram technician said it was unlikely that I had a DVT but, much to everyone’s surprise, they were wrong! Finally- I was vindicated! One of my diagnoses is right! But, oh shit, I don’t want to be right!

I was sent to a specialist who checked me thoroughly and was ready to send me home with blood thinners and a stern warning to rest, when I casually mentioned how I pulled my rib muscles rolling cinnamon buns on Christmas Eve. He stopped in his tracks and asked if the pulled muscle had caused trouble breathing.  “Yes…..” I answered.

“And have you had shortness of breath since then?” he asked

“MmmHmmm…” I said. I could see where he was going with this and I didn’t like the direction he was heading.

“How on Earth could a young, healthy woman pull a muscle while rolling buns? I have rolled pastry many times and never pulled anything! And you couldn’t breathe after? Couldn’t even move you said? This didn’t seem odd to you?” He continued to lambaste me (in an albeit joking way) and then reassured me that he wasn’t angry with me, but with the doctors who failed to diagnose me with a Pulmonary Embolism (PE). Perhaps I wasn’t such a sleuth of internal medicine after all.

After many phone calls and consultations he sent me for a heart sonogram which showed that the embolism was causing stress on my heart. I was admitted to hospital and told that I would be there for at least 4-5 very long, scary, painful days.

And so begins my journey to learn how to relax. This may be something that is easily achieved by many, but has always been foreign to me. I have the attention span of a gnat and prefer to be in perpetual motion. How am I supposed to sit still in a hospital bed for a week (4-5 days feels like a week to me!) let alone take it easy at home for 6 months? Me, who sees a mark on the window and starts to clean it, then gets distracted by the pretty Robin outside and runs to get my camera, but on the way spots a cookbook and decides to look up a recipe for summer rolls, then realizes I don’t have the ingredients so grabs the keys and heads to the car in the garage, but once there is frustrated by all the clutter and decides to start cleaning and, well, I think you get the point.

From all of this (and some encouragement from some wonderful friends) “The ADHDers Guide to Relaxing” was born. Join me on my quest to learn how to sit back, leave the spot on the window be, and enjoy just simply watching the Robin do his thing!