Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Irony of Fluids - Surgery Adventure Part 3

I'm gonna be bold and just say it. My average weight is about 60 kg (+/- 2) and that's what it was on Feb 26. When I arrived at the hospital on March 1, I weighed 66 kg. I secretly hoped their scale was not well calibrated but it was true. I learned later that, because of my heart problem, my whole body has been accumulating fluid all over. I was a giant water balloon. A day after surgery, I was at 68 kg. I gained 8 kilos within a couple days, that's INSANE! I felt fat and horrible. But I guess after surgery, with a long scar from the bottom of my neck all the way down my cleavage, with 8 kg of fluid inflating me, that was pretty normal.

In the evening of Friday March 4th, I woke up in the ICU feeling like I had been hiking the desert or something. My first word was "thirsty". My relatives were there. The nurse said that they had just removed tubes from my throat and that I should wait two hours or so before swallowing anything. Instead of water, she gave me a foam cup full of ice chips. My cousin fed me some ice chips. All I kept saying was "more" and "thirsty". They mentioned people coming to see me and motioned to a plant and a flower pot on the ground next to my bed. The ICU is not very roomy. There were no tables to put flowers or anything. After they left, the nurse kept my foam cup full of ice chips that I greedily munched on. Two hours in I finally got a cup of water, but nothing seemed to quench my thirst. More ice chips please.

As I became more aware of my surroundings, I looked around myself. I was on oxygen, I had an IV in each arm (one for pain killers, the other might've been empty, can't remember). I also had a tube for urine and there were wires sticking out of my stomach. There was also something taped to my neck and my sutures were also all taped up. I could move my arms and feed myself ice but apart from that, it didn't seem like mobile was an option. I just lay there phasing in and out, dying for water. I pressed the pain killer button every 5-10 minutes as the nurse had advised me. I'm not sure if I felt any pain at the time. I don't remember.

At one point, the nurse took a break. I ran out of ice. That made it the longest break ever taken by any human being on the planet to me. I pressed the button trying to call the nurse next door, who could see me through the glass pane. I called out to her too. She completely ignored me. I continued to press the button frantically and she finally gave up and came to get me some ice. She then explained that her patient is really sick and I should wait for my nurse to come back. I spent the night in the ICU and then towards the afternoon on Saturday, I was moved to the 4th floor where my two best friends from the university were waiting for me with a bouquet. I was told I looked in pain and weak that day. I don't remember.

I was lucky to have a room to myself. It had a large window and was very bright. I also had my own bathroom and lots of space, which was soon to be filled with flowers from visitors. They had removed the urine tube at some point. The nurse asked me to try and go pee whenever I was ready. When I felt like I could go, I sat there trying really hard. Nothing. One nurse came and said they should probably put the tube back in. That sounded painful. Another nurse came behind her and encouraged me to try again to avoid the tube. She was right. I didn't need it. So relieved… They gave me a diuretic to get rid of all the excess fluid accumulated in my body. So much fluid in my body, and yet I was so thirsty.

My aunt, uncle and two cousins dropped by to see me. I don't remember much of what happened. I remember three of them leaving and Nicolas stayed behind chatting a bit. Then my nurse Mary asked him to leave coz I needed an injection. Another one of those belly injections. I didn't want it. I remembered how painful the last one was and started crying. She took my hand and tried to reassure me. Finally I gave in. Surprisingly, it didn't hurt quite as much. I was tired. Food came in. It was just soup and jello. My throat was still recovering I guess. My cousin came back in and, after seeing me struggle a bit, fed me soup.

Later that day, a colleague came to visit me. I remember him dropping by, but don't remember much of the visit. When we talked about it later, I vaguely remembered that the nurse came in and did some checks on me and she dropped something on my leg that hurt but I can't remember what it was or what she was doing or even which nurse it was. I totally forgot a nurse had interrupted his visit until he mentioned it to me later. The first two days after my surgery are kinda fuzzy. Even as I write this, I'm doing a lot of thinking to try and sort events chronologically. Woah alzheimer must suck so bad.

I woke up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat. It wasn't the first time. It was quite customary since my admission to hospital. The first time they told me it was because of the Tylenol I took for fever. I had no fever anymore but I was literally soaked, and I was cold from the wet hospital gowns and sheets sticking to my skin. It was kind of like getting rained on and having no clothes to change into. It was uncomfortable. I was still thirsty as ever. Ice chips were still my most common option. I only had water to swallow pills and on rare occasions when they felt sorry for me. I dried up and I fell back asleep. I woke up again, drenched in sweat and craving for H2O like a lost traveler of the desert. Fell back asleep. Woke up again in a few hours, drenched in sweat and thirsty. After a few cycles, it was 7 am and I woke up for good. I was gonna say I woke up for breakfast but I don't remember if I had any.

Photo credit: Desert Water by Chris Ribbon (MaidenHead Camera Club)

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