Saturday, March 01, 2014

Once Again, Back to the Hospital

I am just baffled at the past two weeks. I recently wrote about my time in the hospital coping with and being healed of Congestive Heart Failure. I was happy to finally come home and hoped I could spend a week recuperating before returning to work; but no!

On Monday evening, February 24th I went to the bathroom, then I got up to flush the toilet and discovered it was full of blood and tarry stool.  About five or so years ago, I wrote of a similar experience and alluded to a noir detective novel that existed only in my mind called Frank Blood and the Tarry Stool. I flushed and went back to bed.

A half an hour later I once again felt the urge to use the toilet and this time there was no stool, only blood. An hour later the same thing happened, only this time I was feeling light headed and collapsed in bed.

I called for Linny. She woke our doctor up and a few minutes later I was in the car and heading to Saint Elizabeth Hospital. I insisted on going to the closest branch, which is in the town where I live.

The emergency room staff was awesome. I must have picked a great night, since there were very few patients.

After taking my vital signs, I announced I had to use the toilet again. My wife wheeled my wheel chair across the hall and waited for me. On getting up I was real light headed and I fainted. I think I mentioned that I was dying (which I was, from lack of blood) which upset my wife.  She told me the staff came rushing. The male nurse that was assisting me hurt his back lifting me back in the chair.

The got me onto an emergency room stretcher and brought the crash cart into my room.  My blood level was off, so two units of whole blood were ordered. The first was type O negative and the next was to be typed and cross-matched.  I was put on IV fluids running open. I was also be given a bolus dose. 

My blood pressure was dropping. Linny said it dropped to 70/50.  So my stretcher was lowered to a position where my head was lower than my feet. This helped.  The unit of blood brought me back to a conscious state.

The ER doctor came in to examine me and let me know I was not going home for a while; that and he was going to do a rectal exam. Lucky, lucky me, I think this doctor must have played basketball in college, since he had huge fingers.

My sister had been called and asked to stay with my mother. I was surprised that she and Mom came up to the hospital.  My daughter Rachael also came to be with me and her Mom. 

Within an hour I was transferred to a room and a more comfortable bed on the Transitional Care Unit. Along with the bed I received one of the battery operated EKG monitors. The leads for this, once again, were planted into my chest hair. I also received a hospital gown that revealed my butt and naughty bits.  An IV pump was set up alongside the bed and a smaller IV bag was added to my “D5W.”

Once again I had to explain the psoriasis to my care givers and once again they were happy that I applied my own ointment.

I was extremely thirsty, but I was put on an NPO status; Nothing Per Os or nothing by mouth.  I really wanted a big drink of cold, cold water and was told that was not going to happen.  I felt like the servant in the Bible that treated his debtor poorly. After he died, he was in Hades and begging God’s servant to dip his finger in water to let it dribble down.  I finally received some mouth swabs and a glass of warm water. I could dip the swabs to sooth my dry mouth. It helped.

I must have been put on a ‘take vitals every two hours’ status because just as I would doze off a nurse came into the room to exam me.  She would be followed up by a nurse aide who took my blood glucose level, then ending the parade was the phlebotomist that generally could not find a vein and criticized me for having tiny, dried-up rolling veins. After this I turned on the TV, found an old movie on TCM, dozed off and the process was repeated in two hours.  It made the night go by rather quickly.

The first day and night at the hospital, I could not stand up. Every time I did, I would feel like I was going to faint and needed to lie down. I was an expert with the urinal. As long as I kept my dingle-dangle in the opening I was fine.  It was difficult to determine when I had quit peeing. One I had a little accident on the blanket.

I had to use a bedpan. This unique device keeps you hinder just a few inches from whatever came out of it. In my case it was more congealed blood.

There was no place to walk and I certainly didn’t feel like it.  The hospital uses Direct TV, so the channels were limited and some of them came in as good as I remember our rabbit-ears antennae reception on out-of-town stations. I am usually able to find some great old movies on TMC. I watched Green Dolphin Street, The Little Foxes and National Velvet.  All of the shows were very melancholy. They were well written and acted.

The second day was much better. I was getting a little stronger and after a few attempts I could sit on the edge of the bed without feeling light-headed. Once again, I threw privacy and self-respect to the wind.

This time nursing school students from two different schools ascended upon me. They poked, prodded and asked the same questions. “On a scale of one-to-ten what kind of pain do you feel?”  I felt no pain other than that of the nursing students rolling me about in bed to check out my lungs, by listening to my back. Honestly, this was mostly done by the hospital staff. I think the phlebotomist took blood four or five times a day.

The nurse aides would come in once a day and ask me to take a bath. This was done by walking to the bathroom, providing me with a plastic basin, a bar of soap and several wash clothes. I did have some shampoo and a disposable razor.  The routine was for me to wash my face, arms, chest, pits, top of my legs and groin.

The aide would come in to do my back side.  I had a one pound heart monitor with seven or eight leads going to patches that were glued onto my chest. I also had two IV bags hanging on a stand that were attached to a pump/monitor that was power by a ten foot electric cord, which was plugged in next to my bed. It was impossible to bath without getting my gown all wet. But I sure tried.

The aide arrived to do my back, but and legs. Off came the gown; I was a chubby white boy standing there in my all-together with a young lady washing me off.  Anyone thinking this sounds like a letter written to a porn magazine, needs to understand I have a bad breakout of psoriasis, my rectum is bleeding, I’ve just gotten over congestive heart failure and in general I feel like crap. I don’t think the aide was getting much of a thrill seeing someone who looks like her granddad in the nude.

Thankfully I got a clean gown on and she put clean bed linens on the hospital bed. I don’t think I mentioned I was sleeping on puppy pee-pee pads. These were the same thing I use for my dogs only they were St. Bernard sized.

Finally, February 26th arrived and I was assured, at six AM that I was going to have a colonoscopy at one PM that day.  The nurse came in once again, weighed me, measured my vital signs and left a 4,000 ml jug of something called “Golightly.”

I doubt that it was named in honor of the main character in Breakfast At Tiffany’s, Holly Golightly. I was not well enough to do the math, but have since determined 4,000 ml equal 16.9071 cups. There are 16 cups in a gallon and I was told to chug a gallon of this nasty tasting crap. My plan was to drink two cups then lie down, then get up and chug two more cups and repeat.

About 10 AM the nurse announced I had to drink faster.  Oh, I forgot to mention that I could drink water. And I could have a clear liquid diet.

A half hour latter the Golightly kicked in and I had to go. By this time I could walk to the bathroom, so I took myself in and sat down.  More blood gushed out and I told the nurse. I was told that I needed a tap water enema to be done until I was clear. This task fell on the nursing student and his instructor. I had the choice of doing this in bed and attempting to jump onto a bedside commode or to go to the toilet. Since I was not much of a gymnast I opted for the toilet.

The nursing student was somewhat shaky and did not have clear direction as to how to navigate another male’s anus. I had to give directions. After he did hit the jackpot with the end of the enema tube I had to beg the instructor to find some Vaseline.  I am not a very good enema water retainer, and after half a gallon was put in, it near immediately came out.  This trick was done twice and thankfully on the second attempt I was clear and allowed to stumble back into my hospital bed.

The stretcher arrived for the colonoscopy procedure and the transporter gave me a wild ride through the halls of the hospital. I narrowly escaped hitting several nurses and a lady in a wheel chair. He took me down the elevator to the endoscopy room.

I was able to ask the nurse a few questions about colonoscopies. I was especially keen to know how the long tubes were cleaned.  I didn’t want the e-coli of someone else to wind up in my bowel.  I found out the tubes were soaked in Cidex. Nothing has changed since 1972.

I had to have a new IV, so another needle was stuck into my hand.  I had to get up twice to poo before I went into the endoscopy room.

The nurses helped to position me on my left side, butt in the air with towels and pee-pee pads under me. The nurse nearest to my head told me it was time as she injected my IV with Michael Jackson Juice and I lost consciousness.

I have no idea how I got back into my hospital room. I woke up and my wife was next to my bed. I have no clue as to the events of the day since I was talking to the nurse in the endoscopy room.

Sometime during the middle of the night I was told I would be going home that day. Hooray!  The nurse guessed it would be around 10 AM.  I relayed this to my wife when she called.

Linny was at the hospital at 10 AM, but the doctors were no where to be found.

The first person to show up was a nurse practitioner from the GI doctor’s office. She said, yes I could go home but needed to wait for the Hospitalist to sign off. I asked her about taking Coumadin but she passed the buck to the heart doctor. Dr. Banks, the Hospitalist, finally showed up just before noon. He asked a lot of questions and I had a few for him. He seemed to think I could go back to work on Monday and that I needed to wait a week before taking Coumadin.

I got dressed and gathered my belongings. I had no underwear or socks, but I was still wearing the George Washington hosiery the hospital provided to prevent embolism.  Just before I left Doctor Williams, the head of the GI department arrived to sign off on me. He seemed to think I should wait a couple of weeks before resuming Coumadin.

I was planning to return to work on Monday; however a home health care nurse came to my home yesterday. She noted that I have an appointment with the cardiologist on Wednesday and I should wait until all my appointments have concluded.

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