Twelve days. Uuuuuugh. I’m about due for my obligatory meltdown. In fact, I’m a day late. Psych hasn’t been called yet, so I must be doing something right (or wrong?).
This morning I cried. I go straight from being semi-awake into a dream state. For one, it’s not the same as normal sleep. I don’t feel at all rested. Second, my dreams aren’t fun. Why would they be? It’s not like I even know what fun is. I suppose in a way getting struck by lightning and then sucked up by a tornado is sort of cool. But sitting at a table with my Mom, my aunt, and a couple of my cousins, then having someone walk up and say “and I thought most of my family had died off…there’s no one left in your family!”, is not cool. Old bitch. It’s true though. There aren’t any actual P’s left, my great aunt was the last one and she passed away about 12 years ago.
This dream was interrupted by my hourly vital’s check (I’m back in the ICU-I’ll get to that in a minute). Good riddance, right? Fuck a bunch of stupid dreams. Only, it made me think about my grandfather who died when I was five years old. My favorite person in the Universe left me before I had a firm grasp of what death is. On grandparent’s day at my school, a part of me still expected him to walk in to have lunch with me. Almost 30 years later, I still miss him like he died yesterday. We don’t heal when someone we’re close to dies. We’re forever changed. The pain doesn’t go away – we just get used to it and learn how to function as this new person who’s missing a part of their heart.
Right now I’m extremely concerned about the well-being of a friend I haven’t heard from in as long as I’ve been in the hospital. It isn’t like her to disappear without a word and I hope she’s okay. I don’t think she realizes how much she means to me. I don’t think I can handle death right now, so please people, take care of yourselves and stay alive!
Today I learned that no one has remembered to take care of Whiz. She needs to be sprayed down with a plant mister twice a day and needs worms every few days. It’s not like she whines and barks like a dog when she needs something, so I can’t really blame my people for forgetting about her. She’s still alive and now that I got on MC’s case for neglecting the lizard, she’s getting what she needs.
ICU, right…so I’ve been having difficulty breathing. That sort of happens when your lungs are full of fluid. Even throughout ultrafiltration, the edema has remained consistent. It’s good that it hasn’t gotten worse, at least. I am at risk of developing pneumonia because wet lungs are the perfect substrate for nasty bugs. I’ve been working with RT several times a day to keep my lungs open and to try to work some of the lung funk up and out (it’s disgusting and quite painful for multiple reasons). My SpO2 goal has been to keep it at 95% and above, but at 4L of oxygen/min, I’m just barely hitting 90%. 5L/min is an instant nose bleed, so keeping it 90% became the short-term goal.
Tuesday I was trying to switch over to oral meds, at least some of them. I have swallowing difficulties – water is way too thin, I end up choking on it. This has been a problem for a few years, but I kept cancelling my swallow study because it seemed pointless. I know my nerves are fucked and I know they can’t fix them, so what’s the point? I tried out some thickened juice. Ab-so-lutely disgusting. I don’t know if it was the texture, or my stomach saying “fuck all of you” but I was sick all day. I was still retching after nothing was left to barf up. I hate that shit. Anyhow, by Wednesday AM, it had passed and the collective decided maybe PO meds aren’t the way to go yet. Ya think?!
Wednesday morning I got my NJ tube and became much more soft spoken. Something about having over three feet of tubing shoved down your throat will make it extremely sore, thus making speaking to/yelling at people impossible. I was fighting with people over the enteral feeding formula all day. “Whatever, you’re not a diabetic. You don’t need reduced carbs.” Fuck you if you think you know what I need or don’t need. I do get super-bad hypoglycemia AND too many carbs turn me into a crapping wonder. You try running to the bathroom 20 times a day when you’re attached to 5 machines. Stupid twits. It still hasn’t been fixed, and although continuous feeding has effectively avoided any sugar crashes, my butthole is angry with them.
Wednesday night I settled in for some sleep. Not much later I woke feeling as though I was being smothered with a pillow. I sat up and tried to catch my breath but it didn’t happen. The nurse was already on the way and had paged the internist, she switched me to an oxygen mask and cranked that shit up. My fingers and apparently my lips had turned blue and I then went totally blank. Technically I didn’t lose consciousness, but I have no memory of being moved back into the ICU and being switched to PAP ventilation. I guess that’s what happens when your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen.
Cardiologist and pulmonologist rounded early in the morning and explained what had happened to me. It’s a little disorienting to realize you’re in a new place with no recollection of how you got there. I had to hack some crap up into a cup, had more blood drawn for culture three separate times, got more blood taken out of my a-line, and had a chest x-ray, then a chest CT. I’m going to have to be buried in a lead box. I’m definitely nuclear waste. At any rate, the intensivist came back to talk to me in the afternoon and said it’s likely I injured my lungs after aspirating vomit. I’m sure this isn’t the first time I’ve done this, but being critically ill when it happens set me up for a cascade of inflammation. The fact that I was staying stable on pressurized O2 was a good sign.
The pulmonologist came around a little later. “You scared us!” Uh, imagine how I felt? Not being able to breathe is one of the worst feelings in the world. He was afraid I had acute respiratory distress syndrome, which is a condition with an extremely high mortality rate. Thankfully it hadn’t progressed to that point. I have pneumonitis as a result of an acute lung injury (aspirated gastric contents are toxic to the lungs). It’s still serious and can progress into ARDS, but there are a few things they can try in the mean time until my lungs have a chance to recover. Steroids, albuterol, or worst case – sedation/intubation to lower my body’s oxygen requirements.
So far, no drastic measures have been needed. As soon as I can switch to normal oxygen and my cultures come back negative, I can move back to a normal room. I was started on a beta-lactamase inhibitor (I guess it makes the antibiotics more effective?) and ANOTHER antibiotic just in case there’s something bacterial affecting my lungs. When these people are done with me, I won’t have a single bug left on or in me. I’ll miss them. They’re my friends. I doubt that I even needed to be moved in the first place, but I make them nervous. I’m a huge liability just waiting to happen. 😉
Now, the good news. There is some! I sort of forget to pay attention to those while in crisis mode. First, I haven’t had any unsustained ventricular arrhythmias in over four days. Second, my postictal paralysis resolved. Third, my incision is healing extremely well in spite of trying to tear it open with all of my retching and coughing (but ouuuuuuuch). I got my stitches out and just have steri-strips now that’ll be there until they fall off.
Also, I’m on total activity restriction, which means I’m not allowed to get out of bed. At least someone was kind enough to give me my Moto so I have a link to the outside world. I have to do my business in a pan and business is booming, so to speak. How is this good news? After two days of this, the nurses are getting on the dietitian’s case, as I’ve explained to them that all of the sugar in the nutrigoo doesn’t agree with me. I feel so fucking bad for them. They don’t get paid enough for this…shit. Hopefully if enough people complain, I can start a low-glycemic formula. I’ve also been playing a little Goat Simulator. Ramming people in the knees and running full speed into cars is extremely therapeutic. Mindless entertainment is a good thing.
Healing is never linear. It’s a zig-zag. When I feel as though I’ll never get out of here, I have to remember that. I have to hold onto the hope that, like my four months with Harpy, this too shall pass. Whether on my own two feet or in a body bag, I’ll eventually GTFO.