But I can still smile, occasionally.
Humor in a Hospital Vein?
I know I have lost many pounds during the last year of medical procedures. Mostly muscle mass. I can tell. When the wind blows I fear I might take flight. Not yet. I also fear that I might lose my sense of humor. So, I have decided to record some the events during the recent medical onslaughts to have and to hold them later… just for laughs.
During my several hospital hideouts I threatened to write a book about all the medical mishaps… “How not to take it lying down.”
Every day a different nurse would tell me “you’re funny.” I remember my mother making a distinction, “funny ha-ha or funny peculiar.” Someone from the hospital heard of my humor and asked if I would like to write for the new internet site they were creating. I admitted, “I don’t think you want to hear what I have to say.” She went away.
These events occurred over three years in three different hospitals. No matter. It was all centered on one “victim”, me. For the most part the service was fine. Yet, there were quite a few anomalies along the way. I even took notes. But, when I got home, most of those were untranslatable. Muddy thoughts.
The Spanish Heart Attack
One Sunday morning in November 2009 I did not know I was suffering a heart attack while walking five blocks to work as a Guest Services/Tour Guide at the Lucas Oil Stadium. One of my compatriots also going to work, a former EMT, knew what was happening when I told him I could not keep up any longer. He assisted me to the door of the facility and into a medical unit. They checked and hauled me off to a hospital of choice… even at a difficult moment.
Always the tour guide I was pointing out things along the way. “There is the time clock.” One gurney journey guy said, “Don’t worry. You are not checking in. You are checking out.”
Lucky for me, the chief of the heart department was the on-call that weekend. And he was very attentive. Another heart surgeon said I was talking with him during the five stent procedure … in Spanish. He is from Valencia, Spain. In recovery, the nurse heard me speak to the doctor in Spanish. She turned and just stared. I said, “It is something new I picked up while under anesthesia.”
In the earliest exploratory surgery [TURP – trans urethral resection of the prostate] I was given an epidural anesthetic rather than a general because of concern for my heart during the process. When I came to, I told the medical personnel, “Women get epidurals all the time and they get babies. I asked, Where’s mine?” Blank stares all around.
The Scent of Illness
Next year, during my stay for a cholecystectomy [gall bladder removal] at least once a day, often more, the nurse might say “come on, we are going to another room.” One time they wanted my private room for an incoming prisoner. He needed privacy. On one occasion (about mid-week) my private double room was invaded by a loud patient declaring all the things he would not let them do. “I won’t have anybody sticking me with needles hundreds of times. And I won’t go three miles on the thread (sic) mill.”
The opinionated one in the next bed continued his harangue while I finally connected with a laxative attempt. The stench caused him to blurt, “Get that crap out of here.” I told him it was the first time he was correct since he arrived.
Across the hall, maintenance workers were repairing a tiled floor with a resulting acrid smell of their own. My allergy reacted to the fumes and the nurse began moving me to another room without warning. The other patient yelled, “If you didn’t like me you could have just told me.” Two smells and him. I did the best I could.
Hot Flashes and Room Havoc
My urologist and my oncologist are not yet certain which way to proceed with my condition. They say new treatments are coming soon. So far, I get a hormone shot (Lupron) every three months in an attempt to curtail the aggressiveness of the cancer through my lymph system. Like some other men with those hormone shots we get to experience the thrill of hot-flashes. A woman sitting next to me in the lobby said simply, “Welcome to the club.”
Already, we have found a large tumor on the left femur just below the hip and had it removed by RFA (radio frequency ablation) so I could walk again. No humor here.
It is not official but I might hold the record for the most rooms (four on one day) used during my one-week stay in that hospital. Actually it was nine days if you count the emergency room Saturday night and the Monday morning departure a week later when the nurse assistant hit me in the teeth without a warning at 6am. My reflexes almost hit her in the face. She yelled at the other patient, “Don’t yell at me” when he blurted the same phrase. Good, go after him. Maybe then she won’t poke me with the thermometer again.
The best odd event? It came mid-week when my tall Tanganyikan nurse, single mother of three, came to check on me very early on Wednesday. I had been warned I was not taking my meds. I thought I had. “No, here they are on your table.” They were out of sight behind my head in the bed. “I put them there when I left because the doctor came in. I told you.” That was the problem in this particular hospital. The nurses run when the doctor arrives. The rule used to be the nurse would/should monitor the patient taking the meds. SO, I saw one pill in a small cup at 5am. I took it… because I was supposed to comply. At 6am the tall Tanganyikan asked where is that pill? I said I took it. She screamed, “You Did What? That was your suppository~”
How not to take it lying down (in hospital)! They’re building a new hospital. Buy not in my name.