Thursday, October 4, 2012

Flashback: Recovery Area.

*Dr. C did a great job keeping people updated on my surgery and hospital stay, but now that I'm home, he has turned the blogging back over to me. This is a short series of flashback posts about my post-op life until I catch up on where I am now in recovery. Some of it is funny, some of it is weird and some of it was downright unpleasant, so read ahead at your own risk.

The euphoria of life and movement was short lived. 

A split second after I realized I was awake and moving, harsh reality slammed into my body. 

The anesthesia was wearing off, fast

Pain meds would make me unconscious and unable to prove that my brain was functioning.  I was allowed a small dose of a narcotic that only lasted 30 minutes at a time and never did enough. 

It was as if someone was smashing my head into a brick wall, over and over again, and then constantly yanking HARD on the hair that I no longer have. 

The waves of nausea and pain drowned me in hyper-over stimulation.  The bright fluorescent lights and flurry of activity from the nurses overwhelmed me into pure panic.

I found myself searching for the joy I had had the instant before--the joy that came with knowing I was alive and could move--and I came up empty.

All I could think was:

I have a HUGE charlie horse in my butt. 
Why do I have a charlie horse in my butt?? 

I'm so thirsty. 
Why am I so thirsty?! 
That tube they stuck down my throat was scratchy!!
What is wrong with these people??
Can't they see I need a drink???
I. Have. A. Charlie. Horse. In. My. Butt!!!!

Very profound, Carrie, very profound.

The recovery area is simply supposed to be a floor where you wake up from surgery...a temporary holding stall until you are awake enough to move to the Next Place.  Standard operating procedure for a craniotomy said I should be in the recovery area just until I was awake, then head straight to the ICU.

But the ICU was completely full. 

And I was fourth in line to get a bed there.

Those people ahead of me must have had a REALLY bad day.

Wilma, my mothering nurse, with the American flag scrubs was fighting for me.  She fed me ice chips and promised me a darker room...even though I could hear her talking to the other nurses and saying it wasn't going to happen.

Someone forgot to hand me my call button so I had to croak/yell/beg for more ice.  Wilma discovered the oversight and left the button tucked nicely into my slow-moving left hand.

Hours went by.  The flimsy curtains couldn't cover the harsh lights.  Every noise came at me at full force; from the sound of footsteps to the dinging of the call button to the ring of the telephone to the rustle of the hospital bed sheets--each sensory input was like a roaring freight train speeding and crashing and exploding into my head. 

I was the lucky one to get the "squeaky IV cart" that sounded like a small kitten being squeezed at various speeds.   For the regular fluids it wasn't so bad...meee-ow, meee-ow, meee-ow

But when they added in the antibiotics and anti seizure meds and had to crank up the machine, someone needed to put that poor kitten out of its misery. 


In short, it was Hell.

And when you are in Hell, the only thing to do is pray.

Heavenly Father. 
I can't do this. 
It's too much. 
Please let me have a room. 
Just some place dark and quiet. 

More time went by. 

More lights and flashes of sensations that I was unable to block out in any meaningful way.  Every part of me felt exposed and raw and unprotected.  The left half of my body, while moving, felt thick and sluggish and tingly and unconnected.  Even moving my head from side to side was monumental effort.

Dr. C and my parents were allowed to come back and visit me--usually a no-no on the recovery floor; but with no end of the recovery floor in sight, they made an exception.

Having them near me offered the first bit of relief I had felt in hours.  They were grinning ear-to-ear like little kids in a candy shop.  They were wearing jackets, which I could not get over.

Why are you wearing jackets?  It's so hot!
No, it's cold in the waiting room.
Don't you want to take them off??  It's so hot!
No, sweetheart, the waiting room isn't hot.
Why are you wearing jackets??

We circled the conversation a few times, with them just smiling away, loving that I was talking.

Awhile later, my sister, Whitney, came...I probably asked her about jackets too.

And then later, my sister, Gretchen, came and I told her that her new leather jacket looked awesome.

And then finally, Wilma, my sweet, patriotic nurse that gushed about her 8-week-old new granddaughter, fought for me to go into a tiny little room on the recovery floor with a door that closed and dark curtains that blocked out the lights and the kitten-IV machine went to a quiet mee-ow, mee-ow, mee-ow, and pain meds that lasted a blessed 4 hours.

And relief.

Sweet relief.


Kristin said...

I am so thankful that when Max had his open heart surgery, they told me they gave him meds to make him forget everything. Maybe it was a lie? I dunno - but it made me feel better about his recovery. And after what you describe, again, so thankful he won't remember it - if only because he was an infant!

Rachel Edwards said...

I LOVE reading your posts. You are such a fun writer. I'm sorry that some parts of you experience were so horrible though! Ugh.

Scubadiver said...

I am so happy that you are on the mend.. and I love your blog posts.. :)
Please keep writing

Teresa said...

So glad to hear you're getting better you're in our family pays every night

Addie Talley, Photographer said...

glad to hear you are feeling better

putter said...

How can your writing be so informative and entertaining when you feel so awful? You amaze me, and it's such a pleasure to keep you in my prayers. Blessings, friend!

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