'twas the week before christmas

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Sunday, December 24, 2006
hospital entertainment

Leslie brought me some appropriate reading material

Week before christmas: great time for shopping, baking, holiday cheer, or for a surprise stay in the hospital to treat a facial abscess! Okay, it was not really a great time to be in the hospital, but we don't always get to choose. I should say right now that I am well on my way to recovery and that every single human I interacted with at Good Samaritan Hospital was unfailingly kind to me -- the one person who was kind of abrupt (the surgeon) has so far gone on to behave like the stereotypical crank with a heart of gold. (Thought I should have stayed longer, yet was the one to spring me out, grouch grouch, grouch/ nice, nice, nice.)

here's a brief timeline of what I've been up to this week. Believe me, I would have rather been standing in line at the post office!

Sunday the 17th (evening): I can't believe I am getting a huge stupid zit between my mouth and jaw.

Monday the 18th: in retrospect, making comparisons between yourself and the elephant man, quasimodo, phantom of the opera, the beast (of beauty and the) is probably a sign that medical attention is required.

Tuesday the 19th: The day of optimistic whimpering. Errands were run with scarf in dramatic bank robber style. Pain increasing to the point where sleep was only available with the aid of old Tylenol with codeine tablets left over from wisdom tooth extraction.

Wednesday the 20th: spent entire day in pajamas whimpering (less optimistically) and taking Tylenol 3 every 4 hours until Mom came and made me get dressed to go to the emergency room.

.... hospital time....

emergency room: jabby jabby needles (which barely registered because my face hurt so much), blood drawn, the doctor telling me things that sounded insane like "you'll need to see a plastic surgeon, if this gets into your airway it could be deadly, you'll have to be admitted, these infections develop very quickly, etc." What seemed like one million years and one CT scan later, I was finally admitted upstairs to a room with a view of the christmas lights on NW 23rd and the west hills. Not exactly how I had planned to spend the day, but the pain was considerably less (god bless narcotics).

Thursday the 21st: Feeling somewhat better because the abscess started to drain on its own. Moved to a private room (view of the fremont bridge!) and got lots of phone calls and visitors which was nice because the hospital is boring if you're conscious. Still really tired from the infection and loopy from the medicine, so I couldn't really do stuff or read anything too complicated. The plastic surgeon came by at around 2, poked at my face (he said "let me get a q-tip" and then proceeded to poke at me with the pointed wooden end), said he would do the surgery, which should be easy and quick at 7pm. No more food or liquid for me! Managed to catch a repeat of the Colbert Report's "Guitarmageddon" episode, which I took as a good sign (and also found hilarious).

surgery: they wheeled me down in the bed I was in! It was the end of the day, so they let my mom and sister come down with me, although I sent them home so they could see "Guitarmageddon" for themselves -- also because my mom was getting fretful and worried. I wasn't too worried -- I think because they weren't going in and poking around my innards, just doing something on the outside. Anyway, if the hospital is boring for a patient who is still loopy enough to fall asleep every 20 minutes, it is Double Plus Boring for the long term visitor.

When they finally wheeled me into the operating room I knew everything was going to be fine because The Cure was playing on the stereo! (Just Like Heaven, which is about a dead girl, but I love the song, so whatever.) I got about 20000 sticky monitor things stuck to various parts of my body. Once I realized that the beeping I was hearing (over The Cure) was my heartbeat, I thought "I'll see if I can make it go slower" (it sounded fast and very unmusical to me), but that only made it go faster so I gave up. I later found out that my heart rate was elevated because that's what happens with a big infection. Anyway, the anesthesiologist (who was so nice, even though I heard him making rude puns as I was coming out of it in the recovery room), told me that he was going to give me some oxygen and he was sorry it smelled like plastic and then that he would see me in a little while and then I was OUT. I have absolutely no recollection of anything that happened in the OR beyond that point, and it's just as well. I hear there was "a lot of pus," which is all I needed to know. My face was still swollen because they packed the abscess with medicated gauze, but not nearly as painful. I'm sure the morphine helped with that, too.

speaking of morphine, I am fairly certain that's what made me think it was a great idea less than an hour after surgery to take pictures of the fremont bridge from my window. Of course in order to do this, I had to crawl over my bed because the IV wouldn't reach otherwise.... can you see where this is headed? It ended with me in the dark frantically trying to put the drippy now detached IV thing in the sink while I failed to notice that I was bleeding profusely through the IV site. Then I tried to clean up the blood, and ended up getting it all over before I gave up and fell back onto the bed until the nurse finally came. Good times! (I did get my picture after she put me back together, though.)

Friday the 22nd: Feeling so much better, and therefore 10000x more bored. I tell every single person I see (not that many, actually) that I feel SO MUCH BETTER, and that I should probably go home so that some sick person could have my room. The doctor doing rounds tells me that she "thinks about knitting 24 hours a day," and that she was going to wait until she heard from the surgeon before making any decisions about me. So, I sat around and waited for the surgeon. Drank thick milk and thick apple juice (this is what they serve in hell), because someone charted that I needed a pureed diet. The whole day was largely waiting for the surgeon, the surgeon whom I think actually forgot about me because the nurse (who was no doubt sick of my piteous, beseeching looks), finally called him and he came in in his street clothes. ... there was some negotiating -- he thought I should stay at least one more day and I disagreed. In the end he relented. It all turned out okay because the culture came back on the infection and it is the kind that is treatable with oral antibiotics. (which was a relief since everyone kept telling me that they usually only give 3-4 courses of this particular IV antibiotic because it is so hard on the veins and I had already had FIVE.) I get to go to the Wound Clinic once a day for a few days until it has healed up enough for me to dress the wound myself.

ANYWAY, the point of all of this is I have never even been in the hospital before, let alone had surgery and all that jazz. I'm glad I got it out of the way in 2006 so 2007 can be spent in more pleasurable pursuits.

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate! (and take it from me, if there is stuff you wanted to get done but didn't and are stressing out about it -- it's probably no big deal and the people who love you will love you still.)
10 comments on "'twas the week before christmas"
  1. Oh good gracious above, how totally scary. Glad you're okay! Love the blog! Take care of yourself and Happy New Year!

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  3. Hey man -

    I'm so glad you are okay, that they cut you loose in time for the holidays, and that you are (soon to be) on your way over for Christmas Eve dinner. We even decorated for you, and you know how I feel about decorations this year!

    P.s. Baxter says he's glad you got out in time to go shopping for his birthday which is on Boxing Day, so don't spend all your money on "stupid Christmas gifts". He is excited, because he thinks there will be actual boxing involved and you know how he enjoys a good ass whoopin'.

  4. I'm SO glad you're into the healing part of this whole debacle. But that was kind of a lot of trouble to go through to get out of Christmas responsibilities, don't you think? Hee hee, I joke. Seriously, I'm so glad you're home and sounding so much better! 2007 can't help but begin on an up note!

  5. Thank you, Maggie! It sounds scarier to me now than when I was in the middle of it, but I think that's just the way those things go (thank god!). I love your blog too.

    Martina, thank you for the delicious dinner! The decorations were LOVELY, and Baxter was so well behaved... I'm sure out of deference to my delicate post-hospital state. (hee hee)

    I'm glad too, Leslie!! I can report thus far that the healing part of this debacle itches and hurts, but that's why there's benadryl and vicodin! I just have to remember that it is okay for me to TAKE them, since my inclination is that "it isn't so bad," even as I'm trying to scratch my face off. My big worry now is what I will have to do NEXT YEAR to get out of my Christmas responsibilities... (kidding!)

  6. Good that you went and went out.

  7. Good Grief Jensect! I get busy for a few days and don't check in and then I have to read about your Scarifying Pre Christmas Incident days after the fact! I am glad you were sprung in time for the holiday. Hmm...if only some one had told me....I would have been happy to leap off the 15 any night after my work day and paid you a visit. Hmmm. who is responsible for that?

    I remain, the Original Anonymous!

  8. Original Anonymous Tara -- you are sweet! but there wasn't really a lot of night time visitation opportunities. I was admitted around 10pm wed. (after 6 hours in the ER), had surgery thurs night, and harrassed people to release me so I was out by 6pm on Friday. As for who is responsible... I think we both know, and her initials are QOS!

  9. I cannot believe you called me out AGAIN.

  10. Icelander is in transit, you are healing nicely, my mothers hand stitches come out Friday AM and I want to say to you, "Keep your chin up!" What a relief to finally say it. Happy New Year!!!!


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