Count your blessings. Seriously.

thankfulI’ve been in kind of a funk lately, thanks to my hip.  It is SO hard to stay positive all the time, when you keep getting knocked down.  But that old adage?  That there is someone who is worse off than you?  It’s so true.

I know someone who had cancer, and went through a very rough year of treatment.  But she got through it.  She was so brave, so strong.  A real trooper.  We all breathed such a sigh of relief that she was on her way out the other side.  Her cancer was controlled.

But.  Always seems to be a but with cancer, right?  It came back.  With a vengeance.  In an even more difficult area to treat.  Hit her with a knock out punch, right out of the blue.  She had to make some very difficult treatment decisions, very fast.

But she did.  And if I know this woman, she will make it.  She has a long hard road in front of her, but she will persevere.

She made me feel ashamed of myself for my own self pity.  My problems pale in comparison to hers.  Yes, mine are bad.  But it’s not cancer.  It’s not life threatening.  At least not right now.  It can be eventually, but that would be my choice.

I’m not gonna lie, I did have a very bad year, actually year and a half, with this damn hip.  I have had 7 surgeries, 6 hospital stays, 2 ER visits, 3 nursing home stays that totaled 3 months.  Add in the hospital stays, and I’ve spent 4-5 months away from my home.  The worst was my 2 month stay, where I felt like I was in prison.  My free will was taken away from me.  I felt so helpless.  I could not leave, even if I wanted to.  I had all my choices taken away from me.  Even food, lol.  I had massive surgeries, horrible pain.

Luckily I came out the other side.  I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief, and was SO THANKFUL, GRATEFUL, that it was done.  I could walk.  I was attached to a bed, a wheelchair, a walker, a cane.  I was FREE.  I thanked God every day, and all the prayer warriors who prayed for me.

But.  Always a but with these things, right?  It came back.  Just like before.  Almost right away.  And just like before, I am going to have to walk the same path, again.  Against my will.  I SWORE after the last time I would NEVER do this again.  Of course at the time I never expected to have to face this again.

Monday I go back to the hospital, for yet another procedure, to find out what is growing in my hip this time.  If all the planets align right and God is with me, maybe it is just inflammation from something else, maybe the blood tests are wrong.  If God is with me maybe it will be a simple fix.  I do know something is wrong.  It has felt wrong since the beginning.  Although I will say that it seems to have gotten a bit better, but more likely, I have just adjusted to this new level of pain.  I have not been pain free for a year and a half.

Most likely I will have to start from scratch again.  I know the path ahead of me.  I do not want to walk that path again.  Neither does my friend.  Sometimes, we just gotta do it, no matter what.  Or I could choose to do nothing, and let nature take its course.  I only hope I have the courage to choose the right path.  I only hope I can be as strong as her.  I only hope I can be positive.  I only hope it will get better.  And STAY better.

Thank you, my friend, for having the courage to fight your battle, and giving me the incentive to fight my mine.  My prayers are with you.

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The healing powers of touch….it’s true!

massageI didn’t realize until yesterday how messed up my WHOLE BODY is from all my hip surgeries.  I went for a massage from my good friend Donna who I met through swim class at the YMCA.  She is an angel and a godsend, with magical hands.

I have been having trouble sleeping, and was walking with a limp, and stairs were killing me.  My knees hurt, my legs were still swollen, my toes felt like sausages by night fall, and I could not fall asleep due to my restless legs.  I have been walking crooked or not walking at all since a year ago May.  I am tired of being tired and in pain 24/7.

Even taking out a break in the middle of the day laying on my bed with my leg elevated didn’t help much.  I usually ended up falling asleep while reading my book, and that didn’t help the insomnia later.

So I went for my massage.  Initially I told her that my back was fine, just work on the lower body, mostly my legs and feet.  Well.  She always checks EVERYTHING out, and when she started on my back, I winced with pain with almost every move.  My neck, back and shoulders were so out of whack and painful due to all the months of hauling my ass around on the walker.  All that non-weight bearing on my hip meant more weigh bearing on my upper body.  I still have huge calluses on my hands from that damn walker.

She got to work, informing me that my hour massage will now take at least 2 hours.  I said go for it.  I was a noodle by that time.

When she was done, I could not believe how much better I felt.  So much better in fact, that I was mad.  I had just been to both my GP and my Ortho doctor last week, and they both prescribed me more pills to take to deal with my issues.  Water pills, pain pills, muscle relaxers.  I’m so tired of taking pills that don’t work.

When I was in the nursing home and on some serious pain meds and IV antibiotics and laying in bed all the time flat on my back, I used to beg the Patient Care Techs to massage my legs so they would stop hurting.  They were so swollen I felt like they would pop.  Some of them did.  Most of them didn’t.  I guess it wasn’t in their “job description”.

I think this is so ridiculous.  A little hands on therapy goes a long way.  Even when you go to Physical Therapy, they use MACHINES instead of their hands.

If insurance companies started paying for legitimate massage therapy and chiropracters and naturopaths etc, this world would be much better off.  These therapies are a lot cheaper than pills and hospital visits.  And rehab for that matter.  How many people get addicted to pain meds?  Look at all the athletes they just shoot up and medicate.  I think the athletes are finally starting to wise up.  And look how many of our wonderful acting talents have lost their lives due to drug abuse.  Being famous doesn’t mean you aren’t lonely and in pain!

So go ahead, get a massage!  Live it up!

Silent Support

support

I cannot begin to tell you all how many people have come up to me recently telling me how wonderful I look, how they have been following my journey on Facebook and my blog, and how much my courage in the face of adversity has impacted them.  They love my Positive Thoughts for the Day and say I am an inspiration.
Who, me?  Wow.  Well.  I do know that I had great positive relationships with all my nurses and therapists in the hospital, rehab, and home health care.  And my doctor just shakes his head time and time again and asks how I can keep smiling through all these ups and downs (most downs).  I guess having a chronic incurable disease (Crohn’s) has prepared me for the worst case scenarios in the past, and that is why I wasn’t too surprised to have all these issues and extra surgeries and PICC lines and infections and meds etc. with this hip replacement.  Been there, done that, alone most of the time.  This time I had the support of my family and friends, so many visitors, cards, phone calls etc., which really made the difference.  I would not have made it without them. Especially my little 3-year-old niece, who loved all the blood and guts aspect, and kept me laughing through it all.

Sometimes you don’t realize the impact you have on people, positive or negative.  That’s why I always try to have a smile on my face, and be friendly and courteous to people.  It just might make their day a little brighter.  So thank you, everyone, for your support, silent or otherwise.  It encourages me to keep on going, knowing that you are reading and rooting for me.  And it really makes my day when one of you comes up and hugs me and tells me that!

I am SO blessed….

Lip Service

friend

When is a friend not really a friend?  How do you tell?  What are the signs?

Sometimes it is not really apparent.  Some “friends” say all the right things, and then do all the wrong things, or just nothing. I call that lip service.

I found this out when I was in the hospital so much the past few months.  I have a lot of acquaintances, and some friends that I thought were good friends.  When it was all said and done, some of my so-called good friends turned out to be non-existent friends when the chips were down.

I was pleasantly surprised by all the phone calls, cards and visitors I had.  Conversely, I was heartbrokenly surprised by some of the people who didn’t bother to do any of the above.  Asking my sister if I was alive or dead doesn’t count.  Face to face baby.  That’s what I need.  Or Facebook to Facebook.  Many people kept up with my stories on Facebook, and gave me so much encouragement!  I love you all for that!

I am not always a good friend.  I don’t always go out of my way, or go the extra mile for a friend.  I have plenty of excuses myself.  So I don’t blame people, I really don’t.  I understand that people have their own worries, families, jobs etc.

My family really did step up to the plate and help me out, for a longggggg time, like two months, when I was pretty much helpless and could not have survived without them.  My sister especially really surprised me cause she hates hospitals and sick people, but she took really good care of me.  My little 4-year-old great niece loved the blood and guts aspect of the whole thing, and personally disposed of all the bloody bandages with glee.  I think she will grow up to be a doctor, she is so caring and compassionate, with both people and animals.  So maybe a vet, which is just as awesome.

friends

Now that I am on the mend, and don’t have to rely on people anymore, it just struck me how surprising it was overall, on who stepped up to the plate, and who didn’t.  Not that I’m keeping score or anything.  Really.  I’m not.  But I do know after all this that I will try much harder in the future to be a good friend, and not a lip service friend.

Cause isn’t that what life is all about?

Professional Mean Girls

nurse

This past week I have been going through a very painful hospital ordeal. One week ago, last Tuesday, I had my entire right hip replaced.

While I was prepared for the physical pain and suffering, I was not prepared to encounter mean girls in such a professional setting for care in a hospital.

After my surgery I was pretty helpless and relied heavily on the nurses and the techs. Those that attended me were WONDERFUL. They helped me eat, sleep, go to the potty, and deal with the pain.

There was one young girl in particular who took a special interest in my case. At first I thought she was a patient care tech, but she quickly informed me she was NOT and didn’t want to be. She was a Professional something that worked at the desk fielding paient calls and sending out the appropriate person to deal with the request. She also helped out with overflow when it got busy.

There were 9 total joint replacement last week on the floor, and so it was very busy. I noticed that the girl, who I will call NAT (Not A Tech) was taking care of me a lot. She worked a lot at night, and so would stay and chat for awhile. She was very nice and friendly, and I enjoyed our visits. She was married and going to school and working lots of hours, and I could relate to all that back at her age.

But then I noticed a subtle change. She seemed to be getting proprietary about me. I noticed that she was also first to respond to my call button, and if someone else was in my room she would say she would take over. I didn’t really care one way or another, you become very close with your caregivers, because you are reduced to a position of relying upon them heavily.

The night before I transferred out one of the patient care tech’s said I got her into trouble by not pressing my call button to get up to go to the potty. I asked who and she said her supervisor. I wondered who her supervisor was, but didn’t ask at the time.

The next day NAT shooed my family out of the room when I called to go to the potty, which I thought was unneccessary, and she spent a longer time than needed with me. She told me that I had too much family, and phone calls etc. At that moment the phone rang, and I said don’t bother with it, they’ll call back. But she seemed to be really irritated by it. It started ringing again, and she marched over to the phone, picked it up, and said, “She cannot come to the phone right now” and hung up.

Hmmmm, I thought. Now it was getting interesting. It was like she was fighting over me, like I was the prized possession on the floor, and she was going to be my BFF, overnight. I was starting to feel like the protagonist in Single White Female, and she was starting to become a bit stalkerish.

But I was moving to a different building for rehab, and didn’t let it bother me. Until I was “checking out”. NAT and anothe girl packed up my possessions and flowers etc on a cart, and settled me in a wheelchair. We were going to take the tunnel to the new building. The other girl went ahead with my stuff, and NAT took me in the wheelchair.

We had to stop at the front desk first, and she went to sit at the desk and then announced to two other girls there, “this is my Jan!” and I noticed how they were sitting in the background smirking and laughing behind their computer screen. I immediately realized that they laughing at NAT, and me by default, even though they knew absolutely nothing about me. It made me sad, and mad. Mad. Don’t ever start smirking at me, it really riles me up.

So as NAT was coming back around with the paperwork, all flushed with either joy that her “friends” got to see “her Jan”, or with embarrassment at being laughed at, I took the bull by the horn. I would never see these people again, and they would never see me again, but they would indeed remember me, as it occurred to me that NAT was their supervisor,

I spoke up, and said, “Ladies, what are you smirking at back there? Are you surfing porn on the internet? Haha. Boy, no wonder NAT has to chip in and help so much! I hope my health insurance dollars are not being used on unprofessional activites!”

And with that, Nat pushed me around the corner, and I waved to the two mean girls and said “Thank you ladies for all your help, I’ll be sure to mention you specifically in the suvery and letter I intend to send about my hospital experience.”

They weren’t smirking anymore.

When is it MY turn?

I just don’t get it.  I must have been evil in a previous life.  I try to be a nice person, and even succeed sometimes.  When someone I know gets sick, I bring them a nice lasagna.  When I get sick, I still bring them a nice lasagna.  Cause nobody is bringing ME a nice lasagna.

I’m the person that drives herself to the ER cause she doesn’t want to bother anyone.  I’m the one that apologizes when she can’t loan somebody something because the last loanee never returned it.  I’m the one that will run out and buy someone a card, a book, a gift because they lost a pet.  I’m the one that is all alone when she has to say goodbye to her pet at the all-night emergency vet.  I’m the one who “handles” everything for everyone.  Including myself, even when I can’t.  Nobody steps up and “handles” me.  Nobody sends me flowers at the hospital.  Nobody brings me a casserole when I come home.  I’m the one cooking for them.

I do this to myself.  All I have to do is ask, and I shall receive.  But I guess I figure I shouldn’t have to ask.  So I don’t, and then wonder why I get nothing.  I keep hoping people will be like ME, and just do it because you should help people in need, without being asked.  I shouldn’t expect people to think like me.

There are exceptions to the rule.  I was pleasantly surprised this last go round in the hospital, because I actually had multiple visitors, and a beautiful flower from my SIL.  Lots of phone calls.  And lots of Facebook messages.  Facebook has been a huge positive in that regard.  In the past I would be in the hospital, usually for at least a week, without any visitors or flowers.  No one would know, because I didn’t call them up and say, hey, guess what, I’m in the hospital!  I would be embarrassed because the nurses would feel sorry for me.  I would make up stories about how far away my family lived or that I insisted they not come.  I have taken limos home from hospitals because I had no ride to come get me.  Now I make sure I drive myself there, if I can, so I have a way home.  A few times with my Crohn’s, I had to call 911 and an ambulance took me to the hospital.

People don’t realize that when you live alone, you don’t have anyone to cook for you, do your laundry, clean the house, feed the cat, clean the litter, or even get a drink of water, when you are sick.  When you can’t even lean over to put your underpants on, let alone get dressed, you are stuck.  So you do what you can, and do without for the rest.  You pour the cat food on the floor, try to pour the water into the bowl, keep pouring more good litter after bad, eat cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner, watch the dust bunnies grow, and wear your summer PJ’s when you run out of winter ones.  You just don’t realize how helpless you are until you are crippled and have to rely upon other people who don’t reside there.  People always say the usual “let me know if you need anything” but what am I suppose to say?  Yes, I need someone to clean the litter box, and bring me dinner?  I just can’t do it.

I do have family close by, and they will go to the store for me and stop by for a few minutes.  But they have their own lives and work etc., so I don’t expect a lot out of the them.  Everybody has their own issues.  Unfortunately, with my Crohn’s disease I have been in and out the hospital a lot, and people just get tired of it.  Luckily I have been doing good in that regards for a few years .  But now I have the 5 herniated disks and sciatica, and I am waiting to have surgery for, for almost a year now, and things just get worse and worse.  I joke about going to Wal-Mart and riding the scooter, but deep inside I am horribly embarrassed.  I don’t like to think of myself as handicapped, even though I have been lately.  I use Peapod for my groceries, and try to save my walking steps for laundry, which is down two floors.  I hate my raised ranch!

I can only walk so far until I have to stop or I will fall over.  I am in chronic excruciating pain at all times.  My doctor actually sent me home from the hospital with Fentanyl pain patches, in addition to the usual Vicodin.  I’ve used a few but they don’t really work.  I would much rather do my hot tub twice a day than wear the patch (I can’t wear the patch in the hot tub).  My pain is way beyond pain killers.  I need my surgery!  I hate waiting on the insurance company to approve it.

Ok, done with my whining.  Thank you for listening.  Time to try to sleep again.

Don’t you dare smirk at me while sticking needles in my spine…

I just spent a wonderful 3-4 days in the hospital.  Hotel Condell.  Condell Condo.  Hilton Towers.  I was lucky enough to score a room in the new tower, and must say it was grander than most hotel rooms, with corian counters and cherry wood furniture and bamboo floors etc.  The nursing staff was delightful, especially the night tech, Sandra, with her larger than life personality and Sherri Shepard wigs.  She had bad feet, and I could hear her slippers shuffling down the hall long before she arrived at my condo suite  room.  She called me her “Baby Girl” from the start, and took special care of me and would bring me nightly treats so I wouldn’t “starve to death on that measly old hospital food”.  She was a bright spot in my day, and I looked forward to her shift every night.  She would work all night at Condell, and then go work at another hospital for the day shift, so she could send her babies to college.  No wonder she had bad feet, standing 16 hours a day.  I wanted to give her a nice nap in my pressure sensitive air bed I was lounging in.

I had plenty of doctors, nurses, techs, transport, food service and religious staff at my beck and call.   I was the luckiest patient in the world.  Until Dr. Smirky showed up.

Dr. Smirky was King of his domain at the hospital and wouldn’t let any of the other neuros play in his “epidural injection” sandbox.  He was very politcal selfish and insisted on performing all pain management functions.  He came to my room on Sunday night and said he would perform my procedure on Monday night and smirked at any question I asked him.   He seemed to be very nocturnal.  After further retrospection, I came to believe he was the AntiChrist.  Didn’t help that he bore a very strong resemblance to the actor who played the AntiChrist in the Left Behind movies.  Even the same accent.  Shudder.

Anyway, I figured he must be good at his job, after this was a huge hospital.  MY neuro was Chief of Neurosurgery, and this smirky neuro was Chief of Pissing in Everybody’s Sandbox Pain Management.  I let my neuro know I preferred him, as I had my first round of injections at his clinic with NO problem, in and out in 15 minutes, but there was no choice in the matter at that point.

So I was delivered to the AntiChrist’s    Dr. Swarmy Smirky’s OR promptly at 7 p.m.  I was quite apprehensive as I did not know nor particularly like this man, and he was going to be performing a delicate procedure that could potentially paralyze me for life.  As it turns out, I was right to be apprehensive.  He was condescending to his staff and smirky to us all.  He ordered people about and got irate when the fluoroscope tech couldn’t get a clear field for him to poke his needles in.  So Dr. Smirky just keep poking me with needles and hitting bone and cussing and swearing.  I literally feared for my life, and kept squeezing the nurse’s hand as I was basically lying helpless face down looking through a donut hole for my head and only able to see shoes.  Dr. Smirky kept asking me questions that I didn’t know he was addressing to me, and I kept saying “what? what?” and he was angrily manipulating my leg around while needles were poking out of my spine.  Finally I started to cry and I think he just gave up at that point and pushed all the steriods through, quite painfully I might add.  When he was done with me, after an hour, he smirked at me again, and I wanted to punch him in the nuts face.

By the time I got back to my room, I was a mess.  The charge nurse was quite upset that I was quite upset, and then I heard the slipper shuffle come hurrying down the hall, and Sandra burst into the room and said “What happened to my Baby Girl!?”  I sobbed my story out and the charge nurse came back with a sedative and morphine, and Sandra put a cool cloth on my brow, and I gratefully passed out for a while.  Totally missing The Bachelor and Castle!  I woke up awhile later with a terrible spinal headache and had to lay still the rest of the night.

My neuro and GP came in the next morning and I told them both what had happened and that I did not want to ever see Dr. Smirky again.  Obviously my injection results were NOT optimal, and both my docs said I could stay in the hospital another day if I wanted.  But I chose to go home, I missed my Ozzy kitten and my own air bed, although it hard to give up Club Condell and all the special attention I had received.  Luckily Dr. Smirky did not show up at my bedside for a follow-up before I left.  Hopefully he was still sleeping in his coffin in the bowels of the hospital.

So off I went, after hugging and kissing the entire staff of Club Condell and thanking them all profusely for all their help.  (I don’t think I needed to warn them about The AntiChrist lurking in their basement).  The transport staff pushed my wheelchair right out into the parking lot to my car, which had been there since early Sat. morning, and luckily was still there.  They loaded me up, and off I went.

I’m glad to be back home, even though I still have considerable pain, even with a Fentanyl patch on.  I will follow-up with MY neuro and be well taken care of.  Never again will I let anybody I don’t trust stick needles in MY spine.  Especially not Dr. Smirky.

Hey man, I see colored lights!

It seems I’m spending the weekend in the hospital.  Not anybody’s favorite place I’m sure.  But sadly I’m beginning to like it!

Long story short, I hurt my back last spring and been dealing with it ever since in a revolving door of doctors and physical therapy and pills etc.  The past few weeks have been excruciating painful and I’ve been barely able to walk.  Been using my mom’s cane, and look like an old lady.  Actually I think it might have been my grandma’s cane.  And I AM an old lady.  An old crippled lady now.

I finally gave up the ghost early this morning and drove to the ER.  I limped in with my cane and my rolling suitcase, filled with medical records, pills, clean PJ’s and undies, laptop, smartphone and Nook Color.  The nurse who took me back raised her eyebrow at me and said “I see you brought your suitcase?  You planning on staying long?”  I told her in reply that I live alone and am always prepared for everything, and then whipped my suitcase open and handed her a neatly typed document with all my prescriptions, doctor’s, medical history, and insurance information.  Within a half hour the doctor said they were going to admit me, and she gave me a wink and said “good thing you brought that suitcase”.   Then she shot me up with Dilaudin and Tramadol, and I wanted to kiss her.  First time I have been almost pain free in almost a year, and excruciating pain for a month.

I was in the ER for about 4 hours while the docs came and went and was waiting on a room.  I dozed off and on and when I woke up the winky nurse was always there with more pain meds to shoot into my IV.  Then they came and got me to take me to my room, and said how lucky I was that I got a room in the new wing that they called “The Hilton Towers”.  Wow.  Even in my drug-induced haze I could see what a lucky girl I was.  Air bed, full size couch, lounge chair, three huge windows overlooking a park, bathroom with fold away mirrors and blow dryers and open shower big enough for a party.  Oh, and don’t let me forget the flat screen TV.  Digital clock built into a wall panel.  Programmable thermostat.  Tray table with laptop holder and multiple levels of drink holders etc.  Sink with dispensers and full medical supply cabinet in main room.  I could go on and on.

They got me all settled in and more shots, this time of morphine.  Whatever.  Took a nice nap.  Family came to visit.  Ordered dinner off a menu.  Ate.  More shots.  Nice nap.  But best of all???????  No pain.  Ok, a little pain still.  But seriously?  No pain.  I can’t remember a time when I felt no pain.

I still can’t get up without assistance and I’m certainly not running through the halls.  Another MRI is schedule for either tonight or tomorrow.  Then hopefully another spinal injection, or straight to surgery to rid myself of these pesky herniated disks.  I am bound and determined to get better before I go home!

I miss my little Ozzy, but he is being well taken care of by family.  So I am going to lay back and enjoy my little legal drug buzz, and watch the psychedelic colored lights playing behind my eyelids for a few days!

 

 

How to survive a hospital incarceration

My brother-in-law recently had surgery.  It drudged up memories of my last surgery about 5 years ago.  I went in fairly healthy and hopeful, and came out almost dead and changed for life.

In everyone’s life, surgery is almost a certainty at one time or another.  I have had more than my share, mostly around my home in Lake County.  For my last surgery, my wonderful county club hospital doctor wanted me to have the BEST surgeon at a TOP hospital for Crohn’s.  He sent me to a big teaching hospital (BTH will used as alias so as to protect the identity of the innocent) in Chicago.  Great teaching hospital, great doctors, a big deal in downtown Chicago.  I thought I was 100% prepared, and anticipated every circumstance.  However, I did not take into consideration that my own body might betray me, and that I would not be able to act as my own advocate. 

My sister and niece went with me and planned to spend the night and go home the next morning after checking to see if I was ok.  I would come home a week later.  Upon arrival at the hospital, everything started to go wrong, from the get go.  They couldn’t get an IV in me.  The doctor was running late.  The nurses blew out all my veins out.  The anesthesiologist was called to knock me out and then put in an IV.  Surgery started very late.  Poor sister left in waiting room.  Doctor finally came out at 7 pm and told her I was done and would be taken to a room in an hour or so.  At 10 pm security escorted her out, they didn’t know where I was.  At 11 pm I woke up in a big dark empty room.  I squinted at the clock, and saw 11.  I thought it was still morning.  I passed out again, and then woke up when somebody asked me who I was.  At 2 am I remember being transferred to a room.  I have no idea where I was or why I was lost until 2 am.  I firmly believe I was left by mistake in the recovery room, all alone.

My sister and niece came by in the morning, and then left to catch the train home.  This is when my REAL ordeal started.  My right lung developed an air embolism from the anesthesia tube, and so they had to take out my epidural, and put me on push button morphine, which I very insistently told me doctor ahead of time DOES NOT WORK ON ME.  I am VERY resistant to all pain meds.  Heck, they can hardly get me to sleep with anesthesia!

The next five days went by excruciating slowly.  The nurses came in, took my vitals and poked me with needles and stole my blood, and that was about it.  Nobody washed me, helped me brush my teeth, nothing.  I laid there like a corpse, barely able to speak, as I had to focus all my energy on my pain.  Every minute seemed like an hour.  My whole existence had narrowed down to a small bed filled with pain and discomfort. The doctor would come in and I would just nod my head, I have no idea what they were asking me.  Finally I got to the point where I could speak, and the next time the intern came in, I broke down crying hysterically, telling him my tale of woe and neglect from the nursing staff.  I was a dirty, filthy, stinking mess.  Soon, I heard my doctor’s voice in the hallway, and a whole staff of nurses came in, to help me into the bathroom and clean me up and put on a new gown etc.  I felt so much better after that.  The doctor apologized profusely for the lack of care I had received, and then told me, that’s why most patients have family come and stay with them, there is a pullout window seat in all the rooms.  Apparently the nursing staff at a large teaching hospital doesn’t recognize a patient’s needs.  To their defense, I never had the same nurse twice, and most of them barely spoke English.  So I would say there was a HUGE lack of communication.

At that point I decided I definitely did not want to stay there anymore, and I better get out while I was still alive.  I begged the doctor to let me go home, and she finally consented.  So at 5 pm on Day 5, I called a limo to come take me home.  What an idiot move that turned out to be.  Rush hour.  2 and 1/2 hours of a bumpy car ride with an incision from the ribs to pubic bone dissecting my midsection.  Finally got home to my own bed and slept like a log the first night.  However, I still could not move about on my own and spent the next few days in terrible pain still.  Thank goodness for the kindness of my sister to feed me. Then, my incision developed an infection, most likely picked up at the hospital.  So I had to deal with another visit to the doctor who had to open the incision up and drain it and antibiotics and that whole business.

I tried to document everything that happened to me, and brought it to my doctor on my follow-up visit.  She again apologize and said she hoped this never happened again to another patient.  I told her that I realize now that a patient needs to have an advocate with them to make sure they are being taken care of properly, but that there are many people out there that are single or old and have nobody to stay with them 24/7 until they can take care of themselves.  Most people assume they are leaving their loved ones in the good care of a nursing staff, when in reality the nurses haven’t a clue as to your mental state, or even physical pain for the that matter, especially when you cannot speak and are not in your right mind.  Now, this is NOT true at all hospitals, or with all nurses, I have had the BEST nurses in the world at my suburban county club hospital, who even gives back rubs at night to help you sleep.  However, recently my hospital was gobbled up by none other than BTH, so I have NO IDEA what that means.  I can only hope they still have the same quality of nurses as before.  With the rising cost of health care, and the number of people with no insurance who cannot pay their bills, the hospitals are really taking a beating lately, and quite honestly don’t think things will improve.

So the moral to this whole story is to make sure your loved ones have a patient advocate by their side to make sure they are taken care of properly, especially the elderly or single people, who may not have any visitors.  Nurses are busy people, and don’t have the time to chat with patients to truly assess their condition.  I would say that most nurses try their hardest, but staffing shortages make it hard to complete all their duties.  Ultimately, YOU are responsible for your own welfare, and cannot depend upon the kindness of strangers.