Saturday, November 11, 2006

HOSPITAL (Part 2)

THE NEUROLOGY ICU, EAR PLUGS, A GRAPE, AND NO UNDERWEAR!


My least favorite thing about dealing with health issues pertaining to my back are those plastic models of the spine that the doctors whip out when they want to show you what a herniated disc looks like. I actually came less than a millimeter away from fainting at the Hospital for Joint Diseases when my doctor whipped out one of those contraptions and started manipulating it, showing me what had happened to my lower back and neck when the car hit me. I can’t even stand to look at posters of the human skeleton. I don’t know why, and I have no idea where this phobia started. It’s just too much information!

On August 2, 2005, I underwent a six-hour cervical spine surgery. The doctor replaced three of my discs with cadaver bones and then put my neck back together with a four-inch titanium plate and eight screws. When I awoke, I noticed several people were surrounding me, saying, “Marcy….Marcy, can you hear me...Marcy…” I tried as best I could to respond, but my throat was too sore. The doctors had temporarily moved my esophagus and windpipe in order to perform the surgery and I began to wonder if maybe they forgot to put them back where they belonged.

Before leaving my bedside, the doctor squeezed my foot and told me that I did a great job and everything came out wonderful. My parents squeezed my feet and told me that they would be back later after getting some rest. The nurse squeezed my foot and then said she was going to go get me some ice cubes. I sat there staring at the end of my bed promising God himself that I was going to chokehold the next person who touched my feet.

My hospital bed was situated right beside a wall of windows—not that I could look out of them-- I couldn’t turn my head. There was some huge plastic thing affixed to my neck and I could only stare straight ahead. Only three things were in my view: a sink attached to the wall, the co-ed bathroom door, and a poster of the human spine and all of its major diseases and disorders. I could not believe it! As hard as I tried, I could not get my eyes to rotate far enough to the right to be able to look out the window. I sat there for a while and just stared at the skeletal poster. I contemplated asking one of the nurses to take the poster down, but when I picked up the nurse call-button, I noticed that it had three frayed wires coming out of it. I didn’t dare push the button for fear of being electrocuted. I grabbed my Hydromorphone pump and gave myself a big shot of happy juice.

Nothing went right while in the ICU—for example, no matter how many times I filled out the ‘vegetarian’ menu, nor how many times I reminded the nurses that I was vegetarian, I always ended up with a large piece of chicken on my plate. It didn’t matter which course I was being served--breakfast, lunch, or dinner, I always got chicken. I constantly had to remind the nurses that chicken wasn’t a vegetable.

Not only was I starving to death because I wasn’t getting any of the food that I ordered, I couldn’t see any of the other people in the unit. Like I said, my make-shift bed location was right beside the window; the woman beside me was out of her skull, so she had to have her curtain pulled at all times. Every five minutes she would ask Bill, the ‘funny’ nurse on the floor, for a new pen. “BILL!” she’d yell, “I NEED A NEW PEN! THIS ONE RAN OUT OF INK! COME ON! GIVE ME A NEW PEN! ONE WITH SOME INK! LET’S GO! NOW, BILL!” The first time she yelled at Bill for a new pen I somehow managed to open the curtain between our beds and offered her my pen. “Here,” I said with a smile, “You can have my pen!”

She got this demonic look in her eyes and said, “Who ARE you? Did I ASK you for a pen? I don’t WANT your pen! Close the fuckin’ curtain! Who do you think you are? You think you’re special, don’t you? You think I want YOUR pen? I wouldn’t take YOUR pen if it was the last PEN ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH!! BILL!! I NEED A NEW PEN! HURRY! THIS LADY IS TRYING TO MAKE ME TAKE HER PEN! HELP ME, BILL! I NEED A NEW PEN! HOW CAN I WRITE THIS LETTER WITHOUT A PEN?”

I kicked myself for trying to be such a do-gooder. I should have just minded my own business and continued staring at the skeleton poster!

-------------------

During my first evening in the Neurological ICU, I was offered a sponge bath. My nurse’s name was Patty; she was a Harley-riding throwback to the sixties, if there ever was one. I’m talking full blown ‘Age of Aquarius! We got along great. She was super cool, and I didn’t feel embarrassed at all at the fact that she was gearing up to clean my ass—until she asked if I would like to put on some underwear after the sponge bath:

“Wanna try puttin’ on some underwear after you’re all cleaned up?

“WHAT!” I ever so loudly whispered. I couldn’t bend my neck enough to see my crotch, but I knew that I had spent the entire day with no covers on because of how hot and sweaty the Hydromorphone made me feel. I also remembered that I had spent the entire day with my legs leaning against either side of the bed—spread eagle! ‘Oh my gosh’, I thought to myself, “How come that nice Jamaican woman didn’t tell me that I was flashing her the entire time she was applying lotion to my legs this afternoon? She walked right up to the end of the bed, squeezed my toes, and then offered to apply lotion to my legs. She put A LOT of lotion on them, too—and she never even batted an eye! She just stood there doing her job.’ I wish I was a fly on the wall.

Patty's voice pulled me out of the flashback and into the present—“Do you have any extra underwear in the bag your parents brought you this afternoon?” she asked.

A blank stare of horror was all I could muster. “I’m not wearing underwear?”

“No. You haven’t been since I got here about three hours ago.”

“You’re kidding! Why did no one tell me? I’m fully exposed?” I inquired.

“Yeah. Pretty much. Everything has been exposed since I’ve been here. Don’t worry; it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. I figured you were really hot, that’s all.”

I didn’t think I could ever feel more embarrassed than that exact moment…until Patty pulled my earplugs out of my crotch area. She had a huge smile on her face as she lifted the first earplug and then pulled the plastic string that held the two together. I could tell by the small amount of pressure I felt ‘below’ that she was pulling them out from between my upper thighs.

“Oh,” I said, “I’ve been looking for those. I thought they were in my bag.”

Then, as if things weren’t bad enough, she rolled me over onto my left side and pulled a grape out from underneath my buttocks: “I guess you were saving this for later, huh?” she quipped with a devilish grin on her face. I could tell by the heat that my face was crimson.

It didn’t stop there. When she rolled me over onto my right side, she pulled a AA battery off my left butt cheek. “That must have fallen out of my yellow bag.” My yellow bag was holding my CD player, my CDs and my extra batteries; except for the extra battery that was stuck to my ass. Patty and I laughed our asses off together. Patty told me that had been the very first time that she found earplugs, fruit, and a battery all in one sponge bath! I was beyond humiliation and was quite happy to be laughing.

While Patty was finishing my sponge bath, the patient next to me was getting unruly. It’s not that she wanted a pen or anything like that; she wanted her winter jacket because she couldn’t stand all of the snow that was covering her body. She also wanted to know if she could call her mother to bring in her snowshoes to help her navigate the ice while walking to the bathroom. I know it’s not funny to laugh at another person’s expense, but it was all too much to handle when ‘new pen’ lady began to complain of the snow just after I had three foreign objects removed from my private parts area. Patty and I exploded in a wild rage of laughter!

I stayed up most of the night eating popsicles, ice cream, Jell-O, and drinking decaf coffee. ‘New pen’ lady insisted that the snow was really piling up. I played along with her, asking if she needed to borrow any of my blankets. She didn’t want to borrow any of them, but she thanked me kindly for asking (I suppose this was because I hadn’t pulled the curtain open; maybe she thought I was merely a voice in her head). As usually happens while in the hospital, I fell asleep just as the sun was coming up and the nurses were changing shifts: translated, this meant that I fell asleep approximately five minutes before the nurses woke me up to take my blood pressure and temperature.

--------------------

During my last day in the Neurology ICU, I was given the great prize of being able to watch Ellen on a portable TV. Bill decided that since I was the ‘cakewalk’ of the entire unit, that I should be the one watching TV, not ‘new pen’ lady. She wasn’t too happy about this, but I was so over being in the ICU that I didn’t care to appease her anymore. After I sent back my broiled chicken breast sandwich and received a proper vegetarian breakfast, I sat myself up in an armchair recliner, put my feet up on the rolling cart, and sipped my coffee while watching Ellen crack me up.

Speaking of crack—just before I was about to leave the ICU, I heard a gentleman named Tom, who was stationed in a bed across the room, say to his nurse that he didn’t need to put on his bathrobe just to go use the ‘John’. Hey Tom, if you’re out there reading this, I suggest you cover up your ass crack next time—I almost had a heart attack when you hobbled into the bathroom with your full moon shining. Remember what your Aunt Marcy says: ‘Crack is Whack!’

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29 Comments:

Blogger Awareness said...

I found you on Mike's blog. OMG....that was funny. I swear, life's unbelievable absurdities make the world go around. If one loses their personal twisted sense of humour, then what?

A horrendously humiliating and painful experience........I hope you are healing well and will continue to share your perspective on your life.

Take care........make sure you always know where your earplugs are and for God's sake, hold onto your pens.

6:29 PM  
Blogger L>T said...

bhakti, that was great! I really got a chuckle out of that story. What a difference a sense of humor makes! I know it must of been awful, really...But, I think you show your real strength by your attitude of seeing the humor in it. :)

7:54 PM  
Blogger jin said...

LMAO!!!
You write WONDERFULLY! I was sorry to get to the end!
I had NO IDEA this blog was you!? I've been here before, off of flatlanders blogroll.

Thank You for commenting at my place to let me know about this!
:-)
Next time I update my links I'm adding you!
Have a GOOD weekend!

(Re the chicken...lol...I had a lady tell me a while back to taste the turkey at a particular deli...when I told her I was a vegetarian she gave me the strangest look & said: "Well, you can STILL eat TURKEY! TRY it ANYWAY! It won't kill you to taste it!"
LOL! Some people just don't get it! :-)

9:18 PM  
Blogger Bhakti said...

AWARENESS: thank you for stopping by. I am going to try to post more often--after I make it through my next surgery, which is this coming Tuesday. I definitely in the mood to write more comedic memories now!

L>T: Hey--thanks for visiting! I took a long time off, but now I'm back. I'm looking forward to finishing my comedic memoirs within the year, so stay tuned!

JIN: Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad that you enjoyed this piece (Part 1 of this story is right below, incase you didn't figure that out by yourself--which you probably did).

Note: if you liked this post, you'll definately like the one about the bathroom stall incident. I don't remember what it's called, but it does mention the bathroom in the title (I think!)

Thanks for your incredible comments!!!!

9:32 PM  
Blogger Mr. Althouse said...

All hail the long awaited return of Marcy Peanut, aka Bhakti!

That's funny. Even funnier, or at least weirder is that I read this just after visiting a friend in the hospital in Reno. Yup, that's right - the same hospital I called home for three months six years ago.

Much has changed, including the name. A brand new building is under construction and nothing looked like I remembered it. I must admit, my feelings were mixed. After all, that's MY hospital they're messing with! On the other hand, they will better be able to serve their patients - and that's a good thing.

This was the first time that I have returned and not been able to find - and thank, again - anyone who cared for me during those pensive days six long years ago. My pilgrimage went unfulfilled. They wouldn't let me into the ER this time - they always used to.

I wish I could reflect on some humor from those days, but I'm thinking there just wasn't all that much to laugh about. Perhaps if I had a Marcy in my life at the time, I would have been able to find the humor in an otherwise miserable situation. I do, however, receive a sort of retroactive connection from you - kindred spirits as it were.

Allow my to just say this: I am glad that the Bhakti I have grown to know over the past almost one year has returned to take her proper place among my most favorite blogs.

Mike

PS I live in a suburb of Sacramento - Fair Oaks. I only work in Colfax.

9:59 PM  
Blogger Bhakti said...

MIKE: I think it's interesting that we share such a similar experience of life. It's beautiful, really. I've met so many wonderful people through blogging; people I probably wouldn't have met otherwize.

I think the funniest thing about this post--which your comment reminded me--is that I am going to be back in the same Neurology ICU on Tuesday (after my spinal surgery). Jeez, I sure hope they give me a better spot than the last time! I mean, I didn't even have a nurse caller buttoner--thingy. That stunk! Speaking of 'stinking'--let's not forget that I was stationed right in front of the bathroom!

Oh well, se la vie (however you spell that). My parents are planning on bringing me my meals this time so that I don't have to wait the extra hour and half for my NON-VEGETARIAN meal to be served.

The very last time I was in the hospital--and this is no joke--I was givne a salad with chicken on top. Of course, I sent it back, and the cafeteria had the nerve to replace it with a HAMBURGER!!!! What the f*ck part of 'vegetarian' don't they get?????

Like I said, my parents will be supplying me with yummy food this time around. I will be using my CD Walkman again; I hope I don't drop any batteries this time! ;(

10:16 PM  
Blogger Mr. Althouse said...

I remember being thirsty all the time. Because of the internal injuries and the work done in my intestinal area, I wasn't allow to eat anything or drink anything more than teeny, tiny chips of ice. That was while I was mostly out of it.

When I woke up (or came to), they still wouldn't let me ingest anything until they were sure I wouldn't re-infect myself, or something. While I was sedated those five or so weeks, I contracted a "vancomycin resistant" infection. Whatever - I wasn't there!

When I finally was allowed to eat and drink, I was on the fifth floor. That's right - the kitchen was on the first. My food was always cold. When I complained about it - repeatedly, they would stick my food in the microwave.

Everything was nice and warm. Entre, salad, jello, fruit, they even nuked my ice cream once! Can you believe it! Their biggest mistake? Taking out the tracheotomy. My voice was back with a vengeance.

Here's a little-known tip: They tend to ignore the call button, especially when they're late and they know it... and they know you know it. If they ignore you to the point of frustration - just yank that whole button-thingy and cord right out of its plug. It sets off a special alarm - like as if you had a heart attack - and they come running every time. Once they know you know the secret - they'll stop ignoring your calls!

Mike

10:31 PM  
Blogger Dubya said...

I is so excited to read yer new post, but my head hurts a little too: Marcy Peanut is Bhakti, Bhakti is Marcy Peanut. Is Diana Prince still Wonder Woman? Ow, help, ow.

I sure appreciated yer writin' 'bout the "new pen lady," 'cause I think I can relates. After all, it's jus' like me an' Iraq. Except, y'know, with an invasion instead of hospital curtains an' with bombs an' stuff instead of pens--but otherwise pretty similar.

Anyway, in celebration of the return of "A Little Bent" to the world of bloggin', I is resurrected yer link on my blog.

1:59 AM  
Blogger Bhakti said...

Is Diana Prince still Wonder Woman? Ow, help, ow.


No, you silly fool! Linda Carter is Wonder Woman!! How the hell did you get voted into the presidency...oh yeah, I forgot...fixed electronic voting machines in Ohio. How could I forget.

To tell you the truth, Dubya, I wasn't planning on exposing myself ('Bhakti') as being this here 'Marcy_Peanut'; Marcy was erased from the record when I switched over to Blogger BETA. I think it has to do with national security or something like that. You can't have two identities on the blog--wouldn't be goof for homeland security reasons.

I think your head probably truly hurts because of the mid-term elections. You can admit that much, can't cha?

It's goog to have you hear, Dubya. Thanks for the link, too. :)

11:59 AM  
Blogger Bhakti said...

Raise your hand if you are from Plano, Texas???

12:01 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

I didn't know you were still alive, Bhakti. I replied to your harsh accusation =) on my blog.

Where the hell have you been, woman? Good to hear from you.

12:46 PM  
Blogger Bhakti said...

Hi Alex! Yes, I am still alive. I was MIA for a while this summer, doing a lot of inner work, etc. Now, I'm feeling like writing again!

I have another surgery this Tuesday, so you probably won't hear from me for a week or so, and then I hope to be back in the swingg of things again.

It's great to hear from you, too!

1:26 PM  
Blogger flatlander said...

Ahhh...so good to read a new post by M. Peanut/Bhakti. That story really cracked me up (pardon the pun)!

Your ability to look a difficult situation straight in the face and laugh about it is an amazing and inspiring gift. Hope to read more in the future.

10:22 AM  
Blogger Salbert said...

Your stories never cease to amaze me and make me laugh.

P.S. Ellen rocks!

5:41 PM  
Blogger Dubya said...

Happy Thanksgivin', Marcy Peanut!!!

3:46 PM  
Blogger Jewels said...

Oh Goodness I laughed so hard at this, I thought I was going to DIE!

Thanks for the laugh. (found you through Jin's blog)

7:31 PM  
Anonymous Marcy_Peanut said...

testing one two three....testing one two three...

I think it's time to start blogging again!

Yes, yes!!! I shall rule the world!

No...no...I have no desire for power. I only want to make you laugh. Well, yes, maybe we need world leaders who can make us laugh instead of cry.

Power-hungry war mongers rule the world. Next time, it's our turn. The spiritually humorous shall rule the entire cosmos and everyone will be laughing on the sun.

Okay, now I'm getting ridiculous.

Let's just say>>>>>"I'M BACK!!!!!!!!!!!"

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Blogger iceborn said...

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