Sunday, May 16th 2010
The Morning After – I was pretty wide awake now, and actually pretty excited. My football team was playing that afternoon (Carlton vs Port Adelaide), and Helene and Sarah were going to come in and watch the game with me. I was very aware of my surroundings in this room. It wasn’t quite ICU, but it wasn’t a normal ward. It was an intense watch room for post op patients, and my bed was right next to the nurses’ desk so they could watch me with intent. I guess that should have alerted me that something was wrong. But I was pretty oblivious – I had my little morphine button, which allowed me to self administer small doses no less than five minutes apart, and this kept me quite pain-free, a little sedated, and (unbeknownst to me) not very present.
There were four beds in that ward. Next to me was a woman who had had a thyroidectomy, and was pretty quiet. Diagonally opposite was a man who’d had fairly heavy heart surgery, and across from me was a woman who I wasn’t sure what she’d had, but boy was she noisy. She was obviously not happy being there and she made sure that everyone knew about it.
Reality? Or……? – And there was Moshe – drifting in and out of reality, it would seem. In the morning, my parents came to see me, as they would every day for the next 4 weeks. But unfortunately, I don’t remember much of that visit, except that at some point I got very agitated and asked them to call Helene and get her to come in, which they did. I then fell asleep and didn’t wake up till she arrived. And that was pretty much how Sunday (and the next few days) went. Me waking, being in pain, pressing the morphine button a few times, drifting in and out of reality, making (paranoid) observations about the other patients, the nurses, and everyone else, and then falling asleep again. Often, I would fall asleep in the middle of a sentence, and then wake up god knows how much later, and just continue speaking.
I think everyone just assumed that this was all a combination of the after-effects of the anaesthetic plus the side-effects of the morphine. I’d sometimes catch one of my daughters giggling and I’d just get annoyed and ask “what’s the matter?” And then Helene would say something like “There, there – it’s all ok honey” and I’d just get more annoyed and demand that they stop patronising me. It must have been very difficult for them. My life was easy: wake up, look around, press the morphine button, pontificate on the ills of the world (particularly the ills of the hospital), press the button again, and fall asleep again.
And all the while, I was still being kept in the big post-op intense scrutiny ward. And oh, I almost forgot. I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink. I could put some ice on my lips but no swallowing!! And boy WAS I THIRSTY!!
Monday, May 17th 2010
Getting Better? – Well it seemed like I was improving. Even though I was starting to not distinguish between night and day (it was more like asleep and half-asleep), things did appear rosier. First of all my team had won yesterday – for the second week in a row! And it was a mini-comeback after trailing at the end of the third quarter. It’s funny how most Aussies, particularly in the Southern states, rate the quality of their life based on the current fortunes of their football team. And trust me when I say that this is not restricted to any particular social or economic class. It has nothing to do with level of education or age. It’s pretty much across the board. I noticed it in my surgeon, I notice it with my friends, and it’s been like that for most of my life. So, today, my team won and I feel good.
Second, I wasn’t in much pain – I guess the morphine was working ok.
Or Not Really! – And third, I could see that I wasn’t alone in knowing all the things that didn’t work in the hospital. I got the sense that the guy diagonally opposite to me had the same thoughts, and I coerced Helene into talking to his wife so they could share some common ground and really get to the bottom of whatever conspiracy was going on here. It was at this point I think that Helene started seeing that there was something going on with me and my level of presence / sanity / grasp of reality that might be attributable to more than just lots of morphine.
Or Maybe? – Anyway, the powers that be decided that maybe I was improving, given that they were looking at indicators other than the level of incoherence and paranoia coming out of my mouth. Yes folks, my ramblings didn’t seem to interest the medical staff as much as they did my family, and since I seemed to be recovering quite well from the surgery, they decided to move me to a “normal” ward the next day.
A normal ward is one of those oxymorons like jumbo shrimp and “go ahead and stop” (said frequently in Texas) and military intelligence……… and adult male (my personal favourite). But more about that later…..