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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I've Been Sick


Last Wednesday I went to the hospital for either aseptic meningitis or viral encephalitis (the tests aren't back yet). I had been a constant headache all last week and was too nauseous to eat or drink. This dehydrated me. Once I got to the doctor's office, my mental state started slipping. I couldn't speak. I called my wife by my daughter's name. I couldn't understand what people were saying to me. I was admitted to the ER where they did all sorts of fun stuff to me -- spinal taps, MRI, anti-virals, anti-bacterials, morphine, percoset, IVs full of yummy chemicals, and lots of machines that go *PING* that let me know I'm still alive.

I'm all better now, back at work. And here are some thoughts on the experience.

·The day before I went to the doctor, I went to see the doctor. I told him all my symptoms, I didn't exaggerate or hypothesize. I told him I was having migraines because that's what I felt like I was having. I told him I was having nausea and fever and chills. All he did was give me a few pain killer sample pills and sent me on my way after fifteen minutes. The next day I was in the hospital. I hope that guy gets sued or run over or disbarred. Exactly what combination of magical words do I have to say for you to believe that I'm fucking sick, it's not typical for me, and I need a proper diagnosis instead of being disregarded. Apparently, I need to play up everything for you to take me seriously.

·The middle of the night is not a good time to try and stick in a new IV. It's especially not good if you're too incompetent to stick the thing in right. If you mess it up once, I'll let you do it again, but not fucking three times. If it doesn't work after the second time, it's obviously not working, and you either need to get someone else to do it, or come back later. You ever try to set up dominoes? You get to a point where the stress level will make you start knocking more over than you try to set up. And you'll think the solution is to set up more dominoes to make up for the ones you dropped. It's not. The solution is to walk away and stop fucking poking me. Do you see all this hair on my arms? It's not fun when the tape comes off. Plus you're too much of a fucking incompetent idiot to know how to silence the IV from beeping every minute.

·I fucking hate that IV machine that beeps when its out of juice. Why does it need to beep? Do you think the nurse is going to hear it? No, I'm going to hear it, and it's going to take ten minutes for the fucking nurse to come by. Meanwhile I hear beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep that's causing me more harm than the disease. Why can't it just send a wireless message to the nurse's station that says the IV is out? And why does it have to beep when I move wrong? This is not a very well-designed machine is it?

·Speaking of well-designed machines, a TV that's controlled solely by a single button is not one. Also, it might be time to get rid of that VCR. Just sayin'.

·The night they moved me from the ER to the ICU, all I wanted to do was sleep. In fact, sleep was my only respite from illness the entire week. But the doctor wanted to grill me about all sorts of questions about my family history, my illness history, medications, and so on.

·Doctors make so many mistakes, it's scary. There was a vial of blood on the floor below my bed that no one discovered until the last day. They did not remember my medication, even when I clearly state everytime they ask "are you currently on any medications". They don't know what I have, so they just pump anti-virals and anti-bacterials in me, treating the symptoms. I had to ask for my morphine three times often. Why do I have to keep reminding your fat ass that I'm in pain? (the same thing happened to my wife when she was giving birth) The times they tried to use the laser scanner on my wristband, couldn't get it to work. Once I was out of the ICU, the quality of nursing dropped severely.

·Morphine is interesting. It's a narcotic, so it doesn't take pain away, it just makes you forget about that. I don't know about that, but it was not the all-powerful pain taker-awayer that the world makes it out to be. It's got a distinct taste, even though at no time could I smell, taste, or see it. But when they inject you with it, you get the sensation that its something silvery-metallic with a distinct medicine smell/taste. Like someone is injecting you with the T-1000.




·If your food made me throw up, which it did, you might want to check into that. I mean, I'm suffering from dehydration and loss of appetite. The least you could do is make food that doesn't taste like dog vomit. Or at least act a little more concerned.

·The spinal tap, not scary. IVs and drawn blood, not scary. Needles in all sorts of orifices, both natural and man-made, and tape ripping off your arm hair, not scary. The MRI -- that's scary. Because they build it up a lot, and you can't move for 25 minutes. I'm going to repeat that because it's important: you can't move, at all, for 25 minutes. You're a corpse. If you move, they have to start the whole thing over. You better not have an itch.First they put a white blindfold on your eyes and plug something in your ears. They ask if you'd like some music, but you end up not hearing any of it anyway, because the table thrums every three seconds (and Frank Sinatra is not what I consider easy listening). Plus the table you're on is super-thin, so there's no place to comfortably put your arms. You gotta rest them on your stomach, but you can't really do that comfortably -- your arms want to drape off. So you're really holding up your arms the entire time, but you better not move. Later, I thought the experience must be what its like to be in a grave, except with more bright light.

·To the outside world, it probably looked like I was dying. I couldn't speak, I couldn't understand, I couldn't move. My brain was breaking. It probably seemed like I suddenly had Alzheimer's. But I never felt like I was going to die. Maybe because I was in the hospital surrounded by doctors. But maybe it's more that there is no signal that your death is coming. There are no bells and whistles that mark a death. It's us who have the funerals and gunfire salutes and bugles. Lives wink in and out all the time. So the message is that you need to do the things you want to do now -- tell your kids you love them, eat at that restaurant you want to -- because you never know when your death will be.
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