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Addendum

This post is in addition to the previous post.  For as long as it was, I did forget a few things!  Considering how many drugs I was on, I’m surprised I remembered any of it (and a good week and a half out of the hospital, much of it is happily fading away).  So, previous warnings apply; if you don’t want to read anything gross about bodily fluids or whatnot, don’t read 🙂

One of the details about my hospital stay that I had forgotten to include (amazingly, given how long my post was) was that when it was still early enough in my stay that I was doing the HBO treatments, I got my period.  Because that was one more damn thing I needed to deal with in the hospital.  And again, I was too shaky to wipe my own ass, hooked up to tons of tubes and things, and certainly unable to wear any useful sort of underpants.  Mostly I just clenched a pad between my thighs and the nurses made sure to put down extra pads on the bed (called chucks, for whatever reason?) so that it wouldn’t be too much of a mess.

Additionally, this caused problems with how much the nurses had to clean me up after using the commode, as this was after I’d gotten rid of the poop bag I think, but before I got my catheter out.  Seriously, I was being punished.  Mom was just grateful that it was taking place in the hospital and not at home where she would have to take care of cleaning me herself.  (Thanks, mom ;o)  Note: she hasn’t had to wipe me as I managed to get strong enough to do so myself before I left the hospital.)

And let me not forget the problem this caused with HBO treatments.  I mentioned how picky they are about what sorts of things are inside the tube.  I couldn’t wear my regular gown, or an elastic hair band, or anything not provided by the HBO clinic people.  This included any sort of pad or tampon.  I had to get old school and tuck a piece of cotton fabric between my legs while I was in the tube.

I can’t believe I forgot this awful little detail.  Perhaps I should have left it forgotten rather than write it down for posterity.  However, I want proper amounts of sympathy for all the shit I went through.  🙂

Anyway, now that I’ve been at my mother’s house for a week and a half, I’m feeling much, much better.  Last night I even went out with friends (though I had to be chauffeured) and had dinner and went to the craft store to look around.  I still feel moderately lazy, and am certainly taking it easy as much as possible, but I no longer feel shaky or ill.  I’m still dealing with the wound vac and the bandage changes, but I’ll take that any day over being in the hospital.

I go back to the hospital three times a week so they can change the bandages and check on the wound vac.  Occasionally they measure or take pictures to note how it is doing.  The bandage changes are the only time I take pain medication because it just makes it easier when they pick off all the tape and repack the wound with the sponge and such.  None of it is anywhere near as painful as the original infection was, so I’m very happy about that.

So far I’ve only had a couple of problems.  Over the weekend there was some sort of improper seal on one of the canisters which lead to a rather disgusting smell.  It drove my mother crazy; I didn’t like it, but I had no idea what to do about it.  I have a limited amount of canisters at the moment because the ones on order have not arrived yet.  And then Monday night, the tubing came disengaged from the bandages and I had to wake my mother to tape me back up.  The tape job had lasted only a little over twelve hours; I blame the direction that the nurse aimed the tubing.  It crossed my buttocks instead of angling up, it caught funny when I was on the toilet and pulled free.

When mom taped me back up, however, the placement of the tubing was off somehow, and while there was no leak, the vacuum suction was not quite right.  It made the machine wheeze and groan and grumble loudly and constantly.  It would be at a tolerable volume on occasion, but normally the thing is almost silent with a few burps and farts here and there.  It became loud enough that I could barely sleep and it got louder when I tried to use the bathroom (which upset me so much, I had to turn it off so I could pee).  It was still collecting fluid, so it didn’t seem urgent enough to go back into the hospital about it (and I was going again on Wednesday anyway, so there wasn’t much point going in on Tuesday) so I tried to live with it.  I didn’t sleep much or well, but we made it through (though I could have used an anti-anxiety pill because it definitely got on my nerves by the end).

Once I was rebandaged, the machine was turned on and the silence was blessed.  Honestly, I keep checking it to make sure it’s still on.  I was glad it got fixed because I had plans to go out Wednesday night and certainly didn’t want either the smell or the incessant noise when I was with friends.  The nurse had replaced the canister and helped me out with some good industrial spray for the carrying case, so I was much improved on the smell front as well.

Friday morning I have an appointment with the surgeon to check me over.  So far all the nurses have seemed very happy at my bandage changes, so I assume the surgeon will be happy as well.  Hopefully here, too, we’ll get a better idea of how long I’ll have the wound vac and how long it will be before I can return to work.  A lot of things hinge on those.

Right now, however, I’m going to close the window and crawl into bed as I am tired.  Not as tired as last night when I crashed a little after ten, but tired enough.  Tomorrow is a big day.

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Medical issues

So, in my last post, about a month ago, I mentioned I had been watching City of Vice.  I had plenty of time on my hands to do this because the last week of August, I wasn’t feeling well.  Sunday night, a week before Labor Day, was the first day I felt feverish and I thought maybe I was just hot and dehydrated because work had been rather warm that weekend.  I began rotating between fever and chills (and I really, really hate chills) and just felt a general malaise.  I called in sick a couple of days at work, had several days off in a row anyway, and then worked Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day weekend, feeling moderately alright, though I had a lump in my butt cheek that hurt.  I’m fairly used to cysts and such, so, while annoying, I wasn’t particularly worried about it and didn’t really put it together with the fever at first.

Warning that the rest of this post will contain gross medical stuff.  If you’re going to be squicked out by it, move on by.

Anyway, Monday, Labor Day, the pain in my ass (heh, sorry, it’s a bit funny today) got a LOT worse and I’d been feverish for a week now.  I went to one of the urgent care clinics in town to get it checked out.  They thought I might have an abscess instead of a cyst, prescribed me some antibiotics and pain pills, and set me up to see a surgeon the next day.  I stopped where I work on my way home and let them know I’d need to be off for the surgeon’s appointment the next day at least, picked up my pills and went home.

My mother took me to the surgeon’s office the next day, and after the exam, she (the surgeon) sent me to the hospital for blood tests and a CT scan.  By this point, the pain was so bad, I could barely sit, certainly couldn’t sit straight, and couldn’t lay on my back.  They gave me a bunch of fluid to drink and we requested a place other than the regular waiting room as I couldn’t stand around for an hour drinking the liquid and I couldn’t sit in a regular chair.  They put me and my mother in a room with a chair and a bed and we waited for my CT time to arrive.  CT scans aren’t particularly painful or anything, and the surgeon actually wanted me on my side instead of on my back, but about halfway through, I got the chills (and already was under a blanket or two).  I laid there hoping that my uncontrollable shivering wouldn’t mess up the pictures.

(And this is to the best of my recollection.  I ended up having a second CT scan later that week and it is entirely possible that my memory is fogging the two together a bit.)

Anyway, after they put me back in the room with my mom, I laid down there and one of the nurses brought me a warm blanket.  Best thing about the hospital?  Little ovens dot the hallways where they keep blankets toasty and then they cover you with them and it’s like, ohhhhhhhhh.  I want a blanket oven in my house for winter.  I had the chills again, though, so even the warm blanket was little solace.  I got a second warm blanket too, and my mom rubbed my back while I shivered and cried.  I don’t think she’s had to take care of me like that since I was little.

Anyway, they sent the pictures to the surgeon, who called us up in the room to tell us that the CT didn’t really show anything useful.  That I was more pre-abscess than drainable-abscess and I was to go home, continue to take my antibiotics and see if it got worse or if it got better.  Not especially the news we were hoping for, but at least it wasn’t surgery either.  So my mom took me home and let me rest.  That day and the next, she did dishes, took out my garbage, and generally tidied up as I’d been not feeling up to bothering the last week.  At one point she even brought me cashew chicken, driving well out of her way for it, and took home countless loads of laundry with her.

However, I wasn’t improving.  Granted, it had just been a couple of days of antibiotics, but neither the fever or the chills had left me, and my thermometer was reading 104 occasionally, when the ibuprofen and Vicodin were worn off (they were helping to regulate my temperature as well as keep the pain to a tolerable level).  Also, the flesh of my butt cheek was getting firmer; there was definitely something infected and unhappy in there.  Thursday, the firm, swollen area was about the size of my hand.  Mom said it looked melon-like, but I don’t think it really protruded particularly and I have a big butt anyway ;o)

This is where it starts to get gross.  You can still turn back.  🙂

Late Friday morning, Sept 5, was when it really freaked out, though.  I had woken from a night fraught with fever sweats, gross and damp and uncomfortable, so I got in the shower to clean off.  When I got out of the shower, I laid on the bed on a towel to let my ceiling fan dry me and cool me off a bit.  I think I checked my email while lying there, but shortly I noticed a smell.  At first I thought, I just showered, what could I have missed?  Then I wondered if whatever was going on with my butt had come to some kind of pimple head.  I went in the bathroom and looked in the mirror.  From one angle, I saw nothing amiss, just a naked butt.  From the other direction, however, I saw a rather-sizeable-fist-sized bruise on the affected butt cheek, nearly black.  And it seemed to be… weeping, for lack of a better term, like a rash does.  That was definitely a change in situation.

Cue a little heart-racing panic.  I called the surgeon’s office and stammered out what was going on to the nurse.  I was directed to go to the ER right away and they’d call ahead.  I got on the phone to my mother, who was already on her way over as we’d previously arranged.  It was probably around noonish at this time.  I told her I needed to go to the ER and tried not to cry from panic (and was probably losing that battle by this point).

When she arrived, hauling in baskets of clean laundry, I’d managed to dress in a shirt and shorts (which right now feel forever unclean and I sort of want to burn them) and ushered me to the car.  I laid down in the back seat on my stomach because I was really terrified of my butt by this point and it hurt too much to even think about sitting on it.  I just propped my toes up against the window after mom shut the door and told her that if we got pulled over, we could just show the cop my ass and he’d let us go without a ticket.  (Little did I realize at this time, but approximately 50-60 people would see my ass over the course of the next two weeks, so showing a cop would hardly make a splash in the ocean).

Anyway, we made it to the ER without further incident, and I babbled to the nurse at the desk until she figured out what I was blathering about and that my surgeon had called ahead.  (This might be a good time to mention that the surgeon’s name is Dr. Lady.  She really is lovely and sweet and nice and I liked her very much.  When I first visited her office and saw her name, Ping Lady, on the wall, I kept reading it as Pink Lady and thinking about the movie Grease.  I blame that on the fever.)

They sent me back right away and got me into a little room where I was examined and had blood taken and Dr. Lady came down at one point.  I probably had the chills again, but around here it starts getting a little foggy.  I had another CT scan, and this one I had to lay on my back but I didn’t have to drink anything.  That was uncomfortable to say the least.  I’m not sure what it showed, but Dr. Lady decided to take me in to surgery right away, saying she perhaps overstated the facts to push in as if it was an emergency, but I really think it was.  I was taken to another room to prepare for the surgery (all the rest of this time, laying on my stomach since I couldn’t lay on my back; this position defined my hospital stay) and then into the OR.

Once in the OR, I was told that I had to lie on my back again to be anesthetized (because of the breathing tube they’d have to insert).  I was slightly argumentative about this because doing that freaking hurt, but they tried to make it as comfortable as possible, and quite frankly, I’d be out in a couple of minutes and not feel anything anyway.

And then I don’t especially remember anything for a couple of days.  I was operated on on Friday, again on Saturday, and they had me back in there on Monday (this last was mostly a thorough check and cleaning as well as bandage change).  I remember waking from the anesthesia once, and I remember not wanting another surgery on Monday and almost crying.  I think I felt that I’d already survived the experience twice and that a third time was pushing my luck.  I didn’t want to wake so disoriented again, I didn’t want to have surgery again.  Other than those few things, the rest of the weekend is pretty blank.  I’m told I babbled on about weird stuff while heavily drugged at one point, but I barely remember being conscious at all.  Mom shared that she was pretty freaked out to see me with all the tubes and spacey drugs and such and that she wasn’t particularly sure I’d make it through.

Getting grosser and more bodily-function-graphic…

And thus, we move into the two weeks of my hospital stay.  By this point, I had up to four IV bags hanging on my stand, something called a wound vacuum taped into my ass cheek, a catheter bag, and what I call a poop bag because I can’t remember what it was called (flexi-something?).  Basically, I wasn’t to get up except for moving to the next treatment.  And I had treatments to go to.  The bacteria that caused the infection was apparently susceptible to oxygen, so they were treating me with something called HBO (Hyperbaric oxygen, I guess).  Basically, they put you in a big glass tube, turn up the oxygen and the pressure, your ears pop for a while, you lay there for an hour and a half, then they put the pressure back down to normal, your ears pop again, and they roll you on out.  For a few days, I did this twice a day, and the other nice thing about the hospital?  Access to drugs.  Damn skippy if I didn’t get some really good anti-anxiety meds to make this treatment possible, especially as I emerged from the haze.

You can watch movies in there; it’s wired for sound and there’s a tv outside the tube you can see, but as I was in on my stomach, I really couldn’t be entertained in this fashion.  I did choose a few musicals, Annie and Sound of Music I remember towards the end, but mostly I stared at the end of the tube and wondered why an hour and a half seemed to be ten times as long.  At least with the meds, it was harder to panic.  As I said, I started out with this twice a day, but I was still hazy at that point and mostly remember when it was down to once a day and again when I had done my last one and didn’t have to go back.

I had the anti-anxiety meds for more than just the HBO treatments, too.  The whole situation, especially in the beginning, was extremely stressful and terrifying.  My mom was with me much of the time and I do recall panicking so badly once that it made her cry.  Perhaps she could have used a pill, too, but I suppose they weren’t allowed to give her one.

Anyway, at some point, I’d gone through a couple of IV locations and I’m a bit difficult to stick with a needle accurately anyway, so one day they wheeled me in to angioplasty to get a PICC line inserted.  Basically, they find a good vein, stick a tube in, and tape the whole thing down to give more permanent access to your circulatory system.  Mine was just above my elbow, which was a bit annoying with floppy “arm jewelry” getting bent in or under my arm, but it was much easier to deal with than the traditional IV.  I had those on the backs of both hands and they had trouble finding a good spot in my elbow or forearm.  (My two forearm IV bruises are gone.  At the end it was a race to see whether the bruise would fade first or whether I’d be discharged.  The discharge won, but barely.)

Speaking of IVs, every time the tube kinks or a fluid bag empties, an alarm goes off.  A shrill, relentless beeping that probably gave me as many panic attacks as anything else in the hospital.  And since at one point, I think I had up to four IV bags draining into me between the fluids and antibiotics and whatever else, the alarms were goddamn frequent.  Or I’d rearrange my position and bend a line and they’d go off.  Or they’d go off for what seemed like no reason whatsoever.  I could barely move as it was for all my tubey-accoutrements and it seemed like when I did move, a professional had to attend.

Now, as I said, I did go to another part of the hospital for HBO treatments.  Generally, for this, I moved to a special trolley rather than having my whole regular bed moved downstairs.  I could move, as long as I had at least one nurse carrying my wound vac and catheter bag and making sure none of my tubes got tangled or tugged in the process.  I got unhitched from the IV for a while at least.  The wheely bed for HBO is rather high because it has to reach the compression tubes, so I needed a step stool to get myself down from it when I returned to the room as well.  I managed well enough each time, with no major catastrophes other than everyone in the room seeing my bare ass.  What can I say about hospital gowns?  *shrug*  At least they fit, were even a little big (I’m used to everything always being too small, too tight) but with no stretch in them, they tended to be more of a nuisance to deal with than anything.  However, for the HBO treatments, you have to wear a special gown, which was too tight on my arms so I just didn’t bother wearing it.  I let them throw me in the tube naked, covered with a sheet or two depending on how cold I was that day.

As I get to the point in the hospital where I remember things, I remember desperately wanting to take a shower.  I’m not sure how many days it had been by this point, but I usually wash my hair every day.  I might skip a day when I don’t work and it doesn’t much matter, but aside from slightly soapy bath wipes the hospital provided, I hadn’t barely washed in how many days.  This may have been the first Tuesday or Wednesday after my weekend of surgeries, or it may have been later, I really have no idea, and my nurse was allowed to take me to shower.  She carried my pee and my wound vac and I shuffled down the hall to a small shower room.  I’m sad to report that it was slightly cold, and without a good shampoo and bath poof, mostly unsatisfying.  However, I managed to get there and back (during my later stay, a two-foot trip to the portable commode was sometimes profoundly exhausting) and feel somewhat cleaner.

As that week progressed, my mother spent some part of every day at the hospital, which helped me immensely.  Even if I felt awful and panicky, at least she was there.  As my stay progressed, I let her spend less time there, and she did return to my apartment a few times to clean things out of the fridge so they wouldn’t go bad, and collect clothes and such as when I was released from the hospital, I would be staying with her.

Really, you might want to skip this even if you haven’t gotten grossed out yet.

Also as that week progressed, I wasn’t really pooping.  I’m sure no one really needs to know that, but there it is.  One day I called the nurse in because I felt.. unsure of how the poop bag they had inserted was supposed to work.  Was it just supposed to flow into it like the pee did into the catheter?  They’d been giving me stool softeners all along but they didn’t seem to be doing anything.  Was I supposed to push?  That certainly did not feel right laying in bed.  And if so, how hard?  The nurse didn’t have much answer to my question and called to ICU, where they use these more often.  I only had one because of the location of my surgery, rather than my lack of ability to get up for the toilet.  I didn’t even have the catheter until the third surgery, so I apparently was getting up to pee several times a day (with assistance, I imagine) all weekend, bandaged up and whatnot.  (Note: it was a bit hard to sit on a toilet seat with this because it was just, flat out, hard to sit down.)

Anyway, I needed to poop and, assured I wouldn’t injure myself pushing, got put on the commode (a portable toilet chair with arms like a walker) and proceeded to try.  And pooped the poop bag right the hell out.  Granted, since it was behaving more like a really annoying plug, I was glad to be rid of it.  I had the first poop in days, smelly from being cooped up so long, and totally in front of both my mom and at least one nurse (maybe two).  And this begins my run of having to have a nurse wipe my ass for me, because I was shaking so hard from exhaustion, I couldn’t keep my balance and wipe my ass at the same time.  And due to the location of my wound and the wad of bandages right there, I couldn’t do it from a seated position.

I must say at this point, the vast majority of nurses, CNAs, and nurse techs were gracious enough to help and make certain I was clean and that my bandages remained clean and intact.  I was in a bit of isolation, having a double room to myself and everyone had to gown up extra when they came into the room, gloves and a yellow gown.  I could not make it to the bathroom in the room to use the toilet, though at least I was not peeing at this point yet either.  I was constantly setting off my alarms and sent them for a big glass of water every time anyone checked on me.  I was trouble.  🙂  Only one nurse tech made me want to hold it when she came on duty, try to wipe myself because she did a half-ass job, and put up a fuss when she argued with me about trying to put the blood pressure cuff over my PICC line.  Everyone else made me feel very cared for.  In fact, I thought about sending a card thanking them because so many of the blur of faces did help, so much.  I’ll have to put that on my to-do list for this week before I forget again.

As the time progressed, my wound was doing better.  Because of the nature of the beast, necrotic fasciitis, they had to cut out the infected tissue because it was, in essence, dead or dying.  This left me with a scoop out of my butt and they don’t stitch that sort of thing closed.  They keep it open and let it close itself from the inside.  The wound vac basically sucks out all the drainage so the opening can be bandaged tightly and still keep dry.  There’s also some sponge in there, which freaked me out when I first saw it (there are pictures of the open wound all along the way, as well, but I don’t intend to ever look at them.) because the sponge is black and I thought all that infected blackness was somehow still there.  No, that’s just the inky blackness of a bottomless (heh) chasm into my ass cheek.  As the doctors checked on this (bandage changes are not my favorite because there is a lot of tape to pick at and peel off down there,) the wound seemed to be doing really well.

The problem was not the wound itself.  Other parts of my body, however, were unhappy.  My kidneys, in particular, were highly annoyed.  Into that second week, I was apparently peeing a lot.  Like, the nephrologist looked at my chart and asked if it was a typo.  Someone half-joked that it might just be a record.  At this point I still had a catheter bag going so it wasn’t like I personally had to get up to pee every hour or anything, but they had to empty it nearly that often.  And of course, they tried to replace most of the fluids I was losing, which gave me more to pee out.  It was an exhaustingly endless cycle.  But it was common that the kidneys would be annoyed by the antibiotics, the infection, the fluids, the dye from two CT scans, and every other stressor I had going on.  And by this later part of the second week, my blood pressure had also started to rise (all this plus the added stress of ‘I’m still not out of here yet?’).

So these things kept me in even longer.  More tests, more tubes, more shots.  At this point, I’ll add a few things about shots.  When you’re laid up for as long as I am, they give you shots to keep you from getting blood clots.  Three times a day I had these shots, which burn most of the time, in my belly fat.  A couple of times, they made me bruise rather spectacularly, and because I was there so long, it got hard to find a spot that wasn’t either already poked or bruised.  They also have you wear these leg pumpers for this reason, which I think feel rather nice, but mine always slipped down and it was one more thing tying me to the bed and making it hard to even turn over or shift.  By the end of my stay, I’d barely wear them because I couldn’t stand to be tied down with yet another thing.

I also rejected “the octopus” as early on as I could.  When you’re on certain pain medications, they like to make sure you’re still breathing.  So I had one of those nose tubes with oxygen.  Which would have been fine, but mine had a little protrusion that hit my lips to make sure I was exhaling as well.  If it moved too much in the night or I was eating or something, an alarm went off.  Because I needed another alarm in my life at this point.  There is also a bed alarm, meant to make sure people aren’t falling out of their beds at night, or getting up unattended when they might fall on their own.  I found this out one night late in my stay when I woke up desperate to pee, called the nurse tech but couldn’t wait to get on the commode and got off the bed only for a freaking piercing alarm to go off, bringing several people running to my room.  I was afraid to get up alone the rest of my stay, though I doubt the bed alarm was on after that.  (Sometimes they just activate all of them, apparently; one night someone was constantly setting his off all night long, running the nurses ragged, but for some reason his was required to be on.)

Hmm, so to coalesce things in my memory, at one time I would be tethered to the bed by leg pumpers, the octopus, 1-2 IV lines (I had two inlets in my PICC line), wound vac and catheter.  It’s amazing I could move at all.  Oh, and talking to my mother, she added that after each surgery, I would also have a blood pressure cuff on permanently for about a day as well, though I don’t remember that at all.

Eventually my blood tests showed improvement in my kidneys and, while I was still peeing a ton, they decided I could lose the catheter bag.  I was both happy and sad to see it go.  It was easier to not have to get up to pee all the time, especially if I was still needing to pee as much as they said.  However, it was one less tube to deal with.  And, as I told one of my friends who visited when I was fresh off a highly medicated bandage change, it is supremely weird and unsatisfying to poop but not pee also.  They took it out and I had to pee almost every hour at first (though the first time I sat down, I felt like my body had forgotten how and I wasn’t sure I could do it!).  Gradually, the frequency and amount dropped, and I wasn’t getting quite as much fluid anymore, and the numbers (eventually) improved.  Still, it was a lot.  Some days, three or four doctors would stop by in the morning, chat about my wound or my pee or whatever, and that would be it.  Pretty much every time a nurse came in for anything, I’d pee, plus having to call them.

The last couple of nights, I became miserably uncomfortably hot.  I’d wake up feeling sweaty in a line around where my body touched the mattress.  I was finally feeling the awkward reflection of heat off the plastic mattress, even through the sheet and mattress pad.  It is hard enough to sleep in the hospital, with the various alarms, the wound, the tubes, having to pee, being checked on in the middle of the night for blood pressure, blood sugar, temperature, etc.  Someone brought me a fan, opened the window, but it only barely helped.  And then in the morning I’d be cold and clammy so they’d have to bring me a warm blanket before breakfast.  I was long past being there and my kidney stuff and blood pressure was dragging it out to the point I felt I’d never get to leave.  My mom told me at one point that she DID actually see people leaving the hospital… though they usually had new babies with them.  Ha.  Ha.  :/

My blood pressure was probably rising due to the fluid amounts, the stress of being there so long, and who knows what else.  Over half my stay, it was firmly in an excellent range, not even the high end of normal, but right near the end it just spiked.  They put me on medication for that as well as whatever else they put in those little cups.  I swallowed most of them down with indifference, though initially I fought the anti-anxiety meds and pain meds because I didn’t want to make my liver freak out as well.  I just wanted to go home.  Or home-ish, since I’d be staying with my mother.  I wanted a shower.  It had been more than two weeks since I’d washed my hair and I felt like the first thing I would do when I got out was stick my head into the sink and make my mom wash my hair.  It was like someone had poured congealed fat from the fridge over my head and rubbed it in.  It was so gross.  I couldn’t shower because of the bandages.  (At home, I can shower just before I go in for bandage changes because then if they loosen, it won’t matter because they’re going to change them all in a few hours anyway.)

Most of the hospital stay has started to fade from my immediate memory, to ooze together in a hazy smear of HGTV episodes, watching the leaves change color in the trees out the window, countless trips to the commode (and the cheering when I was finally unhooked from my IV and could actually use the bathroom!), medications, dozing, hospital food (some things were quite tasty, yay for Thursday hamburger night), what seemed like hundreds of nurses, feeling resignation as all of them and my mother watched me pee and poop just a few feet away and in full sight, frustration and anxiety and stress and exhaustion.

But finally, the ordeal was over.  My mom was a bit frustrated at how long the discharge took on Monday afternoon, but I didn’t care as long as I didn’t sleep there that night.  I’d been in two weeks plus nearly three days and I just wanted to get out.  I got my prescriptions, my last bandage change as an inpatient, my instructions, my PICC line removed (which honestly kinda terrified me, but I didn’t really feel it and it didn’t bruise any more than the IV sites did), my portable wound vac (the hospital one was four times the size and unbalanced me too much to carry it myself even a few feet to the bathroom), and a ton of the odds and ends that mom collected from the room that would just be thrown away anyway.  I was finally rolled out (first ever ride in a wheelchair, extra pad on the seat) around five that evening.  It was a lovely day out.  We stopped by Target for my prescriptions (with my scraggly hair, sweatpants, no bra, shirt and bedroom slippers) and went back to my mom’s.  Contrary to my own opinion, by this time I was too weary to actually deal with the sink and my hair.  We had chicken nuggets from McDonalds for dinner and that made me just ecstatic.  I took my meds and tried on one of my new nightgowns mother had gotten me while I was in the hospital, and went to bed.

We did do the sink-hair thing the next day, after cutting off about three inches of hair.  I keep it longer in the summer so I can wear it up, but I figured if it was short, it would be easier to deal with.  I washed my hair twice, until the suds were super foamy and my hair squeaked when it was done.  Maybe not hair-healthy, but it finally felt clean.  I learned how I can sit, so long as I am in a loveseat so I can lean on my side so as not to put pressure on my wound or bend the tubing of the wound vac.  I figured out how to sleep so that I can keep the machine plugged in overnight (it has a pretty good battery life, but when sitting around the house or laying in bed I keep it plugged in.  I haven’t had any horrible mishaps with it yet.  🙂  I even figured out how to shower, with the machine sitting on a chair covered in a towel just beyond the curtain, keeping the machine dry and the bandages from not getting so saturated that they loosen.

My stamina has also improved even just in this week of being home-ish.  When I first left the hospital, even getting up to go to the bathroom might result in heavy breathing and a need for a long swig of water.  That first shower required a half-hour rest afterwards.  Mom has tried to keep me up and about when possible.  We stopped by my apartment to pick up more clothes one day, she took me to walk in Plamann park yesterday (though we didn’t go very far at all), she let me trudge around in Target that first day even, though I did have to sit down after ten minutes.  Today I walked around the cul-de-sac where they live by myself, and while I felt ready to sit afterwards, it was mostly that it was warm.  Going to the bathroom or to the kitchen for water isn’t a problem, except for remembering my machine and making sure my cord isn’t tangled.  Definitely not up to being on my feet for a shift at work, but a far cry from shaking from exhaustion from simply getting up and sitting on the commode a foot from the bed.  So it shall improve with time.

The best thing I can say is that the pain I feel these days is not even on the same scale as the pain I was in at the beginning of the month.  I have a prescription for Percocet but the only time I take it is before a wound bandage change, mainly because pulling off the old bandage is a bit uncomfortable and then there’s fitting the sponge and re-taping everything.  That’s just easier medicated and relaxed, and I have to do that whole Lamaze-method breathing a whole lot less when they’re picking around the edges.  I’m not super comfortable sitting, but I shouldn’t really anyway because of the tubing, so if I lean the right way, it’s perfectly okay for a while.  I managed to play two and a half rounds of Yahtzee before my hips ached the other day and I had to move around.  🙂

I’ve included everything I could remember about this last month, as much as possible.  If you’re still reading at this point, congrats, you deserve a medal because this was long and horribly detailed at points.  Mostly I just had to get it out of my own head, whether anyone wants to read it or not.  Also, I just really needed to write something, as I haven’t written more than a sentence in over a month.  I “sat down” the other day to write about this but I just didn’t even know where to begin and ended up putting away my notebook.  I have a lot of other issues, both related to this and not, that I may be discussing in future posts, but hopefully things will start to work out.

I’ll end this thanking Amanda especially for the flowers she sent to the hospital.  They are lovely and they’re still blooming in the house.  I’m not sure if anyone watered them in the hospital, but they held up very nicely and are still looking great.  🙂  Thank you to everyone who sent cards, they were very appreciated.  I especially liked the card Carol found, with a bandaged turtle (love turtles) and a sentiment akin to getting better slow is fine as long as one gets better.  They all made my day.  And mostly thanks to my mom, because while you often drive me kind of crazy, I know that you worry to an almost hysterical frenzy about me.  You were there for me in the most important ways this month, even though I know it was incredibly hard on you, and I do appreciate it even if I find it hard to show it.

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Non Sequitur

Just for the hell of it, and because I need a bit of a writing exercise to get going, I decided to list my favorite awful movies.  There are awful movies, and then there are awful movies that are kind of awesome.  Some of these become known as cult classics; others are just a shameful IMDB entry actors hope interviewers never ever ask about.  Generally the ones I like are ones no one has ever heard of, sometimes not even my own friends.  And I don’t really mean that in a hipster sort of way.  Sometimes these movies are such utter crap, I wouldn’t even ask my best friends to watch them, but they hold a mysterious sort of charm for me anyway.

Occasionally, these movies are ones I have made my friends watch.  In fact, I’m shocked that I’m allowed to rent movies without input from these friends sometimes.  I’m sure the only reason I was allowed to choose movies regularly was because I was paying and my best friend had a small child at the time so it was harder for her to pack up and leave the house to pick a movie than for me to just pick one up on the way over.  I’d bring over John Waters flicks like Pecker and A Dirty Shame or flicks like Slums of Beverly Hills because I inexplicably like Natasha Lyonne.

1.  Who brings us to my first favorite awful movie.  Modern Vampires.  This delightfully awful flick stars Casper Van Dien (who, despite being fairly hot, has never starred in a decent movie, ever *coughStarshipTrooperscough*)  I mean, just look at his imdb page.  If his role in the upcoming Sharktopus Vs. Mermantula doesn’t tell you everything you need to know, I don’t know what will.  This flick also stars Natasha Gregson Wagner (daughter of Natalie Wood) who… just really isn’t a great actress.  Not really in this, nor in Vampires: Los Muertos (yeah, the vampire flick with Jon Bon Jovi).  She hisses.  It’s hilarious in a campy sort of way, but… well, let’s just say that it’s unlikely the director was going for any sort of gritty realism anyway, shall we?

This flick also boasts a cast of vampires played by recognizable names, if not big names.  Natasha Lyonne, as I’ve mentioned, Craig Ferguson, Kim Cattrall, Udo Kier, Rod Steiger, and Robert Pastorelli (who, if the name is not familiar, played Eldin, the painter on Murphy Brown)(and he plays Count Dracula in this, which is freaking funny as hell).

The vampires are hilariously psychopathic without really being scary in the least.  Gregson Wagner (there are three Natashas in this flick, and a Boris!) plays a vampire made by accident who has been living in a dump and dressing like a prostitute to kill her johns.  The other vampires want her dead because she’ll bring notice upon them (typical) but her maker, Van Dien, tries to bring her into the fold and teach her the less white-trashy way to be a vampire.  This involves shopping for clothes (killing the store clerk with much hissing and growling), having Cattrall scrub her down in a tub with a wire brush and a harsh German accent, and using the Count’s affordable body-removal service.  And lets not forget the whole subplot with Van Helsing (Steiger) recruiting a bunch of gang members to kill the vampires.

It’s campy, but not in that terribly amazing way.  Still, I love it.  Maybe, not as much as I love #2, though.

2.  Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat.  Yep, another vampire flick.  I love this one so much, I think I bought it three times.  I’m pretty sure my first VHS copy wore out, bought another one, and I also have a DVD.  I think I first saw it when I was babysitting in the very early 90s, back when I’d get to watch USA’s Up All Night because the people I sat for had cable and I didn’t.

This flick has David Carradine (you must know who that is), Maxwell Caulfield (Michael Carrington in Grease 2, for those who’ve watched it, and Rex Manning in Empire Records for anyone else), Morgan Brittany (who I just cannot believe wasn’t on a soap opera for 20 years or Dynasty or something… OH, there it is, Dallas, that makes sense), and lastly, but most importantly Bruce Campbell!  He plays a Van Helsing character here, fruitlessly trying to kill Dracula, even though all the vampires in this town drink artificial blood from the blood factory they’ve built (looks super gross and chunky like banana vomit).  They also wear sunscreen so they can walk around in the day.

This one is delightfully cheesy, with the occasional bat with a white beard and Puritan hat, a dramatic moment on a wind-swept hill (turn on ALL THE FANS), and poor, misguided Bruce crowing in ecstasy when his vampire love interest gets permission to turn him into a vampire.  Awww, so sweet.

3.  Hmmm, what to put here?  A quick glance at my pile of VHS tapes (yes, I still have lots of them, shove it!) tells me Sugar & SpiceI have a weird thing for cheerleader movies.  Not sure why.  Perhaps it has something to do with the only sport I ever really liked to watch on TV was gymnastics.  And American Gladiators.  The Bring It On series of flicks has pretty impressive dance routines, for instance.  Oooh, and Gimme An F, while not as gymnastically entertaining (it has its moments, but it’s more an early 80s summer camp sex comedy), could also have made this list.  Heck lets just make number 3 a category:  Cheerleader flicks.

Back to Sugar & Spice, however, a combo cheerleader/heist film.  It’s so cleverly ridiculous in all its moments.  The main couple is Jack and Diane, star quarterback and head cheerleader.  They meet, instantly fall in love, and Diane is quickly pregnant.  They decide to move out on their own and have their own little family, but between work and school, they’re both exhausted.  Diane comes up with a scheme to rob the bank branch she works for and her cheerleading squad decides to help.

The squad itself is stereotypically diverse, from the tough chick whose mom is in jail and is amazed that she wasn’t the first one pregnant, to the virgin who loves to ride horses way too much.  They finally enlist the help of awkward-girl Fern, whose father can get them guns (which arrive in pieces, but Diane refuses to see it as they’ve been ripped off, but instead, a craft project in her bubbly, dippy way).  I almost expect this to have an incredibly dark ending, despite the dizzily happy tone it has throughout, just for something completely unexpected.  The heist goes off, but not without a hitch, and the squad is saved with a clever twist.

4.  Lone Star State of Mind is my number four choice.  I can watch this movie just about any time at all.  Earl (Joshua Jackson) and his step-sister/fiancée Baby (Jaime King) have to rescue her cousin Junior (DJ Qualls) from his own stupidity before they leave for L.A. so Baby can become a soap opera actress by sweeps week.  This may be the best of the bad movies on this list, objectively, because it’s not really bad.  I just feel like people haven’t really heard of it, nor do they appreciate it like I do.  This one makes me want to pop it into the VCR (yes! alright, another one I only have on VHS) and watch it again right now.  And it would be a far better choice than Mortal Kombat, which has, for some reason, been floating around my head lately.

Junior goes out to rob a pizza guy with his friend Tinker and they accidentally rob one who is carrying a ton of money for a drug dealer.  Earl has to somehow return the money and straighten it all out while Baby is planning for their move to L.A. and his own father’s killer has been released from jail and is looking for him.  Example of how dumb Junior is?  He can’t remember if Tinker said to get “panties” or “panty liners,” to which Tinker explodes, “Panty HOSE!” which he wanted to use for a mask for the robbery.  Junior promptly sticks a maxi-pad on his face with holes cut out for his eyes.

5.  I’m going to wrap this up with this choice, Drop Dead Gorgeous, the 1999 flick with Kirsten Dunst, Kirstie Alley, and Denise Richards.  They do the same sort of accent as in Fargo, which is desperately funny.  I still hear Kirsten Dunst’s voice in my head when I think of Alabama or Alaska (she was asked by the pageant panel to spell the names of the states in alphabetical order).  Crossing Fargo with a teen beauty pageant results in a dark but hilarious movie.  Just reading the quotes on imdb is making me laugh.  I mean, the Lutheran Sisterhood Gun Club? 🙂

I’d go on, but this has taken a surprisingly long time already!  I haven’t been watching movies very often lately (been addicted to tv show seasons on Netflix) so perhaps I’ll have to take some time to revisit my old favorites.  Let me know if you love any of these like I do, or any other awful/fantastic flicks, so I know I’m not alone!  It was nice knowing, for instance, that one of my friends at work had seen the movie Tuff Turf more than I had!  That could have made the list as well!  James Spader, Robert Downey Jr. and a wig made out of mop for the dancer-double!  Fantastic!

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Blocks?

I’m on vacation from work this week and, as usual, I’m staying home for it.  I’m not even sure I’d travel if I could, honestly.  Usually by the time I hit vacation, I’m so burnt out that I just want to be left alone in more or less absolute solitude for most of that time.  Has to do with being introverted, I suppose, this need to refuel and savor the silence.

And this week has been good so far.  I’ve been sleeping in, watched the entire final season of Dexter, the new episode of Downton Abbey, and several episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise.  Sunday was my lay-in-bed-do-nothing day, except I may have put gas in the car and gotten Panda Express around 9pm, so that’s sort of doing something.  Monday, I did five loads of laundry, as well as stopped at the bank (credit union, they were open even though it’s a federal holiday) and the store to pick up some odds and ends.  I also did dishes.  Today, I went to the grocery store and put washer fluid in the car.  It’s getting colder out, so that wasn’t quite as pleasant as it would have been if the temperature was over 20 degrees F.

What I haven’t been doing, however, is writing.  I feel nothing quite so severe as dread or anxiety about it, but I’ve been doing anything else at all.  I think I could plot out the last couple chapters of Lazarus, which has been on hiatus far too long and I do dishes.  I think I could just jot down that scene running through my head so I don’t forget it, but that is quickly followed by after I make hot chocolate and clean my craft room and watch one more episode of Enterprise.  I mean, it’s ridiculous.  I’m trying not to put stress on myself about it, but I’m stressed.  I feel bad that I haven’t been writing for months due to work and depression, but even when I have time or energy, I simply can’t do it.

This isn’t new for me, but I’ve yet to figure out how to combat it.  I mean, just sitting down and writing isn’t doing it for me.  I sit down.  I’m sitting now.  Have been for three hours.  My notebook is here and I could even find a few pages I just have to type in, no real thinking involved, and yet I’m avoiding it like it’s a jab at the doctor’s office.  I usually avoid things that are unpleasant until I have no choice, yes, but this shouldn’t be unpleasant so why am I avoiding it?

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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It’s St. Nick’s!  I have a (tentacle) stocking up and shall receive tasty Godiva truffles!  Okay, truthfully, the stocking is always up because it amuses me.  It was a craft project from a few years ago after seeing such a thing on a website for Lovecraft Christmas songs.  I couldn’t justify the money to buy two cd’s so I could get the tentacle stocking for free, so I went to the fabric store and dug through the remnants (mmm, remnants) until I found a sickly mossy green velvet and a dirty, shaggy dog fur that just made me happy and put this monstrosity from the deep together for my “mantle” (read: tv stand).

I understand that celebrating St. Nick’s is a bit of a local phenomenon.  Not terribly sure if it is the Dutch influence or the Catholic influence or the combination of the two in my hometown that made it a thing.  In my house, it was simply a night where I put a stocking on the door of my bedroom and in the morning, it would be lumpy with treats.  My favorite was always a Life Saver book which is funny because I don’t especially care for hard candy.  I just liked that they came in a book-like package.

We never did the stocking thing for Christmas, just St. Nick’s.  And, much like so many other holidays, St. Nick himself had very little to do with it.  I remember hearing the story of treats being left in children’s wooden shoes (Dutch) and their stockings as they hung by the fireplace, but that’s all pretty vague now.

So, not that I bought myself truffles for St. Nick’s, no; I actually bought them because I told myself I could have them if I completed my Sherlock stories.  At least one.  Or perhaps a truffle a chapter.  Who knows if they’ll actually last that long.  I’ll probably freak out in a sugar rampage one day and inhale the whole box and make myself sick regardless of what I promised myself.  (Read Allie Brosh’s God of Cake on Hyperbole and a Half for a brilliant example of such a thing.)

I had made a similar promise to myself with Star Trek: Into Darkness.  Bought myself the movie and swore I wouldn’t watch it until I’d finished a chapter.  Didn’t happen.  I have no willpower at all.  (Depriving oneself of Benedict Cumberbatch is unhealthy, anyway.)

I would love to have Lazarus Machine done by Christmas.  Of course, I had hoped to have it done by the beginning of November so I could focus on something else for NaNoWriMo, and then I had hoped to use NaNoWriMo to help me finish it.  That didn’t happen either.  In fact, I think I might actually have a negative word count for November.  (I don’t even think I wrote a blog post.)  I went out of my way not to write.  Granted, my brain is a bit bogged down in my own personal hell right now, but somehow all that anxiety has overwhelmed my ability to write as well.

So now, that story has taken me over a year, and I do want it to be finished.  I want to do other things (which I’m not doing even though I’m not working on Lazarus) and I want to move forward.  But I’m frozen with anxiety and indecision.

At least I had yesterday and today off.  This is my first “weekend,” meaning two days off in a row, since, quite possibly, August.  Working retail means irregular days, which is fine.  I love having weekdays off and can’t imagine how anyone functions doing the 9-5 thing with appointments or banking or whatever.  It also means I rarely work more than three days in a row before having a day off, which is nice.  But sometimes I just need two days off to cleanse my head.  I spent yesterday and today watching Big Bang Theory for hours, and being totally lazy, and oh, I watched Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy because Martin Freeman is totally adorkable.  🙂

Writing was in my head, but I kept doing one more thing before I’d do it, read one more story, watch one more video, do dishes, whatever would keep me from having to do it.  Seriously, I buffed my fingernails and dusted off my ceiling fan. So now it is quarter to midnight and I have to work tomorrow (though not in the morning, thankfully) and while I at least relaxed on my days off, I did nothing of any use at all.

Well, not nothing.  The buildup of dust on the ceiling fan was starting to defy the laws of physics.

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

What to do?

Well, it’s October 13th, which means NaNoWriMo is about 2 1/2 weeks away.  Last year at this time, I was completely lost as to what I was going to write, having too many ideas.  I ended up starting a week late and not winning, though I put up a good fight through the end of the month.  I don’t consider it a loss, of course, because I am still working on the project and am (slowly) closing in on 100,000 words.  Actually, if I counted the extra pages I slipped off into another file for later use, I’d be over that mark.  I have, however, been lapsing on the writing altogether in the last few months.

Summer has generally been a tough writing time for me.  It’s not that I’m out doing things or anything, but more that I’m miserably exhausted and hot and can’t really manage much else with my day after work.  I gave a half-hearted attempt at Camp NaNo a couple times, but never made it much further than a day.  I can’t imagine how November works for me at all, being that work is busy and exhausting with holiday setup and such, but I can’t complain.

This year for NaNo, I’m again not sure what I’m going to do.  Again, I have several ideas.  I need to finish both Lazarus Machine and John’s Gamble.  I had hoped to have them done by now, but my emotional state has not worked out in my favor.  Job-hunting and crippling depression have been highly distracting.  My reduced work hours should give me more time to write, but it mostly just gives me more time to feel shitty about myself.

So, options on the plate include, but are not limited to: a historical romance novel that has been swimming in my head for several years now but has less than two chapters written; finishing my current projects, which, paired together, would most likely yield the required number of words; something entirely random, taking the no plot, no problem concept to its purest meaning (least likely); or devising a goal system for revising any of the prior NaNoWriMo novels I’ve written to finally end up with a relatively salable product.

Given my financial situation, the last would be the most advisable and realistic, really, since I really need to finish something, make it presentable, get to a point where I can say, this is DONE and I don’t have to consider/think/fidget/worry about it anymore.  I’ve tried this, albeit somewhat half-heartedly, in months following November, such as December, January, and Camp during the summer, but have never been quite successful at keeping to any sort of schedule.

I also fear ripping apart what I have done and stalling.  That is what happened to my very first complete novel, written in college.  I wrote steadily every week, had several hundred pages at the end, and then started to revise.  I ended up wanting so much changed upon revision, that the manuscript ended up feeling like a huge waste of time.  I’m not so sure that some of the things I wanted to change needed it (particularly in light of certain events in Twilight) but at the time, certain elements seemed childish and ridiculous (*cough*).

So what happens if I rip another one to shreds and am left with no useful scraps worth piecing together?  Should revision be this terrifying?

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2013 in Uncategorized, Writings

 

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Spring Cleaning

I’m aware that in the Northern Hemisphere, autumn is approaching.  However, I feel in a bit of my soul like I need a good spring cleaning.  And it isn’t just because everything in the apartment has a layer of dust on it.  I need a massive overhaul in my life, even if I’m being dragged kicking and screaming towards making those changes.

Unfortunately, I feel restless and unfocused.  It’s that feeling one gets when there is so much to be done that one cannot figure out where to start.  All too often, this is decided by procrastinating until there is little choice but to do unpleasant things.  Or, like something I read about procrastination once, you simply get other things done instead.  I should digging through my files for my work history details, but I am doing dishes or laundry.  I should be applying for jobs, but I’m dusting and vacuuming.  I should be writing on Lazarus Machine, but instead I’m writing a random one-shot that popped into my head the other day for Experiments in Warmth.

And then sometimes it all gets to me, the merciless heat, the ache in my feet and legs from work, the sinus headache from fall allergies, the overwhelming stress of every financial worry and I end up sick and nauseated and capable of little else but putting Star Trek Voyager on Netflix and dozing in a chair with the A/C on for most of an afternoon.  That was Monday.

Yesterday and today were better.  I’ve been trying to keep cool and get sleep and stay hydrated until the heat breaks.  I applied for a job today, which just seems to take a ridiculously long time, honestly.  I rather wish there was just some sort of official job application that you filled out once, photocopied, and sent to any employer.  And no, I don’t mean a resume, because you typically have to have one of those, too.  What I suppose I find most frustrating is that you have to detail all this work history, and I’ve been in my job for sixteen years.  This means that any other jobs I put down besides my current one are – cleaning jobs I had after school and summers during high school and college.  It seems pointless to even mention them.  I also don’t have any idea who my supervisors were, what wage I made (it was the mid 90s, so it was probably, what $4.25 an hour? I have no idea) and it seems pointless to say that they can contact these employers because it’s not like anyone in the building will remember me and it would be a bit of a pain for them to have to search their files for proof I worked there anyway.  As if the HR person would check 17-year-old work history anyway.

So if it seems pathetic that applying for a single job is rather exhausting, well, yes, it is.  🙂  I’ve slowly been gathering together information all in one place so that as I fill things out, I can just refer back to a single file of that information.  Hopefully that will make it easier.  But I still feel it may count against me that some things are left incomplete on my applications.  And knowing how many applications are out there for each job, how do I keep from letting each little thing from harming my chances?

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2013 in Uncategorized