Archive for the 'Hospital drugs' Category

Ambien and physical therapy

September 16, 2010

One thing about having little babies bouncing about – any kind of travel activity becomes a bigger burden. Trips to see family and friends in St. Louis are a big production, and now they usually only occur on major holidays. For everything Tiffany and I pack for our kids, there’s something basic that gets underrepresented or completely forgotten.

Well, this time around, we had planned to leave Saturday and return Sunday. Thanks to the compound ankle fracture, surgery and hospitalization, we didn’t make it back to Springfield until tonight. That’s an extra three-day stay on one day’s supplies. My in-laws’ washer, dryer and dishwasher got a workout. For my part, I wore the same clothes for 95% of what was a 75%-immobile visit.* I did finally strap a black trash bag and ample masking tape around my leg cast and take a shower today. Despite awkward accessibility issues, it was the most satisfying shower of my life.

My contribution to the Getting Out Of Town effort today consisted of feeding, burping and holding Silas while sitting up in bed. Oh, and moral support. Lots of moral support. I’d like to think, in this dark hour, the quality and quantity of my moral support makes me positively undivorceable. So what if Tiffany’s doing 9/10ths of the work and making 100% of the money these next two months? I’m heaping on that moral support! With a thickness!

I’m here to say, my wife is an all-star. She has earned a great big Thank You gift. I just need to have her help me into the car, drive me to the Hallmark store or wherever, get out my walker for me, carry around whatever I decide to buy, figure out how we’re going to pay for it, help me back into the car and probably wrap the gift for me, too. I’m a horrible gift wrapper.

I stayed adequately doped up throughout my hospital stay. They’ll just keep offering drugs to you left and right, as long as you’re able to tell them your name and birth date. That knowledge is what separates the casual bedridden hospital doper from the hopeless junkie inpatient.

All I wanted to do was sleep. I attributed that to the fact that my brain and bloodstream were drowning in morphine, Vicodin, Cephalexin, Warfarin, stool softener**, Citalopram, Lisinopril and whatever crazy chemicals are in Diet Sierra Mist.

And, knowing I wasn’t moving from that Craftmatic adjustable bed for a couple days, I took whatever pharmaceutical suggestions the nurse offered. NURSE: Want some Ambien?  ME: Um, yeah. Buy the ticket, take the ride.

The Ambien decision turned to regret as my inner audio feed played back the list of announcer-read side effects from the TV commercial. Particularly the one about, “Episodes of walking, eating and driving have been reported with no recollection of the event.”

The eating and driving weren’t of much relevance, but suppose I ended up in some hyper-unconscious stupor, dreaming I was the lead in Chariots of Fire 2010, and decided to act it out in a darkened hospital room on my freshly operated-upon ankle? Tiffany instantly dismissed this as comically paranoid but asked the nurse to keep an eye on me.

The nurse popped into my doorway seconds later. “Seriously?” she asked.

I said, “What, the TV announcer’s a liar?”

“Okay, here’s what I’ll do.” The nurse pulled the chair up to my bed. I looked at her, rapt with attention. “I’ll sit right here until you fall asleep, and I’ll hold your hand the entire time.”

Sarcasm might not win the war, but it won this battle hands down. Well played, smartass overnight nurse. Turned out the Ambien put me into about three hours of restful slumber and left me wide awake at two or so in the morning. I asked for more the next night. It had a nice side effect where you have semi-vivid dreams while you’re still awake. That, to me, is better than watching TV.

The nurses and doctors all seemed astonished at how I was handling the pain. I only rated myself over a 2 out of 10 a couple times. They warned me, though – you’ve got physical therapy coming. That’s when it’ll hurt. Well, Day One of physical therapy*** consisted of me moving from the bed out to the hallway and back to the bathroom via walker.

I discovered that, sure, having a couple people supervise you while you maneuver yourself onto the toilet to pee sitting down is a minor convenience. But being able to pee into a plastic jug directly from your bed? That’s a freaking godsend. I plan to pee into the plastic jug indefinitely. At least until the cast comes off, if not until the day I die.

Day Two of physical therapy involved teaching me to climb a few very short stairs that were nothing like the stairs I will encounter in day to day activity. I did great on those low-impact mock stairs. In real life, I was doing this ridiculous upward butt-scoot move that resembled really, really bad rap girl audition dancing.

Now we’re home, and the real fun is set to begin. These meds are still making me sleep too much, and my recovery efforts are making me feel I have way too little to contribute. But this ordeal has reinforced my belief that family is my greatest asset in life, that the grace of God is real, and that I couldn’t make it a day without my sometimes bizarre and childish sense of humor.

* = The bloody sock that was at Ground Zero of the ankle break did not make the trip back. I’m sure the Smithsonian of the future will be downright devastated I didn’t save that historical gem.

** = I still haven’t pooped. Glad you asked?

*** = Simple irony: My physical therapist needed a speech therapist.

Compound fracture complications

September 14, 2010

About 4 years ago, my mom was in the hospital for a week. For one reason or another, I kept missing chances to visit her. People at work were giving me a hard time about it, like I didn’t love my mom because I hadn’t been keeping a nonstop somber vigil by her side on an uncomfortable piece of hospital furniture.

My mom, on the other hand, sounded like she was having the time of her life every time I called to apologize for not making it up there. “I’m good,” she would insist. “They’ve got me on the right mix of drugs, I’m being waited on hand and foot, I’m catching up on my reading, all my responsibilities have ceased to exist, and the food’s actually pretty good.”

I understand now what she meant. I was unexpectedly admitted to the hospital early Sunday morning with a compound fracture. My bloody ankle bone was protruding through my skin, and my left foot just kind of hung there limply. It was a very ugly sight. I was in shocked disbelief.

One second, my wife Tiffany, good buddy James and I were hanging around on the back porch of my in-laws’ house. Then little Sarah woke up, and we let her come outside with us. She decided to climb up some stairs, I went up after her, scooped her up, turned to descend the stairs and suffered a nasty fall. I’d held Sarah up out of harm’s way but obviously did nothing to protect my poor ankle, which saw the light of day for the next few hours.

I was sprawled out on the concrete. Couldn’t move. Paramedics arrived shortly after. Got me into the ambulance. Kinda acted like dicks. Granted, the whole purpose of the evening had been to come into town and have drinks with old friends, but I felt like I was still coherent. These guys were treating me like I was incapable of deciphering their plainspoken English.

We arrived at the hospital and were sequestered in a side room – me, Tiffany, James and Tiffany’s dad. I was told I’d have to be operated on. I couldn’t quite grasp that this was actually happening. A compound fracture? An ambulance ride? Anesthesia? Surgery? Couldn’t I just go home, go to bed and sleep all this off? The answer – absolutely not.

Woke up the following afternoon in a hospital bed with a cast on. My wife’s smiling face came into view. I really love that woman. We went over the hypotheticals of, “It’s my fault, because if I hadn’t done THAT one little thing, THIS would never have happened,” and, “No, it’s MY fault, because if I wouldn’t have done THIS little thing, THAT would never have happened.” The only conclusion to arrive at, though – it happened, and the consequences can’t be ignored.

The most pressing question – who’s going to take care of babies Sarah and Silas? The physical therapy people at the hosital have me hobbling around on a walker right now. My ankle can technically bear weight, but my nerve endings scream like bloody murder when it does. I’m not mobile enough to keep up with a 2 year old. My mom and Tiffany’s dad are going to come up to Springfield and help out alternatingly in the meantime, and it looks like the babies and I will be spending next week’s work days in St. Louis with the grandparents.

Second – how long will I be out of work? Hourly restaurant employment is not known for its stellar disability coverage, and my health insurance is predicated on me averaging at least 25 hours per week. Serving and bartending are very mobile jobs, and we were already broke before this little plot twist.

The “blessing in disguise” part might be that, with me home from work and undistracted with unnecessary things like, say, walking, I’ll be able to really focus on properly launching and maintaining this blog and better organizing material for my standup act. Funny Bone Springfield wants me to open 3 shows this weekend. I’m trying to decide if I’d get more laughs performing from a wheelchair or a walker.

Meantime, I’ve decided worry can’t help the situation or change reality. I’m grateful that I’ll be able to recover from this injury, and that coming out the other end of the ordeal, I’ll still have everything I had going in. And my mom was right – hospital drugs are really quite nice.