Nightmares: 6+ (Thursday night)
I started this post yesterday (Friday) evening but had to go to bed before it was done.
This post was supposed to be about how my day had gone and how nice the peppers are that we’re getting from the plant on the deck. See?
I went back to the walk-in on Wednesday morning for my follow-up. Today is Friday, and I didn’t get home until about 2:30PM. It was quite an adventure, quite a lot of discomfort, quite a bit of embarrassment, and enough anxiety that I was holding on by my fingernails for a while.
The next thing to get out of the way is that I fibbed a bit in a couple of my posts. After I confirmed it with every medical person who would talk to me, I am confident in not being the only person who has had an infection…
On their butt.
Yes, it’s true, dear readers. I lied to you and said abdomen because I was embarrassed, but the doctors, nurses, physician’s assistants, surgeons, and the lady who brought the newspapers around all say it just happens. Doesn’t mean I’m disgusting (although I kind of feel it right now), doesn’t mean I’m dirty… it just happens.
Okay, so here we go – best as I can remember.
I got up at 7:30AM, showered, and got ready to head out. I figured I’d take my pills and breakfast when I got home (which I foolishly assumed would be less than an hour).
J and I got to the clinic at 9AM. At about 9:20, I got in to get my infection checked. It was not the same person who I saw on Monday about it. This person took a quick look and immediately summoned a colleague. Painful probing and embarrassing questions followed, and then the two of them huddled for a minute before turning back around and telling me I had to to go the emergency room. They would call ahead to the triage nurse so they’d know what was going on.
At about 10AM, J and I got to the emergency room. I was in quite a bit of discomfort at this time, but we got in to see the triage nurse quickly. I really like the renovations they’ve done – it’s way better than the old system.
At about noonish? Somewhere around there, I got moved into a small examining room. Over the next several hours, I was prodded and probed by more nurses, a physician’s assistant, and a doctor. The doctor took a look and then said he thought it was going to end up being a surgical intervention.
So we waited for the surgeon to come by. They’re busy people and a fat guy with a butt pain doesn’t rate high against car crashes and stabbings. But, he finally came and took a look. He was pretty sure that taking the antibiotics would be the best thing but he was going to consult with his boss.
A while later, his boss and several of his cohorts came by and took a look. The boss and his associates prodded around, said some fancy medical words, and then said they were going to slot me in for surgery, and they hoped they could get me in that afternoon or evening. That was great!
Except I couldn’t eat or drink anything until after the surgery… including my morning pills, which I had not yet taken.
I was brought up to a room that normally held four but I had all to myself. It was pretty nice. More people came to check on me and poke at me, and then J went home to pick up some stuff – magazines, clothes, my phone and charger, CPAP machine, all kinds of stuff. I was really glad she was there, but I feel terrible for ending up in the hospital AGAIN during one of her holidays. (I’m really sorry, sweetie – I don’t do it on purpose, I promise!)
Later Wednesday evening, it was determined that I was not getting in that day for the surgery. I got some of my night medications (the quetiapine and zopiclone were there, thank goodness) and two of the best tasting pieces of toast I’ve ever had in my life, and then got hooked up to a bunch more machines and tried to go to sleep. Of course, the fire alarm picked that time to start ringing. I was frozen in place, pressing the palms of my hands to my eyes and trying very hard to ignore the ringing and relax. Fortunately, the alarm didn’t sound for too long and I was able to use some of the ACT stuff to calm down a bit. I was already pretty tired, and between that and the zopiclone and quetiapine, it didn’t take too long to fall asleep. I woke up many times over the night in a panic, worrying about the house, worrying about J, worrying about the car, the garage door, if there were problems on the ward, if the nurses were okay, the hot water tank, the toaster, all kinds of things. I didn’t get a good sleep that night.
Surgery was going to happen, so no food, no drink, and no venlafaxine again. I didn’t think missing a day or two would cause that much of a problem, but by the afternoon I had the sweats and the shakes, and it was REALLY hard to keep from freaking out or punching my way through a wall and walking home in my gown. All I could think of were all the horrible things that were happening that I couldn’t do anything about because I was stuck in the stupid hospital because of a stupid infection that I should never have got in the first place. My nurse came into the room and asked me if I was okay. I told her I was panicking and having a lot of anxiety, and she said, “Okay, I’ll be back in a bit,” and left. I understand why she did that now – she had dying people to keep an eye on and a fat guy with the sweats wasn’t at the top of her priority list – but at the time, it felt like a betrayal. I went back to bed and screwed my eyes shut and set my phone blasting ocean sounds into one ear and tried with every fibre of my being to keep from freaking the hell out. I tried every technique that I’d been taught or even heard of. It was so hard to think or to focus on anything. I had some luck with the cognitive defusion techniques that Dr P had taught me, and some with the grounding techniques that Dr C had taught me, but they served mainly to keep me rooted where I was instead of changing back into my own clothes and bolting for the door.
I managed to send out a couple of slightly mangled texts when I heard that I was finally going to be heading in, and they came and got me for my surgery shortly after. I finally went in around 2:30PM, and they asked me to try and lie still on the operating bed but I told them I was doing my best. Then down came the mask, they told me to breathe deeply, and for a couple of beautiful seconds I felt my anxiety melt away just before I fell asleep. I don’t know how long it took and when I woke up in the recovery room, it was only myself and two nurses, both of whom were very pleasant and helped bring me back into the world of the awake. My throat hurt quite badly (I’d been intubated for the procedure) and I was having trouble making more than a raspy sound at first.
After recovery, I was sent back up to my room, where J was waiting for me. What a sight – I appreciate her so very very much, and her being there when I got back to my room was fantastic. She stuck around for hours to talk and be supportive, leaving a couple of times when nurses or doctors or that guy from Maintenance came by to look at my butt. She also sent texts out to some people to let them know I was out of surgery and it had gone well. Some of my lucky relatives even got a picture that looked (mostly) like this:
I was still pretty relaxed and groggy from the anaesthetic, and between that and J being there, I felt a lot better than I had earlier in the day. Supper came by, and I lucked out – it was perogies, garlic sausage, and corn. Not too shabby.
Eventually, J headed home to get some sleep (I felt really bad for her – she looked so tired but insisted on hanging around and making sure I was okay), and I got my evening medications and went to bed early.
Unfortunately, Thursday night was not good. Whether it was because of my discomfort, the aftereffects of the anaesthetic, that I had gone cold turkey on the venlafaxine, or that I hadn’t been given any prazosin, I had rampant nightmares. I was also hooked up to machines on either side of my bed so I couldn’t get up and go to the nurse’s station, and I was too much of a chicken to press the call button and tell the nurse I was panicking, so I laid there most of the night, shaking and sobbing through panic attack after panic attack. It was unbearable.
I was very sore and groggy on Friday morning. Every one of my muscles felt like they were rusty and didn’t want to move – everything from my ribs to my shoulders to my thighs to my neck to my hands. Thankfully, though, the first thing my nurse brought me was my venlafaxine and I took it immediately.
Breakfast was a cinnamon bagel and some applesauce. Again, not too bad.
My nurse came by to remove the packing the surgeon had left in the wound. I was expecting it to feel kind of weird as she pulled it out, but was a little worried when she told me to “breathe through the pain”. And boy, was there pain. She stopped for a second and I said, “can’t you just rip it out and yell TAA-DAA or something?” I think she thought I was joking because she chuckled and then went back to tortuously pulling what felt like a red hot bass guitar string coated in salt and vinegar chip shards out of me, one agonizing femtometer at a time.
Finally, it was out. It took a couple of minutes before the pain died down. A couple more doctors and nurses came by to inspect my new butt hole and nodded approvingly. I got out of bed and had to admit that just standing there felt better than it had before the surgery. Sitting was another thing, though, and I’ve still got to be pretty careful when it comes to that.
My nurse then started to talk about letting me go home. We went through the paperwork and care instructions, and then she said I was free to go when I was ready. I texted J and she came right over. We waited to talk to my nurse for a little while (there was a critical patient on the floor that was in rough shape and needed help) but we chatted until my nurse came back and gave us the okay to head out. I changed back into my clothes and J and I headed home.
J dropped me off at home and then went to get my prescription and pick up some supplies, while I took some PRNs to calm down before I made some calls and sent some texts telling everyone I was home and doing alright. I also called Dr P and thanked him for introducing me to ACT techniques because some of them helped me get through the pain and venlafaxine withdrawal. He sounded very interested in talking about my experience and how I managed to handle being away from home.
I still have my appointment scheduled with Dr H on the 15th and I’m going to keep it. At my last count, 17 strangers have looked at my butt; may as well make it 18 and make sure everything is healing properly. I am also supposed to make an appointment to meet with my surgeon in a month to make sure everything is okay.
So far, today has gone reasonably well. I’m a little uncomfortable but less uncomfortable than I was before I went to the clinic on Wednesday. My muscles all feel even stiffer and rustier than they did yesterday but once I get to shuffling around a bit, I start to limber up. I’m still trying to figure out why I’m stiff all over. J suggested it could be that I spent hours curled in a very tight ball when I was panicking – that could certainly be a cause.
Pretty much all of my family I’ve talked to have said that I proved that I can handle being away from home if I have to. While that may be technically correct, and while it’s true that I didn’t run out of the hospital and grab a taxi home, I was utterly miserable and wasn’t really a functioning human being. Thursday night was AWFUL, and after the third or fourth nightmare (all of them were the one with the tent) and subsequent panic attack I was starting to think about how to stop it all.
But now I’m home and safe. I won’t be going for my walks for a little while and I’ve got a bunch of restrictions on what I can do but I did my exercises today and they went reasonably well. And like I mentioned earlier, I already notice some positive changes from getting the surgery done.