The first time I was admitted into the hospital, I clocked in at 122.5 pounds. Don’t know what I weighed at release, but when I was admitted the second time, I clocked in at 113. It’s definitely true that any serious illness takes a lot out of you, including body fat, muscle, stamina, your ability to concentrate, etc. But whatever you do, don’t deliberately make yourself sick in order to lose weight. It’s not worth it. The amount of time it’s taken me to get my energy level back = six or seven months. Tomorrow will be my two year anniversary of retirement from my office job, but I feel like I’ve lost half of that time, not just a quarter of it. I’ve made no progress in most of the post-retirement projects I started. And, some days, it seems like my brain is still trying to swim through mud while wearing a wet fuzzy sock. Where did my creativity go?
Rather than lament my malfunctioning brain, we’ll go back to my final stay in the hospital – the good and the bad:
The good: the nurses, especially the trainee nurses, and the other staff at Kaiser Oakland. Kind, caring, attentive, friendly. Being a major metropolitan area with an incredible array of diversity, I had nurses and other caregivers from different states, different countries (Central America, Asia, Southeast Asia, etc.) Six months ago, I could remember their names. Now, I can only remember Olivia, who I think was the youngest and newest of the trainees. She was sweet, gentle, and concerned for my well-being. She was my favorite.
The bad: prisoners housed on the same floor as regular patients. That first night was memorable for all the wrong reasons. The man in the room next to mine was a disruptive, screaming, asshole who’d been sent there for an (undisclosed) treatment from a local prison. Yelling that he was being abused, his rights were being violated. He fought with the staff, spit on them, punched them, and on and on. The nurse who was trying to help me get some sleep kept apologizing to me. I wasn’t the only one he was upsetting. There was another woman on the floor – I think on the other side of his room – (an older woman by the sound of her voice) who started crying loudly after one of his outbursts (the kind of crying that’s from fear rather than sadness). For whatever reason, they were trying to avoid sedating the jackass, but finally did so around 3 a.m. and I was able to finally sleep. But then the next day, he was allowed to wander around the floor and in the afternoon, as I was laying in my bed half awake, I saw a large shadow against my door (which was open). In the distance, a female voice said “that’s not your room, sir!” followed by a very close gruff male voice “I know” but the shadow moved closer. That was followed by running feet, a short scuffle, and the man was hauled off into his own room while he was yelling incoherent bullshit. Needless to say, I was quite vocal in sharing my opinion with the staff that I hoped “he’s being sedated earlier tonight than last night.” Not only sedated, they chained him to his bed after that. (Thanks to Erin who volunteered to come to the hospital and be my advocate if I felt unsafe.)
The good (post hospital): most of the unrelated, random symptoms I’d had in the past year (that I wrote about in a previous post) disappeared after I recovered. The only one still plaguing me on occasion is the weird dead spots in my left calf and the general weakness in my left leg compared to my right leg. But that’s all probably connected to the herniated lumbar disc from 2016. I even had a nerve conduction test done on the leg this summer, and the neurologist says the nerves are fine, it’s the leg that got “deconditioned.” Still waiting for that referral to physical therapy.
The bad (post hospital): my stupid leg (see above).
The rest of my second hospital stay was wonderfully uneventful. It’s surprising how comforting it can be listening to the BEEPING of the monitors (especially when the hospital engineers are still on strike so there’s not much in the way of entertainment beyond the two working t.v. channels). And when your doped-up-on-morphine brain brings up random memories, you can choose to smile and laugh, and picture William Shatner as Buck Murdock in Airplane II, The Sequel:
“We’ve all got our switches, lights, and knobs to deal with, Striker. I mean, down here there are literally hundreds and thousands of blinking, beeping, and flashing lights, blinking and beeping and flashing – they’re *flashing* and they’re *beeping*. I can’t stand it anymore! They’re *blinking* and *beeping* and *flashing*!”