Mending and Mindbending

Arguably the best thing about spending a night (or, goddess forbid, more) in the hospital, is that every ordinary privilege of liberty becomes a peak experience for which I am inexpressibly grateful.  For instance, I just realized my second cup of coffee is still waiting for me in the kitchen and must now excuse myself to go pour it over some ice and joyfully recaffeinate.  From Saturday night, where I turned that all-important corner and actually started resting and recuperating, I have had it pretty good.  I caught up with the Glee pilot on Hulu (which of course is the most entertaining thing since Felicity went to the nuthouse), watched a lot of Volume One of Futurama, napped as needed, and even worked a bit on eBay listings and my new secret project.  I could do anything I wanted, just as long as it didn’t involve lifting more than five pounds or exerting myself in any fashion.

The perfect time to wear a jester’s cap is when you are recovering from surgery, particularly if you take pictures.  Anything that makes you laugh is good, just as long as you don’t pop your incisions.  Now that I’m finally on the other side of this unexpected, unwanted, but nonetheless necessary experience, I can see just how completely it has dominated my life and consciousness for the past several weeks.  From the endless trips back and forth to Loyola to the planning and preparations and my inevitable fears of staying overnight in the hospital, the whole package pretty much subsumed all other operations.  It was a relief to finally go in for surgery at 5:30 in the morning on Friday May 22, knowing in a few hours I would wake up in pain and vomiting on my hospital gown, because it put me that much closer to this moment when I can write about it in the past tense.

For the most part no one wants to have surgery or stay overnight in the hospital if they can avoid it, almost as much as no one wants to endure a blow-by-blow description of someone else’s experience.  I’ll therefore try to err on the side of self-restraint, but there are a few things I would like to get off my lightly abraded chest.  I’ve never had to share a room before and didn’t like it, mainly because my roommate’s phone rang and woke me up more than once and her visitors exhausted me.  I’m sure I was not much fun to have around, but under the circumstances I can hardly be blamed.  I understand the convention is to refer to this arrangement as a semi-private room, but when my roommate can hear every word a doctor or nurse says to me about my condition and vice versa, it is also semi-awkward and not really private whatsoever.

My nurses all listened and were quite patient and accommodating, in one case getting orders for much-needed sleep meds and leaving off those annoying leg wraps so I could finally sleep.  With a tight head wrap and an I.V., I had just about as many invasive things happening to my body as I could tolerate.  At least by then they had finally removed the ineffective wound drain that hung uncomfortably from the neck of my gown without doing what it was supposed to, but my afternoon nurse and I had waited throughout her full shift and into the next one before this happened.

When you are unable to so much as focus on a TV program, let alone read or write, the only thing to do is to close your eyes and try to drift the hours away.  Having made it through the night and well into what I hoped would be my last nursing shift, I sat up while the new nurse introduced herself and listened to my breathing.  She remarked that only a nurse would get so excited about hearing healthy lung sounds, then she stepped on over to the other side of the curtain to introduce herself to my roommate:

I’m *****, and I’ll be your nurse. We might as well get to know each other, since we’ll both be here for the long weekend.

There followed a bit of marginally amusing chat in which I joked across the curtain that I didn’t want to go home and miss the party, since I still felt like crap but my liberty was close enough at hand that I had a bit of charity to spare.  I was grateful when the nurse walked out, because I could nod out on my pain meds and lose more time, but I found myself all too awake a moment later when the same nurse walked right past me to my roommate and introduced herself as if she had not done so just a moment before.

I’m *****, and I’ll be your nurse.

My roommate went right along with all this and pretended they’d never met, but I wasn’t sure whose feelings she was sparing.  Had it been me, I don’t think I could have resisted asking the nurse if she didn’t realize we’d already had this conversation.  Since it was not me and since I had mere hours before I could go home, I closed my eyes and tried to drift as far off as I could from my earthly surroundings.

1 Comment so far
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The nurse was a very realistic robot. Hospital cost-cutting, you know.

Comment by Marianne

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