Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Octopus Women

During my stay in the hospital a few weeks ago, I was struck by the similiarity of myself and all the other patients. We wore the same lovely, designer gowns. Some, of course, less than others. We were all attached to blue poles. We all woke up at 6am and went to bed at 10pm. No one slept in their beds during the day - we dosed in our chairs.
Oh, you don't believe me - at 6am promptly a team of nurses and assistants would arrive bedside turning on lights, attaching blood pressure cuffs and sticking wands in our mouths - before we cracked our eyelids. By 6:15 we were all seated across the ward and the beds made. At 6:20 the doctors arrived for daily assessment. And at 6:30 we were asleep sitting up in our chairs. What do you expect for a group of recently operated older people (myself excluded)?
The worst part was the walking. Some depraved individual had determined that 14 laps around the floor was a mile. Am I the only one who thinks that someone had too much time on their hands? So after breakfast, the rounds began. The goal was to walk 14 laps before bedtime. My goal on day one was 6 laps. I know, I know - I'm a wuss.
So here I was only twelve hours after surgery and I'm walking the floor. I have tubes coming out of me everywhere. IV's (2), epidural, drain tubes and others that I don't want to think about. I looked like octopus women.
All these tubes were attached to a tall, blue wheeled pole. Everyone had a blue pole. Everyone. We clung to these blue poles like a life line. The epidural had a button on it - the button delivered the pain med. The pain med was attached to the blue pole. You didn't go far from the blue pole. Acutally, we spent most of the day unwinding the blue pole. Like necklaces tangled in a jewelry box, the tubes would get tangled around the blue pole. Hey, it passed the time.
On my first day - 6 laps - I struggled putting one foot in front of the other. Older people - by like 20 years - would snap at me to move aside to the slow lane. They would zip to the corner and cough. Zip again and cough. Down the hall to the next corner and cough. About 8 to 10 people at a time would be walking the halls. There I was crawling like a tortoise to the one corner - attempt to cough - and crawl again. My second time around I noticed a hall midway that cut the floor in half. I took the hall and cut my walking in half. My husband noticed. I told him that I would walk but it would have to more frequently with shorter trips. He sighed.
The next day my nausea was much better. Pain was still pretty constant but they couldn't do anything with my allergies to narcotics. Which just sucks. So up at the usual time sitting and soon the walking began. I have to admit I did much better. In fact, I walked 14 laps that day! A whole mile! Yeah me.
I did ask the nurse why the others seemed to have it easier and walk faster. Was it because my surgery was more intensive? Of course, she replied. But also, remember they are on morphene.

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