Friday, July 29, 2011

The Thing About Friends


When there are a couple of dozen things in your life that are not making sense, 
and you're taking a few moments to
pause and reflect
about just where you might rank in the great cosmic picture . . . 

you know,

one of those periods when you're stuck at home and you can't drive and you've recently cancelled your Comcast subscription
because . .  . well 
  you know why
I did that . . . 

and you've finished your library book
and it's not time to eat again yet,
and so you just sit in your semi dark room and
 think about life . . . 

yeah,
those times don't occur often, but when they do
(and they are currently),
you begin to assess
where you
rank on the food chain

and perhaps muse about how many years you may still have on earth

and whether you've done most of the things you thought you'd have done by
the age you are now . . . 

and you gauge whether you're likely to get any of the rest of the
 bucket list 
accomplished.







It's good to have these quiet times of reflection 
because I usually get to the point where I have to say


I'M SO VERY BLESSED IN MY LIFE.

While there will always be those who have more things
 and more fame
 and more money
 and more of whatever . . . .

and there will always be those people who it seems
never step in a cow pie . . .

and never get audited
and never get called for jury duty
and never get rear ended at a red light
and never have surgery
or break a tooth,
and never seem to get two of those really annoying flies in the house
that buzz so loudly and will not stop dive bombing your head for 3 days before they finally
go somewhere else . . . 
(they seem to arrive with the cow-pies)

I have to tell you that one of the things I have that makes any difficult time
seem a lot easier,
is my friends.

I have some of the best friends in the world.


Now,
A lot of people think they have friends . . . 
but you really seriously test that group of friends
and you're going to find that most will hang with you for a little while,

some will stand by even longer,

but a few will stick it out all the way through to the
 miserably long drawn out 
end.

A friend like mine will come and get you and drive you around town on errands
and take you out to lunch
even though you occasionally miss your mouth while you're eating
or need to have them hold on to you while you're walking.

My friends have rearranged work schedules 
and skipped their own appointments
and not gone to the gym,
and come, smelly, from the gym,
and brought brownies
and sent flowers
and gone to work for me.

No,
I mean they've actually gone in and done my work
because I couldn't.

They've driven across town to pick up my paycheck and deposit it in my bank.

They've let me storm and cry and shake my fist
when I needed to.

They've listened to me talk for a long time about my 
relationship with Jesus
even when they didn't hold the same beliefs I do,
because they respect my faith and my 
beliefs.



  They've acknowleged my thought process
even when I know they don't agree with it . . .
because they understand I may just need to be heard and understood.

They've been bold enough and secure enough and loving enough
 to risk giving me their opinions,
even when they fear I might not want to hear them.

Even when they fear they might hurt my feelings.
I believe it's a sign of respect
 that they know I won't dump them just because of a difference of opinion.

That's a secure friend.

That's like a family member.

You may get your feelings hurt,
and you may disagree,
and you may even need time to process what they've said,
but you don't stop being family.

I think being a friend is one of the most important things we can do while we're on this earth.

John 15:13
(Jesus speaking) 
"Greater love has no one than this,
that one lay down his life for his friends".

Some of my friends have laid down their lives:
put aside the things they "have" to do,
sacrificed work hours, leisure time, and a bunch of gasoline
 and personal energy and money and thought process
to take up the slack in my life.

I want to say thank you for being a blessing to me
dear friends.

Some of you email me with encouragement
some of you are prayer warriors,
some call, (tho' calls are tough right now),
some come and sit with me
some chauffer me around . . .

and no matter what happens in life,
when I've got friends like you guys . . .


It's going to be alright!


In fact, 
if things
  didn't ever go wrong in life,
and we didn't ever
NEED EACH OTHER

how would we know what
 good friends 
really were?
















Thursday, July 28, 2011

My Crazy Life on Scopolamine




Well folks,
I had a fairly simple out-patient procedure performed at Parker Adventist Hospital on July 18th.  

Now, I realize. . . . .  
 any surgery which involves general anesthesia is not totally simple,
but all things considered
this was a low risk, short duration, common, out patient surgery.

I love my surgeon. 
 She's the sort of surgeon you'd pick out of a whole roomful of surgeons to treat you!

I believe my anesthesiologist is a super smart, capable and caring specialist.

I had great rapport with and complete confidence in both of them.

The O.R. staff was compassionate and thorough and kind.

I had a dear friend with me whom I trust and admire and from whom I gain great comfort. 
We laughed about the surgical garb they dressed me in and she promised,
NO FACE BOOK PHOTOS!

The surgical procedure was a success, and I didn't feel a thing.
I went home a few hours post surgery, and felt fairly well, considering.
My friend stayed with me to observe me and wait on me and make sure I was recovering as I should.

I was concerned about post op nausea, which I'm prone to.  
My anesthesiologist had very responsibly conferred with me about the option of wearing a 
'trans derm' (emitting medication through the skin)
Scopolamine
patch to minimize the possibility of nausea.
(It's a widely accepted medication which is often used in the trans derm patch form when you go on an ocean cruise, to reduce your risk of being sea sick.)

I had a choice to say yes or no.
I said, "yes, please!"
I hate being sea sick.
It's the worst sort of sick I know.

I cannot pinpoint this patch as being a dumb decision . . . 
and I hear doctors absolutely dread us lay people
 ingesting and regurgitating the info 
found on
 Web M.D. 
and similar internet sites.

My apologies to all of my doctors, but I've been reading the posts of patients who have experienced craziness similar to what's going on in my life.

Note, I am NOT confessing that I am crazy.
I'm talking about the crazy situation I've found myself in.

I had surgery, came home, and the craziness began.
I confess, I had such pronounced side effects,
(or what I thought were side effects)
that I had my friend go online and search out patients' comments about this patch.

I removed the patch 30 hours after it was first applied, because I equated the sensations I was experiencing with the complaints of hundreds of people who had bothered to post online.

(I wonder how many never bother to 
go online and post something about this sort of experience.)

Anyway, I imagined "things" were crawling on my skin and in my hair. 
 Itchy little buggy things.  
Something was making my skin crawl.

I saw "things",
 like snakes or rodents scurrying across the carpet.  
I did the double take at least a dozen times.  

I believed someone was moving, just beyond my line of peripheral vision.  
(You KNOW what I'm talking about.)
The slight movement, 
shadow-like,
 that, 
when you look over your shoulder you can't quite catch a view of.

The thing is,
I could tell myself,
each time
that 
I knew better.

I KNEW it wasn't real.
I could adjudicate that it was the surgical drugs.

I evaluated that I'd been under general anesthesia, was wearing the trans derm patch, 
and had even been given one pain pill, post surgery, in the O.R.,
before being sent home.

Please note!!!!!
I did not take any pain pills or any medication of any kind once I was discharged.
Frugal person that I am, I didn't even fill the prescription my surgeon had kindly given me for post operative pain/discomfort.
I have a high pain threshold and assumed I would not need pain killers.
I was correct - I had no real pain to cope with.

I had a little discomfort and at bedtime I took (2) 200mg Ibuprofen.

The thing which annoyed me throughout the afternoon and evening was the hesitancy in my speech.
I would be speaking, and a word would get stuck coming out of my mouth.
This was not the loss of the word from my mind . . . 
I knew exactly what I wanted to say. 
It was a slowness in getting my tongue and lips to pronounce the word.

It was OK -  I told myself - I'd been under the anesthesia, 
and expected the slowness to be gone by morning.
I did comment on it to my friend, who said, yes, she noticed it, but it wasn't really all that bad.
We didn't worry about it.

I said my tongue felt too big. 
 She said let me see.
I stuck out my tongue.
She said, no, it's always been that big.
Ever since I've known you.
I thought it felt a little like I was having to try too hard not to bite it 
when my back teeth
closed. 
 Also, like I might swallow it.

I also mentioned that I had the
 WORST
metallic taste in my mouth.
Not like bad breath.
Like poison.
(That's what I thought, anyway . . .
I've actually neveractually tasted poison . . . What do I know?)
It was so potent that brushing my teeth four times a day did not lessen it for seven days.
Ten days later, I still taste it.
I cannot taste my food.
I CAN taste the metallic chemical taste.

I got up the next morning and immediately realized the room was tilting to the right.
Significantly to the right.
That made it difficult to walk.

Later I walked into the wall.
Later I dropped something.
I thought that was odd,
 but
again,
I had been in surgery.
Who knew how long it might take to have that anesthesia out of my body . . . 

I went to the kitchen to make some breakfast and sitting down to eat
two thoughts struck me.

1.)  I wasn't hungry.
I'm always hungry in the morning.

2.)  I had no taste buds.

I ate anyway, fearing that if I didn't, I might get nauseous .
I've experienced enough of that in my life to know that a little toast and tea
 will be better that nothing in my tummy.
I made a note that at 6:15a.m. the room was tilted and I wasn't hungry.

I was going to take it very easy, what with the room tilting so precariously, 
and picked up my book and settled into my cozy chair.

Now, many of you know I love to read - I'm an avid reader, and have always absorbed pages almost at a glance.  I am able to take in sentences as a whole and have nearly perfect comprehension.  
I've always been able to do that.
I'm not good at some things, but reading is my gift.

I could not read.
I mean, I read and re-read a sentence, and asked myself what it meant.  
I read the sentence again, and again, not understanding what it said.
I recognized the words,
(at that point in time)
but the combination of words had no significance or meaning to me.

By the end of the day, I could NOT determine the individual words. 
 I actually stared at the page
 and one at a time 
spelled simple short words out loud 
and didn't know what they were.

I remained calm,
 and 
told myself that this was temporary and would pass in a few minutes.
I made a note . . . it was 8:25 a.m.

This is why your surgeon tells you, 
"you may not go home alone - you must have someone with you."
Heed this advice.

So,  I could not read Tuesday, after my Monday morning surgery.
I became progressively more dizzy.
I felt detached from the whole issue.
I tried to evaluate my state of mind,
and asked myself questions, 
like,
"if the smoke detector or fire alarm went off, what would you do?"
I reasoned, 'that would indicate that the condo was on fire'.
My mind rambled to my homeowners insurance policy.
I thought about campfires when I was a Girl Scout.
I brought myself back to the question at hand.
"What would you do?"
On some level, I knew the answer was that
 I should get out of the condo!
My mind rambled to:
What would it be like to just sit here in my chair and wait till someone came to get me?
What if no one knows you're here?
How do I know how long I could remain sitting here?
I don't feel like going outside, anyway.
I'm comfortable in my chair.
Joy!  You know the answer is you would evacuate the condo!
I feel like I'm swimming in molasses.
What was the question?
I realized it was 1:30pm, 
and I had been staring at the wall thinking random thoughts for
about 5 hours.

I decided the anesthesia should have worn off by now.
I diagnosed this as disassociation from reality.

I've
 NEVER
 thought random thoughts like that
for hours.
I tried reading again, and realized that now I couldn't discern what words the letters spelled.
I tried to stand up and the room was spinning and tilting,
which is a rotten combination.
Bad for walking.

I realized it was past lunchtime . . . .
I'd eaten my breakfast at 6:15a.m.
I'm always ready for meals,
yet now I didn't feel hungry at all.

I decided right then,
 (in a random moment of lucidity?)
the trans derm patch
was the issue.

I went to the bathroom
and using the surgical glove supplied by my anesthesiologist
and carefully following his instructions for removing the patch,
(I actually just typed "the nasty little demon patch", and then deleted it),
I took it off and made sure it was inside the glove.
I disposed of it, remembering his caution that it should not be left where a child or pet could find it.
Tho' I have no children or pets to worry about, I still carefully disposed of the patch.
I washed my hands thoroughly
then,
I showered and shampooed to be sure the site behind my ear was clean.

Hey - 
Scopolamine advocates please note:
I had 
NO NAUSEA.

The nasty little demon patch did what it was touted to do.
He was 100% correct about the drug lessening my risk for nausea.
I love my anesthesiologist for that.

I turned off my lamp because the 60 watt bulb was annoying.
I closed the blinds because the sun shining in hurt my eyes.

I spent long periods of time looking around the room.
Just looking . . .
I continued to be disassociated with reality.
Can a person who is disassociated from reality objectively and rationally discern whether they are thinking clearly, and whether or not they are disassociated?
I documented the removal of the patch.
2:00pm Tuesday.

I prepared and ate a late lunch. 
Twice I missed my mouth with my fork.

 I washed my dishes and did a load of laundry.
I folded and put away my clothes,
 perfectly,
except
I ran into the wall again.
My eye / hand coordination didn't seem up to par.
My peripheral vision was not good.
I felt heavy . . . like I was filled with sand and had to struggle to lift my legs and arms.
My head felt too heavy to hold up.
My mouth tasted like I'd been sucking on the tailpipe of a car.
I was unable to type a simple text message without correcting each word several times.

I'm a fairly intelligent person.
I tried to test my mental status by attempting to play Solitaire on the computer.
I was as competent as normal - winning 75% of the games I played.

Okay I reasoned, that's not the most difficult challenge in the world,
I'm good at Solitaire . . . . my grandfather taught me to play at 4 years old.  

How about listing all the teachers you had in elementary school I thought.
Miss Mangerry, who was astonished that I already knew how to read when I began first grade. 
 We had no kindergarten in our community. 
 She wanted to know the process my mother utilized to teach me at 5 years old. 
I remember patiently explaining to her how a child learns to read.
She was straight out of  college.  Maybe she didn't understand yet.

Mrs. Winston, who was so old I was afraid she would die right there in class one day.
(Probably about the age I am currently.)

Miss Meigs from Montpelier VT., 
who married halfway through the year and became Mrs. Larson.  
 I was one of only two of her third graders invited to her wedding.  
Barbara Pearsall was the other.
  
Mrs. Beverly, who had a daughter she named Beverly Beverly.
I put a frog in her desk drawer on a bet with some boys.  
She was proud of me.

Mrs. Waters, from North Carolina who I thought had such a delightful accent.
I sang all the verses to 'It's a Grand Old Flag' which she taught us that year.
My speech was slower than normal, but possssssssssibly a little faster than yesterday.
No, it wasn't.

 Mr. Burkett, who was allergic to the flowers I brought him when he returned from surgery.  
He kept them on his desk and sneezed violently all day.
I loved Mr. Burkett.

I administered various mental tests . . . 
 and quoted the conversational spanish dialogues I'd memorized
 in seventh grade.
Adonde vas ahora Juan?
Voy a la biblioteca.
Aye carumba, se me olvido el quaderno!

The thing was, I couldn't tell if there was something wrong that I should be worried about, 
or if my symptoms were to be expected when recovering from general anesthesia,
or if these were side effects from the patch which would wear off in due time, 
or if I'd had a stroke,
 or what.

I talked to my surgeon.  
She asked questions.
She gave me things to look for.

If I was experiencing these symptoms she listed, I should go to urgent care!
Those urgent care symptoms were the only ones I WASN'T having.
My friend came back after work to visit and assess me.
 I seemed to make perfect sense in my thought process and was probably having some side effects from the anesthesia or the patch.
Please, don't think I'm blaming my nice anesthesiologist . . . 
it's just that I lead a drug-free sort of life,
and when you have surgery and aren't quite the same afterward . . . 
it seems natural to suspect that it's the drugs,
and that they'll wear off . . .
and that everything will return to normal . . .

We evaluated my status.
We are rational, intelligent, educated, thoughtful women,
 mothers . . . 
(we make our livings - we own and operate our own businesses),
 with enough life experience between us to run a small nation effectively.

What was that patch called, she asked?
I knew what it was called, and spelled it for her.
Good job, Joy!
She googled Scopolamine Trans Derm Patch.
There were hundreds of comments from patients who had used the patch.
Possibly thousands.
By golly, every one of my symptoms was listed by multiple people posting online.
Many of them suffered speech impairment, visual problems, hallucinations, dizziness,
 loss of manual dexterity, disorientation and a host of other rotten, annoying and frightening symptoms.

That made me feel sooooo much better.
Sort of.  In one respect.
Until we realized that these people, almost without exception,
had worn the patch for a week or more.

I had worn it for a mere 30 hours.
8 a.m. Monday, pre surgery, until 2 p.m. Tuesday.
No one who was posting odd side effects like mine had worn it for only 30 hours.
"GEE!"  I thought - "this craziness should go away in a very short while!!!!!!!"
I was reassured.
Sort of.

That was Tuesday, and I went to bed expecting to wake up with some improvement by morning.

Wednesday morning I awoke and stepped out of bed into a world of rocking seas.
The room was tipping from right to left,
left to right,
right to left
you get my drift.

I couldn't read.
At all.

I wanted to check my business emails.
I spent 3 hours answering 3 emails.  Every key I hit produced the wrong letter.
I could not type.
I retyped every word multiple times until I was exhausted.
I proof read and proof read and still couldn't be certain that what I thought I wanted to say was what I had actually said.  Or that what I said was what I actually wanted to say.  Or whatever . . . 

There was a complicating factor . . .
my chair, or my desk, or possibly both, were tilted at a precarious angle.
Dramatically tilted to the right.
I was struggling to stay on the chair.

I was really getting annoyed now.
This wasn't fair.  
I intended to return to work on Thursday.
I had allowed myself a luxurious three days off to recover from this simple out-patient procedure
 (which my surgeon had confirmed was plenty of time to recoup.)

I have a business to run.  People count on me.  There are appointments to keep.

The thought of driving was ridiculous.
I had visions of running over people and careening across medians and running red lights.
But in an odd, disassociated sort of way.
My hands were shaking,
I couldn't read my own handwriting . . . but I continued to make notes.
I couldn't taste foods - when I could hit my mouth with the foods.
Light bothered my eyes more on Wednesday.

I assessed:

I can prepare a simple meal.
(Translation: heat a frozen meal in the microwave,
 put the disposable container in the trash
and place the fork in the dishwasher,
then collapse in my cozy chair.)

I can dress and toilet myself.
(Translation: who cares about a shower or makeup or even brushing my hair - 
I can pull on yoga pants and tee shirt, but only because a visitor might come to the door,
or an ambulance, and I really should not be in my nightie.)
I was still brushing my teeth repeatedly, attempting to eliminate the metal poison taste.
Sometimes now I just rubbed the toothpaste on my tongue with my finger.

I can remove myself from this condo if there is a fire.
(Translation: but who really cares, 
I've lived a great life and plan on going to heaven 
so what difference does it really make if I just stay here and die in the fire?)

I will get through this, and be stronger than before.
(Translation: I should have had more than one child, because it's so unfair for her to have to care for me singlehandedly for the duration of my life . . . cause I'm pretty sure I've dropped to a point of no return and will spend the rest of my life drooling in a bed.  

I tried to remain calm and collected
 and talk myself out of the concerns I was beginning to feel.  
And sound halfway sane when friends called. 
 I was torn between begging them to come and watch me to determine if I was alright,
 and just staying happy and patient
 and confident that these symptoms were temporal and I'd be fine in 
ONE MORE DAY!
I spent a lot of time thinking about the drug companies that make things like Scopolamine patches and the degrees of hell they will suffer in.
I wondered if people like me matter to them at all.
I talked to God.
He listened.

That was Wednesday.
I wanted to believe I could wake up Thursday and feel so much improved that I could drive myself to work and spend the day doing the things I needed to be doing.


Thursday I actually thought I felt a little better, until I got out of bed.  
There was no question of me driving or being able to work.
I was able to read a little and to play some Solitaire.
I cooked a simple meal.  I thought I tasted my food a little more. 
Thursday morning someone thought my speech had picked up and sounded slightly more normal.
Thursday afternoon someone thought my speech sounded slower than before,
as if I was struggling more.
I couldn't really be sure.  
I was exhausted and stood looking at the calendar for a long time.
I dropped several things. 
By evening I was more dizzy than ever.  
I went to bed.


Friday morning I talked to my daughter and a friend who each noted my speech was improved!!!
I felt more energetic and maybe a little less dizzy and relieved and on the mend.
I ate,
I read a little!
I did a few chores 
and
I sat at my computer to check emails. 
It was about noon.
My hands began to shake.
Hard.
Visibly.
My breathing changed.
I was almost panting.
Short, rapid, shallow breaths.

My heart seemed to be racing.
I thought about my surgeons admonitions.

Something was wrong.
More wrong than my new normal.

I called Parker Adventist Hospital and asked for the operating room.
I requested the charge nurse.
Her name is Cheryl.
She's a super smart charge nurse.
I wanted my anesthesiologist, and I wanted him now.
I thought the O.R. would have that info in their computer.
I didn't know how to reach him, and I didn't have time to fool around trying to track him down.
Panting and shaking.
I spelled his name.
I recalled his first and last names!
I needed to talk to him regarding Scopolamine side effects or allergic reactions.
She asked my surgeon's name and the date of my surgery and said hold on a minute.
She didn't give me any run around - she asked all the right questions
and did the right thing . . . fast.

She called my surgeon from another phone while she had me on the line.
Somehow, she got through immediately to my surgeon's office . . . 
Whoever she spoke with said, "go to your primary care physician's office now."
NOW.

I called a friend who came immediately.

My primary care physician said
 he didn't recognize me as the same person he'd seen 
only a few weeks
before.
I was slumped in a wheelchair, 
dizzy, disoriented and shaking, 
with extremely slow and labored speech.
I WAS NOT ANYTHING LIKE THE PERSON I HAD BEEN A FEW WEEKS BEFORE!
Thanks for noticing Doctor.
He did a quick assessment and called ahead to the emergency room at Parker Adventist.

I'm not certain what happened Friday around noon . . . 
but something dramatic happened.
In all my life I've never had a sudden onset 
of shaking and rapid breathing
 and confusion 
and rapid heartbeat and internal jitters.
All that while sitting peacefully in a chair,
tilting dramatically to the right,
trying to type a simple email.
It was more disconcerting because I felt such an improvement that morning.
Finally.

We drove to the E.R.
I explained in my slow, labored speech, that I'd had surgery.
Yes, right there in their hospital.
Wonderful experience.
That I'd had general anesthesia.
that I'd had a Scopolamine patch.
That the O.R. nurse had given me one pain pill.
That I'd had (2) 200 mg. Ibuprofen last Monday night.

We're talking 4 days ago, folks.
I was assessed by the triage nurse.
100 questions.
I was interviewed by a physicians assistant.
Same 100 questions.
I remember thinking that I wish I had a doctor, rather than a P.A.
No offense.  She was a delightful and efficient woman.


My M.R.I. showed no event,
My C.T. scan showed no event.
My E.K.G. was normal.
My labs were normal.
My pulse and oxygen level and temperature
 were
NORMAL.
I had had no stroke, or seizure.
They interviewed me and observed me and interviewed me again.
Same 100 questions.
I was freezing cold.
I had 3 blankets over me and couldn't seem to stop shaking.

They told me they were having a neurologist consult on the tests, and he would talk to me soon.
My friend was right beside me - overseeing and noting what was going on.
She was relieved to hear a neurologist was being consulted.
This seemed like a neurologist kind of gig.

They asked me what drugs I was taking.
None.
What medications?
None.
What pills?
None.
Are you sure?

It seems that statistically speaking, 
American women of my age do not normally live a drug free life.
I must be forgetting about some medication,
some prescription,
"Medical marijuana??????" they asked.
"Not even", I replied.

Vitamins and a probiotic I insisted for the 10th time.
And I had to stop taking those a week prior to surgery - according to my surgeon they could interfere with something . . . 
They admitted me about 5 hours later,
to observe me.
I could barely speak.

I was taken to room 103 about 10pm.

I'm not exactly sure - but about 10pm.
I was told 
the neurologist 
would be in to see me shortly.
Good I thought,
I want to hear from a doctor's lips what's going on in my body and or brain.
I was interviewed by my nurse.
Same 100 questions.
No, I'm not taking any drugs.

Friend #1 went home and friend #2 arrived to sit beside me.
At 12:30 in the morning a staff doctor came by.
Are you the neurologist????    (she asked hopefully)
No, he was not, but the neurologist would
 be in to see me 
"soon."

I was informed that my tests showed nothing.  No stroke, nothing abnormal.  
Silly me . . . I asked, what comes next, then . . . if you can't find anything on my tests?
Doctor shrugged.  I persisted.  What does that mean?
"We'll decide you're crazy", he replied.

Now, I was not feeling like myself at the moment, I'll admit.  If I'd been alone, I might have thought I misunderstood the nice doctor.  
He left.  Girlfriend and I looked at one another in disbelief and I asked,
"Did I hear him right?"

Did a medical professional just tell his patient that if tests couldn't confirm anything wrong with her that they would decide she was
"C.R.A.Z.Y."
??? 

He was a "hospitalist".

Honest to goodness - my friend was making notes of all that occurred
(because I could not at that point - and you know by now that I like to have it in writing.)
So, she asked the nurse, "who was that guy who just breezed through here????"
The nurse informed us of his name, Dr. O.,
and when we inquired what his specialty was, she seriously replied that he was a 
"hospitalist".
OK - I don't know everything.
I've never heard that term.

No comment, Joy, just keep these thoughts to yourself.

It was the wee hours of the morning and I was exhausted.  Girlfriend had to go to work in the morning.
I sent her home and lay awake wondering when the neurologist would arrive.  
If I could only stay awake . . . 2:15am.

That was Friday into Saturday.

Saturday . . . 
no neurologist came to see me.
No treatment.
Heperin shots so I wouldn't get blood clots while lying in their hospital bed.
Heart monitor
Blood pressure cuff
oxygen monitor
I.V. drip to be sure I stayed hydrated
a bed that growled loudly every 60 seconds and miraculously shifted position 
so I wouldn't get bed sores.

It made the dizziness so much worse.
I had slept in fitful 20 minute increments
interrupted by my very kind night nurse checking for vital signs. 


A lab tech came at 4:30 am to insert a needle and draw blood for more lab tests. 
And at 5:15, it was another nurse bringing giant potassium pills for me to swallow.
She said my tests showed my potassium was slightly low.
That's all my tests showed.
Period.
I'm thankful she didn't want me to die during the night from a slightly low potassium level.
Yeah - like potassium was my problem.

My speech deteriorated throughout the day Saturday.
Dr. Hospitalist returned and informed me my C.T. scan looked "pretty good".
I asked what he meant by "pretty good".
He hesitated, shrugged, and said I had a small aneurism.
No need for concern.
Not relevant.
Not related to my complaints.

About every 2 hours I asked when the neurologist would be in to see me.
I needed input, some information.
Some idea of what was going on.
What exactly was an aneurism?  Didn't people die from aneurisms?
Up till that moment they had sworn I had no medical problems except a slightly low potassium level.
Was I slowly dying from low potassium?


I had the nicest nurses.
They always smiled and assured me that the neurologist was sure to be in any time now.
They were gentle and supportive.
They were polite and caring.
They asked if I needed anything.
Yes! 
 A neurologist!

Saturday morning my sweet daughter arrived.
She has three little children and a husband and a houseguest and major construction going on in her house.  
She stayed all day, awaiting the arrival of the neurologist.
Or, actually, of anyone who could give us any information about why I was feeling so bad and had so many strange things going wrong in my body.
Where was this phantom neurologist who consulted with the E.R. doctor and who was on his way to talk to me about my condition?
Someone who could help us understand why I could now barely speak.

My surgeon came to check on me.  She's hung in there with me.
My anesthesiologist who was eventually located on the top of a Colorado 'fourteener'
came to check on me.
He spent almost 40 minutes answering questions and assuring me that it was medically impossible for the Scopolamine patch with its limited "half-life" to still be in my body.
We discussed the fact that there were drugs I could be treated with
 that might 
counteract the effects of the Scopolamine.
(Like an antidote????)
  I asked him if he would treat his mother with that sort of therapy. 
 He said . . . . . . . .  no. 
 I said I would pass.
I like his honesty.

My daughter and I continued to wait.
She is a very patient and calm person.
She was polite, every one of the 25 times I sent her to ask when the neurologist might arrive.

Saturday evening, friend #3 came to visit
 and that's when everything changed.

Friend #3 is the daughter of a surgeon.

She asked who my neurologist was.

I said I didn't know because I hadn't see him yet.

She began to fly around the hospital room.
Things were blowing off the tables
and being sucked into the whirlwind she created.

Let me just say this . . . 
and pay attention,
 because 
you may need to know this one day:

when you're lying in a hospital bed for several days, feeling a little forgotten and frustrated,
wondering if they're just afraid to confess to you that you ARE going to die
of your "slight potassium deficit",
and then finding out you have a brain aneurism . . .
and you can't speak well enough to even ask the questions that are racing around in your head . . . 
and you've been assured that the only possible diagnosis of Scopolamine poisoning that you've been able to conjure up from the internet research you've done is denied you because only you and about 4000 other people are the few anomalies in the world who are sharing the exact same toxic symptoms which look and feel like you've had a stroke . . . 
and some Hospitalist whom you're afraid may have graduated last in his class of 10,000 tells you there's nothing wrong with you and that "they" will diagnose you as crazy . . . 

EVERYONE NEEDS AN ADVOCATE WHO IS A LITTLE CRAZY AND WILD AND CAN CREATE A WHIRLWIND IN SHORT ORDER!
If you don't have one of these, you should go find one.
You've gotta love a woman who can walk in and create this sort of change.

So, it turns out that no one wrote an order for any neurologist.
NOPE.

There was no neurologist.
No hope.
I'm no doubt permanently disabled now because no one cared enough to remember to tell the neurologist they admitted me to their hospital.
No one.
Not the Physicians Assistant.
Not the E.R. Doctor.
Not Dr. Hospitalist who actually admitted me.
Not the nurses I asked every two hours when the neurologist was arriving.
No one.
Maybe there never was a neurologist "conferring" with the E.R. doctor.
Maybe she made him up.
Perhaps it was over the phone from a verrryyy long distance.
Like New Jersey . . . . and he has a very old car, and had to drive to Parker Adventist in Colorado, by way of China,
or maybe his mom was insisting he needed to go to the store for  her, AND take her to visit her sister in China,
or who knows what.

Maybe he lost his car keys . . . 
and had to walk from China . . . 

Well, Friend #3, Miss Whirlwind, stirred up the waters.
Admin was awakened.
A really nice woman.
Dr. Hospitalist and she apologized
 that I had been lying around for 28 hours growing worse by the hour
with no one treating me for anything.
(Except a slight potassium deficiency.)
Thank Goodness they caught that in time!

This gets better!
After the great whirlwind, we all had a nice chat and they decided they would
 definitely 
get the neurologist in to see me.
They couldn't promise when, but it would no doubt be
before 5pm the next day.

That would be Sunday!

Friend #3 said that was unacceptable.
I said, with my nearly non-existant speech capability,
"I'm diminishing here in your hospital, which I could just as well have been doing at home.
I'm angry,
I'm frustrated,
I'm sleep deprived,
and no doubt I'm being charged for this."
Their suggestion was that they would cluster the night care
 so that the sleep interruptions would be
 minimized.
Now that's a novel concept.
Someone should bring that up at a hospital staff meeting and propose a study of the benefits of allowing patients to sleep for more than 20 minutes at a time throughout their stay.
A committee could be formed to consider who might do such a study!

And,
they prescribed Ambien.
I said, 
"Frankly, I am now afraid to go to sleep. 
 I suddenly feel a need to be more fully aware of what's going on here."
Yes, I truly did say that.
I felt like I was being rude 
or hurting their feelings.
I said it anyway.
I was beginning to feel some trepidation about being in their care.
I asked my daughter to stay with me through the night.
Poor thing,
she'd sleep in a chair.

She stayed.
I took the Ambien,  about which I had heard terrible things.
People who took it were known to do strange things under the influence,
like get out of bed and drive to New Jersey on the wrong side of the highway, and not even know they weren't asleep in their beds.
What was I thinking?
It was about 11pm.
Evidently at 11:01 I was sound asleep.

At 12:30,
guess who arrived?
Oh yes!  
The neurologist.
For his one any only interview with me.
I actually never saw the man.
I can only vaguely recall my daughter's voice, asking me to wake up.
Your neurologist is here.
I believe he interviewed me, with my head under the sheet.
I do recall saying one thing.
One sentence.
I will not tell you what it was.

My daughter says I spoke to the good neurologist.
In fact, she says my first sentence was in my normal, healthy,
 pre-surgery,  pre-Scopolamine, 
pre-diminishment cadence.
But,
that after that first statement, my voice struggled at its slowed, post surgical rate.
She says I was concise and accurate.
I might have been able to drive to New Jersey . . . . 
I never saw or heard from the neurologist again.

Oh!     I had an E.E.G.
This was the highlight of my stay at Parker Adventist Hospital!
I was so charmed by the woman who administered the E.E.G.,
I just have no words to tell you!
She was foreign.
She was mature.
She was possibly the only person I saw during my entire stay who was my age or older.
She had a voice and demeanor that made me wonder who she was and where she was from. 
 That was precisely her intent - 
she was practicing the art of relaxing my mind and removing all stress with her
 melodic, soothing, story telling voice. 
 It was immediately obvious to me, and to my daughter as well, that this woman was a charmer.

She did not stop speaking for one moment of the 45 minutes she was with us.
She did not expect any answers,
she did not pause even once,
it was as if  she was singing a gypsy lullaby from 400 years ago.
If you've ever had an E.E.G., 
you know that the purpose is to try to 
give you brain seizures
by repeatedly and viciously assaulting your brain with an increasingly violent series of strobe lights.
After each attack I saw blood red raindrops behind my closed eyelids.

At one point she sang to me about the lights being happy and beautiful . . . 
". . . not like the lights of a police car, my dear . . .
 but like the beaauuuuuutiful haaaappppppy lights on a Christmas tree . . ."

The combined lights of a thousand police cars on acid is more like it.

I also had the pleasure of meeting with a . . . 
(I hope I have this right) 
a speech pathologist.
She said she was told I had post operative cognitive disorder.

I said politely, 
no,
I'm not struggling with cognitive issues.
My cogs are operating at full speed, thank you.
I have some disorders, but it's not cognitive.

She tested my cogs.
She said I scored 30 out of 30.
Perfect score.
She was very impressed that I could count backward from 100, by sevens.
She said she couldn't do that.
Perhaps she was simply being polite. 

I blew into the spyrometer.
I'm probably not saying that correctly.
It's a plastic measuring device that measures one's ability to blow.
I scored 3000. Four times.
Apparently that was satisfactory.
I repeated after her:
I said "pahpahpahpahpah".
I said "caacaacaacaa".
I said "tahtahtahtahath".
I said "pahcaatah" you get my drift.
It showed her that my speech was impaired.
But then, my "hello" showed her that my speech was impaired.

She was very kind.  I liked her.
She told me I might need speech therapy.  She left.

A neuro surgeon arrived.  Nice gentlemanly Doctor.
He wanted to reassure me that my brain aneurism wasn't very big.
We could get together and measure it once a year if I felt it was worrying me.
It wasn't really necessary.  Nearly everyone has one.
You don't die from them.
Until they rupture.
Then you die.
No one knows when this will happen.
He left his card.


On Monday, I had a nice conversation with the doctor who evidently replaced 
Dr. Hospitalist.
New Doctor.

Suddenly, I was seeing doctors and ologists and technicians every 30 minutes!
New Doctor was very nice.
She said there were no more tests they could do to determine what was wrong with me.
She said the neurologist thought the problem was the Scopolamine.
I said that five doctors,
  (my primary care physician, my surgeon, my anesthesiologist,
 Dr. Hospitalist and the E.R. doctor),
 had firmly and confidently assured me that my initial self diagnosis of Scopolamine
side effects, (translate: POISONING!), 
was inaccurate and wrong, wrong, wrong.
There was no possibility they said.

Ahhhhhh . . . 
The neurologist from my Ambien induced - middle of the night - sound asleep interview . . . 
He agrees with me.  
And the guys on the internet.  
It's probably the Scopolamine patch.
It'll go away.

New Doctor simply stood and smiled at me.
She went on to say that there was only one other thing she could possibly think of to do for me,
and that was an evaluation by a psychiatrist. 
Her conundrum was,
Parker Adventist Hospital does not have a psychiatrist. 
She could write an order for a psych nurse to come from somewhere else to examine me.

Would she be from the same place where they keep that neurologist chained?

I suggested to New Doctor that I would prefer to take my sad, exhausted, post operatively demented, 
C.R.A.Z.Y.
sleep deprived
brain fried
bloody eyed
sadly slow speaking
electric bed shaken
potassium deficient
aneurismed
body away from there.

Not now, 
but
RIGHT NOW.

Please write my discharge papers and let me out of this hospital.
I will go home.
 I will sit alone in my dim, quiet, peaceful, tilted and spinning home
and pray for God's healing.
I will wait for my speech to return to it's normal pace.
I will suffer the dizziness, the lack of peripheral vision, the sensitivity to light.
I will walk into walls and drop things.  I will not drive or work.
I will spend hours composing a simple email or text message.
I will take 20 minutes to answer a simple question because my speech is impaired, 
like that of a stroke victim.
I will struggle with trying to read and write.  Some days succeeding, some days failing.
  
Today is Thursday.  Ten days have passed.
I have a horrible metal taste in my mouth.
I have no taste buds or appetite.
I am dizzy and my speech is slow.
It has taken me eight hours to write this blog post.
Every word has been typed incorrectly, at least twice.
Many sentences have been retyped 4 or 5 times.
I can't guarantee I have made much sense.  I can no longer remember how to use spell check.
I have hit that darn spell check several hundred times.  It doesn't do anything.

I will beat this.
And if I don't, 
well, 
I've lived a great life and had a lot of fun,
and I know I'm going to heaven whether I die from my slight potassium deficiency or my aneurism or from the horrid metallic poison taste I still have in my mouth after 10 days.

Thanks for the memories!


Monday, July 11, 2011

July Days



What started out as a promisingly sunny July day has turned on me . . .


There is a low, not so very distant rumbling of thunder


and the clouds are solidifying. 

It appears that another afternoon of thunderstorms is rapidly approaching.



I love the change in the light


and the fragrance of the air






It inspires me to play around with my "indoor" life . . .


rearranging furniture


and recreating table top displays in the house.


Very satisfying!






I love rainy afternoons!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

TOP OF THE TOWN - 5280 MAGAZINE AWARD



Each year, 
5280 Magazine
 holds a competition to determine which Denver businesses are ranked
  the best in their categories.  


Patina Antiques and Home

is entered in the Home Furnishings category, 
because we sell both antique and new items.  






We are proud to announce that
  we have won
the
People's Choice Award 
as
 The Best
 in our retail category

AGAIN!!

Thank you to everyone who voted for our little shop!!!





It's rewarding to be recognized for our dedication to meeting the needs of our customers,
for our hard work,
friendliness, product knowledge,
and for our commitment to excellence in the home furnishings field!


(Not to mention,
we're just plain fun!)


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