Thursday, July 1, 2010

Memorable Moments

I’m back home after another stint in the hospital. I began having flu-like symptoms last Wednesday night, my mom called the doctor on Thursday morning and I was advised to come to the hospital in case I had an infection. As it turned out, my PICC line was infected after being healthy for over six months. I was there for four nights, small potatoes compared to my past nine months. I like to quantify these things – I’ve spent 39 of the past 255 nights in the hospital.

In all of those nights, there have been many memorable events involving my own illness, treatment, hallucinations, etc. There have also been some interesting moments concerning other patients. After all, staying in the hospital is sort of like staying in a hotel (there’s even room service), except all of the guests are constantly in their rooms, all doors are almost always open and the walls are very thin. As I was lying in my bed the other day, listening to the cacophony, I reflected on the most memorable non-me moments I’ve experienced. Here are a few:

Mama Mia – When I first moved from the CCU to a step-down unit in November, I had a new next-door neighbor. I really felt sorry for the woman, I did. But I was also losing my own mind and desperately needed the peace and quiet that came with sleeping in my own bed. This woman was clearly either permanently or temporarily demented and continually called out from her hospital room. She alternated, “mama mia, mama, mama mia, mama” with “aqua, aqua, aqua” and “water, water, water” for those of us who don’t speak Italian (I assume she was on fluid restriction). It was absolutely maddening. Fortunately, my dad convinced the nurses to move me to another room, so I only had to listen to her for about 24 hours…a very long 24 hours.

Come Back, Mr. P – During that same stay, I had another neighbor whom we’ll call Mr. P. The poor man was also experiencing some sort of dementia, presumably from either meds or being in the hospital for an extended period of time. He kept getting confused and agitated, and he continually attempted to leave the floor. He was attached to a variety of instruments for IV medication and heart monitoring, so he would rip everything out and scurry down the hall. Not only did he then have wires and tubes trailing behind him, but he was wearing a hospital gown and a double holster (a stylish accessory required for holding the external parts of the LVAD), so he looked sort of like a discombobulated naked cowboy marching down the hall.

It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere – During a visit to the ER in late November, I witnessed maybe the drunkest person ever to survive. My mom and I were sitting in the ER waiting for a room to become available upstairs at about 3 or 4pm on a Monday, when in rolls a belligerently drunk grown woman. She was screaming things related to her sexual desires and using as much profanity as possible. My mom attempted to get the scoop, but the show didn’t last long. The woman was promptly sedated and placed behind closed doors. I would expect that type of spectacle if I were in the ER on a Saturday night, but a Monday afternoon – really?

Lowest Low, Highest High – During my most recent visit, I witnessed a woman going through one of the scariest things that can happen and then the happiest thing I can imagine. One night as I was preparing for bed, I heard her suddenly start screaming that she couldn’t breathe (the primary symptom of advanced heart failure). I felt like I was witnessing my own experience right before crashing back in October, so I was pretty freaked out. Nurses and doctors rushed around trying to help, as the patient became more and more panicked. Finally, someone figured out her LVAD (the same life-saving device worn by Mr. P, which essentially keeps the heart beating until it is replaced) had short-circuited or something. VERY scary. Anyway, they fixed her up and the next day she got a new heart! Rumor had it she was doing very well after surgery. So after experiencing one of the scariest moments of her life, she received the best news imaginable. Talk about memorable.


  1. Here's hoping that your next memorable moment will be getting the call that there is a wonderful, healthy heart just waiting to join you as you journey on!

    I love you, Mom

  2. healthy heart coming soooooon. I can feel it in my bones A

  3. Hahah, you are so lucky to get these "moments", the only time I have had an interesting hospital stay is when one of the patients kept calling 911-for no reason.
    I keep hearing more and more people having infections in their PICC line, I am so lucky I did not get one, which I don't know how that happened.
    I hope you get your call soon!