Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Bracing myself

Well, the MRI has been taken care of. I spent an hour and a half on the table, with the technicians denying me the satisfaction of reading a good book in the process, as they believed I would move too much if I were permitted to hold a book. Just to prove a point, I spent most of the test scratching every little itch, with the occasional cough, just to show that I could pull it all off without moving my foot at all.

Now it's "hurry up and wait." I'm dreading that call..."Mr. Meadows, we need you to come to the hospital by way of the ER. The MRI you had done is showing some hotspots of infection." Well, then it would be me packing a bag and heading to the hospital for what I hope would only be a week's stay.

The last time I had osteomyelitis, I was in the hospital for 27 days. (Link provided in case you're new and haven't read that information before.) While I was there, I had them run a number of other tests to "check my oil, give me a tuneup, and make sure my timing belt was up to speed." What can I say? A lifetime spent with auto parts as the family business had me making a lot of automotive references. They also seemed to take frequent x-rays of the infected foot, an MRI or two, and even a bone density test. (The last required a radioactive isotope be injected, and I wandered about poking people and saying, "I am Radioactive Man! You're infected...and you're infected...and you're infected."

So many days in the hospital, you learn to start making your own fun.

The thing is that, in the end, I was simply there to receive an hour-long dose of vancomycin by way of IV twice a day. That's it. After that, much of the time was spent looking after my roommate, who'd been in a serious car accident when he was a child. His body was essentially wrecked in the accident, and had only partial motion in his left arm and hand, and could only answer yes and no questions. This information was in his chart, yet the hospital staff would often reply to the call button and ask, "What do you need?" Truly brilliant, really. And so I would leap to his aid, running down a list of yes and no questions for him until we'd hit upon his needs. "Are you feeling sick? Are you thirsty? Do you need to be changed?" Very often, as I would step out for a smoke, I would stop and make sure he didn't need the little things that *I* could provide. "Do you need your TV remote? Can you reach the call button? Should I send a nurse in on my way out?" His mother was oh so appreciative that he ended up having me as a roommate.

Once he was gone, I went a little crazier, as there was even less for me to do. I read the books that were sent to me by Julie, who'd had them shipped right to the hospital. (G-d bless Julie and her concern for the growing madness of my extended hospital stay.) There was only so much "Celebrity Poker" to be watched, and even "Law & Order" would start to loop around, showing the same episodes over and over again.

Once again, all of this is IF I have osteomyelitis. I'll be admitted, and treatment will start. That's when I'll become a pain in the butt to the staff, essentially demanding that they get on the ball and insert a chest catheter for me to handle the IV meds at home. The hospital might be advantageous in that they'll be able to give me IV morphine for pain, but that's it. After that, it's an incredible expense to the insurance company to have me sitting around for IV meds twice a day. I would prefer a PICC line, but there's a problem with one being inserted through my forearm.

It was very strange. During that first and only episode of osteomyelitis, they shaved down my left forearm and inserted the PICC line. They even took a chest x-ray to be sure it went up my arm properly, ending up in the major vein of my chest. (I have no idea what its name is; darn that lack of a gross anatomy course!) The line passed through the vein that comes close to the surface along the bicep, and it was in that exact spot that my skin started becoming very red and extremely tender. (My shirt brushing the skin was causing me pain.) I have no known allergies except for fluorescein dye; there's an iodine component that, when it's injected into my bloodstream, it makes me violently ill. The PICC line was made of the very same material as a normal IV, and I hadn't reacted to that, so many of us were scratching our heads at this mysterious reaction.

They pulled the line, shaved my right forearm, and tried again. It seemed that they wanted to rush me out once it was in, to which I made them wait. Lo and behold, I had the same reaction in the same spot, but on my right arm this time.

They opted to install a chest catheter. This worked a bit better, and I didn't have any reaction to it. I was able to go home and handle my IV meds on my own, with a nurse coming by every few days to change the dressing. And being at home made me infinitely more comfortable.

And that's what I want. Although I am occasionally left a mere 12 inches of room on the bed, I am accustomed to sharing a bed with Becky. Without my beloved to drape my arm over her and occasionally cuddle, I'd feel lonesome. What's more, she probably wouldn't sleep as well, either. And so, if I am yanked from my home and put in a hospital bed, I'll be busting chops almost immediately to get myself back where I truly belong.

And that's all I have at the moment. Nothing really new. Just me venting my usual concerns, and praying that they're unfounded. Still, this post begs the question: what will Zeb critique next? =P

Be well, all, and DFTBA!

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