Thursday, August 10, 2006

The update you've been waiting for (if you were one of the people who emailed me and asked me to tell you what the heck happened.)

I've been trying to find the motivation to sit down here and write about our adventure at the hospital. I know that I left some people hanging on my last post, never even saying whether or not my husband was home, safe and sound. Well, I apologize. I've been out of my routine, and I'm still trying to get the details from the past few days straight in my head. He is home. (Actually, he's at work right now.) So don't worry, all's well.

I think it's all best described in a timeline - otherwise, my paragraphs would be full of 'and then this happened, and then this, then this...'

Monday, August 7
4:30 am - We get up and get a shower. Hubby's up before the alarm clock because he couldn't sleep at all the night before.

5:30 am - Leave the house and start the drive to the hospital. I have a cup of coffee in a travel mug and some peanut butter crackers in my purse. But I don't eat them because hubby is not allowed to eat anything before the surgery. I do, however, drink the coffee because it still feels like the middle of the damn night!

6:15 am - Arrive at hospital and check in at the required time on the dot. I'm proud that we're actually on time for once. I think it has to do with the fact that we didn't have the kids with us. (They are at home with Gran - Hubby's mom.) We go from one waiting room to another, and hubby fills out various forms and such. I think about the peanut butter crackers in my purse, and my mouth waters. But I resist. (I'm strong like that.)

7:00 am - The nurse that is going to prep him for surgery comes for him and brings us to a 'prep' area (I have no idea what's it's actually called back there.) She brings us to a room (more like a curtained area) and gives him a gown to change into. (This room is also where all of your dignity is stripped from you, not just your clothes.) She then leaves and tells us she'll be right back. Which, in hospital terms, means she'll be back eventually. The anesthesiologist comes in to check hubby. Hubby tells the man he has Sleep Apnea (important detail, here) and the guy does not say that will be a problem in any way. The nurse comes back and starts hubby on an IV (which is enough to start a panic attack for him, but he was strong, and resists.) She also gives him a shot to 'take the edge off of any anxiety' and he reports back that it does not seem to be taking any edge off at all. He's still anxious.

8:00 am - I'm told they are going to 'take him on back', and shown on a map how to get to the waiting room. I have to consult the map several times on my way to finding the waiting room. Evidently, it's supposed to be easy to get there. It's not for me. Once there, I find a seat and take out the book I brought (for the procedure that's supposed to last about an hour or so) and break out my peanut butter crackers. It's then that I notice a sign that tells people not to eat in the waiting room. I eat 2 crackers anyway. But then I put them away, because I'm afraid I'll get thrown out of the waiting room for excessive cracker eating.

8:25 am - The doctor comes into the waiting room looking for me. I'm nervous. Then I wonder if it's over already, and I get happy. Then he looks at me with serious eyes. I'm nervous again. He says they are going to have to keep hubby overnight. He says it has to do with his sleep apnea and that he'll need his CPAP machine. Which means I'll need to go home and get it. All I can think is, 'Man, hubby's not going to like this. He hates the hospital.' So I ask the doctor is hubby knows he's going to have to stay. Doctor says, "Yes, he knows, and he's not happy." Doctor kindly offers to take my cell phone number and call me when the procedure is over, because now I'll be in the car heading home for his CPAP machine instead of waiting in the waiting room for any news. Man, I think, this sucks.

9:00 am - I am lost. I am driving around the beltline, and I do not recognize anything. I am silently thanking my dear hubby for filling up my gas tank right before we arrived at the hospital that morning because I surely would have run out of gas otherwise. I call my mother-in-law at home and ask her if she knows where in the heck I am. Luckily, she knows that I am heading in the wrong direction. So I turn around.

9:45 am - I am now almost home. And the doctor calls to tell me they got the kidney stone. Hubby is in recovery. The stone was 8mm big, and they had to laser it to break it up and then remove all the pieces. And he tells me a few other details that I will not share with you to spare hubby's dignity. But let's just say, um, they didn't cut into him, they went into him in a very invasive way, and there were special instructions.

10:00 am - I am back on the road after stopping at home and packing a few things and kissing my kids (who are having fun with Gran.) I am hurrying because I think they'll need his CPAP machine for him in recovery. I want him to be able to breathe!

10:35 am - I arrive at the hospital and verify the fact that I cannot park in parking garages. It takes me two tries to park in a choice spot before I just say to heck with it and decide to park way up at the top where there are lots of empty spaces.

10:40 am - I curse the fact that I parked so far away and now have to lug the heavy bag I packed down three flights of stairs. Darn parking garage and it's tiny little parking spaces!

10:50 am - Arrive back at waiting room and hurriedly tell volunteer that I have the CPAP machine my hubby so desperately needed. She calls recovery and says he doesn't need it right now, and that I can wait until he's given a room. I think some very bad words, and park myself right next to her desk so she doesn't forget about me. And I wait, and wait, and wait.

12:45 pm - The doctor comes in to give a report to another family and sees me waiting there. He asks if I have hubby's machine. The he goes and calls Recovery himself to make sure hubby doesn't need the machine. Hubby doesn't, and I wait, again.

1:00 pm - I'm told I can go back to his room. I'm told he's in ICU. As in, Intensive Care Unit. I didn't know he was there. I thought he was going to be put into a regular old room. Now I'm worried. I go into his room, which really isn't much of a room. It's got three walls, and a curtain forms the other wall. The nurses desk faces the bed. Hubby's in the bed hooked up to all kinds of machines. He's got oxygen going into his nose. And if he hadn't been awake and talking, I would have been scared to death to see him in there like that. But he is awake, and talking, and mad as hell about having to be kept overnight.

(This is the part of the story I was not privy to until later: when they wheeled him back into the operating room, the anesthesiologist told him they would do a spinal (epidural) instead of putting him under. Because of his sleep apnea, he said. But what they didn't know was that my dear hubby was nervous as heck about them operating on him. So hubby told them if they were going to be doing what they were going to be doing to him, they would have to put him under. There was no way he would let them otherwise. So they put him under. And they had trouble with a breathing tube - his throat had such a tiny airway, they couldn't get the breathing tube into it. So they brought in a special tube. It didn't go in easily either. Which meant they had to shove. And for a while they had to keep him alive by manually giving him oxygen with one of those bags you squeeze (I have no idea what they're called.) Which is why he ended up in ICU. They were worried the effects of the anesthesia would cause his airways to relax to the point that no air would be able to get in at all. Which is what happened while he was on the operating table.)

1:00 - 6:30 pm - We watch way too much A&E on TV - including Dog the Bounty Hunter and Flip This House. (None or which I would recommend to anyone.) Hubby has a severe sore throat (from them shoving a tube down it) and he is sore. But mostly, he's mad that he has to be there hooked up to so many machines when he was supposed to just go in for an hour or so and them go home. He's unable to walk around because of the pulse/oxygen monitor, oxygen tube, IV and EKG. He finally talks the nurse into removing the oxygen. And she's such a champion for him, she calls around to all the doctors to see if they can remove some of the other tubes too. She's successful in getting the IV tube taken off, but he has to keep the needle in his hand, just in case. Hubby argues (nicely, not belligerently) with various doctors to try and get himself discharged, but to no avail. One doctor even sends in reinforcements to argue her case. I head to the little cafe down the hall to get food and drink. I find muffins and coffee. Which is much better that nothing, but still not much sustenance. I bring them back to ICU and notice a sign on the door that says no food or drink allowed. I go in anyway. Heck, I've only had 2 peanut butter crackers all day, and at this point I really don't care if I'm breaking any rules. So I savor my muffin (which is dry) and my latte (which I should have gotten in a bigger size.) And then, after sitting in the world's most uncomfortable chair for a very long time, I have to go. In ICU they are only allowed visitors for 15 - 20 minutes. I've obviously been there for much longer (and brought in contraband food, bad me) but now my time is up. It's shift change time and they won't allow anyone to be there. Also, I'm exhausted, and there are kids and Gran waiting for me at home. So I kiss hubby goodbye, and go. And I cry. Because he seems fine, but he's still in ICU and that means they think something bad could happen at any time, otherwise they would have put him in a regular old room. I hope nothing bad happens while I'm not there.

7:00 pm - I arrive home without getting lost. The kids and Gran are out at the store, and it feels so lonely in the house. I go get a shower and realize that that was the longest I have ever been away from my children. And I miss them so. I get them to bed and all tucked in. Hubby calls from the hospital (illegally using a phone that's only supposed to be used for him to order food, but his nurses have told him they'll look the other way) and he sings Itsy Bitsy Spider and tells the kids goodnight. I tell him that instead of being there when visiting hours start in the morning, I plan on coming early. So if they release him early, I'll be there, waiting in the waiting room and he doesn't have to be there any longer than necessary. I want him home. He wants to be home.

8:30 pm - I fall exhaustedly into bed, and sleep pretty soundly, considering.

Tuesday, August 8th
I'll spare you the timeline now, because, really, it's uneventful from here. I went to the hospital early, and he was released early. He didn't sleep but for 3 hours the previous night, and is exhausted. He refuses to be wheeled out in a wheelchair, and his nurse (who I love, by the way) finally gives in and compromises with him. He can walk out if only if a staff member walks him out. So that's what happens. And he arrives home, finally, a day late from his outpatient surgery which turned into a near death experience, and a lot sore.

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