By this title, you’re probably either saying one of two things: a) “Yeah, Nason. We know you were in the hospital. Enough!” or b) “Nason was in the hospital? Holy sh*t!”
Yeah, I was in the hospital. Three weeks ago Tuesday, I was admitted in the local ER for what can be called pre-appendicitis. My appendix didn’t burst, but I was having the symptoms of a ‘bad moon rising’ if you’re a CCR fan. The surgery went ok, but the recovery has been so-so, thanks to some post-op complications. However, I’ll be fine and back to what I consider normal within a few weeks. Instead of getting into every single detail, let me break it down to the Top 9 Things I Learned From My Hospital Stay.
1 – The Importance of Self-Diagnosis. Guys are a funny breed. We think we’re the tougher of the two sexes, shrugging off medical attention like someone trying to give us directions. “It’ll be fine,” we say. “Now gimme a Schlitz and some salve like my grandfather would ask for!” before shrieking out at yet another knife-like stabbing pain. In brief, this is what happened to me. The post-Memorial Day Tuesday, I started to feel nauseous at work (insert work joke here) in the afternoon, thinking it was some bad food I had eaten over the weekend. As the day went on, the feeling got worse and I headed home early. I laid down, felt worse, vomited three times, laid down, got really hot and then felt a pain in my right abdomen.
I then did what any ‘net geek in their right mind would do – I consulted the web! I Googled in ‘food poisoning’ and was directed to one of the dozens of medical websites out there. After looking at some symptoms, I saw a link to ‘appendicitis’ and remembered a conversation I had with a co-worker two months earlier about the location of one’s appendix. I clicked and saw a paragraph header that read, “When to consult medical attention.” The symptoms? Nausea. High fever. Pain in abdomen. I laid back and let the thoughts rush over me. I could either lay there and hope to have everything pass or drive myself to the ER and let them tell me what was up. After 15 minutes of going back and forth, I propped myself up, threw on some sweats and drove my ass the two miles to the hospital. If I hadn’t, who knows?
2 – Hospital TV is terrible. This was my first adult surgery/hospital stay and one of the lasting memories I have from my five-day, four-night stay was how awful the tv stations the hospital offered were. I had the basic networks, TBS, TNT, three all-news channels, Fit-TV and three ‘channels’ that offered still photos with instrumental music behind it. So, the philosophy here seemed to be ‘have our patients informed on world events from several sources.’ By day three, I would have rather watched the blips on a heart monitor. I mean, no ESPN or NESN? Do hospitalized people hate sports? The closet I got to any competition was WWE Smackdown on Friday night. If you’re paying that much to be in there, it should be like a resort with 124 channels INCLUDING porn. Why not?
3 – You’re not as well as you think you are. Near the end of my stay, all I wanted to do was go home. I kept saying I was fine and thought to myself that after a few days of R and R, I’d be back to good. Well, I got my wish but soon found that I was nowhere near being fine. I had to rethink every movement to not aggravate my recovering side, which was pleasantly marked by one of the largest bruises I’ve ever seen. (Seriously, it measured around 18” long by almost 10” wide, almost like an outline of Idaho. My mom asked to see it. I refused. She insisted. I showed her. She cried.) I was home for almost a full week before I actually left the house. While in the hospital, the nurses could see my frustration and one told me, “Everything happens for a reason. Maybe, something’s telling you that your body needed a rest.” I took that to heart and instead of rushing to jump back in the F-1 race car that is my life, I took it easy and relaxed as best I could. Not to say I couldn’t have used an attractive nurse, but I’ll save that marker for next surgery.
4 – Friends are great. I was woken up every four hours for blood pressure/temperature tests. We covered the TV thing. I didn’t have a ton of people stop by to see me. In short, I was bored off my ass (or considering the situation, is that ‘on my ass’?). The one thing that got me through was the constant calls from a lot of you; my friends. Whether it was recounting the whole story or catching up on the latest Sox updates, it was people like Clyde, King, Akerley and Page who got me through a lonely few days after my family had gone home. In general, this whole experience has made me reconsider some things in my life and what’s really important, an interesting subtext to the afore-mentioned nurse’s comment. So for anyone that stopped by, called or emailed to wish me well, thank you.
Side note: A friend of mine (actually nicknamed Buddy) who works in the hospital stopped by as I was getting a blood transfusion. He actually had to sit down and avert his eyes at one point because he can’t stand the sight of blood. Again, he works in the hospital! I love that story.
5 – If you’re a doc, talk. So, I’m not the type of guy that gets really freaked out by surgery, blood or needles. But I was inquisitive as to why I was still confined for a surgery that has the majority of patients out within a couple days. Apparently, my red blood cell count was taking a George Bush approval rating-like dive which was caused (they thought) by some internal bleeding. The problem was that getting information from the doctor was like extracting secret info from Jack Bauer – I got the Quiet Doctor. Now, he was busy doing other surgeries so he wasn’t present 24/7, but I needed a little more than I was getting. So if any future doctors or vets are reading this, learn to talk to your patients…a lot.
6 – People are stupid. I’m in the ER, waiting to be called in and evaluated. I feel like ass; nauseous and feverish, wondering exactly what was happening to me. Cue ‘Random Assclown.’ Some jerk-off waiting for his girlfriend’s ankle to be diagnosed decides to pull out a Styrofoam tray and eat a BBQ dinner, right next to me. Of course, he had the complete fake bake, tribal arm band tattoo and meathead vibe going. In one of those, “I wish I had no fear” moments, I wanted to puke all over his food and then offer some salt and pepper afterwards. Alas, that didn’t happen but I hope that he soon gets food poisoning as a cruel twist. As always, people are stupid.
7 – Alone is not always good. A few minutes before being wheeled into surgery, my doctor asked if there was anyone he should call. I then realized that only one other person (a co-worker) even knew I was in the ER, much less going into surgery to have my appendix removed. There were only two choices – my parents – but there was one issue. My dad was helping his side of the family out with funeral/wake preparations for his half-brother and he is one of the few people left with no cell phone. My mom is a bit, well, emotional when it comes to things like this, but I said to go ahead and call her. Luckily, he waited until I was out of surgery to call but that still didn’t stop her from being almost incoherent when she called my step-dad to tell him what happened. Still, there was a 12-hour stretch of time where no one really knew where I was, which was kind of a strange feeling.
There’s no question that I love living by myself. Thanks in part to my parents’ divorce, I learned to be self-reliant at a very young age, which has been mostly positive with some random drawbacks through time. But I will tell you that I became very lonely at times through the past two weeks this was going on. I didn’t realize how much I needed those five-minute sessions with the nurses or the random aides that would come in to check on me. Sometimes, it’s nice to have someone watch over you and be there to help if you just need to talk, but that’s the trade-off of living by yourself.
8 – It could always be worse. No matter what your situation, it could always be worse. There are people without insurance. There are people who were near death or died while I was in the hospital. There are people that cannot work right now because of their injuries and ailments. No matter how much discomfort I had in the past few weeks, there are people out there suffering more than I am. That’s a good rule of thumb anytime you get down about your current situation.
9– A good slice beats everything. – Finally, after three weeks of no food, then hospital food, no food again and then, a mix of soup, pasta and easy-bake sh*t, I finally had a slice of pizza yesterday and it tasted f’n’ fantastic.
Thanks for reading,