30 November 2008

Let's talk about sex baby, let's talk about you and me...

...let's talk about HIV. Gee that was a really bad segue into this post. Anyway, it made sense at the time and it still makes sense as a title to this post. Today is December 1st here in Australia and beside it being only 24 more shopping days until Christmas it is also World AIDS Day. My friends in the northern hemisphere can read this post now or wait until tomorrow. On second thought maybe you should read it now. Today of course is the day that we remember all of those people that we have lost to this horrible disease. Today is the day we choose to wear a red ribbon to note that loss. We also wear that red ribbon to bring attention to the fact that HIV/AIDS is still amongst us and until a cure is found it's not going away.

To be brutally honest with you, wearing a red ribbon just for the day is not good enough. Some (that would include me) might say it is hypocritical to wear the ribbon only for the day when the disease is still here the other 364 days of the year. I know that some people wear a yellow wristband all year long to raise awareness for testicular cancer. Some people wear a pink ribbon year round in awareness of breast cancer and there are other examples. So why is it that we find it acceptable to only wear the red ribbon just today. I apologise to those people that still do wear the ribbon daily. I not only commend you but thank you. I will have to say you are a minority in today’s society.
I also have to say that I am just as guilty for not wearing the ribbon every day but then in my defense I think I've done more than my share considering what I've been through and even then that's no excuse.

As I said and as we know the ribbon is aimed at raising awareness about HIV/AIDS but when I hear about the rise in numbers of new HIV infections occurring globally on a daily basis then it seems that wearing that ribbon and observing a day of remembrance once a year just is not good enough. I believe that HIV/AIDS is still a very important issue. Too many people are still dying as a result of complications from this disease to let awareness become a once a year event. It seems a sad indictment of society that the issue of HIV/AIDS is only worthy of notating once a year. Maybe it’s time to rethink the way we remember our losses and how we want to bring awareness to the world so as to prevent further losses. We might want to start talking about HIV/AIDS on a daily basis and try to open up our ears once again, listen a little closer and really hear what is being said. I’m not here to preach I’m merely here to bring attention to something that I believe is still an issue in today’s world.

I have never made a secret out of the fact that I am HIV positive (okay there was that time way back in the beginning when I was first diagnosed but let’s move on shall we) I have been HIV+ for over twenty-two years and within that time I have seen HIV/AIDS in many different ways. I have seen the good, the bad and the very, very ugly side of this disease. On very special occasions I have even seen the good side of this disease but those moments usually if not always came at a price. We have been talking/hearing about HIV/AIDS since 1981. We have made great strides in the area of treatments and as such people are living longer but as I noted earlier people are also still dying. It’s estimated that around 2 million people died from complication of HIV/AIDS in 2007. Once again as I said I’m not here to preach because I know you have heard so much of this before and then some. I just want to use this time and space to highlight something very close to my heart.

I have been around long enough to hear all of the reasons as to why there is still a rise in new HIV infections occurring in many parts of the world. I know the concept of “condom fatigue”. I mean there are only so many ways and so many times that we can tell people to wear a condom. After a while people just stop listening because they get tired of hearing the same old rhetoric over and over and over again. Another reason for the rise in new infections is based on the thought process that HIV is not a problem any more because people who become infected can now just take some pills and everything will be okay. Unfortunately it’s not that easy, and people don’t know, think about or take into consideration all of the complications and possible side effects associated with those pills. And last but not least there is the generational issue where as young people see HIV/AIDS as something that is a problem of an older generation. Young people did not have to go through what happened back in the early days of HIV when so many people died basically due to lack of information and lack of medications. In saying that I find it almost appalling that with the knowledge that we have about HIV today that young people would choose to carelessly ignore that information. I have to assume they are ignoring the information along with so many other people because there are so many new people becoming infected.

In the end I don’t know what to say. I’m just sitting here rambling on and talking about things that so many of you know. I don’t know what the answer is. Maybe I’m just a jaded, cynical old man who has seen, and been through too much. Maybe it’s just none of my business.

27 November 2008

Turkey Day, Turkey Day...

...it's all about Turkey Day. However for me it's not all just about the turkey. In fact it's not even just about the day. You see, they don't celebrate Turkey Day here in Australia and as a result I don't either. I haven't celebrated a Thanksgiving since 2000. On a few occasions over the past eight years hubby and I discussed the possibility of putting together a complete Turkey Day menu including all the favourites like cranberries, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie. Unfortunately for one reason or another we just never seemed to get around to it.

I have to admit that Thanksgiving is one of the things I miss about living in the states. I love all of the food. I enjoy getting together with friends and family Hell, I love the Macy's Day Parade more than anything (becasue Christmas is right around the corner and the tree will go up on the weekend). I miss all of these things and in some small way I wish I could be there today with my family. I know they will get together and enjoy all those things I miss along with a football game or two thrown in for good measure. And for all the hustle and bustle, noise and confusion, even sometimes yelling and screaming (okay a lot of yelling and screaming), I would dearly love to celebrate Thanksgiving, but unfortunately I live 7500 miles away and that doesn't include the miles from the west coast to Dallas and the east coast of Australia to Tasmania.

So even though I won't be there for Thanksgiving this year as in years past I want to tell my family that I love them all dearly and that I miss them tremendously and I want them to have the happiest Thanksgiving in the world! I also would like to tell each of you, the readers who live in the US, I want to wish you also the Best Thanksgiving! I hope that you are all able to enjoy the day with family and/or friends. Take care and stay well...

24 November 2008

If you haven't figured out by now...

... he's back. So I'll be writing something real soon but in the mean time I'll be making up for lost time with my one and only. Life is good when it wants to be. Gee this is probably the shortest post by me ever.

19 November 2008

All by myself...

...I don't want to be all by myself any more. If you haven't guessed by now that just maybe I'm all by myself well I am. Hubby has gone to Sydney for a few days to lend support to his parents and his aunt who just had surgery to remove a lump which was confirmed as aggressive breast cancer. We found out his aunt (age 83) had breast cancer when I was in Sydney this last time getting my back fixed. Her surgery was today and hubby wanted to be there just in case, considering everything that is going on.

Yes once again our unbelievable saga continues. All in the matter of the next three days hubby's mom will have her next lot of chemo, his aunt will have her surgery and his sister's partner is going in to have some type of operation to fix his heart. At least my back is on the mend so we can scratch that off our list of worries.I know some people would say that all of the stuff that has happened and is still happening to us is purely coincidental. I know they are probably right but this has been going one now for over two years. I just think at some point our luck has to change. I know I've talked about this all before so I won't do it all over again. Besides that's not what I meant to write about.

So, back to me being lonely. Yes, hubby is gone and I hate it when he's not here. I don't mind it during the day but it's the nights. I really hate sleeping alone. Now some of you might say well what's the difference between this and when he works nights. I'll tell you what the difference is. The difference is that when he works nights I know he'll be here in the morning. He defiantly won't be coming through the door tomorrow morning unless he finds some way to teleport himself over here from Sydney and if he could do that we sure have spent a whole lot of money on plane tickets as of late.

Anyway, as it stands he won't be back until Saturday and for whatever reason that just doesn't sit well with me. Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that I didn't want him to go, just the opposite. I encouraged him to go because I think it's important for him to be there. I suppose what it's really all about is that he is not only not here but he is far away. I know life can be unpredictable and because of that I worry. I'm always going to worry because that's what I do.

My mum is a worrier also. I must get it from her. My dad used to say that my mum worried so much so that if she didn't have something to worry about she would make up something to worry about and worry about that or alternatively she'd just worry about not having something to worry about. Hubby says I'm the same. The way I see it is I can't help it and either way right or wrong I'm never going to change. In my defense I do it firstly because I care and secondly because it's who I am. It's not like I'll sit here clutching my chest for the next 4 days wondering if at any moment I'm going to get a call and some one will tell me something has happened to hubby. but never the less I will worry in my own little way. I will be happy when he gets back home on Saturday.

But until then I'm going to watch a bit of telly, walk around our garden, cut more flowers, read my book and worry maybe just a little. What can I say?

16 November 2008

You're never going to believe it...

...I'm actually going to write a post with some substance. Well I hope it will have substance. Of course that will require me to think and to be fair it is Monday morning and no one should be required to think this early in the morning. I'll see what I can do. I think the best thing for me to do is go with a randoms thoughts post, that way I can go in and out of consciousness and still make it look like I'm saying something of interest. Let's see what happens.

My back is healing up very nicely or so I've been told as I am unable to see it. I will have to say that it feels pretty good. I have not found one of those lumps like I had the other two times which is a good sign. So unless there is something happening on the inside I have to believe that all is well and I'll leave well enough alone. I will see the neurologist in December and try to find out if all of this has bee worth it.

I'm happy to see that the election is over in the states. I think that it was and is time for a change in the US and hopefully Mr. Obama will be able to deliver that change. I think people are going to have to be fair to him and not expect great things within the first few days or even months after he actually becomes the man in charge. It will take some time to untangle the problems created over the past eight years. I watched the same thing happen here in Australia. The new Prime Minister (Kevin Rudd) had not been in office more than 100 days when the politicians from the other party (aka the ones that lost) started harassing him and his party for not doing certain things that he had promised to do. I have to say that it's a bit unfair and in some cases highly unrealistic for these men to come in and expect him to fix another persons mess especially if that mess has been going on for a matter of years. The problems facing President-elect Obama will not be unlike those of Kevin Rudd albeit they will be more related to US concerns except for issues of global concern like the war in Iraq. and the economic crisis. As I said hopefully there will be a change and it will be for the better for all concerned. We will have to wait and see. As they say all good things come to those that wait.

Summer is almost upon us here in the land down under and with summer comes the tourist. Most of the year it is fairly quiet in our neck of the woods. We can usually walk in to any restaurant and get a table for breakfast/dinner with no waiting. However, when the tourist come, and they will, life here becomes a little bit unbearable. Tasmania is a tourist destination all year long I think most of the people that come here just want to know if there really is such a place and not just some place made up in a cartoon. As I said the island is visited through out the year but summer brings the majority of people. Tasmania saw 812,200 people arrive on our shores in the year ending March 2007 and of those 83,000 arrived by cruise ships which all dock at Hobart. The cruise liners only come during the summer season so from December until sometime in March those other 83,000 people invade our space on every level from grocery stores, everyday stores (clothing, books, electronics) and last but not least the aforementioned restaurants. The bulk of the other 729,200 that arrive through out the year all land at Hobart airport and they stay their first few days in Hobart. The majority of that group also come in summer. Winter is the slow season here and most of the people that come at that time are interested in seeing some wilderness and snow in the mountain areas other than that it can be pretty quiet around here. So really that leaves the majority of tourist visiting in the spring and summer. T
ourism is great for the Tasmanian seeing that last year tourist brought in an estimated 1.3 billion dollars into the economy but it still makes life difficult for the locals. Anyway I'm sorry about that, here I've been rabbiting on about tourist and sounding like an advertisement for Tourism Tasmania and I don't know why. All I know is that pretty soon we will be eating most if not all of our meals from home or getting takeaway just so we don't have to fight the crowds all of whom are trying to eat and enjoy some of the great food available here in Tasmania. there I go again sounding like an advert. Hmmm, maybe there's a job available with the tourism board?

Did I mention that I'm going back to school. As the say it's never to late to learn so I thought I'd give that old saying a try. Yes it's true, this coming February I will start a distance course through Charles Stuart University. I will be studying for a Bachelor of Arts with a major in sociology focusing on research. Several years ago I did a short course in Quantitative Research. I really got into the whole thing. It will be interesting starting back at school. I will have to clear my fuzzy little head to be able to start putting my thoughts on paper (or Microsoft word for Mac). I think it will be a challenge and that's what I want. I'm only going to do one subject the first semester so I can ease myself back into a school study habit/thinking/writing mode. The first subject is the only required subject and then after that it will all be electives focusing on the sociology/research aspects. All I can do is try. It will definitely be an experience and who knows maybe even a little fun.

Moving on, so It's coming around to that time of the year and you all know what I'm talking about, that's right I'm talking about Christmas. It's going to be a rather sedate Christmas this year around our house. I'll put up the tree sometime at the end of this month but I've decide to only decorate it with coloured lights and coloured ornaments. I won't be putting any of the quirky fun ornaments I've collected over the years. I don't know why I've decided to do it this way. At the end of the day who knows I my change my mind. It all depends on how it looks. Hubby has to work on Christmas night. However we will be popping up to Sydney for a few days (4) so hubby can spend time with his mum. It's important for him to do this as he always worries that because of his mums cancer this could be her last Christmas. We keep hope alive that this will not be the case. It will also be light in the gift giving department since we spent all of our savings on my back. We'll be buying for hubby's niece and nephew but that's about it. Saying all that we will still try to make it a nice time for all concerned.

Okay well that's enough rambling from this head. I bet you wished I'd done another meme or gone back to flower pictures. Anywaay, I never promised you that what I wrote would be of any interest or for that matter any good. So you get what there is and that's all there will be. Until next time take care and stay well...

13 November 2008

I'm here, I'm here...

I know I'm running late but then again who isn't? Anyway, I've been sitting here recovering and it seems that everything is going well. The wound is healing and is only slightly still a bit swollen an sore. I still have to be careful as far as picking things up or bending but I always know if I've gone to far and as soon as I do i stop doing whatever it is that is making me hurt. As soon as that happens I know I shouldn't be doing what ever it is I'm doing. When I said i was late that's not necessarily untrue as I don't walk really fast and I sure as heck don't run but as I said I'm getting there.

One thing I have been able to do since I can't run around and work in the garden which I would love to do as it is that time of year being spring and everything is in bloom and growing like a weed. Unfortunately, not only are all the flowers growing but so are the weeds. As I said I can't bend as such so I can't pull weeds and things like that. Hubby has been doing all of that and doing a very good job if i may say so and I will. I on the other hand can do what I can do in my own way yo interact with the garden and that's take pictures of some of the flowers and then put them up here so as to bore you, possibly make some of you jealous (doubtful) and last but not least provide me with a very easy post.

So with out further adieu please enjoy some flowers from our garden.

9 November 2008

Hospital world... (part five)

So there I was laying in my bed, in a new ward and in a room with only one other patient. It looked like we shared the same nurse and she was there when I arrived. She was busy running around putting things away and making sure that this tube was in the right hole and that dressing material was where it belonged. She was paying a lot of attention to the man in the other bed. I assumed that he had only arrived a bit earlier from just having his operation as our nurse kept asking him if he needed anything, how was his pain, and did he need anything right at the moment and so on. I tried to get her attention on several occasions and it was almost as if I was annoying her. She would occasionally acknowledged me and would tell me that she would be with me in a minute. I didn't really understand what was so difficult. The man she was tending to was in no apparent distress. I mean all she was doing was helping position him in his bed so he could watch telly, putting his things away and cleaning up around his bed. So I just didn't understand why she couldn't take just a second to ask me what it was I needed. It wasn't as if I was trying to ask her to re-do my surgery. I just needed a urine bottle so I could stand next to my bed and do what nature intended me to do in the bathroom but instead I had to do it next to the bed because of the surgery and hence the need for the bottle. Nothing, more nothing less.

I was a bit troubled to think that maybe my nurse was incapable of doing two things at once but maybe it was the morphine speaking and maybe I was just being a tad unfair since I had only just met her. Believe me I have huge amounts of empathy for what nurses do day in and day out because my hubby does it and he does it with the added stresses of doing it in the Emergency Room. I understand when someone is involved in something extremely difficult and they can't be disturbed when their are doing say "brain surgery" but I really don't equate what our nurse was doing with brain surgery. The way I saw it and the way 99.9% of the population would have seen it was that all she was doing was settling two new patients into their respective beds and making sure that they were as comfortable as possible before she headed out to check on her other patients. I also want to be fair and say that I was not privy to the entire picture and there may have been something extraordinarily special about the man in the bed across from me and it was quite possible that he had special needs but if that were the case then she should have gotten some help to attend to all of her duties.
A few days later I would come to realise that I really did not need nor want to have her attention but I am getting a head of myself.

I had been told by the surgeon that I was allowed to walk to the bathroom if I needed to use it but it would be better to use the bottle as much as I could to save the wear and tear on my back. I was a bit disoriented being in a new room and I didn't know where the bathroom was but If I had known where it was I would have just gotten up and headed over to it to take care of business instead of asking for a bottle. Once I was able to take care of business one way or the other I would be able to lie back down, push the pain medicine button and go to sleep. I finally got the nurses full and undivided attention and of course the first thing I asked for was a bottle. She got me the requested bottle and as she started to leave to allow me to attend to my business I asked her if she would please draw the curtains around my bed so I could have some privacy. She turned around and said to me "You're in a hospital and once you enter these doors all of that type of privacy goes away. So it's best you get used to it " and she proceeded to walk away.
I was to tired to say anything. I had just had surgery on my back, I was in pain and I had to pee like there was no tomorrow. So I used that bottle right there in front of everyone and anyone that might come into the room or pass by the door, which was an issue because I had the bed facing the door, but it would be the last time I did so without the privacy of a curtain. That little incident set the tone of what was to be my next three and a half days of sure hell.

This nurse turned out to be an absolute nut job. She had personal conversations with me of a nature that were totally inappropriate. Conversations like she was in love with my doctor and his wife is hot too. She talked about the drunk old lady that lived above her and that all she really wanted was for the old lady to die so she could buy her apartment. She said she had only recently been assigned to this ward but already she knew that everyone there hated her and that they would only let her look after these rooms. On top of all this, and believe me there was more, the thing that sent me over the top was the day she was helping me get ready for a shower.  I was in the bathroom and I asked her to please get my shaving bag. I was trying to get my gown off and wasn't looking up so I did not see her come back into the bathroom and the next thing I hear is her saying "So what do you need out of here?" and at that moment I looked up to see that she had opened up my shaving bag and she was rifling through it. That's when I had had enough and I told her to get out of my bag. I told her she had no right to open my bag and to start looking inside. I had not asked her to do that I had only asked here to get it for me and that she had no right to go through my personal items. Lastly but most importantly I told her that I was not a child but rather I was a grown man and I expected to be treated like one. She said that she was only tyring to help, and I told her "Well don't". At that point she turned into the ice princess and then everything I asked for she made it seem as if it were an effort or I would have to wait a while as she was busy and she'd get to it as soon as she could.

I should have known she was going to be trouble. There had been other signs, like when I asked her not to open the drapes one day and so then she turned around and threw them back closed almost tearing them off their hooks and said something to me to the effect of me wanting to stay on the dark side again. It had nothing to do with the dark side, what ever that meant. It was just that I was still having a few headaches from the whole surgery, spinal fluid thing and the light bothered my eyes. Besides at the end of the day if i wanted the curtains closed then that was my right. At other times  she would get extremely irritated when you did things different than her way and you could tell by the way she then interacted with you. I finally had to ask for her to be removed from taking care of me. I wrote up a five page complaint about her, which is the first time that I have ever done such a thing about anyone for anything. The worst part of it was she was not the only problem on this ward. There were other nurses and assistants that were equally as bad. And to top it all off the bathroom that my roommate and I shared did not get cleaned for over three days and were talking about a hospital here.

To make matters worse, while all this was happening and I was trying to recover, on the Sunday following the surgery that has occurred that Friday I found out that we were going to have to go back in and do it all over again. The surgeon had come in that Sunday morning to have a look at the wound as he had normally been doing and unfortunately for me he discovered that the wound was leaking and not in a good way. I have to tell you that his news just about sent me right over the edge. I couldn't believe it I hadn't even left the hospital this time and we were going back in so this would be surgery number four. Anyway, the surgeon called all of the weekend staff in and opened the theatre up to do a quick emergency fix up. I was in surgery by noon and back in my room late that evening around dinner time. I was in pain and all I could think about was I was stuck in this hell hole of a ward. I just didn't know how much more I could take.

I only scratched the surface here but suffice it to say it was the ward from hell. It was so bad that on the Tuesday following my surgery they moved me back to the ward in which I started and hubby had just arrived to see me as he had been back in Tasmania all of this time because he had to take care of things on the home front. Anyway, he followed me down as they moved me back to the other ward and as soon as they got me settled in my new bed space and the attendants left I honest to God burst into tears. That's how bad it had been and if I had more patience and time I would tell you all about it but I also don't want you suffering like I did and it's painfully just typing all about it. The last few days in the hospital went off without a hitch. All up I was in hospital for two weeks and I hope that it will be the last time I have to see the inside of a hospital for a long, long time!

Well that's the short, long and quick of it and I once again apologise for the very long post. As I mentioned in some ways I didn't even give you the full story and you should be thankful for that as it would have killed you to have to read it all and at the same time I'm thankful too as it would have killed me to have to relive it all. Anyway, I am recovering well and It was three weeks yesterday since the fourth surgery. As it stands everything seems to be right on track so lets hope it stays that way. Until next time take care...

7 November 2008

Breaking News...

We interrupt the nail biting, on the edge of your seat, and holding your breathe for the next episode of "Hospital World" to bring you this breaking news:

Someone very special is having a birthday. It has come to our attention that one of our staff writers will be celebrating his birthday today. Now for those of you in the Northern Hemisphere this breaking news will not actually happen until tomorrow so please disregard this news bulletin until we prepare an appropriate news flash to interrupt your reading of "Hospital World" tomorrow. We apologise for the inconvenience of having to make you wait but he wasn't technically born until tomorrow where you are so the rules are the rules. On the other hand, for those of you in the Southern Hemisphere please join us in wishing our senior staff writer all the best today and also wishing hm a very Happy Birthday.

This ends our news flash and we now return to your regular scheduled reading.

5 November 2008

Hospital world... (part four)

Be aware that this will be another long post as have been most of the recent posts with the title of "Hospital world" So, here we go. I finally got admitted into hospital and put in a bed. As I mentioned before I had been given a private room but shortly after settling into the room I was told I would have to move to a shared room because the nurses and doctors looking after another man thought he might have TB and he had to be isolated. I was moved to a shared room with four other men. I did at least get the window seat. I got to look out over the city which was especially nice in the evening watching all of the lights in downtown Sydney.

As I had been told there would be no surgery on Tuesday because I apparently was stupid enough to eat something at lunch. (Okay they didn't call me stupid to my face but I felt as if they did earlier in the day). It would have helped if someone had told me not to eat. Anyway, lets get past that bad memory and move on. I spent a quiet night Tuesday and slept as well as one can while in hospital. It is a bit hard to get a full night sleep because the nurses keep coming in to take your temperature, blood pressure and your oxygen saturation. Basically they needed to make sure you hadn't died on their shift. If you had there would be so much paper work to fill out which would mean they would have to work a bit of overtime to get all the forms filled out. After a nine hour shift the last thing they wanted was all of that paper work much less a dead patient. Okay that's not really why they take all those obs (observations). They take them to keep track of all those basic bodily indicators while your there and to make sure everything is moving along smoothly. Well, that's what they told me. I still think it's all about the dying and the paperwork.

Wednesday was a quiet day as the surgeons told me that there would definitely be no surgery that day. Thursday was the day had an 95 percent chance of surgery so from Wednesday night at midnight it was no food and only enough water to take my tablets. I have to admit that I had to take a bit more water than they probably wanted seeing that I take 16 pills first thing in the morning and a little water just isn't going to make the medicine go down. Thursday morning rolled around I waited anxiously for word that the surgery would happen. The nursing staff told me that the would let me know as soon as they knew something and that they would probably hear something around breakfast time but no later than noon. About ten o'clock the nurse that was looking after me told me that surgery would be a no go that day so she asked if I wanted anything for a late breakfast. I said no and spent the rest of the day watching television or staring out the window. At midnight on Thursday night I started my fasting once again hoping that surgery would happen on Friday. I had an 85 percent chance for surgery on Friday so it was fingers crossed and what ever will be, would be.

Friday morning I took my pills with as little water as possible and waited anxiously for word from my nurse about the surgery. It must be that ten o'clock was a time in which things happened because at 10 o'clock a surgeon arrived at my bedside and told me that it was all happening. He told me that some one would be up to collect me in about an hour and that the surgery would happen around noon. Needless to say I was ecstatic. Well as ecstatic one can be when it comes to having surgery.

I was wheeled down to surgery as they normally do, bed and all. I was first taken into a pre-surgery room in which they prepared me for my anaesthesia. The anaesthetist explained everything that would happen and of course asked me if I had any question, which I didn't. He was hooking up lines to my already existing cannula which had been put in on Tuesday when I was first admitted. They next thing I knew I was in the recovery room. The anaesthetist had put me to sleep without even telling me he was about to do it. No "Now count to 100". No "Now count backwards from 100". No "You should start to feel sleepy". No "How are you feeling now?" No anything, nada, zilch, nothing.

As I said I woke up in the recovery room. However, unlike the first surgery and remember this is the third surgery, I felt like I was dying. The pain was out of control. I don't know what the doctor did differently this time opposed to what he did the second time but I had to assume he did basically the same thing. All he was going to do was to seal a hole that was leaking spinal fluid to stop me from getting headaches, fevers and possible infection. He also needed to remove the growth next to my spine so as to take the pressure off the nerves that it was pressing on and that was causing me amongst other things leg pain and numbness. So as far as I knew the surgeon did the exact same surgery. Now mind you the surgeon was different from the two previuos surgeies only becasue this time I was having the surgery in the public hospital opposed to the private hospital. This surgeon was the senior surgeon/registrar of the doctor who did the first two surgeries. In some ways the originally surgeon was involved in this surgery by giving the new surgeon some pointers/ideas as two how to fix the problem this time around but he just wouldn't actually be doing the surgery. In some ways I was actually happier with this new surgeon. He was young and vibrant but most of all he came across as competent and I believed/felt that he could fix the problem.

There was pain to be expected as the anaesthesia wore off and because the pain would get worse over time they gave me, as they do for all major operation patients, a button to push that administered a measured amount of morphine. I tell you what, I was pushing the hell out of that button and it was NOT helping. One of the nurses came over and I told her how bad it was and I mean bad as in "crying" bad. She got permission to administer an additional dose of morphine on top of what I had given my self. All in all they ended up giving me four more top ups before the pain started to subside. After that I was able to control the pain easy enough with the button also know as the PCA (patient controlled Analgesia).

I was finally wheeled up to my room which was on a different ward and in this room I only had one room mate. This ward was specifically for patients who had had surgery related to neurology. I was soon to find out that this ward was straight out of the "Twilight Zone" and I wondered if I was ever going to get out of it alive. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking it was the morphine talking. I've got news for you. I know exactly what happened for the next four days, and in the next post I'll tell you just what happened on ward 7 North.

4 November 2008

Hosital world... (part three)

Let's get right to it. They finally had my bed ready and I was more than happy too finally see this miracle bed. They even kindly gave me a ride, in a wheel chair, up to the ward. I was taken to a private room and I thought to myself that maybe they felt bad for giving me all of this grief so they were compensating by giving me this room. Alas I was wrong, and no more than thirty minutes later a nurse came in to tell me that they were going to have to move me because they needed the single room for a man that they were suddenly querying TB. What was I to say? They took me, bed and all, to a shared unit with four other guys. At least I got the window seat.

I don't really mind sharing a room but I think it's a lot to ask when you've got four men who have various God knows what kind of illnesses and then to put them in a room with just one shared bathroom. I mean what if one of the guys is suddenly sick to his stomach and he needs to go make friends with the porcelain gods thus commandeering the one and only bathroom for possible hours and hours. He really is (was) very, very sick. What are (were) the rest of us supposed to do in the mean time? I guess we are (were) expected to just hold it all in, or try to sneek into one of the other bathrooms on the ward thus taking a toilet away from another group of men. I think that it was not the best laid out format of bed to toilet tratio. Alternatively you could always ask for a bottle or even worse a bed pan depending on what you needed to do. Alas, I find it a bit embarrassing (okay I find it a lot embarrassing) when you are forced to use a urine bottle and much less a bed pan while sitting in the room with three other guys. Well actually only two other guys because they third guy is still in the toilet bringing up breakfast, lunch and they skinny mocha latte with a turkey, cranberry and Brie focaccia (a flat oven-baked Italian bread used in making sandwiches) that his partner brought him as a surprise.

The use of a bed pan and/or bottle each deserve paragraphs of their own. I suppose you could look at using these items as being no different then being in the same room with several men as they might be when they are using a a public toilet. However, there is a huge difference. I will grant you that you are given a modicum of privacy when they nurse brings you your pan or urinal and they then pull your curtains around you so others can not watch. In some ways it is no different than being in a stall in a public toilet except in this instance they other patients in the room have seen you in your cubicle and they will know just exactly who the next few sounds and smells will be attributed too and who to blame for their discomfort due to said sounds and smells. For some reason nurses and doctors all think that the flimsy and sometimes worn curtain that they pull around your bed some how creates this airtight, soundproof environment and anyone that has been in hospital knows that this is not the case.

Lets talk about trying to perform your normal bodily functions while laying in bed in almost a completely flat position. Now in some cases this is not a problem if you are mobile and can actually walk to the bathroom to use it that is when it is not in use by one of the other four gentlemen. If however you are being kept in bed by doctors orders you then need to figure out how and to attempt to use the bottle or the pan while in a prone position. The bottle offers the least resistance as you can roll to your side in most cases and then all you have to do is to make sure that your aim is true. It's even easier if you get to sit on the edge of the bed or better yet you are allowed to stand at the side of the bed but you then have to promise that you will lie down immediately after you have filled the bottle with that days fluid intake. If you are unfortunate enough that you are required to lie completely flat with no rolling and definitely no getting out of bed then I can not in my wildest dreams figure out how you can lie down completely flat and then try to somehow put this cold plastic bottle between your legs, hopeing once again your aim is true trying to let nature take it's course.

In my opinion you spent many of your childhood years learning that wetting your bed was not a good thing. After having the thought that you should not go to the bathroom while lying in bed ingrained into your psyche it is totally impossible to then turn around and allow yourself to empty your bladder in bed, even if you can convince yourself that there is a bottle to catch what you create. I know that there will be some of you who have no such inhibitions. There will also be those men who are so blessed with enough rope so as to guarantee that they don't even have to think about rather or not their aim is good. Those same men wail be comforted in the thought that they are actually able to make physical contact with the bottle and then some, thus guaranteeing a direct hit with no cause for alarm in the actual bed wetting possibility.

As for the pan well all I have to say is there is no way on this planet that I for one will or would be able to perform the necessary function in a prone position with a piece of cold steel shoved underneath my backside. As for the curtain providing privacy in such an event, remember that they only give you the privacy of visual contact. However all noises, and/or smells created by this most private of human events can not be contained by said flimsy curtain. To make this matter even worse is that it is very possible that one or more of the men sharing your room will have relatives or friends visiting them around the time you are forced to be humiliated by having to use this barbaric piece of hospital protocol To have to use the pan with visitors in the room, subjecting them to all sounds and smells meant only for your ears and nose. is just so wrong. No curtain will ever save you or them this embarrassment.

In the end the nurse promptly arrives proceeding to throw the curtains open and loudly asksing you if you're finished. They then collect said pan and or bottle and proceed to carry said items from your bed and into the bathroom for all the world to see. They then return the offending items to you for future use all the while you are trying to not make eye contact with any of the people sharing your room much less those people visiting. All in all it has to be the most humiliating process within the hospital system. It is so high up on the humiliation list that having a gown that constantly flies open while walking and in the process exposes your backside for all the world to admire is insignificant on a scale of one to ten.

Well, I didn't give you much more of the story of my hospital stay because somehow I got of on a tangent about bodily function in semi privacy. Someways it does have relevance to my story. Only in as much as I had to struggle with the whole bottle issue. Thankfully I was spared the agony of using the other item. Anyway, I'll get back on track with my story in the next installment, I promise. Until then I hope you enjoyed this little diversion. Take care...

3 November 2008

Hospital world... (part two)

So where was I? Ah yes, I was getting ready to head over to the hospital on Tuesday to be admitted. Now on Monday prior to my admission I received a call from a woman at the admissions office telling me what I needed to do on Tuesday when I got to the hospital. I was told by the woman that I was to go to the admissions desk and then after I filled out a few forms I was to go to a place called IBAC which would be a sort of holding place for me until my bed was ready up on the ward. I told the woman that would not a problem . I did exactly as I was told when I got to the hospital on Tuesday. but instead of going up to IBAC the woman at the admissions office told me that my bed was ready and that I needed to go straight up to the ward on level 9. Not being one to question authority, well I don't question it often and decided that this would be one of those times that I didn't, I once again did as I was told and headed up to level 9. When I arrived on level 9 the nurse in charge informed me that unfortunately my bed was not ready and that I needed go back down to IBAC and wait. So off to IBAC I went to await further instructions. Something told me that this day was not going to go as planned and that there were going to be a few more surprises.

Not long after arriving at IBAC I found out that my intuition was not wrong. The nurses at IBAC told me
they were indeed expecting me, to have a seat and that someone would be over to talk to me about a few things in reference to my hospital stay and upcoming surgery. I took a seat and I hadn't been sitting for more then ten minutes when suddenly a surgeon arrived with one of my neurologist's registrars (it's what a doctor in training is called, kind of like a resident but one step above a resident). I was surprised to see a surgeon but I was about to be even more surprised by what he said. The surgeon introduced himself as Mark and told me that they might be doing my surgery that afternoon. Mark said that he needed to know when I had eaten last. I told him that I had just had a sandwich about an hour ago as it was lunch time. He then got a bit cranky and said "Well that's no good. We won't be able to do your surgery today". I of course told him I had not been informed that I was going to have surgery on Tuesday but rather I was only going to be admitted. I also told him that I had been informed I would be in hospital for a few days and that on Thursday when the surgery list came I would then find out when I would be scheduled for my operation with Friday being the earliest and most likely day. I said that if someone had told me that I might be having surgery on that Tuesday I would have never eaten, but alas no one had let me know and unfortunatley due to the lack of information I had eaten lunch.

The surgeon explained to me that they had planned on trying to do the surgery on Tuesday as it was an urgent operation and that they admissions people should have told me that so that I could have fasted for at least six hours before the surgery. That of course had not happened and because I had eaten they would not be able to do the surgery. The surgeon then told me he thought it would be best if I went back home until they called me. I told him that I was not prepared to do that. I said I had discussed all of these arrangements with my neurologist earlier and we had decided that it would be better for me to be in hospital. The neurolisist thought that it would be better for me to be in hospital so that they could keep an eye on me especially in case some new complication arose before the surgery. He also thought that by being in hospital it just might hurry the date for the surgery. I told the surgeon that I had come prepared with the knowledge that I would be sitting in hospital for a few days and that I also knew that during those days the doctors would not be actively treating me, that I would technically just be resting while awaiting my surgery. The surgeon wasn't happy with that idea but I insisted that I was not going back home. Besides I had just spent $65.00 and was not prepared to spend another $65.00. I was not going to waste a $130.00 and be inconvenienced because of someone elses breakdown in communication. He turned to the registrar and told her that he had to get back to surgery and for her to sort this all out. I repeated to her that this whole thing was not what had been planned and I was not leaving. I told her that she was going to have to talk to whoever and that they needed to fix this problem. She said she would go see what she could do and she would be back in a bit.

You can only imagine how I felt. I'll tell you how I felt. I was furious about the whole thing. I thought I was being jerked around and I didn't like it one bit. I mean after all I was the patient. I was the one with a huge growth coming out of my spine. I was the one who was having headaches and fevers due to spinal fluid collecting in the growth in my back and last but not least I was the one in pain who was also losing all feelings in my legs due to the pressure that the growth was putting on various nerves in my back. Needless to say I was pretty damn PO'd by this time.

About 45 minutes later the registrar came back and told me that they had arranged a bed for me. She then also told me that because they had to wait to find out when I would be having surgery, that I would have to start fasting every night from midnight just in case they could squeeze me in for the operation. The fasting would start on Wednesday night so I was given a reprieve for Tuesday and all day Wednesday as far as eating was concerned. She told me that the surgery would definitely not happen on Wednesday. She said that there was a 95 percent chance it might happen on Thursday. There was an 85 percent chance for Friday. If it hadn't happened by then that there of course was no surgery on the weekends but if the surgery hadn't happened then it would definitely be schedule for Monday. Other than that it would be a waiting game and I said that it was fine by me.

Okay that's enough for this installment. So next up I'll tell you when the surgery finally happened and the big hiccup that occurred after the surgery. I hope I'm not boring you with my long, wordy story. I just can't help myself when I'm writing. Anyway, take care and I'll be typing the next installment as soon as the feeling returns to my fingers from typing all of this gibberish. I'll be back soon.