Saturday, May 10, 2008


Well, the last few days were certainly an “interesting” break from the routine grind (a little orthopaedic humour there). It feels great to be home and the opposite of worse for wear. Sure, a little bruised, perforated and sore, but sporting some spiffy new skeletal hardware! And though for the time being I may not be fit for anything remotely useful, that’s never been an impediment to blogging, now has it?

The highlight of the whole event had to be the spinal anesthetic — I can’t enthusiastically extol the marvelous virtues of this part of the procedure enough. Despite the injections being a tad painful (they’re frighteningly large needles — glad I didn’t look beforehand), it was an absolute relief to lay down flat on the operating table and not feel any pain whatsoever for the first time in… what seems like practically forever. Silly as it may sound, that was a few short minutes of pure, unadulterated joy. The happiness was short-lived of course, as the exotic cocktail of sedatives administered beforehand kicked in shortly afterwards and then it was lights out… (Although I did wake up towards the end of the procedure, long enough to hear the tapping and hammering... which was kind of weird because it all seemed quite abstract, not feeling anything and all.)

Getting a catheter later that night was the definite low point of the affair. Oh, how I struggled mightily to pee for several tedious hours just in order to avoid that horrid little procedure, but eventually had to reluctantly concede that, yes, some invasive prompting was indeed required to “get the waterworks going” as my nurse put it in her obscure technical jargon. An unfortunate, but entirely predictable downside of the epidural, I guess.

Running a distant second to that was having my hemovac drain removed in the middle of the night; well, to be more precise, not the drain itself, but ripping off the large, sticky elastoplast bandage affixing it to my thigh. It actually made me laugh because the nurse felt so bad waking me up to do it (she kept apologizing profusely with each depilatory yank), but wow… that sure did smart! Oh well, I was glad to be finally rid of the bloody thing and maybe it was better it hadn’t been done earlier in the evening when had actually been scheduled to be removed.

Aside from that, it was a pretty routine stay filled with all the usual boredom, petty annoyances (like having your vitals checked every four hours and being frowned upon disapprovingly whenever blood pressure levels dipped below a hundred — like I had some control over it), and of course, the bizarre, denatured “food” one normally associates with hospitals or perhaps the space program. Speaking of food, why is it they can make a pretty decent apple crumble, but something as straightforward as oatmeal appears to completely mystify your average hospital kitchen? And don’t get me started on the putative “vegetables”… someone should tell them that wax beans aren’t actually meant to taste/feel like, you know... real wax.

I did learn how to use a wheelchair, though. Granted, that’s no great accomplishment, but steering can be a bit tricky at first and it requires a fair amount of dexterity when trying to navigate some of the obstacle courses that pass for hallways (laughably plastered with signs advising staff to “keep clear at all times”). Come to think of it, that was probably the best (albeit only) workout I’ve had in ages.

Oh, and I also had the enjoyment of meeting (and hearing the depressing life stories of) a curious assortment of homeless and indigent folks that tend to populate the next floor down (where the only TV in the vicinity was located) who seemed to be “regulars” of sorts from what I could gather. That was kind of an eye-opener. Not a terribly cost-effective use of medical resources one would think. Anyway, that’s a rant for another day.

Finally, a short word of clarification about that “private” room… I don’t know why my lovely wife insists on referring to it as such because in fact it was more like a disused closet. Granted, there were no other patients in it, but it had no windows (well, two actually but the shutters were closed so there was no natural light) and there was no washroom, I had to go across or down the hall for that, plus there was no real “privacy” because the door was always completely wide open and given that it was right next to the nursing station, it was hustle and bustle central most of the time, complete with people yammering away, phones ringing, pagers beeping and call bells buzzing. Oh and an added feature I really loved was that on the far side of the room was a locked door to the staff washroom, so I got to hear the toilet flushing periodically — that was a really perverse touch on the night when I was trying in vain to go pee. Not that I’m complaining, of course… Seriously, I’m not. The treatment was really top-notch and all the staff I came in contact with were really terrific. But it wasn’t a “private” room.