June 22nd, 2011:

POLISHING MY PATIENCE…PATIENT SKILLS

I was hungry by the time I got settled in my hospital bed, which was around 7 p.m., Monday night. The scheduled dinner had already been served so they brought me a sandwich, an apple, and something sweet I don’t remember. I learned the hospital routine fairly fast—a nurse of some sort took my vitals (blood pressure and temperature) quite often. Since I was supposed to have the operation the next day, they came to give me a EKG and chest X-ray and a young doctor advised me about painkillers.

I was a bit skeptical of Vicoden since I didn’t have a lot of pain. I told him I thought all the doctors at Harbor Hospital were attractive. “Wait until you take the Vicodin!” he joked.

The nurses, whose shifts changed from night to day, were all friendly. I had to ask for help going to the bathroom since the handrail was on the right side, where I was hampered by casts on my arm and leg. There was a handy pull cord to signal a nurse for help so it worked out well. By the end of the second day, I felt stronger and was figuring out ways to use the bathroom by myself.

A hospital isn’t meant for relaxing sleep I discovered quickly. I was awakened about 2 a.m. for another vitals check; by that time the Vicodin had made me woozy but not very sleepy. By the next night, on the advice of a young roommate, I asked for Vicodin plus a sleeping pill and it really did the trick.

I got to know my three roommates. Fran, a middle-aged yoga studio owner and teacher next to me, had leukemia and her prognosis, according to her friends who talked to me later, was not good. Diagonally across from me was a 23 year-old who was due for the same operation for the wrist that I was and by the same doctor. We both agreed on his good looks. She had broken her wrist a year before and it had never healed properly. Both roommates had visitors that evening—grandparents for the young gal, an old friend for Fran.

Tuesday morning I couldn’t have food or liquid (I cheated with a swallow when I brushed my teeth with my left hand) and was on an IV drip. They took the young woman first thing, and I assumed I would go a few hours later. In the meantime I got to know Fran. We had lots in common spiritually and had read the same material—Seth and Louise Hay, for instance. Fran’s birthday was 2:30 p.m. December 31 (the same time my birth father, Victor Hobson, had died), which was 12 hours before my birthday at 2:30 a.m. on January 1.  She was facing a difficult operation on her sinuses, which were infected and had to be healed before they could start a second round of chemotherapy for her. That morning she had dressed in street clothes and had on makeup: she met with a business friend since she was getting ready to sell her yoga studio. Ironically, they took her off for her operation about 2:30 p.m.

I waited patiently and hungrily as the day dragged on, but nobody came to take me. I had my own little TV on an expandable metal arm.  One of the nurses said she felt I would be taken care of before the end of the day, but by 5 p.m. it seemed there was no hope. Apparently, there had been some emergency surgeries. I was taken off the IV and got ready for dinner. I was discouraged but resigned. I had heard from my children by phone a couple of times by then, which lightened my mood considerably.

My anesthesiologist, a young blond fellow with dimples and a winning manner, visited to ask questions about diseases and general health. He was amazed I didn’t have something I needed meds for—diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. for my age. I had been there two days and was beginning to think the current crop of young doctors were required to be cute to work there!

When Fran came back from her operation, she was obviously in pain and spent the next hours and through the night vomiting and having a horrible time of it. I took the Vicodin and sleeping pill and managed to mostly ignore it, despite my sympathetic feelings.

 

Upcoming: Operation time: a metal wrist plate.

 

 

 

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