Saturday, September 17, 2011

Hospital Adventures: Part 1

Well, I'm home. Kind of tired, as not a single night went by without interruption, but otherwise intact...minus a toe. This may take a few posts, but I'll try to fill in the details of what went down.

So, Wednesday rolled around, and I toyed with the idea of a blog post, but couldn't really think of anything to say, other than, "I'm going to the hospital very soon. Ummm...Yeah, that's it. Be well!" Not exactly the writing exercise that most of posts are.

Becky and I arrived at the hospital and I encountered what had to be the easiest of all hospital admissions ever! I walked in, signed some paperwork, and was shortly escorted to a bed waiting for me upstairs. I answered a whole bunch of questions pertaining to what meds I take at home, and was then examined by EVERYONE! At least, it felt like that. First the nurses wanted to see what the problem was. Then the infectious disease doctor wanted to see it. Then the hospitalist wanted to see it. That last was the only one to confirm the fact that there we hyper-mobility at the end of my toe...and it hurt.

Ah, but pain would not be an issue during this hospital stay. I ran down the list of painkillers at home, and told the hospitalist, who'd be in charge of my "regular" meds, that I was hoping to take advantage of the fact that I'd have IV painkillers available to me. Instead of having to wait an hour for relief from pills, I could get it instantly. The doc agreed and wrote for 1 mg. of diloted every two hours, which is dilaudid in injection form. When I was conscious, I pretty much got a dose every two hours, as my pain was continuous.

The thing is that much of my pain had nothing to do with my toe. Yeah, that was bothering me a bit, but was nothing compared to the pain I experienced in my hips. (It got so bad on the last day that the diloted was increased to 2 mg. every two hours.) Of course, I was never able to truly settle on the effects of the IV painkiller. Did it really help with the pain, or did it make it so that I didn't CARE I was in pain?

As a side note, the infectious disease doctor chose not to start any antibiotics that first day, and for a very good reason. He said that if he started such meds, they could mask an infection without actually killing it. The result would be me being treated for nothing while I needed treatment for something.

The one aspect that bothered me the most about all of the examinations was what almost everyone said. "It doesn't look so bad. I've seen worse." That may have been the case, but *I* haven't seen worse on me! This thing was looking pretty bad to me, even if it wasn't going gangrene just yet. In fact, that was my great fear. Y'know...my superstition that one a diabetic starts losing parts, it's about 10 years until it's all over. Well, I've decided that that only truly applies when there's no choice whatsoever. I still had a choice in this case, but it wasn't a very good option. I mean, I could've waited until it went gangrene or until it miraculously healed...an in the case of the latter, it would never heal on the interior...because there was nothing to heal on the interior. The end of the toe demonstrated a hypermobility that suggested the tendons were gone...but then I believe I covered that previously, so let's move on, shall we?

My first day in the hospital was akin to living in the Twilight Zone. They gave me my daily coverage of my 24-hour insulin, and then...ummm...I required no other insulin until late the next day. In fact, my blood sugar dropped to 56 around 4:15 AM. Since I wasn't permitted to eat due to my pending surgery, they had to inject me with straight dextrose. That was...fun. My nurse that night was still going through orientation at the hospital, and had never injected dextrose. It's thicker than most other injectables, and when it leaks...it's sticky. So the nurse struggled a bit, and it leaked, and...yeah. It was fun.

What made it strange was that Becky and I ate McDonald's that night. I kept calling it "the last supper." A meal like that tends to have all the calories one should eat in an entire day. The side order of fries alone should have jacked up my sugar levels. It didn't.

The worst that night was my missing my sweet, beautiful Becky. There were no cuddles that night...and being in the hospital made romance somewhat difficult. I don't know...It seems that they can pull off some very loving moments on various television medical dramas. In real life...? Yeah...far more difficult. Maybe if there was an appropriate soundtrack.

The next day continued that Twilight Zone-esque experience when I called Becky at 7:45 AM. The phone rang; she answered; and she was awake infinitely easier than when I was actually at home. I'm thinking of calling her from now on, even if I'm sitting right next to her. It seems to work better than pleading with her to get out of bed in the morning.

I was visited by a different hospitalist that morning. His first question was whether or not I'd eaten breakfast that morning, even though I was NPO. (NPO is "nil per os," the Latin equivalent of "nothing through the mouth. In other words, NO EATING!) So, no...I hadn't eaten. He mistakenly thought I'd already had surgery, so I had to iron that one out.

Due to my blood glucose adventures, he decided to lower the dose of my 24-hour insulin. I tried to object, but he would have none of it. I mean, he was a doctor and I was just living with diabetes for 37 years. It's not like I knew anything, right? Sure enough, my blood sugar would be over 200 after that dose, and normal is considered between 70 and 110 these days. (No one seemed to know with any certainty what the normal range was. Maybe they should have called a doctor in, eh?)

Becky stopped in before the surgery and we managed to get some cuddles in. It was very comforting, which is what I needed. I mean, once she left, my brain did all it could to shut down. That's right, kids. I was so stressed that I almost slept. Hardly the reaction I used to have. Once upon a time, I used to start laughing hysterically prior to surgery. That sense of doom would make me so nervous that I'd start laughing, and often found myself unable to stop.

They brought me down for surgical prep around 12:30 PM and almost immediately gave me something to relax me. Then I was wheeled into the operating room, where I saw my doctor preparing to operate. I believe I greeted him, and then something else was put in my IV, and I didn't remember much of anything else until I was in recovery, where my doctor was saying that he'd forgotten to get some deep tissue cultures that the infectious disease doctors wanted. That's all I caught, as I drifted off again...but I believe he cut my stitch, (I think there's only one, really), and "double dipped" to get what was needed. My foot was so completely numb that I didn't feel a thing.

The surgery itself went smoothly. The doc didn't encounter any abnormal bone along the way and was able to stick with removing the first and second bone in my second toe without having to cut out more. He also didn't do any cutting into what was removed, so anything pertaining to understanding the infection I had was off to the lab; no visual inspection was done. For this, I'm actually glad. I mean, I'd rather have my doctor concentrating on what was being done with all the parts still attached than the little bit that had been removed.

And that's all I have at the moment. I started this post much earlier, and ended up napping shortly after I began. What a grand change, not to have a nurse coming in to connect me to an IV filled with medication that burned on entry. So until I tell more, be well and DFTBA!

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