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Chill

Ouch.

So, I’m sure anyone that has experienced an injury knows what I’m taking about here. It’s so, so, so very hard to take it easy and not try and do everything that you are used to doing when you are recovering. Especially when it comes to feet. I have to keep reminding myself that I just had major surgery in January, and to chill the frig out. But it’s really hard when I live in a city that travels at warp speed, as I know I will be trampled if I slow down. As I have said before, this whole ‘invisible disability’ stuff is brutal. Just because I don’t have some kind of walking device, doesn’t mean I don’t have pain when I walk that feels like knives stabbing at my eye balls.

Last week, I went to catch the bus. It was leaving the station (these guys wait for no one), so I figured I’d wait for the next one. A man darted past me, and surprisingly the bus waited. I was closer, so I tried to hobble run to grab it. When I got on the bus, the bus driver said with attitude,

“Well, what the hell… you could have ran you know.”

I was so pissed. I said, “Actually, I can’t run, since both of my feet were recently broken. How about you think for a second before you accuse me of being an ass.”

That shut him up fast.

I went to Montreal this weekend, walked a lot and really had no problem (although that city doesn’t move as fast). Yesterday I walked one block from my office, and surprise!!! my foot is a mess again. What the hell? So there I was, sitting at a conference this morning, feeling like there was a stake in my foot and about to have a panic attack. Panic attacks are brutal. It’s hard for people that haven’t experienced them to understand, but basically you feel like you are going to pass out and die. Seriously. I’ve been getting them for years now, they appeared after someone drugged my drink in a bar. At first they just happened in crowded bar-type places, and eventually spilled into all aspects of my life, like on the bus, shopping, sitting on the couch, whatever. Soon they became associated with any kind of pain I had (I’ve had kidney stones twice, now that’s some crazy ass pain for you). Eventually I had to get help. I can pretty much control them now, or control their severity at least. As I was listening to the panel discussion, a dizzy spell kicked in, and I grabbed the table like I was going to fall off my chair. I felt nauseous and imagined projectile vomit flying into the woman in front of me. When I have an attack, I get super paranoid, and think everyone is looking at me like I’m some kind of freak. The more I tried to forget about it, the more I thought about it. I literally had to bite my lip hard enough to draw blood, just so I didn’t have a complete meltdown. The room started spinning, I couldn’t catch my breath and kept telling myself, “You’re not going to pass out, you’re not, just chill. Chill.” Thankfully, I have the best boss ever (seriously for real) and she ordered my sorry ass home, pronto.

I feel like every time my foot gets better, it gets worse. Notice I am only talking about one foot. My other one has caused absolutely (knock on wood) no problem at all. The one that is causing me problems has been broken before, and sprained about a million times. I felt that during my recovery, I was some kind of bionic superwoman. I healed quickly, got my casts off early, and walked right out of the hospital. The surgeon was amazed. Now I feel like some karmic force is saying, “That’s what you think honey, nice try though, really, E for effort.”

Moral of the story: Chill.

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“Excuse me.”

My blanket moves a little, exposing some skin.

“Excuuuuuuse me!”

Something pinches my arm.

I awake to the dreary, cold hospital room with a nurse breathing over top of me like a volcano about to erupt.

“Uhm, you need to take your drugs now. So, uhm, what do you want?” she asks sheepishly.

“Wh – huh?” I still haven’t registered what’s going on.

“So come on. I need to give you your drugs.”

“So, you are the nurse, asking me what type of drugs I want?” I’m so confused at this point, I’m not sure if I’m dreaming, or still messed up from the earlier dose.

“Yep. So pick. You can have morphine, oxycottin, percs, tylenol 3, dem…”

“Woah, woah. First of all, take a look at my chart. I’m allergic to codeine and you’re offering me tylenol 3? I’m no doctor, but, come on, it’s not rocket science. Second, you are the nurse, you tell me what I want.”

“I can’t. You have to pick.”

Like, am I in the twilight zone or something. What kind of freak-ass hospital is this?

Don’t get me wrong, I have great respect for nurses and the job that they do. I could never manage. Ever. But that doesn’t change the crappy time I had.

This doesn’t even to begin to touch on the bizarre, horrific post-surgery hospital experience.

I woke up from surgery bawling my eyes out. You know, that kind of wail like from when you are a child, that comes from the pit of your stomach. A mix of pain, confusion and anesthetics. I spent a whole five minutes in my room alone before my first roomie got wheeled in. And what a class act she is. A woman, possibly in her 50’s, but looks more like she’s pushing 70. Her skin is sort of grey, her hair is scraggily, and her teeth are….non-existent.

She strikes up a conversation right away. I mumble, turn over and pretend I’m sleeping.

Her voice is like knives stabbing at my eye balls. I judge her because of her bad grammar.

Even though I thought I did a fabulous job at ignoring her, she chatters on anyways.

“And then them guys, well, geez right. I says, well, I don’t care if ya’ll kick my hairy ass to the curb, I’m going to emerg cuz I have this kinda shit before, you know?”

I can hear the spit leave her mouth, and splatter around as she says words like, ass, says, curb and so on (no teeth, remember).

I hear her moving around. I imagine she’s settling in. Instead, she’s putting an oversized navy blue uniform jacket that says ‘Security’ on it over her half open flattering hospital nighty. She grabs a pack of smokes, and wheels her IV out of the room.

Mmmmm classy.

All I can think of is how much I hate this city, hospital, surgery, everything… and easily compile a paragraph-long list of swear words.

I wonder why the nurses are giving me so much attitude. Did I do something? I try to be overly nice. It doesn’t work. I wonder if I will see the same nurse twice.

Class Act comes back into the room, reeking, and complaining about how far she has to “truck it” to have a smoke. Coincidentally, I fall back ‘asleep.’

I think: Oh god, is this for real? Like, seriously. This can’t be real. This is a dream…. I’m going to wake up, really I am.

I squeeze my eyes shut as hard as possible, and open. Nope. Still here, still smelling Class Act. Still amazed that she is talking to no one.

My mom strolls into the room. I’m relieved to see a familiar face. Class Act starts talking up my mom. She ignores. Good mummy. She says how great I look for just having both feet broken. I know I look like shit. My feet are swollen like hot air balloons, my hair is disheveled, and my face has broken out like a goddamn piece of bubble wrap from the huge drug cocktail and stress.

I can’t leave my bed. I have to pee. One cold shiny tin, and an extremely humiliating experience later, I have done the deed.

Holy shit, I think, I can’t do this. I rack my brain trying to figure out what on earth possessed me to get this done. Oh, yeah. Pain. Pain sucks. I wonder how the many people who are sick and spend months in the hospital do this. I’m thankful for my health and week-long stay.

My mom goes to get me a latte, and a nurse strolls in to tell me that this room used to be a pediatric room, and therefore I may have to move the furniture to get to the washroom. Great.

There’s a window in my room that looks into the nurses station. I hear the constant beeping of the bedside emergency buzzers going off for hours.

Class Act is snoring. I puke in the shiny bowl beside my bed. I buzz…. and hear the nurses at the station chatting about the night before. I hear my buzzer beep…beep…beeping. Finally, nurse-lady comes to ask what I want. Gravol. In large doses.

“I think the drugs are making me sick.”

“No, they’re not,” she says. “It’s just from the surgery.”

An abundance of visitors come in….I can’t even tell who is who, still feeling pukey and gross. My mom promises a television and Nana-made meals. The visitors leave their flowers, cards, and chocolates, and shuffle out of the room. I drift off, thankful that Class Act is too drugged to talk.

“AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH”

My eyes pop open. Where am I? Oh.

Another blood curdling murderous scream comes from somewhere down the hall. In the dim hallway light, I notice a security guard sitting, guarding the room across from mine. I later find out that the man in that room was strapped to his bed. I see an old man dart down the hallway, half naked, jingling keys and screaming in Italian.

What the hell kind of hospital is this? I wonder.

Another nurse lady comes and tells me to take my drugs. I try to explain that maybe these ones are making me sick and….. No luck. I do what I’m told and swallow. An hour and a half later, I ask for Gravol and puke.

Eventually morning comes, and I’m awakened by Mr. Physio, who tells me it’s time to get up and get moving. I think, dude, have you seen my feet? He gets me to walk baby steps with a walker to the washroom and back. It hurts like hell. Good. Good job. Now at least I don’t have to pee in bowl.

I wonder how much it costs to get a cute male nurse.

Class Act tells me her life story. Her daughter comes in the room to borrow 40 bucks, without asking how she is, and leaves. I ask Class Act, “sooo, when do you leave again?” She tells me her life story again, and leaves to smoke. I thank my lucky stars she’s a smoker, and constantly leaves the room.

Food comes. I lift the cover off the tray, take a peek, and see something that may or may not resemble an egg. I put the cover back on, and take the safe way out and have the tea.

My days mainly consisted of, sleep… wake…. cry…. turn down food…. take drugs…. puke…. take Gravol…. sleep…. ignore Class Act…. try to act coherent in front of visitors….take drugs…. puke…. and so on.

I cry every single morning I wake up in the hospital. I feel like a five year old, lost and scared and have an aching need for a blanky.

I buzz the nurses station to come in a take away my puke bowl. She scowls at me and says, “ewwww gross.” I say, “uhm…you’re a nurse!”

Seriously, I mean, the woman gives people enemas and I don’t know the lay of the land, but I’m pretty sure that’s worse than a puke bowl.

I turn down every meal that comes to me. I’ve seen more attractive dog food. Nana brings me yummy soup. I manage to get it down… and then puke. She feels like her food makes me sick. I try to explain but alas, I fail.

A doctor comes in to tell Class Act that she is leaving tomorrow. Yesssss.

I go to get casted up. I get one on each leg, knee high. I hum and haw over the colour, like it’s an important and relevant decision. I choose purple, and mentally choose my next colour, black, for the cast change. They wheel me out into the hall and leave me for a bit. Random people ask how high the ladder was that I fell off of. I play along and say, ’50 feet.’

Class Act complains about leaving, I mentally do cartwheels.

I spend one night alone, with the crazy screams. All night long.

An older woman gets wheeled in. She doesn’t know where she is and keeps asking, “Peter? Peter, get the door. Peter?”

The nurses tell her that she broke her hip. They give her a drug cocktail and promise that it will do the job. I overhear that she is 90. Her skin is immaculate. I wonder what type of moisturizer she uses. She drifts off into a drug filled slumber. Her sister comes in…. nope… daughter. She brings tubs of bathroom stuff and I try to sneak a peek at the moisturizer, but to no avail.

I puke. A nurse brings me drugs, I tell her I think I may be having a…. she doesn’t believe me. I obey and swallow.

They come to get Broken Hip at 7pm for surgery. She tells them off for doing her surgery at night. Never underestimate the spunk of a 90 year old, beautiful skinned woman.

I drift off.

I awake to Broken Hip crying. They bring her back post surgery. They promise the drugs will do the job and leave.

She cries. All night. They come into take her blood pressure, and she screams like they are stabbing her in the neck. All night I hear, “Please god please, just take me now. End it please. Oh please help me. God please just kill me now.”

I don’t sleep at all. I remember that tomorrow is my day to bust out of this joint. I happily stare at the wall, wishing tomorrow to come sooner than later.

The morning crew comes in bitching about the night crew (and rightly so). They draw the curtain and attempt to bathe Broken Hip. She screams. I hear one of the nurses shout, ‘oh honey, your IV isn’t even plugged in.’ This poor woman laid in a drug free, post surgery night of hell.

That’s not all.

The nurses talk about their plan to turn her over for bathing. They notice her arm is black. Apparently, Broken Hip is also Broken Arm. The nurse checks the xrays and curses about how they only checked her leg and hip after a fall. Come on, ever heard of osteoporosis people? I mean she’s 90! Rocket science, that must be it.

The nurse draws the curtain and is surprised at my expression.

“You look like you’ve seen a ghost honey.”

Ya think?

“I bet you’re happy to leave this hell hole today.”

Ya think?

It’s not worth it for me to answer. I stare at the wall, and she hands me my cocktail. I tell her I think that….she doesn’t believe me. I swallow.

My surgeon pops by, happy that I am recovering well. He says, “hmm, you’ve been sick a lot.” No shit. He explains that because of my allergy I am having a bad reaction to the cocktail. Instead I should be on bla, bla and bla. I wonder why the hell he gave the first cocktail to me in the first place. In his defense, he was a great doctor, although I have heard through the grape-vine that he is not well liked. My Nana says because he, ‘tells it like it is.’ I wonder, how else you would want it told by a doctor?

I impress Mr. Physio with my awesome hobbling skills. He is glad I am his star patient and jokes about my cast colour choice, and tells me to go on “What Not To Wear.” I joke with him, knowing that this is my ticket out of this joint.

A male nurse comes in my room. Damn. Not cute. He tells me he wants to take me to the showers for bathing. I tell him, nicely, that I would rather stink, and take a private bath at home later today. He says, ‘alrighty’ and bounces out of there.

My dad brings my crutches that I’ve had since I was twelve. There are stickers and Snoopy Band-Aids stuck all over them. My mom comes to take me away, and I am happier than a pig in shit. I reflect and am happy that I don’t have to spend another moment in this place.

I feel horrible leaving Broken Hip and Arm and hope that she gets out of there soon.

I hobble outside, breathe in the cold winter air, and leave with the biggest smile my face has ever seen.

So that’s a timbit of my hospital experience. I’m sure many have had worse, and possibly some have had better. I’ve left a lot out, mainly because I tried to burn the memories from my mind. Sometimes I have flashbacks. Sometimes I feel like I was never there. I like it better that way.

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