Monday, April 14, 2008

Two months later

Warning, this is one hell of a long post. If anyone gets to the end, I'll be amazed.

So it’s been two months now, and I’m finally deciding to write about this, even though everyone who knows me already knows the story. I want to write it up here so that I will remember it in a year or two when I need to.

Happy Valentine’s day. OK, so this actually started almost two weeks before Valentines Day. Remember when I said I was Reuniting with my buds from the summer? Well, that did happen. But that whole time I was there, I had this weird stomach pain that I could not explain. I thought it might have been stress or maybe I’d eaten too much. Who knew? Well, eventually after three days of this same pain, I pretty much thought “This can’t be me eating too much.” I remember trying to eat a steak sandwich and not wanting any of it but forcing it down. That Tuesday, I skipped choir. I never miss choir, so there was definitely something wrong. But I still didn’t really think much of it. I just thought something must have gotten pulled while I would bounce on my exercise ball. The next Tuesday, I was in considerably more pain than the previous Tuesday. It sucked. I remember being with my brother’s girlfriend and her family. Her little brother was doing an experiment where he wanted to see if I could learn how to use echo location. They made me wear ear plugs for one of the experiments, and that freaked me out. I thought I was going to be sick. But I went to choir that night anyway. Didn’t want to miss it a second time.

Then, the next day, I was sitting with my step sister, and she was reading me a story she was working on, and the pain was overwhelming. She said it was probably a stitch in my side, but that didn’t make any sense. I remember talking to someone on the phone and she kept saying to me “It could be your appendix”. I thought “There’s no friggin’ way. Why would my appendix burst? I didn’t do anything to make it explode.”

About an hour later, my dad got home, and I told him we needed to do something. I was supposed to go to a group meeting, and I just couldn’t. I was in way too much pain. So he took me to the hospital. We didn’t have to wait too long in emerge before a nurse called me in. I had to have urine sample taken. I didn’t have any typical signs of Appendicitis, but they wanted to check anyway. A doctor came in afterwards and pressed on all different parts of my stomach. God damn that was painful. I remember him pressing on different spots and I said it didn’t hurt, but when he’d get even remotely close to the appendix area, it was about all I could do not to throw up.

Then some nurses came in to try to take blood. I have never in my life had a problem with people not being able to find my veins. But apparently, that was going to be the day that the problems would start. I was being stabbed and poked all over, and I wanted to kill them. They finally got the vein, which was fantastic, and then they left.

So I was told I was going to have a ct scan. I had to drink this water that had some chemical in it. I had to drink to a certain set of lines every fifteen minutes. It was measured, I guess so certain parts of me would be more prominent in the scan? I’m not sure. But it tasted like I was drinking a pool. I tried desperately to imagine it being a chocolate milkshake. That did not work well. It was not bad at all though; compared to when Carin had to drink that go lightly garbage she talked about. It was still weird though.

So I drank up, and the folks wheeled me into the place with the CT scanner. I felt like I should be walking, but they told me they had to take me in the stretcher. That nurse could not steer the bed worth shit. She kept running me into doors and walls and stuff. But whatever. We made it, and this irate woman was like “I was here first. I’m supposed to go through first.” Apparently my case was more urgent than her’s. I felt bad for her though. She had a migraine, and I know how those are. No fun, that’s how.

So they got me to lie on a cold metal table with my hands at my sides. The nurse who was in charge of performing the ct scans told me to lie very still, and warned me that the machine would talk to me and tell me what to do. There were two recordings. “Take a deep breath and hold it” And “Breath normally”. I did as the instructions told me to. I couldn’t stay completely still. I had to scratch my nose cuz it was really itchy. The nurse laughed at me about that, but she said it shouldn’t mess up the readings at all. And then I was wheeled back to my room.

By this point, I was starting to get worried that even though I didn’t have the classic symptoms, there was definitely something wrong. It was soon somewhat confirmed that there was something wrong with the appendix and it might have to be taken out. But no one was really sure. They were going to have me sent to the other hospital for an ultrasound, and then, depending on what the results showed, I would have my appendix removed. Dad called Betsy to come and get the dog, because by this time it was probably six O’Clock and the poor thing hadn’t been fed yet. I wasn’t expecting to be in the hospital for this long. E brought Rosamae to the front door, where Betsy took her home and would care for her for the next few days, with lots of help from Megan.

At this point, Mom showed up. It was her birthday, but I couldn’t give her her present until we were back home. I felt bad, but there was nothing I could do. She brought her IPod, and finally, much to my delight, I had something good to listen to which wasn’t Dad reading really lame Readers Digest jokes, or inflating rubber gloves to the point where they burst, and made a sound as if a gunshot had been fired. We were both laughing hysterically at this point, but we were terrified that security was going to have Dad escorted out of the building. Cutos to Dad for trying though. So now, we had real entertainment.

Soon after, Dad left to go home for supper, but he promised me he’d be back shortly. The nurses soon came back in, and wanted to give me an IV so they could start giving me saline solution and morphine. And as they began poking and prodding again for the vein, U2’s “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for” came on the IPod. Only later when Steve pointed it out did I find that ironic. Dad came back, and then Mom’s IPod died, so she ran home to recharge it, as well as get me some clean clothes and other essential items that I needed. And then, when they finally had a bed for us at the other hospital, we left Hotel Dieu, and drove in Dad’s truck, with a saline lock in my arm, to Kingston General.

This time, we waited in the waiting room for at least an hour before they brought us into this wee tiny room with a stretcher. I thought I got a room with a real bed. Apparently not. Mom brought the IPod back to me so I could sleep, and then went home again. They knew at this point that if I was going to go into surgery, it wouldn’t be till much later the next day, because my ultrasound was scheduled for 10:00. Finally, I got to eat. Sure, the food sucked, but I didn’t care. It was food. And then I fell into the worst sleep of my life, although it was made much happier by the fact that I was high on morphine and really didn’t care. The next morning I woke up, and I had to drink more water before the ultrasound so I could have a full bladder. No idea why that was important, but it was.

When I got to the ultrasound room, the technician told me she had no idea why I was there. She had read the CT scan and it was clearly Appendicitis. They said they would operate at 2:00. I couldn’t sit still. I was hungry, I was tired, oh, and did I mention fucking terrified? I was that too. Mom kept saying things like “B, you have to get over this. You have to conquer your fear, and don’t let it control you. Nothing is going to go wrong.” And Dad’s on the other side telling me how much he loves me and he’s almost in tears. I don’t know who to take more comfort from. On one hand I’m basically being told that Dad’s as terrified as I am, and on the other, it’s “Stop being such a drama queen”.

When it finally came time for me to go into the pre-operating place, I was a wreck. They had given me so much morpheme, the affects weren’t working anymore. I was shaking uncontrollably, sobbing, carrying on. It was not a good scene. But Mom was being supportive now. I remember Dr. Hensen, my surgeon asking me if I had a last will and testament. That was really what I wanted to hear. Then they told me they were going to give me a drug that was going to relax me, and I wouldn’t even remember going into the operating room. I remember it very clearly. I was crying, Dad was trying not to cry, Mom was telling me I would be all right. And I was on my back, being rolled away, and I didn’t know what would happen and was terrified that I might not wake up. Another part of that that scared me was when Dr. Hensen said that due to the type of anesthetic he was giving me, I might have dreams. That would be creepy. I didn’t want to dream about what was going on.

So we get into the operating room, and Dr. Hensen, who, in case I haven’t mentioned this yet sounds a lot like Tuvoc, explains how they’re going to do the surgery. I’m not really paying much attention. I’m much more focused on being terrified. But I do remember him telling me that they were going to put a tube in my throat to help me breathe, and then, when they woke me up, they would take the tube out of my throat. I didn’t want to feel them pulling it out, but they said I was likely not going to be fully conscious when it happened, because it would take the anesthetic awhile to wear off. And then, beside me was Marc. He was really attractive. He was one of the nurses, and he told me that when they put me out, I could hold his hand. I really appreciated that. So I grabbed him and squeezed. “We’re going to put you out now”, they told me. I tried to fight it, but I was done. The last thing I remember was saying no I didn’t want to go under and then whistling the beeping noises in the room.

Now, fast forward to a few hours later. I have no idea how much time has passed, but I’m on the table, flat on my back, in tears and screaming. All I can hear in my head is our choir singing “One day I walk” by Bruce Cockburn. It’s a gorgeous song about getting into heaven. I didn’t realize that at the time either, I just could hear it, as if the choir was right there in the hospital singing to me. And I’m screaming. Every time I inhale, my whole body seizes with most intense, excruciating pain I’ve ever experienced. Take those head aches I used to get, move them into my chest and shoulders, and multiply them by about 60. That was about how bad it was. I honestly thought I was going to die. I couldn’t get enough oxygen into my lungs. Part of my brain was saying “That’s it. It’s your time.” But the bigger, more logical part of me was telling me to fight, and telling me that no I was not dying today, or any time soon. Apparently the bigger part won. I would drift in and out of sleep. Every now and then, a nurse would come over and check my oxygen levels and blood pressure. I remember having the oxygen mask on my face and how the taste reminded me of the fresh, cold air in the Rockies. That was comforting. After some time had passed, they took my mask off and just put this clippie thing in my nose. Every now and then, I would drift awake and hear someone telling me to breathe. I thought “I am breathing, just really slowly. I’m trying to sleep here.” And then I’d be out again. Every time I’d come to, I would ask if they had a room for me yet and where my parents were. Parents were not allowed in the recovery room. I didn’t get that. Apparently, it took them seven hours to get me a bed. Those seven hours sure went quickly. It only seemed like a few.

Finally, I became fully aware of my surroundings. I sat up in bed to find Mom and Dad on either side of me, and realized they had finally been allowed to come into the recovery room. My throat and mouth were incredibly dry, and my shoulders felt very tense. I kept asking people if I would be allowed to eat finally and everyone said yes. So I was really excited about that. Dad tried to massage my shoulders, but it really didn’t help at all. But it was comforting to know he was there and feel his hands on me, and Mom’s too. I wasn’t dead. I had made it through surgery. The nurses wanted me to stay the night in the hospital so that they could monitor me. I noticed I had a new IV in me, attached to the top of my right hand. The bump is still there. I can still feel it. My stomach hurts more now than it did before the surgery, but I’m ok. My appendix is gone. So they wheel me up to my room, which is curtained off into little sections. I’m beside a woman named Carol. I don’t remember what her problem was, but it sounded horrible. Someone told me that there had been something wrong with my heart, but no one would tell me exactly what it was that was wrong. But apparently, the nurse on call had a pager on and whenever my heart would get too slow this pager would go off. That started to get really annoying, because my heart was not going too slow at all. I was just breathing slowly. That’s what I do when I sleep. But it went off like four times in 15 minutes. Finally she just turned the thing off I think. Everything’s a little hazy from here on in. I asked the nurse if I could have something to eat, and she told me I couldn’t. I was so mad at her. I told Dad that she was being a mean bitch, or something along those lines. I know I said bitch at any rate. I was so hungry, and so drugged up that I almost cried when she said no. But I got as much ginger ale as I wanted, which was great.

So I drank tons of ginger ale, listened to my IPod and slept. I still had two IVs in me, and the oxygen nose thinger. I remember being woken up by the nurse, I think her name was Melanie. Turned out she was not a bitch at all. She was really super nice. But she woke me up and gave me the medication that I normally take at night. I was amazed that she knew I had to take that, and angry at myself for forgetting. But she told me that at that point it was her job to give it to me, not mine. She took my pulse, oxygen levels and blood pressure several times throughout the night, and at seven A.M Mom showed up to help me get showered and dressed. One of the most awkward things for me was having help showering, but Mom used to be a nurse, so this didn’t bother her at all. I felt great to be clean after not having showered since before I went into the hospital. She had to leave at eight because she had to do something. But Dad showed up, and he had a Tim Horton’s breakfast sandwich for me. Those are my favourite. The only other alternative was the hospital breakfast, which consisted of canned fruit and jell-o. No thanks. Not a fan of the jell-o. Anyways, I was now no longer taking morpheme. I was on a combination of Tylenol and Tylenol 3s for the pain. There was a period between Mom leaving and Dad arriving where I was flat on my back again, and it really really hurt to breathe again. I kept pressing the nurse bell, but no one was responding. I was terrified. Finally I realized that if I raised the upper part of the bed, I would be better off.

After eating breakfast, Dad and I hung out for awhile. We played cards in the sun room, and I was so high that I just kept making stupid mistakes and loosing over and over again until I just got mad and quit, but it was ok. I called Betsy and asked her if I wasn’t out by the time she was done work if she would come see me. She said she would, and through tears, I told her I loved her. Then I called Meg and asked her how Rosamae was doing. I was very tearful, and missed home.

When I was finally released, it was about two hours later, and I had to follow some instructions. No swimming or baths for two to three weeks. I had to go get an eko cardiogram the next Wednesday, and I had an appointment with Dr. Hensen on March 31st. I promise this story is almost done.

I got home, and that whole weekend, my parents wouldn’t let me do anything. They looked after me, and showed that everyone here really cares about my sell being. The big joke was that Mom and Dad spent Valentine’s day together. That was the day I went in for surgery. There is a point to this whole story though. I did get something out of that surgery. A close friend pointed out to me that maybe that was a way of letting me know that I didn’t really want to kill myself. I was not ready to die. Every day I look at the three scars from that surgery, and I think of everyone in my life and how much they all mean to me, and how much I mean to everyone else, including myself. That was a huge step in my getting better. It took only about a month to completely recover. The pain lasted quite awhile, but it’s long gone. I’ve started training for my triathlon, and today I was able to run 2 minutes without stopping. Very happy about this.

I remember the night I c came home being really tripped out on Tylenol 3s, and calling Steve.
Me: Steve! I’m! Stoned!
Steve: Who did you get high with today?
Me: Noooooo! Tylenol 3! I have no more appendix!

And it went on from there. I remember talking to Jesse and probably making no sense. I couldn’t remember the word laparoscopic; I kept saying laser scopic or something. I learned that t3s and codeine make me hallucinate. When one sees angels crowded around one’s bed telling them that if they speak to God the pain will go away, one is definitely hallucinating. And I had a lot of support from a lot of friends.

The End


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