Saturday, August 27, 2011

I'm actually looking forward to wearing a bra

   Last August I spent time in the hospital.  Not as a patient, but as a caregiver.  You might think I'd prefer that to being here as a patient, but there are advantages to being the patient.  I control the choices I must make as the patient.  I choose the good for my body.  I also get to know my body and it's intricate inconsistencies.  And after five days of uncertainty, dizziness and exhaustion and a heart that decided to samba without permission, I am truly able to embrace and appreciate this mornings sunrise.  I thank God for the sun's brilliance against the yellowed brick outside my window.  I appreciate the brilliant blue sky as the backdrop.  and I really appreciate being able to sit up without dizziness and a flutter in my chest.

I am also thankful for my sweet husband John.  A man who tells me loving me is like breathing.  Natural and necessary. He loves me plain and simple.  It would be less meds and aggravation if this man were truly my heart.  He is love and loyalty, justice and kindness.  He is also awesome to snuggle and sleep with in a hospital bed.

What did I learn about being at the hospital?  Well......

1.  It is true what your mom told you about putting on clean underwear....or any underwear at all. 
2.  Carrying a small scented spray water bottle in your shower bag can help those of us with curly locks not resemble Don King after a night or two, or three or four or......well, I should have thought about that.
3.  Be aware that your nurses are overworked, bright men and women who hold the key to the difference between a good stay and a bad stay.  They see folks at their grumpiest and smelliest and ugliest.  the have families they would love to be with.  Make sure ask them about their lives.  They will know all about you before you breeze through the doors that leading to fresh air and Caribou coffee.
4.  If your doctor sucks, fire him on the spot.  Pray for a Dr. Pierce or a Dr. Askew.  Demand a doctor who listens and doesn't try to prematurely discharge you from the hospital with a 12 second visit to your room.  Some doctors just need to stay in the heart cath lab.
5.  Never forget to ask for Ativan to get to sleep at night.  Remember sleeping a strange place is hard enough, but add the frequent check on your vitals, which make no sense to me.....I mean, if I'm hooked up to a heart monitor that shows every skipped, irregular beat of my heart, can't they tell my blood pressure is good and that I indeed have a pulse.  Anyway, the Ativan at night let's you wake refreshed and ready to face another monotonous day.
6.  Most important thank those around you who made a difference.  Hospitals have lost their souls.  They have lost the ability to see their human patients as nothing more than the patrons who keep the census at a financial cushion.  But within the machine are individual nurses, doctors, nutritional staff, housekeeping staff and volunteers who do their jobs with integrity, a gentle hand and with pride in their work. 

I sit here anxiously waiting to shake off these wire fetters that have recorded every beat of my heart for five days.  I cannot wait to have the IV removed from my arm and the scannable I.D. bracelets that tell the big machine every time I need to be charged for something.  I look forward to throwing off this shapeless gown that is all snaps and openings and putting on some real clothes....even a bra. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Baseball season is upon us ~ and the pitcher ain't nice

    Life's curve balls rarely come with a warning.  In fact, I guess that's why they're called curve balls.  They are tricky and unpredictable.  Their unexpected path can knock you down and keep you unbalanced.  Some may shrug and assume it's just a part of life.....the hand they're dealt.  They have a way of making lemonade out of lemons.  My recent favorite is to remember that when Plan A fails we know we have 25 letters to work with.

    I have friend whose daughter has been blessed with the talent of throwing a softball at a tremendous speed with accuracy.  She has been doing this since she was little.  She is also good enough to be sought after by big name colleges.  She has been away for a couple of weeks this summer, pitching her heart out.  Showing her skills to all the agents who came to watch.  This could land her a full ride to a prestigious school.  But when she returned from her pitching road show, she was in pain.  Not the kind of pain that goes away with two Motrin, but they kind that gets an MRI.  The anomaly that no one knew was there.  A malformation that has reared its ugly head and declared that it is not going to throw one more ball without pain.  All of  sudden and without warning, this girl and her family have been thrown a curve ball (pun intended) and they must decide what to do. 

    When the curve ball is delivered across our own home plate, we can choose to dig in our heels and figure out how to deal with this new set of circumstances or wallow a bit in that feeling of discombobulation and try to straighten the rug that has been pulled out from underneath us.

    My curve ball came last Thursday when I woke up so dizzy and strange that I struggled to call all my clients to tell them I could not cut their hair that day.  Well, unless they wanted something pretty unique.  Being the overachiever that I am, I also knew this felt bad enough to keep me from the house for a couple of days.  So I loaded the dishwasher and got that going.  Held onto the counter for support and then got a load of laundry started.  I mean, hello, who the hell is gonna do it while I'm gone.  I bounced down the hallway like a pinball and found my bathroom in disarray and gave it a quick wipe down.  I packed a small get a way bag and met my 7 year old granddaughter in the door way of my bedroom.  She was totally unaware that my head was spinning like a top and that it felt as though there was a fish flopping around in my chest, so her request seemed reasonable....well to her.  I needed to comb down the fuzzies in her hair so she could go up the street to the sitter.  This usually entails several squirts with a water bottle and careful brushing to get the fuzzies to go away.  It usually requires many tries.  I turned and reached for the brush and bottle and passed out right in front of her.  Apparently, she got the non panic genes.  She did not run for a phone to call 911, but stood there and waited for me to make a sound.  She later told me I looked rather funny trying to grab the things around me in an effort not to go down like a ton of bricks.  When I came to, I suggested she sit with me on the ground and we would attempt to get rid of her fuzzies.  Not completely without feeling, she was satisfied with the first try and then promptly ran to the front door and waited for her Papa to show up.  Good girl!  No panicking!

    Showing up at the doctor's office I again showed my unrehearsed ability to fall with grace into the lap of the doctor.  He was so impressed he ordered an ambulance to send me to the hospital where I could perform my fainting performance for a much bigger audience.  They were equally impressed and decided to keep me for 5 days.  Yup 5 full days.  I did not give them a repeat performance, but they were impressed with the irregular rhythm that my heart kept dancing and decided to see what they could do to get it to stop.

    I was so glad I had the forethought to pack my iPad.  Every book I had been wanting to read was there.  And since this hospital had wireless.....I was never away from my favorite links or people.  I was smarter than the average bear though and did not post that I was in the hospital.  I mean, seriously, who the hell wants the masses to see you with hair only Bob Marley would be proud of and a gown that needs to be refashioned.  I mean seriously...they can look into my heart without every cutting me but can design something that doesn't look like a potatoe sack? 

    The diagnosis is not quite forthcoming yet, but there are some serious drugs that I'm on.   Beta Blockers and Anti-Arrhythmic Drugs.  The second one concerned me a bit.  I've always considered myself a decent dancer....with a decent beat....rhythm, if you will.  Hopefully these anti-arrhythmic drugs won't cost me that the spring in my dancing shoes.  That remains to be seen.

For now, I am home.  My discharge papers read...
No over exertion. 
Rest often throughout the day.  
No driving for 1 week.
No Sex for 1 week. (Really, I mean what do they think a 53 year old will do?)
No work for 1 week. (Which I promptly did the day after I left the hospital.  I learned why they don't want you right back to work.)

   So now, I must learn how to work around this curve ball.  I must learn what I have and how to deal with it.  But for right now, I'm gonna turn on some tunes and see if my rhythm has been affected.