My Evening Drive's Mix, kinda makes me miss mix tapes.

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If I Didn't Have Bad Luck, I'd Have None...

Holy Stoltz, it's been a long time since I last blogged. It's not that I've been lazy, I can assure you of all that.

A couple of months ago, I developed a pain in my back that was higher up and between my shoulder blades. It was like a twisting knife in my spine. I chalked it up to stress, heaven knows there's no shortage of that around here. I had a few Facebook friends recommend that I get my gallbladder checked out. I put it off for a little bit because I thought that was something that happened to older people. Bear in mind, my only prior experience with gallstones was when my aunt had them when I was a kid...and everyone seemed OLDER then!

I went to my regular doctor. He was worried it may be a massive kidney infection. But then decided it might be viral. He pushed around and found a tender spot on my belly. He knew I had the localized back pain. But he sent me to get my kidneys x-rayed.

Well. Everything came back fine. His nurse called me on a Friday to let me know the cultures came back clear. I explained that I was still hurting, but she told me if I had any problems to call Urgent Care. Way to go making your patients feel like you care about them! I decided that was my last dealing with this doctor. He had treated me like a hypochondriac for a couple of years now and I simply got tired of it.

I went to another doctor on the recommendation of another good friend of mine. He concluded it may be musculoskeletal (sp?) and sent me on my way with anti-inflammatory meds and pain pills. But the pain never really went away. I saw him the next day and finally suggested that he check out my gallbladder. I had all of the textbook symptoms. So he sent me to get a scan of my gallbladder.

It was so bad, that I was immediately admitted into the hospital. Once I got into the room, it took 4 nurses to get my IV in because I was so dehydrated from not having any water for about 36 hours. I had two of them tell me my skin is particularly tough and hard to get through. What could I say? I'm an artist, I'm rough on them. I just knew that as long as the IV wasn't in, nothing was happening, so I tried hard not to panic.

The surgery was on the second day. I really do like my surgeon, Dr. Ipapo. I trusted him implicitly. I can remember an injection in my IV, then it was lights out. When I came to, I felt really bad. I reached down and immediately knew that the surgery was not laproscopic, I could feel the big wound left across my abdomen. (And imagine my surprise when one of my nurses asked if I had had a mastectomy! It's like, "Woman, did you READ my chart!?!")

From there it got worse. I realized that had stuck a tube in me to drain bile. Ick. Not fun. Then I was told that because there was so much infection and inflammation, that I would need a stint to make sure the bile goes where it should. The only problem was that it was a bank holiday weekend and no one was around to put in a stint. I was complaining to a nurse about it and she brought this gastrointestinal Dr in to talk (chastise). This Dr explained that my surgeon had called her late the night before trying to set up this stint thingy and that I should be glad that someone who isn't even on call would come in and do it. Yes, thank my lucky stars...and I'm so sorry to inconvenience you. You're a doctor, you save lives, you get calls at all with it. She walked out while I was yelling at her.

Around midnight that same night, I got the call that they were ready to put in the stint. I can remember being wheeled down to the ground floor and seeing the stint Dr. As I was wheeled into the operating room, the nurse asked the anesthesiologist how he was. In a very rude manner, he replied that he was tired because he had been there since the morning, blah blah blah. Made me feel like shit. So I told him that I had been trying to think of a way to thank everyone who had helped me, because I had been in so much pain before, then I started crying. He changed his tune then and explained that he was here for me...blah blah.

The bitch about stints is that they have to be removed at some point too.

That procedure went well. And almost every day I was sent to get a CT scan or X-ray. Turns out that I had a LOT of fluid building up on the right side of my body. My diaphragm apparently got punctured during the surgery and I had fluid above it and below it. Guess what, I needed a new drainage tube and bag coming out of me. Wooo. Not. This one was placed while I was in a CT machine and it hurt SO lots of pins and needles. I was convinced when it was over that I had needles in felt so bad.

I can't remember when, but sometime, I got a PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter) in my upper left arm. It had to be done by a cardiologist and it's like a super-IV that goes straight to your heart, but would actually reduce the number of times I'd have to be stuck if I had blood drawn. Blood could be taken directly from the PICC. Meds can also be injected into it like a regular IV. At one point it was scary, I had two IV stands with stuff and sooooo many lines leading into the PICC that I my arm looked like a keychain with too many keys hanging off.

Then there was the fateful night that I had a massive amount of pain that took my breath and jump-started respiratory distress. I was moved to another floor to an intensive care kinda ward. I was there for a week. Had more scans, more x-rays...then it was decided that I needed a lung puncture to drain some fluid out of my right lung. It's called sympathetic fluid, but there's nothing sympathetic about it.

The day that was scheduled, my nurse had a student nurse at her side the entire shift. The student was so nice that she offered to go with me for the puncture, if it was allowed. She walked by me as I was wheeled to the room where it's done and she stood in front of me as I had to sit upright and held onto me so I wouldn't freak out too much.

At this point I'd like to take a minute to say that I was terrified of having anything done to my lung. I had cartoonish/nightmarish ideas of what could happen and it really messed with me.

They did the puncture on my back and through my ribs. It was kinda high, up towards my shoulder. He injected lidocaine first to numb the area...which is really a joke since it only numbs the surface and does absolutely nothing about the feeling of a foreign object entering your lung. Then the liquid was essentially vacuumed out. Pretty gross. But my student nurse rocked and I don't think it would have gone as smoothly without her.

I kept having spasms around the area where the tube/drain on my side was. It hurt so much and was toe-curling.

After about a week, I was moved back up to the floor I was on before. That was a good sign of improvement. I was on a million antibiotics, IV nutrients, treatment for what may have been a fungal infection, potassium and I had to take meds to try to restore the "good" bacteria that is in the digestive system. It was all so odd and seemed contradictory.

Then there was this horrible day. My Dr told me that there was more fluid in my lung and this time, I needed a chest tube. And it was going to be done right then and there, in my room. I freaked. I was like a wild animal backed into a corner. They ended up giving me 14 units of morphine, but honestly, I didn't feel a bit of the morphine. Adrenaline is powerful stuff.

My bed got raised up very high. I had two nurses at my left side, two at my feet and my surgeon at my right side. There was nothing I could do. Again, wimpy lidocaine was injected to help, but of course it didn't. It was a pain that was like anything I have never experienced before. And then the tube has to be pushed in more...more. Then stitches to keep it there. And this tube is not small...about and inch wide. All I can remember is primal screaming and nurses trying to talk to me and get me to breathe properly. Like I'm going to chit chat after I've been shanked...really?

The chest tube was a whole new beast. I couldn't really walk anywhere because the box the fluid drained into was taped to the floor. Quite handicapping. I guess the tube was in for 2 or 3 days. Then it was time to take it out. Surely it couldn't be worse than putting it in...right? WRONG!! I was told to breathe in...then when I exhaled they yanked it out quite forcefully and threw it on the floor. Then they yanked the drainage tube that was in my belly. That was particularly gross because I could feel was like a worm or a snake was wiggling through my guts. Ick.

I made sure not to look at the stuff they left in my room, including the chest tube. I told a nurse all that stuff had to be gone by the time I got back from getting an x-ray. I just can't believe they left stuff all over.

I am amazed that with technology and all of the advancements in medicine, so many procedures are still so barbaric and brutal.

My days and nights were spent watching CNN and Bravo. I rotted my brain cells on every Housewives show there is. I had to be careful about what I ate and as you can imagine, hospital food isn't always the best. I was in almost constant pain. And about 2 weeks in, I just couldn't get comfortable in those hospital beds. I had many restless nights.

The only thing that ever helped were the shots of dilaudid. I would look forward to my shot every time it was ready. You get a nice fuzzy warm feeling and since it would be injected into my PICC, my heart would be one of the first things to get warm. There was a taste that came along with it, but I cannot describe it. I knew that once I had dilaudid, I would have about 2 hours of peace. Pain meds were administered every 4 hours though, so the pain always came back. But there was a little peace.

Slowly but surely, my Dr got me off my IVs. And then one day, I was deemed healthy enough to go home. Sure, I was going to still have to have a nurse at home...and we had the oxygen delivered in case I needed it, so it wasn't really the same as being at home.

I went through a period where I cried multiple times a day. I feel like I must have something similar to post-traumatic stress syndrome. And I don't know if I'll ever drink Coke, Sprite or ginger ale again.

My other drainage tube got removed about a week after I was released. That was a big relief. Nothing to make you feel like an old fart like a bag of your bodily fluids velcroed to you.

Now, my scars are healing. I can breathe alright...have to slow down a lot if I get winded. But I still have a lot of pain at the chest tube site. It's right at the side of my breast, so my ribs are sore, there is sore breast side feels like it's been kicked. I was taken off narcotics, but the new meds don't do anything. I'm picking up something new tonight, so I hope that helps.

So, if you've wondered where I've been or what I've been up to...I spent 3 weeks in the hospital and have been at home, recuperating ever since.

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