Friday, November 29, 2013

Hospital Daze

From Eva's Facebook timeline, posted between 3 and 4:00 this morning:

Trying to sleep in a hospital bed is rather like trying to sleep in a subway station and the heat is on full blast!

There is much more frustration behind this comment than you can probably discern. You see, it was at that time -11C (12F) in Guelph where Eva is. No wind chill. Eva's sole concession to a temperature like that, normally, is to turn one of the four fans in our bedroom from high to medium.  Oh, and she'll probably don one (1) thin blanket to go with her sheet. (In case you're wondering, if there's a temperature at which the bedroom window gets closed and the fans get turned off, we have never experienced it.)
Also, we have a Sleep Number bed, which is the most comfortable bed anyone has ever slept on by definition because you get to make it that way. In hospital beds, the number is permanently set at 666. Eva actually slept for four hours last night, which is about five hours more sleep than I thought she'd get. (I, meanwhile, damned near slept the clock around. The night before Eva's surgery, she slept just fine. I got three hours, and then from 11:42 on, I was up. Partly that was me stressing, partly it was the fact I'd just worked seven straight night shifts, but by the time I got home yesterday I was almost asleep on my feet.)

Nobody likes hospitals, right? It has nothing to do with the doctors and nurses (usually)...the ones I interacted with yesterday before and after my wife's surgery were all of them professional, courteous and kind. It's the atmosphere. Everyone's combined sickness percolates in the air and gives you a low-grade case of the yuck. Everywhere you look, you're confronted with the realization that you are not at home. Even when they try to go out of their way to make things look comforting, the same green that in your living room reminds you of a grassy dell just looks like snot; the soft brown you earth-toned your bedroom with last autumn is, you suddenly realize, a very unappealing shade of shit.

Eva was whisked away from me at about twenty after seven yesterday morning. I'd been told the surgery would start at 8 and take two hours. I was, of course, skeptical. Hospital time is elastic, and estimates like "two hours" often don't include things like the pre-op incantation sweat lodge ceremony, the post-op cooling down period, the middle-of-the-op round of golf...
So I have to admit I was a little surprised when. at just 10:30, Dr. Reid came out and assured me all was well. The operation had gone smoothly, and my wife was resting comfortably.  By this point the waiting room had developed a loose camaraderie, and the whole room would share in the relief each time a doctor came out to tell a loved one that things were fine. You kind of half-expected applause and bows from the triumphant doctor.  At any rate, Eva was in recovery and would rest there for 60 to 90 minutes...then I could see her.
I immediately set about my task of texting everyone in our world. Well, not immediately....I'd already gleaned from my waiting room relief buddies that Bell cellphones were useless inside the hospital walls, so out into the parking lot I went, armed with my wife's iPhone and ready to do battle with its tiny on-screen keyboard.
One simple text took me more than five minutes to compose. Have I ever mentioned how much I hate texting? I have? Yeah. I hate texting. My fingers are not the size of pins.
The ensuing wait for Eva to get out of Recovery and into whatever they call the rest of the hospital --not "Relax", not "Relapse", hell, I don't know--dragged on. At 12:30 I was informed there wasn't a bed for Eva yet, and I'd be told when there was. I bit back what immediately came to mind -- so what, she's standing somewhere? sitting somewhere? -- and focussed on calming thoughts. Like how the last minute took 43 minutes to pass. Like how much I really wanted to see Eva with my own eyes. Like how the hell could there not be a bed available for her when they presumably knew how many surgical operations they had today, count 'em up one two three thirteen twenty seven we need twenty seven beds go get 'em count make sure yes twenty seven there we go. Like how I'm 99% certain she's in a bed RIGHT NOW and had been ever since she left me five hours ago for her two hour operation. You know, nice calming thoughts like that.
At 1:30 I steeled myself and approached the day surgery inquiries desk. "I'm sorry to be a bother", I said with all the calmness I had manufactured over the last seven point three eternities, "but I'm just inquiring about Eva Breadner. I was told she'd be in recovery for sixty to ninety minutes and that was three hours ago." They told me they were waiting on a clean bed, and then told me they'd make an exception and allow me back to see her....where she was, of course, resting in a (hopefully) clean bed.
She looked a little pale, a LOT tired, and more than a little like somebody had just ripped her open and rearranged her insides. She said her pain level was "medium", which for her means "I'm really in a great deal of pain but I'm not going to tell you how much". Post surgery she was given six shot glasses of water. Each one, she was told, represented an hour's water intake. I really am going to have to get used to this living on nothing that is her new normal.

Today she looked a lot better: just tired, and homesick. She should be out tomorrow morning and back home where she belongs, which will be a colossal relief.

Incidentally, the fact I do not drive doesn't usually bother me. Over the last two days it's bothered me plenty. Guelph General Hospital is 32 km (20 miles) from our house, one city over. It takes about forty minutes to drive there, door to door. Unless you're on a bus. I left here this morning at 9:50 and got home at 6:30...and thanks to the vagaries of two city transit systems, I saw my wife for all of an hour. Plus we've had to rely on the kindness of family (thank you, Jim) to get Eva to and from hospital in the first place.

Thank you, everyone, for your love and support. It has meant a great deal to both of us.

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