Sunday, May 21, 2006

Two steps forward...

Moving back to 4AE wasn't the most fun I've ever had...the ride seemed interminable, and after roughly 14 days of being flat on my back, sitting up wasn't something I was particularly enjoying, especially with a pulse/ox machine balanced on my lap.

I think I returned to the same room I had been in before, and there was a "welcome back, Emily" sign hung on the privacy curtain that hung before the door (all of the rooms have a curtain you can pull before the door, not sure why, they just do). I wasn't there too long before we started the long process of rehab and all that good stuff.

It is absolutely amazing how your body can completely abandon you so quickly. I couldn't sit up by myself, couldn't go to the bathroom without three or four people's assistance. Course, I didn't even get to a bathroom for about two or three days, until they removed the catheter (which is a really great thing when moving is about the last thing you want to do). But it's really embarrassing to have to hit the call button and say over the darn intercom that you have to go to the bathroom. Consequently, I have no embarrassment about anyone seeing anything anymore, because there's really no point. (Don't take that literally. I mean in a medical sense only thank you.)

Rehab originally consisted of all the good stuff like standing up unassisted. I am not kidding. That's how far we had to go back. Just getting to a standing position was difficult, because I had the chest tube still in (dude, it's so not like ER where it's in for maybe 30 minutes--a few hours on the show--and then poof!), and all the IVs and the fact that my muscles had decided to take permanent vacation. So we would try to get me to sit on the edge of the bed. And then we'd try to stand. Without falling down. After that we moved to walking in place--without falling down (see a pattern?). PT also worked with me on regaining arm strength and range of motion (ROM) by playing Connect Four (I'm not kidding, again) and having me reach for checkers. That could hurt with a chest tube, and buddy, it did. So besides feeling like I was four I was crying like a four-year old because it really, really hurt to raise my arm above my head to get the stupid checker!!

All of this was compounded by the fact that my lung (right) collapsed again (in a different place, however). I was getting back from a bathroom excursion with Rita (also known as the Best Nurse Ever) and Cathy (BNE #2). I got in the bed rather ungracefully (we weren't going for style points, here, people) and felt something sort of pop. Well that's never good. I mentioned this to the nurses. It was, of course, about 8:30, so you know, no one's around, people have gone home for the night. Always a good time to get a pneumothorax! (what 'popping a lung' is technically called) The nurses called people and stayed with me for about an hour, trying to keep me calm, because I could hardly breathe as it was. It was one breath at a time, no talking at all.

Ever read the book Fish Out of Water as a kid? My mom used to read it to me. It's about this kid who buys a goldfish and overfeeds him, so pretty soon there's no place for him to swim, including the local pool. And the fish is having a hard time breathing. That's what a popped lung feels like. (Or that scene in Finding Nemo when Marlin and Dory are flapping around on the dock trying not to be eaten) In order to um, well, knock me out, I guess, I got some lovely drugs and went to I did, no idea. Must have been a really good drug.

Someone called my parents and my dad came out, but I didn't notice him until (what seemed like, it could've been) 1 a.m., when everyone piled in my room with Dr. Hogan , the intervention specialist (did a lot of PICCs on me when I was younger, great doc) reinflated my lung with yet another chest tube!! Woohoo! And I'm a side sleeper, too, so I totally wasn't doing that. I was laying flat on my back as usual.

Therapy continued...I was put on a TPN/ lipids bag to help me gain weight. These puppies have like 7000 calories in them (or something outrageous), cost an arm and a leg, and sure don't take like chicken (or much of anything). But it could run all the time, so I was "eating" 24/7. Lots of fun, let me tell you.

In rehab I eventually progressed to sitting in a chair, which was painful. Yes, sitting upright is painful when you haven't done it. They would ask me to do it for 5 minutes, and then I'd have to nap for almost an hour or so. It was horrible. It gradually got longer. It was not a lot of fun, because we aren't talking a cushy chair or a nice rocker. We're talking about a lightly (very lightly) padded chair where you sat upright and that was it. Not fun. I mean, I'm practicing sitting here, people.

There were still, however, fun times to be had, before I could get off the floor and go home...

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