Thursday, 6 December 2012

Tales from hospital part the third: day 2

So, I knew it was all going too well, despite the utter lack of sleep.

The day after surgery the physio came round to see me. Up to this point I'd been on bed rest, not allowed to get up at all, even to go to the toilet. I'll gloss over the details but suffice to say I'm glad I have good core body and upper arm strength. How elderly people manage to use bedpans without spillage is beyond me.

Anyway, I'd been lying down for hours, my feet raised above my hips, maybe sitting up a bit assisted by the rather whizzy electric bed.

And then the physio gets me up, out and walking around.

Does anyone sense disaster?

Using a walker frame, I edged gingerly and painfully around the corner of my bed, and then thought: "While I'm up, I might as well use the toilet instead of the bedpan."

In a demonstration of complete lack of judgment by both the physio and me (although she's the professional so I'd have thought she might have said no) I got her to wheel me on a chair to the toilet.

And there she left me.

I managed the business part fine. Washed my hands, then realised the world was going a bit grey, my stomach was feeling rather nauseous, my limbs were going heavy...

I pulled the help cord and heard the alarm go off.

After a while (probably not that long but it felt it) I was unable to support myself any more and getting panicky. The nausea was so bad I felt I was going to throw up all over the floor, I couldn't keep my eyes open, my head was swimming, my body was just. so. heavy.

Somehow, I managed to open the tricky bi-fold toilet door a bit.

"Please help me! Someone help me!" I called out. I felt like I was shouting but it might have been just a whisper. I recall the frightened face of a woman lying in bed in my sightline as I began to collapse.

Suddenly a nurse appeared with a wheelchair.

"Get in the chair!" she barked at me.

"I can't," I gasped. "I feel so ill. I need to lie down."

"You can't lie there! Get up! Get in the chair!"

"I can't..."

The next thing I knew I was slumped in a chair next to my bed, with another nurse slapping my face.

"Emma, Emma, focus, open your eyes. We need you to get on the bed."

Like a sullen teen, I replied: "I can't."

"But if you won't, then we will have to get the hoist."

"Get the hoist."

The world went black again.

Slap, slap.

"Emma! We're getting the hoist. Focus! You need oxygen."

An oxygen mask was put on my face, blasting air into my nose and mouth at hurricane speeds, suffocating me.

I pulled it off. "Don't like it!" (there's that sulky teenager again).

They turned it down and put it back then hoisted me onto the bed.

I passed out again.


Later, I gradually came round and lay for a while breathing the oxygen before I felt well enough to pull the mask off.

"Welcome back," my fellow patients chorused.

"You were grey! You were the colour of the sheets! We thought you were dying! It was so scary!"

Yeah, me too. In fact, I ended up crying while a lovely nurse gave me a hug.

It wasn't so much the faint; I've been there before. It was the fact that I was left in a toilet, with no-one answering the alarm call, and then being almost shouted at as though I were an inconvenience.

The physio came back later and apologised, which I appreciated. For while I shouldn't have suggested going to the loo, it was up to her to say that it was too much too soon. She's the professional after all.

Later, I indulged my time obsession by asking my neighbour how long I'd been out for. I was expecting her to say about 15 minutes. She looked at the clock, calculating. "Oh, about an hour and a quarter," she said. Crikey. no wonder everyone was so worried.

The rest of the day was uneventful. I was supposed to go home but it was decided I had to stay in another night after that episode, and there was much checking of my obs because my blood pressure is naturally low and they were worried.

The only other excitement was learning to inject my heparin that evening. I'm such a wuss I actually cried while Queen of Hunter called over: "I do it every night! It's easy! Just do it! Stop working yourself up!"

And actually she was right. The needle didn't hurt going in at all. The heparin stings afterwards but by then it's all over. I can do this!

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