Wednesday, June 25, 2014

getting out

My last post was all about getting sick, the doctors and nurses at Vanderbilt trying to make me better, and the consequences of both that and the illness itself. I was in the hospital for a little over three weeks before I got the all clear to go home.

I should preface this by explaining my mental state throughout the hospital stay and the subsequent six weeks at home. The easiest thing to say is that I was foggy. There's a feeling you have right when you wake up from a long night's sleep: your brain can't keep up with the world, you feel almost as if you are swimming thru time instead of flowing with it, and memories have a hard time sticking. This is how I felt all the time, right up until just after mom left on March 18th.

They let me go home. But not before suggesting I spend another week in a rehab facility. They thought it would do me good to have around the clock care from medical professionals. I couldn't imagine something I would have rather done less. When the lady who brought this up to mom and me left I broke down. All I wanted to do was to be home, to not be in a hospital bed anymore. Not use a bedpan, not have to eat hospital food, not have people coming in every four hours taking my blood sugar, blood pressure, and the blood itself. So we decided that I was OK to go home, and they let me go home.

The next portion of my journey is split into the first six weeks of being home, and everything after that. During the first portion my mom took care of me, staying in my old bedroom. She changed my dressings every day, she helped me in and out of the wheelchair I had to use in order to keep my leg elevated 24/7, took me to the hospital for multiple doctor appointments, took care of my medication, fed me, cleaned up the bedside commode after use, and pretty much just waited around for me to need something. Because the infection (MRSA) was what it was I was prescribed Vancomycin. "Vanc," as the health-care folks, call it, is great and terrible all at the same time. It isn't effective as a pill, so has to be administered intravenously. The upside is that it gets right to work, the downside being that I had to have a PICC line put in my right arm. Three times a day mom would have to flush the line, hook up the medicine, wait for ninety minutes, unhook the IV, and flush it again. We did this for those first six weeks.

As I mentioned earlier, this whole time I was in a fog, like I had just woken up. Because of that I don't remember many of the details. Lots of folks visited and talked to me. My voice slowly got stronger and recovered from the surgeries. But I was surprised when Mom asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday: I thought there were still a couple of weeks to go. This wasn't the case, it was just a few days away. I started piecing together the time missed and figured that I had "lost" about two weeks of time at home. Thinking back I can't figure out if I was just unable to make new memories or if my life had become so monotonous, so much the same day after day, that time just blended together.

During those weeks that I'd forgotten I watched a lot of netflix and slept even more. I wasn't fun to be around, was unable to access my emotions, and was totally dependent on others to stay alive: for news from the world, for normality, for life itself.

But right around my birthday I started coming out of it. I remember Jess giving me a very nice wallet, I remember going to Barista Parlor and the piles of friends who showed up to make number 27 a good one. Hannah, Phillip, and Linus came over and brought me cupcakes. And that night we watched Back to the Future (I think? I'm pretty sure that was around the right time).

A couple of days later they took the PICC line out (simply by me having my arm straight and pulling: it came out quite easy for something that was a direct line to my heart), prescribed me a new antibiotic, and sent me on home.

It's a challenge for me to write about this for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it was awful. I wasn't myself, was aware of it, but unable to do anything different. Secondly, my brain was so scrambled that I can't recall things in the correct sequence. Since my writing style is very stream-of-consciousness it's difficult to put things down in a way that makes sense.

That brings us to just after my birthday, March 15. Next time I'll attempt to bring us up to the present, which will be far less exciting. Only one surgery, lots of coffee shops, and that's pretty much it.

Some closing thoughts/facts:

-I had to be catheterized twice. It's no picnic when those things come out, guys.
-I was on a feeding tube for the majority of the time while hospitalized. The fed it up my nose, down my throat, and seated it in my small intestine. Taking it out: not fun either, but I felt I could breathe again which is awesome.
-By no means am I out of the woods. Not saying this to bum anyone out, it's just the truth. We're waiting to see if the infection is going to come back. I can walk on my leg, but these next couple of weeks are big. Prayers and thoughts go a long way: thank you.
-During those first six weeks I was so out of it I couldn't read. I would try, but was unable to remember or process what had happened on the page. I also bought a couple of video games on my PS3, and a pink GameBoy and Pokemon Blue off Amazon.
-I'm sure there are other things that I'm missing. I'll let you know what they are if I remember them.


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