It’s Friday morning and I am at Steelhead Coffee. Just finished my breakfast and trying to get in a little bit of writing before I head across town to my Power Pilates class at Pilates X. It has been almost a week since I have been here, and it is good to be back.
Last Sunday morning I was feeling extremely constipated and bloated, to such an extent that I canceled my spot in that morning’s Pilates class. I was very low on energy and running a slight fever, so I napped a bit. Checked my temperature again, and it was 101.5 degrees, so I decided that a trip to the MemorialCare Urgent Care facility in Los Altos was a good idea.
One of the benefits of getting sick on a Sunday is that care facilities are not crowded, so I was able to get in promptly. The doctor palpated my lower abdomen, a process that generated some pain, and recommended that I get to an ER so I could get a CT scan. He suspected that I might be experiencing appendicitis. I made my way to Community Hospital Long Beach, and was once again lucky. There was no one else in the ER waiting room, so it wasn’t long before I was able to get my scan done.
In short order I was informed by lovely Physician’s Assistant Kimber that it was not my appendix that was the problem, but a case of diverticulitis. Luckily it involved a relatively minor perforation and was contained within the bowel, so while it was a serious problem it might not require surgery. They hooked me up to an IV and started pumping antibiotics into me, and within an hour of my arrival I was firmly ensconced in a bed in my very own room.
That was the good news. The bad news was that I was NPO, for “nil per os”, Latin for nothing by mouth, so when they started delivering meals to the rest of the rooms I was bypassed. The standard treatment in cases like this is to aggressively treat with antibiotics while at the same time resting the bowel, resting it by not letting anything into it. Thus the NPO designation.
I spent a very restless night, and by the morning most of the pain was gone, but I was also very hungry. My agony was compounded when someone from Nutrition was in the room across the hall from me getting menu selections from the patient there, a process which involved reading aloud every item on the menu for every meal. Alas, there would be none for me😢!
Being in the hospital, tethered to an IV line, is a pretty boring endeavor. I was NPO from Sunday afternoon until Wednesday morning, when I was switched over to clear liquids. On Thursday I was finally given solid food for breakfast and lunch, and then released that afternoon.
I was in the hospital for a total of 96 hours, and they were very long hours indeed! Rather than bore you with all of the details, I will just summarize the pluses and minuses of this experience.
- Boring as hell
- Damn, I am hungry!
- People keep sticking me with needles. I had a total of ten needle sticks of varying quality. The best was a young phlebotomy student, Natalie, from Long Beach Community College, who managed to insert a needle into my vein for a blood draw with zero pain. On the other side of that spectrum was the nurse who took a couple of stabs at starting an IV in my left forearm before giving up and succeeding on the back of my right wrist, my least favorite location.
- I do not sleep well in hospitals, especially when I have a stinking IV feed to deal with as I toss and turn.
- I met a lot of nice people. I love nurses, and nurses love me. They would much rather deal with me than with folks like the very cranky (an understatement for sure) man who checked in the room next to me Wednesday night who kept yelling things like “Get away from me, you motherfuckers” when they wouldn’t give him the morphine that he wanted, and had to be pinned down to his bed when they needed to start IV’s and do blood draws.
- I was able fill in some holes in my knowledge of popular culture by watching almost the entire first season of “That 70’s Show”, so now I finally know what the heck Topher Grace’s claim to fame is. I also saw the last half of season two and the first half of season three of “Scrubs” and a dozen or so episodes of “South Park”. My favorites were the episodes where we found out that those ubiquitous Peruvian Pan Flute bands are the only thing standing between our destruction by the giant guinea pigs, rats rabbits…, et. al. from the lost Valley of the Giant Guinea Critters.
So yet another I/I (Injury/Insult) has been absorbed, but I am still in the process of dealing with it. I still have another six days of oral antibiotics to take, I am restricted to a very low fiber diet for the time being (goodbye “Toast and …” menu items from Steelhead), I need to get another CT scan in a couple of weeks, and then in 6-8 weeks I am supposed to get another colonoscopy (my others were at 50 and 60 years of age).
My big concern at the moment is that one of my antibiotics, Cipro, apparently triples or quadruples the risk of Achilles tendon ruptures in patients over 60. Given that information I have decided to forego my ballet classes for the immediate future 😢. Those classes were already pushing me to the limit Achilles tendon-wise, so I have decided to exercise a bit of caution in that respect.
Okay, enough of this blather. Time to wrap it up!