Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Hospital

I have been holding onto that adolescent notion of invincibility for as long as I can.  Sure, I can have candy for dinner.  That won’t hurt me.  Yes I will have a cigarette, thank you.  I won’t get cancer.  And so on.  28 isn’t old, despite the sprouting gray hairs in my beard and increasing intensity of my hangovers from increasingly small amounts of alcohol.

Just this week, I have taken another step towards the goal of realizing how life works.  This came in the form of demolishing my Invincibility Complex.  All it took was a surprise three-day stay at a hospital.

A few weeks ago, I started feeling shitty.  As usual, I ignored it.  Don’t be fooled; it’s not because I’m tough or anything like that.  It can be more accurately ascribed to laziness and thriftiness (to be read as: cheap).  I don’t have insurance, so cruising over to a doctor and getting a quick diagnosis is not something I can easily do without shelling out a good amount of money.  I like to be sure that I’m not simply wasting my money by going to a doctor when there’s nothing wrong with me.

Three weeks went by and I was experiencing sharp, excruciating headaches, fever spikes, lethargy, night sweats, and chills.  Also, throughout the whole thing, I was conscious of something in my stomach.  Something like an organ.  Not just an upset tummy.  A specific section felt strange.  Eventually, that section grew increasingly hard as it swelled up which then led to another sharp pain in my side. 

Okay, I guess it’s time to see a doctor.

I made an appointment and went to work the next day.  After work, I took a nap (as I had been doing for the past few weeks) and almost missed my appointment.  I woke up late and ran out the door, promising my dog that I would be home soon.  I eventually got to the doctors office and was seen by the nurse who took my blood pressure, temperature, asked the usual questions and all of that.  It just so happened that I was having a fever spike when he took my temperature.

“Did you just drink a cup of coffee or something hot?” he asked after looking at the readout. 


He went on to tell me that a temperature of 104 degrees is not good.  I told him I knew that, but he insisted on letting me know that I shouldn’t be that hot.  I agreed.  A little while later, the doctor came in and went on about the temperature.  Then I told him what was going on with me.  He felt the weird hard thing in my stomach and said that I needed to immediately go to the ER and asked if he should call me an ambulance.  I said no, I can drive myself.  I didn’t want to leave my car behind.  He gave me directions to a hospital that is known to cater to people without insurance, told me not to drink any water or eat any food in case they need to do surgery, and wished me luck.

The ER was a total shit show.  They seemed to ignore the “Please Expedite” message my doctor had written on the report he gave me to show them.  The night was filled with telling people the exact same information (apparently nobody talks to each other at this place) and waiting on results from simple tests.  Altogether, I was in the ER and the area directly behind the ER (which I thought of as ER 2) for nine hours.  Of those nine hours, I’d say I spent about a combined hour actually speaking with a medical worker/taking a test.  The rest of the time was trying to avoid the talkative crazies in the ER or trying to figure out how to sleep in the really uncomfortable chairs in ER 2.

After the CT Scan (commonly referred to as a Cat Scan) results were finally interpreted to me by a doctor, it became clear I wasn’t going to be able to go home that night.  They said they weren’t sure if my appendix was going to blow up (which is what the first doctor had thought) but there was definitely an abscess that had grown in my stomach directly next to the appendix.  They would first have to remove the abscess, try to figure out why it was there, and then decide what to do with the appendix.  I was told I would be taken upstairs to a room.


I was able to get about two hours of sleep before the room came to life.  I had three roommates.  Two of which insisted on discussing something in Spanish throughout the entire day.  They must have been hard of hearing or something because they also insisted on having this conversation at near-shout volume for every sentence.  So there I sat, surrounded by dirty curtains, listening to my roommates yelling, when a doctor finally came to see me.

He decided to lay it out for me in the absolute worst-case scenario.  He told me that I had to wait to get my procedure because I wasn’t a high-level risk, and that wait could be up to three days.

“Three days?” I asked with terror in my voice.

“Or more.”

I lost it.  At this point I hadn’t had any water for about 14 hours, hadn’t had any food for about 20 hours, and my mouth felt like an old sock.  The thought of sitting in that bed, listening to the two Mexicans shouting at each other, without drinking any water for three fucking days (or more) was too much.  I’m not proud of it, but I cried like a little bitch.  Sat there feeling sorry for myself while the surgeons were busy stitching gunshot victims back together and reattaching pieces of car accident victims.  I knew it was selfish and childish to complain about my predicament when surrounded by much worse, but I couldn’t help it.  I could blame it on no sleep/water/food but I won’t.  I was just focusing on how much I thought it sucked and wanted to be selfish for a little while.  So I was.  And after an hour of staring at the curtain and hating the world, I started feeling better.  Is this what people are talking about when they say not to “bottle up your emotions?”  Because I’m a serial emotion bottler, and this shit felt great.  My mood started picking up immediately and I was able to start making jokes about it by the time my girlfriend came to visit.  Crying rules.  I don’t care what you guys say.

Later that day, after my girlfriend visited and saved the day by bringing me a book/my iPod/other thoughtful items, I was trying to sleep while the lunatics were yelling and a nurse poked his head around the curtain. 

“Pretty loud in here, eh?”

I nodded.

“Want me to see if I can find you a new room?”

“Yes!  Please!”

And he did, which was awesome except for the guy across from me who played his TV super fucking loud 24 hours a day (no exaggeration, even while he slept).  He also convinced me that smoking is fucking stupid because he had one of those holes in the middle of his neck and I had to listen to him cleaning what I thought was the tube, but later caught a quick glimpse and now suspect he was cleaning his neck hole.  It sounded like vacuuming a shitload of giant, clingy boogers out of a giant nose.  And he had to do it a lot.  I hated sitting in the hospital when I could speak and walk around and stuff.  I don’t want to have to be attached to a tube in my neck and sit in a hospital room when I’m an old guy.  That’s fucking horrifying.  I would have thanked him for this revelation, but he probably wouldn’t have been able to hear me over his screaming TV.

Also, it turned out that Dr. Hyperbole was way off.  I was able to get my procedure that night.  I hesitate to call it a surgery, but I guess that’s what it was (albeit a baby one).  The sweet part of this cheap hospital is when you get to the room where you are getting your surgery done and the surgeon is constantly asking questions to the old guy in the corner who, in turn, tells him when he fucks up.  That’s a real confidence booster for the patient.  But after a half hour or so of occasional extreme pain, they had sucked a bunch of shit out of me and told me it was a success.  I was like, “Hell yeah!” and sat up.  That’s when I found a tube connected to my side running to a plastic bag, which is apparently for leakage.  Awesome.  At least I got to have a cup of water and dinner when I got back to my room.

After that it was basically an exercise in keeping my fingers continually crossed that I wouldn’t have to get my appendix removed (thus condemning me to at least another week in the hospital).

The next day went by with only a brief conversation with a doctor who told me they still aren’t sure about the appendix and that I might be able to leave the next day.  That was at 6:30 in the morning and I didn’t hear from anybody for the rest of the day (besides nurses that love hooking up IVs and then forgetting about them so the machine beeps for ten minutes when the bag is out until they finally show up and shut the damn thing off).

That day, I got a new roommate (filling the room back up to four tenants) who had just been in a bad car accident.  He had screws put in his hips and was real fucked up.  He needed physical therapy and was apparently having problems going to the bathroom.  I felt guilty for being able to get out of bed and walk around (albeit gingerly).  His family was there all day.  Apparently he was just driving down the highway when some woman slammed into him.  She was swerving to avoid hitting a dog, which is nice, but you shouldn’t do that shit on the highway.  You can’t just jerk the wheel and hope for the best.  I love dogs, but if it’s a choice between causing a pileup on the highway and squishing a stray, I’m going to make a shitty face and try not to squeal as I feel the bump underneath my car. 

By sunset, I was completely over being in the hospital.  I was over it after ten minutes in the ER, but I was really over it at this point.  I wanted to rip the IV out of my arm and jump through the window as I listened to the visitors of the guy next to me (I glanced in as I walked past and saw him watching TV while two teenage girls giggled and looked at their phones, a young child sat with his mother on the other side of the bed making annoying kid sounds directly on the other side of the curtain from my bed), the visitors of the car accident guy (I counted while walking past: six adults and two young kids, which is a group incapable of maintaining a reasonable volume) and neck-hole guy across from me sucking the sewage out of himself while blasting Everybody Loves Raymond like it’s a Metallica song.  I wouldn’t have been surprised if I turned green, grew giant muscles, and started smashing everything around me.  The best part came when the guests left and the car accident guy was finally able to go to the bathroom.  Well, not the literal “go to the bathroom” sense but more in the “shit loudly in the bed” sense.  The whole room tasted like shit and I had to go walk around.  I wasn’t mad at the guy; I felt really bad for him.  But I couldn’t stand being in that room smelling that scent and listening to blasting TVs and neck-hole suction.

I told myself that one more night in the hospital would kill me.  Which is ironic.  I think this is the only instance in my life where I’ve used that word correctly.  Right?  I’m pretty confident on this one.

After another night of awful sleep punctuated by the nurse coming in every couple hours to hook up a new IV or check my blood pressure (they seriously hate sleep there), I woke up to a doctor telling me I’d be going home.  Holy fucking shit I wanted to lick him.  Luckily, I didn’t.  I just spent my morning walking around the hospital until I could finally get the fuck out of there.  The only bad news is that I have to keep this stupid bag attached to me for another week, which means no work until then.  I’d like to, but nobody wants to buy coffee from a guy with a clear bag filled with goo attached to his innards.  Nobody.

Here’s the least gross picture I can take of the bag.  The other side is clear so you can see all the grossness.

 I’ll find out if my appendix needs to come out or if I have Crohn’s disease or something else when I go back next week to get my bag removed and get a camera shoved up my ass.  I’m really looking forward to every part of that sentence.  Wait, no.  All of it sucks pretty bad.

1 comment:

  1. Well, not the literal “go to the bathroom” sense but more in the “shit loudly in the bed” sense.