Apologies for not posting recently, I have been letting the hospital experience wash over and through me.
I shall talk of my routine but first I’ll tell you of my visit from Dr B this morning. I have been waiting for when the chest drain is to be removed, when the signs of air in the lung cavity is no more. Although for me it has seemed like forever having this tube stuck in my side, all indicators are that I am on track to have it removed in good time. Before Dr B came this morning we have had some issues with the drain. The bubbling had seemed excessive and also sometimes not at all, confusing them. They have changed the drain itself, a clear plastic box with various compartments, for a brand new one, just in case the previous was faulty and from looking at how the new one functions there was an issue somewhere.
That doesn’t mean it’s coming out today though, no. It will, hopefully, be in the next day or two, depending on further reduction of air coming through and a test they will do for 24 hours where they clamp the tube and see how my chest does without the drain temporarily. So, Dr B came in and had me breathe in and out, cough etc. To assess the drain. He then pressed various parts of my upper chest. He tells me the issue is that air has got into the muscles of my chest and we have to wait for that to disperse. To show me what it’s like he had me press my chest where he had and feel. It is weird. It feels almost exactly like pressing fresh snow, there is a crunching feel like snow flakes being compressed, the air trapped in muscle. The other day when P swiped the stethoscope from the white board in my room and listened to my chest she said she could hear what they call Rice Krispies, a snap, crackle and popping sound when you breathe. I listened too and the sound is very similar to a bowl of puffed rice. Anyway, the net result is that until that calms the drain will not go and I will not leave. Dr B is confident it will be the next couple of days but it is the body that knows.
It’s time you got a flavour of my routine. I wake, or am awoken by a nurse around the 6am mark, and will have my temperature taken, blood pressure checked, pulse/ox monitored and will have 15 minutes on a nebulyser. The pulse/ox is a sleeve that fits on a finger and monitors my pulse but also reads the oxygen levels in the blood. The nebulyser is a mask with a small bottle or flask attached to the bottom into which the nurse will put a liquid. The mask is then attached to an air line and the liquid becomes a vapour that I breathe in, to aid my lungs. After that comes the aide soignante with my breakfast, petit pain with chocolat chaud, buerre et confiture:
In this particular I was lucky, there was a spare croissant going and the aides like me 🙂
After brekkie the radiologist with the portable x-ray machine comes and takes a picture of my chest. This happens every morning. After that comes the therapist and I do my breathing exercises to help my lungs function and heal. Next a pair of nurses comes to change the bed and aid me in washing. Now that I’m off the epidural and permanently attached blood pressure machine and pulse/ox, the only thing holding me back is the drain, so no more bed baths for me. One washes my back for me but the rest is all my own to do. So, wash, hairwash and shave and then I am installed in my chair. Dr B comes by after that usually. From now until lunch my time is my own, especially with the monitoring being less often now. I read, write, stare at the wall, think etc. You’ve seen the kind of lunches I get, so we won’t dwell on that. After lunch a woman comes to ask me my desires for the evening meal and for lunch tomorrow. We go through her menus on her tablet and decide. At first I thought the choices were myriad but as time has gone on and I have discovered the rubbish from the not so bad, my options have narrowed.
The highlight of the day is P’s visit. We natter for a couple of hours about the chickens, the dog, the neighbours, my life here, how things are going etc. and we have a cup of tea. We invested in a travel kettle and I keep it here for when I need.
After that I write some more, read some more, stare at the ceiling to vary things up a bit and then bed. I have stocked the ipad with movies and watch one of those. Nurses come by for the various checks, I will get another session of the nebulyser then sleep. That will be interrupted by check also but as long as the drugs are at the right levels sleep is reasonably restful.
The only thing you may not have noticed in there was mention of going to the toilet. Oh, you thought I was being polite, leaving that out of the conversation from a sense of decency? Do you not know me? Up until recently nothing has happened ‘down there’, a simple result of the drugs I am taking and inactivity. Not to say it has not been worked on. Like arms dealers supplying both sides in a war, the nurses have been giving ammunition to two enemies within my body. On the one side are the black forces of blockage, the morphines and the codeines and the oxycodones etc. which have endeavoured, successfully, to render my intestines immobile. On the other side are the smooth, slippery brown forces of movement, transit. Those forces, in order of application are: bottled water high in magnesium, a ‘Mr Shift It’ powder, various fruits my darling P has brought me, and finally the tub of prunes in their own juice the catering lady provided me. The last was proffered with a concerned but hopeful look as she had overheard my conversation with the nurse over how it had been six days since I had last had a little brown visitor.
Well, success! After another couple of poudres de mouvement, the train finally left the station. I won’t say it was easy, I won’t say it was comfortable, but it was successful. Like a fat man at a hot dog eating contest, I sweated manfully at my job, I heaved and I ho’ed, I pushed and I shoved. Eventually I flopped back into my seat a wet rag, a mere shadow of myself having delivered of a brick. Since then movement has been easier, though still difficult. More fruit, please!