This ordeal put hospital stays into perspective for me. My heart goes out to all of those who stay in the hospital. I never want to have that experience again, and as result I have decided that I will sign a DNR to avoid ever having this experience again. It was thoroughly depressing. At one point, I called the operator and asked if there was a place with younger patients, and she told me pediatrics. I asked if I could go hang out there – to be around life and energy and smiles, and I was told no. It was unfair that all the old people got to hang out together, but I was subjected to what felt like the geriatric ward. I understand how important balloons and gifts are. They are a visual reminder that someone loves and cares for you and is thinking about you and your recovery. My roommate’s space was overflowing with balloons and flowers, and I had none. Some days I thought about visiting the other patients and chatting with them, but whenever I passed their rooms, I saw their nurses had masks on, and thought better of it.
In the hospital, the little things become very important. Every morning I ordered strawberry yogurt in order to combat the buildup of antibiotics in my system. For the first few days an Original Yoplait Strawberry arrived, but then, they started sending regular blueberry and Light Strawberry. Yuck. Artificial sweeteners are disgusting to me, so I re-ordered the yogurt and confirmed that they had regular, yet to my surprise, Light would arrive. When the hospital rep came by to ask if I was pleased with the meals, I told her about my yogurt ordeal. She gave me a Dunkin Donuts gift card for my trouble, and from then on Original Yoplait strawberry appeared. One day, for lunch I ordered a baked potato and asked for shredded cheese on top and the cafeteria assistant told me “this is not a restaurant, baby!” No cheese arrived.
These small disappointments began to mount up. I was already sad that I had missed the red carpet premiere of Sex and the City 2, my team’s offsite in Fort Lauderdale, and Granny Gee’s 90th birthday. I wanted to be outside, with normal, healthy people. My muscle strength was coming back in my thigh, so I could support myself, but I did have a very pronounced limp. I was determined to walk around outside. I walked to elevator bank, and my nurse caught me. She told me that I needed a doctor’s order to be released to walk around, but she added I could wheel myself around in my wheelchair. Ha! I thought I would have been able to blog to my heart’s content, but the IV in my arm was annoying. Every time I bent my arm I felt like I was puncturing my little vein, so the thought of crushing the IV as I bent my arm to push the wheel chair totally repelled me. I did, however, wheel myself out of her sight, and then abandoned the chair. I found the cancer garden, a beautifully manicured place with plants, flowers and a waterfall. I spent most of the days sitting in the garden when I didn’t have diagnostic tests, scans, blood draws, or antibiotics dripping into my system.
Several times my roommate and I heard code blue paged. When it was paged to hospital registration, I envisioned someone in dire need of help, but being required to complete paperwork and then crashing. When I was waiting in radiology for my bone scan, code blue was paged to the OR. I saw three doctors sprint past me. When it was paged to maternity my heart sank. The maternity ward is where life comes into the earth. Was the page for the mother or the baby or worse, both? Can you imagine what it was like for the other women in the ward? Those first time moms in labor, anxious about how it will turn out for them, only to hear the alarm that someone’s life is teetering on the edge. Or how it was that mom or her baby, and the father helplessly hoping that he would leave the hospitable with more lives than he came in with.
As a result, I prayed a lot in the hospitable. For me, for the other patients, for healthy people, that they would remain so. One afternoon, the hospitable chaplain came into visit my roommate and I. He was a small Jewish man and he appeared to ask me all the text book psychiatric questions. Am I happy? What do I look forward to, etc. Finally, he asked me if I wanted to pray with him. At this time, my nurse had arrived to take my blood pressure. I pride myself having exceptionally low pressure. The highest it’s ever been, even while pregnant, was 120/80. I asked the chaplain if he prays with everyone, and he said yes. I inquired, how could that be, if patients have very different faiths, that he would pray with them. I feel with praying to Buddha or anyone else besides God the Father in Jesus name, isn’t right for professing Christians, so how could a Jew pray to Allah? He said that he prays to whomever the patient requests. At this point the nurse had finished my blood pressure reading, it was off the chart. I was so worked up, that this rabbi was willing to abandon his personal beliefs to pray to other beings, but he would not pray with me in Jesus’ name. I politely refused his offer, but the nurse could clearly see I was agitated and asked to repeat my reading. The rabbi left, and my blood pressure returned to normal again.
I learned a lot about patience my week in the hospitable. I learned a lot about myself. I had looked forward to these trips as a chance to get away and not be myself. Actually, I really wanted to go Florida and live without my daily responsibilities. I wanted some Jolawn time, some time to not worry about the boys, my email… I wanted some seriously selfish time to wil’ out with no consequences. Fortunately for me, God knew this and protected me. I believe that this hip ailment was the only way God could stop me from going. He made it so that I literally could not walk. Before arriving to ER where they administered morphine, the pain was so bad I was stood in my kitchen crying. Why are we so stubborn, so hard headed, that we have to ‘go through’ things in order for obedience to kick in?
I saw several doctors who earnestly tried to diagnose me. The infectious disease doctor, Dr. Parry, resolved to treat me for Lyme disease, even though my western blot came back negative. This treatment consisted of fourteen consecutive days of intravenous antibiotics. I was prescribed rosefen and required to return to the infusion center every morning for a thirty minute session. I don’t know how this sounds to you, but after being trapped in the depression-ridded hospitable for days, I was finally allowed out, but only to return every morning before work for more needles and drugs. Ugh, I couldn’t get away! Because I couldn’t bear to keep the stint in my arm, every day they stuck me anew and administered the medicine.
I still did not have an official diagnosis, but the antibiotics resolved the excruciating pain and muscle weakness. About a month after my discharge, my still tender hip seemed to be getting worse. I returned to Dr. Parry for follow up blood work. He did some sort of screen which came back flagging something, so I had another blood draw. Dr. Parry called me one evening, with strange results. He said that I tested positive for an RNP or RNA, or ANA or something like that. Basically, he said that I could possibly have lupus. Lupus? I had heard of it, and immediately began webmd’ing it. Hmmm…. Not quite the result I was hoping for. I scheduled appointments with two different rheumatologists to get two opinions. They re-ordered the same blood work, and this time EVERYTHING came back negative. Thank you, Jesus.
I still have pain in my hip, and some days my limp is visible to Hubby, but I thank God for my health, no matter had badly my hip is bothering me. I hope that you never have this experience and that you are obedient to His word.