14 August 2007

Room With A View – Of HBO (& Star Movies)

So the next five days went something like this:

Wake up at 10am. Breakfast was delivered around 6:30am, so my soy milk is now warm. I readjust the bed angles and stumble to my feet, grabbing the IV pump and heart monitor with my right hand, as the left one has the actual IV in it. Originally, I was dragging it around with my left hand, but it jostled the needle and made blood go out the tube rather than IV fluid going in the tube. Not fun.

I almost always forget to unplug the monitor, so I reach a point where the cord is fully stretched out and tugs on the outlet. I meander back and pull it out of the plug. I put the soy milk in the freezer and make a quick trip to the bathroom before falling back into bed, which is usually followed by a loud groan, thanks in large part to the mind-blowing body aches that continue to pulsate through my body.

At this point, I pull the landline phone onto the bed from the nightstand and dial zero, which gives me Lucy, the operator. She’s the queen of international calling and by day two, she and I were old friends. “Hello, operator,” she says. “Hi, I need to dial an international number, please,” I reply. “Good morning Kyle. How you sleep? Not bad? Ok, you want to dial the usual?” she asks excitedly. “Yep, first Ben then the Fam,” Ben had offered to help me pass the time by chatting with me daily, and my worried parents (who didn’t really sleep for five days) always wanted a decent update. “Oh, ‘the Fam.’ That’s so cute and clever. Fam!” She finds my incessant shortening of words to be totally hilarious.

By the time I finished on the phone it was usually 11am, and I was completely exhausted. Sitting can take a lot out of a person. Nurse Pah or nurse Ding would arrive at this time to take my pulse and check my temperature, which continued to rise non-stop the first four days in the hospital. “Oh, you have very high temperature. Not good, ”Pah would say, followed by a sort-of “how sad for you” laugh. Ding, on the other hand, was a little more militant. She would just look at the thermometer and shake her head, then order me to take a cold shower.

Showering was an ordeal in and of itself. I would need to call the nurse using my bedside buzzer, who would then come with her Hello Kitty toolkit and a needle of “booster fluid.” The nurse would detach my IV and monitors then shoot a big needle full of fluid into my IV, which usually led me to scream out in pain. “Totally normal to be painful,” the nurse would say. NOT FUN.

11:20am and lunch arrives. I once again start feeling like I’m 95 years old. Who eats lunch before noon? I still haven’t eaten my cereal and gross soy milk. Fortunately, they bring jello with EVERY meal, so I’ve been stocking up. I nod at the food lady and sludge into the bathroom to take my morning shower and change my jumpsuit.

By the time I am finished my soy milk is now cold and I can pseudo-enjoy my breakfast, which is almost immediately followed by enjoying my lunch. The cleaning ladies usually appear while I’m eating. Their visit becomes the largest stimulus of my day. “Hello,” I yell, while waving. “Thank you, have a great day,” I eagerly offer, hoping one of them will want to be my friend.

I wait until after I’ve eaten to buzz Pah or Ding again. It’s nice to eat not strapped to a machine. They reemerge, give me another painful booster and reattach the whole contraption. It’s back to bed for the remainder of the day.

Around noon the Doctor enters energetically, giving me a status update of any test results, usually letting me know the antibiotic didn’t work and that we’d be changing them, and that he was unsure of when I could leave. In all, I saw three specialists – all US educated – who even visited on weekends, with a smile on their face! Other than this short-term stimulation, there wasn’t much to do. After all, my soft foods diet didn’t allow me to order room service from Starbucks or Au Bon Pain (no, seriously).

Thankfully, the hotel – I mean hospital – offered both HBO and Star Movies. In the five days that I was there I watched: Freaky Friday, Gladiator (twice), Harry Potter, The Right Stuff, The Aviator, Back to the Future, The Pacifier (twice), The Pink Panther, Meet The Fockers, The Patriot, The Great Outdoors, Kicking and Screaming, Derailed, Independence Day, Feds, Speed 2 (twice), National Security, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Hi-Lo Club, An Episode of Malcolm In The Middle, An Episode of Still Standing, Two Episodes of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and Two Episode of Martha. Needless to say, I wasn’t feeling up to doing much…

This would continue through dinner (which usually arrived at 4:30pm, further building on my “Senior Citizen” mentality) until 6pm, when I would buzz the nurse to take my evening shower. The same routine of unplugging, shooting a “booster” into my IV and watching me wince in pain played out, I would shower, then they’d reattach me for the rest of the evening, which was only interrupted by pulse rate and temperature checks every two hours (it kept going up). It was all routine, that is, until my fever peaked at 107 degrees…

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