I’m sitting here on the 8th floor of the Medical University of South Carolina’s main hospital building. I have a fairly decent view of the city; church steeples and historical rooftops protruding through a sea of green trees. In the distance, the Cooper River Bridge in all of its glory. Charleston is a rather pretty city…when viewed from above.
I went for a routine visit at the CF clinic here on Tuesday. I made mention that I had been having trouble breathing for roughly three weeks (since a few days prior to our benefit on 5/4). I thought that I had pulled a muscle in my back or chest, again. Add to that, the fact that this has been one of the worst pollen seasons in many years, and I just assumed this was a little hiccup in the grand scheme of things. I was wrong. The chest X-Ray showed signs of pneumonia and a pneumothorax in my right lung. They wanted to keep me. The fact that I was almost half way home when they called to give me this information meant that my stubborn ass was going to continue on home to get my life in order before heading back to be admitted. (I live 3.5-4hrs away from the adult CF clinic, depending on traffic.)
I arrived at MUSC yesterday morning at 10:45. Admitting said that an order for a bed had been called in the night before, but that there wasn’t one available. They took my cell number and said to go do something else and they would call me when a room opened up. What else was I supposed to do? I came toting a giant suitcase full of junk food, a tea kettle, lap top and other contraband. These are the people that said I had a collapsed lung. Should I just take a stroll around campus? Sigh.
I spent a great deal of time sitting in the lobby, listening to some crunchy college guy play melancholy music on the piano. He even played the theme from Titanic…because that’s exactly what people in a hospital want to hear.
Around about the same time this was going on, I learned that my older sister was in the next building over. She lives about 2hrs from MUSC and was there for her regular evaluation and testing for her LUPUS. She is the care provider for our mother, who has Alzheimer’s. I found out what lab she was in and I hiked over to relieve her of Mom duties for a little while. Mom and I spent some time in the cafeteria, and around 2pm, my sister came and found us. At 2:30, I got the call to go and have a chest CT done so that they could get a better look at my lung. And sometime around 4-4:30 they found a room for me.
The first few hours…hell, the first night, in the hospital is usually the worst. A parade of people come through your door making it impossible to get any rest. They all want to ask you the same 20 questions. They need to start an IV, draw umpteen tubes of blood (wow…spell check didn’t ding “umpteen”…cool), they need vitals, they need urine, they need more blood. Respiratory therapy has to begin immediately. Medication orders have to be corrected. It’s a hassle I have grown far too familiar with. And so, I have fun with them. I’m pretty sure that somewhere in my records there is a special notation warning the nurses that I am a bonafide wiseass. (oh…but spell check dings bonafide and wiseass?)
Mom & Sister spent the night here with me. I received a link via Twitter to join a bunch of other members of the #TWDFamily so that we could re-watch The Walking Dead Season 1 Episode 1 together and live chat while viewing. That was a lot of fun and brought a big smile to my face. I hope that we can do it again sometime. Although, I have to admit, watching the scenes where Rick first wakes up in the hospital…while staying in the hospital…let’s just say, I slept very lightly last night.
And so, here I sit. Mom & Sister have headed home. I’ve got my cuppa in hand. I stocked up on DVDs before leaving home (The Boondock Saints, The Departed, Pitch Perfect, and 4 years worth of Doctor Who David Tennant style). I was also given a coloring book & crayons, a ton of candy, and a magazine dedicated to the lovely Leonardo DiCaprio–my friends are awesome.
Here’s what I’ve been told so far: The pneumothorax was more than likely “spontaneous” which apparently is not uncommon in CF patients. Due to the placement of it at the top of my right lung, and it’s small size, they do not want to use a chest tube, for fear that the chest tube would do more damage or increase risk for infection. Instead, they are going to watch it and wait. I am on two IV antibiotics, Cefepime and Tobi. I will receive nebulizer treatments 3x a day, as well as chest physical percussion 3x a day, but only on my left side. They do not want me to use the IPV machine or my VEST so as not to aggravate the pneumothorax. So, every so many hours someone gets to come in and beat on me. It’s like a really focused, really intense massage, but not. And it’s a good thing I don’t bruise easily. But, come on…who hasn’t wanted to slap me around?
They put in an order for a PICC line to be put in. This is good for a few reasons; the first being that I won’t have to worry about them changing my IV line or blowing a vein (I’m a difficult stick to begin with). And also, a PICC line means I have the freedom to do what I do best: roam the building. It also means I should be able to go home next week and continue IV meds on my own for a few weeks without having to be an inpatient.
Doing IV from home is a breeze. With the training that I have (registered medical assistant, pharmacy & phlebotomy) they don’t have to order a nursing service. I take care of it all myself, including dressing changes. Piece of cake! Plus, it’s fun to see the looks I get in public. The last time I was hospitalized was in November of 2011. When I was released, two of my best friends took me to see the movie Contagion. We wore surgical masks that I had snagged from the hospital. Plus I had that wire dangling from my arm. This is how we went to the theatre. The popcorn guy looked nervous. (You should have seen all of us when we saw the re-release of Titanic in 3D…we came with flotation devices and blew them up in the theatre, swimmies and inner tubes…”There aren’t enough life boats by half!” Good times.
So, hopefully I will get that line put in today, and just keep on keeping on. I’m looking forward to getting a lot of writing done while I’m in isolation. But, knowing me I’ll just watch movies and eat. I also don’t know how to rest. Such is life.
Thanks for all of the well wishes. I’ll keep you up to date on what’s going on. Those of you who have known me a long time, have read some of my previous Facebook ‘Notes’ journaling my hospital stays. Something ridiculous always happens. Hopefully, you will be entertained. For example, upon arriving at my room my reaction was, “Oh man, I hate having the room at the end of the hall. Everyone can see in, and I’m sandwiched between two rooms where someone ends up yelling all night or someone always dies.” Two hours later, just outside my door, we hear the staff trying desperately to wake the man in the next room. Like, legit yelling at him, “Mr. _______! Mr. ________! Open your eyes!”. They argued about how much Ativan he had been given. Some woman was crying. It was a nightmare. I took one look at my sister, “See. I told ya.”
$5 says at least one psych patient goes missing and on the loose while I’m here. Happens every time. Oh! And for my Whovian fans…they closed the little shop!! Not a good sign!!
Enjoy your day, folks. I’ll update soon. xoxoxo