Friday, September 29, 2006

Another crappy day is Suck City.

Bad day. Good day. Bad day.

I smell a pattern here.

Yesterday afternoon, I started hurting in my abdomen. Badly. Sharp, unusual pains. It was to the right of the drain site, and felt just like the pains I had in the hospital when the first drain they'd put in me had become infected. I kept wishing it would go away, but it didn't. Instead, it got worse overnight. Luckily, I wasn't having any fever, but still, by morning, I could barely get out of the bed by myself and I couldn't stand up straight. So bright and early, I get on the horn to the colo/rectal doctor--Dr. M.--and leave a somewhat frantic message with his nurse about what was going on. I say "somewhat frantic" because it was FRIDAY morning, and I feared that if this pain kept increasing over the course of the weekend without me being checked out, I was going to end up in the god dang ER once again.

Of course Dr. M. was in surgery all day, but his nurse scheduled me for an abdominal CT scan for this afternoon and told me not to eat anything until the procedure. Remember, dear Internets, that I JUST HAD A FUCKING CT SCAN 2 DAYS AGO and how much fun it was, so suffice it to say, I was thrilled with this news.

I had a 1:15 appt. with the infectious disease doctor--Dr. B. No big deal: they just refilled all my meds, cleaned up my PICC line, drew some blood and gave me an antibiotics infusion. After that appt., I went to the radiology place--it was 3:00pm. I drank my big jug of berry flavored barium and waited. I got changed into my hospital gown and pants and waited. Finally, at 4:30, they called me back to--you guessed it--try and get an IV started in that same damn arm that they couldn't do on Wednesday, right in the same damn spot even! Of course, their attempts failed miserably (as I told them they would) and left me more bruised and in tears. They finally got me up on the table and, once again, had to do the iodine infusion into my PICC line by hand. Eternal. Did the scan and told me to get dressed and wait to hear what Dr. M. had to say.

So I did. And I waited. And waited. And finally at 6:30, the radiology tech comes in and says, "You can go." Um...what? He said that the radiologist had spoken with Dr. M. about my scans, and that Dr. M. had said I could go home. The end. No other information available.

And yes, I'm still in pain (although the vicodin is taking the edge off somewhat). But now I'm even MORE frustrated because I spent my entire afternoon getting an expensive test done and I know nothing. Would it be too much to ask for the damn doctor to call me and let me know what's going on? I guess so...


My spirits are flagging, folks. Big time.

On the upside, Jules will be here in a couple of hours. Yay Jules!!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Dressed for dinner.

It's sort of hard to see in this photo, but below the Old Navy t-shirt, The Geej is wearing a frou-frou frilly pink dress up skirt and some bitchin' purple pumps. And the cheesy grin just adds to the allure of this ensemble.

I'm happy to report that today was much better than yesterday. I got up, got dressed, actually put on makeup, and went to work. Well, sort of. My team was having its weekly team meeting at 9:30, and it was the last team meeting for a person on our team who is moving on to another team (long story), so I wanted to pop in and tell her goodbye, and I also needed to sign the fourth quarter bonus paperwork for everyone. I swear, I got tears in my eyes when I drove up to my office building. I was so happy to be there, to see real people, to be back in my normal environment. My team has been SO amazing throughout all of this, so I was glad I got to tell them in person how much their keeping things afloat has meant to me.

After the meeting, I went and did a bit of shopping at Whole Foods. Again, it felt great being back in my element. Granted, my "bit of shopping" added up to $85, but it was worth it just to be in that store among all of the beautiful food and other stuff. It all made me very happy.

While I was doing all this, Mom had gone to her house and to run some errands of her own. So when I got home from shopping, I had the house all to my self. It was nice. I ate 1/2 a tuna fish sandwich while I perused the latest issue of the "Austin Chronicle." Again, it felt normal.

After lunch, I was completely out of gas. I was so exhausted, in fact, that I got dizzy and thought I might fall a couple of times. Not good. I had to lie down. Earl thought it was his duty to lie down with me, but I had to kick him out of the bed once his snoring became too loud. I swear he's like a fat old man when it comes to sleeping.

After I napped, I felt better. Mom got back to the house around 4:00pm, and then we went to get The Geej at school.

Like I said, today was much better than yesterday. And not because I felt better, but because I had so much normalcy inserted into my otherwise abnormal existence. I need more of that, but I also know I can't push it too hard.

I believe my dear friend Jules is going to drive down from Okla-fucking-homa to hang out with me this weekend. Wow. I can't even believe she'd do something like that for me. I have the best damn friends in the whole world. Her coming here means that I can give Mom a reprieve and let her go home and spend 48 hours without having to take care of me or The Geej--something she hasn't gotten to do in a month. I think it will do us all a world of good.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Wednesday sort of sucked.

Woke up this morning to my mom acting like a bitch and biting my head off for no reason. I know this whole situation has her stressed out too, but still... I asked her, "Do you think I LIKE this? Having to be taken care of? Having to have you take care of my child for me? Having you put your entire life on hold so that you can be my nursemaid?! Cuz I don't! I fucking HATE it! And the last thing I want is to fight with you. I can't handle it. It's not fair for you to attack me first thing in the morning, and I'm sorry if I'm snippy and have a short fuse lately, but if you haven't noticed I FEEL LIKE FUCKING SHIT and I'M EXHAUSTED, so cut me some fucking slack." I got the major silent treatment after that. She can be such an immature, passive aggressive witch sometimes.

Had to be at the hospital at 9:30 to get registered for my 10:00am CT appointment. After sitting in an obscenely cold waiting room in the most uncomfortable seats ever for hours, they FINALLY took me back for my scan at 11:45am, Once back there, they couldn't find a vein to get my IV started (and they said they couldn't use my PICC line for this procedure). But damn if they didn't try: Four different people, four different painful attempts, all in the same place. It was like torture. The fourth dude thought he had it. Then when they started pumping in the iodine, and I started screaming because it was burning so badly, they figured out that--OOPS--he didn't actually "have it" after all, and the iodine had gone under my skin instead of into the vein (hence the burning). So the nurses came and administered pressure and put these heat packs on my arm to try and get the iodine to dissipate because it had balled up underneath my skin, and the whole area was already swelling and bruised. Nice.

After a call to the radiologist, they decided to try and put the iodine in through the PICC line, but because the iodine is thick, and the PICC line is skinny, this whole endeavor took quite a while.

Finally got that taken care of and got the scans done, and then they were like, "You can go now." But wait: it was my understanding that the whole purpose for this visit was so that they could a) take the scan, b) have a radiologist look at the scan and compare it to my previous ones to see what the status of my god dang abdominal abscess was, c) based on that, if the abscess was diminished, remove this horrible drain from my abdomen. So when they said, "You can go," I was confused and kind of pissed off. Did ANYONE know what the fuck was going on besides me? I asked, and they said they couldn't get hold of my colo/rectal doctor, so they weren't comfortable making any decisions without talking to him. Great.

Exhausted, mom and I left. We went to lunch, and I lost it at the table. Yawning hurts. I had to yawn, and the pain it caused my diaphragm just made me start bawling. Not just because of the pain, mind you, but because of all of this shit. I'm just SO sick of being sick. It's been a month now people. I haven't been well or normal in a month. I have these moments where I just cannot take it, and I crumble. Today at lunch was one of those moments. I don't like to have pity parties for myself, but I was feeling pretty damn low today, and it was pretty pitiful.

After lunch, we came back to the house and--lo and behold--I had a message from the colo/rectal doctor's office. Called back and guess what: they want to do a FUCKING COLONOSCOPY on me on Monday. FUCK!!! Is this never going to end?! Seems there's an "air pocket" in my abdomen, and the doctor wants to have a look from the inside out to see for himself if there's a leak in the area where they did the colon resection. If there is, I have no idea what the fuck that will mean. If there isn't, hopefully they'll pull this godforsaken drain out once and for all. I hate this thing. It's so gross and uncomfortable and creepy. I want it gone. And I think we all know what getting a colonoscopy means--that's right: BOWEL PREP. Yee haw! Sunday night's going to be a blast.

After I got that wonderful news, and after my 3pm IV antibiotic dosing, I decided to lie down and take a nap. I was beyond tired, and I just completely crashed.

Later, Mom went to pick up The Geej from school, and thankfully, they were both in good moods when they returned.

Tonight was okay--one of the mom's at Geej's school had dropped off some dinner for us (how nice is that?!), there was a new episode of "Project Runway," I got rid of my 1 1/2" long roots by dying my hair, and right now, Earl is curled up between my calves snoring his ass off.

But yeah, most of Wednesday sucked donkey.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Proof I done lost my damn mind.

In order to prepare to shower, I must have help. My mother has been helping me wrap my upper arm in Glad press-and-seal wrap topped off by medical tape. This is to protect my PICC line from getting too wet and causing its bearings to come loose. I also try (in vain) to protect my abdominal drain from water as well, but it's such a lost cause that I've pretty much said "fuck it" to that whole ordeal. I have to wear this weird velcro belt thing around my middle, to which the collection bulb from this drain (or whatever the hell it's called) attaches. That way it doesn't have to attach to my clothes and also, I don't have to worry about holding the damn thing while I shower. (Mind you, I didn't get this belt thing until I'd had the drain for about a week, so showering prior to, while holding that damn bulb thing in one hand while wrangling my wrapped up PICC line arm on the other side was a real treat). So after all this prep work, I guess it's not too weird that I got into the shower tonight with my bra on. And I just showered away, washing and rinsing my hair, before I even noticed I was wearing it. Can you say, "Out of it?"

Also, despite the fact that I'm on unpaid medical leave from work and I'm sure I'm about to have a gagillion medical/hospital bills start filling my mailbox, today I went out and bought this:
See, here's the deal: I was at this jeweler a couple of months ago for something totally different (I bought a $50 pair of earrings), and I saw this ring. I tried it on and fell in love. It's a blue topaz surrounded by diamonds set in white gold. Man, it's pretty. Anyway, I resisted temptation and didn't buy it, but I kept thinking about it. After I got my promotion, I thought, "Hell, I deserve that ring. I'm going to go see if it's still there, and if it is, I'm getting it." But I never went by there. Well, when I got home from the hospital/P.O.W. camp, I had a "customer loyalty" $50 off offer from the jeweler waiting for me in my big ol' stack of mail. (I'm a damn sucker for coupons, by the way.) Once again I said to myself, "I'm going to go there, and if that ring is still there, I'm getting it." So I did. I guess it'll be the first thing I pawn when I can't make the mortgage...

Monday, September 25, 2006

Gottta share.

When I was in the hospital the first time, The Texpatriate sent me a lovely hibiscus plant. It had red blooms on it, and is ready to be planted in my yard if I can ever muster up the energy and will to do so.

The second time I was in the hospital, The Texpatriate sent me the ugliest flower arrangement ever. We have a mutual friend that owns a floral shop, and Karla called all the way from Snoreway to have them whoop me up something awful that she knew I would be able to appreciate. The card read, "Hopefully these flowers are so tacky that they'll scare your ass out of the hospital." Not quite, but nearly.

In case you can't make it out in the photo, there's a whole lot of stuff going on here. No rhyme or reason to the flowers included, some random tropical greenery and fake wheat looking stuff thrown in for the hell of it, two different colors of gingham bows, a fake bird's nest with blue eggs in it, a fake butterfly, a fake bunch of tiny pumpkins. The whole thing looks like it was lovingly assembled by a mental patient.

Also, while I was in the hospital, two major Geej things happened:


She moved out of the crib and into a big girl bed. This was done (with the help of friends) so that I wouldn't have to worry about lifting her in and out of the crib while I am recuperating. And you know what? She LOVES it. There has been no post-night-night wandering yet (knock wood), and it's still strange that she just appears in my room in the morning, all sleepy eyed and bed headed (rather than me going and getting her out of bed). This is just a transitional bed, mind you (the crib matress is still in there), but baby's growing up.


Well, after nearly a year and a half, my big orange cat Earl has finally decided to quit hiding under the be 95% of the time, and has actually made friends with The Geej. Sort of. I mean, he still runs and hides if she's super loud or hyper or is chasing him, but for the most part, he just chills. He even lets her completely lie on him with all of her weight, like he's a big, furry pillow. She says she's giving him a hug, but it's more like she's totally steam rolling him. I have a (sort of blurry) shot of The Geej totally blissed out, simply because she's getting to pet him, but of course Blogger's acting like a moody bitch and decided not to let me post it.

Friday, September 22, 2006

All that heel clicking finally worked.

Truly, there is no place like home.

I got released from the hospital/prison today at 2pm. After a 2 hour stop to the infectious disease doctor's office (doesn't that sound sexy? cuz it is) where they prepped me on the ins and outs of dosing myself with IV antibiotics 3 times a day for the next 2 weeks and where I filled out a mountain of paperwork all while writhing in pain caused by a waaaaaaaaaaay overdue date with my pain pills, and then picking up The Geej at school (GOD it was good to see that little turkey) and then to Walgreen's to drop off my prescriptions, I finally FINALLY arrived at my humble abode at about 5pm this afternoon.

And it's a damn good thing, too. I had a moment yesterday while trudging up and down the hall on one of my obligatory 6 "walks" a day, when I realized that I was seriously in danger of coming unraveled. My body was so foriegn to weak and frail. My days had become so unbearably monotonous that it was crushing me from the inside out. The constant tick tick tick tick of the loud wall clock than hung opposite my bed was a torturous reminder of how slowly time was actually going by. I had lost the meaning of the word "privacy" and was so sick of people telling me to keep my spirits up, I was pretty sure I'd punch the next poor fool who said it to me. They'd told me that they were going to "try" to get me out of there on Friday (today), but I dare not believe it because I'd been rooked so many times by my own body giving me the shaft, that I certainly couldn't count on the words of a couple of doctors. But it actually happened, and now I'm at home, sitting in my bed enjoying my wireless, and both my kitties are in here snuggled up with me.

I am still very sore, and nowhere near out of the woods yet:

  • I've got this drain in my stomach (they thankfully pulled out one of the two drains yesterday) until at least the middle of next week. As far as I can tell, it's not doing a god dang bit of good (i.e., there's very little actual stuff draining out of my abdomen), and it is at constant risk of infection, so the very fact that it's even there is a bewildering annoyance. Plus, it's uncomfortable and painful and damn near impossible to imagine going out in public with.
  • Like I said, I've got to dose myself 3 times a day with these high-powered antibiotics in this PICC line in my upper arm. This line goes straight into my heart. The concept of injecting myself with stuff that goes straight into my damn heart makes me a little uneasy. Plus, the PICC line is at constant risk of infection as well, which would be very, very bad.
  • I am so incredibly weak, it stuns me. I've lost 16 lbs. since I first went to the hospital. I needed to, no doubt. And I'm hoping I don't put one single pound back on. But that just goes to show you what a number this whole ordeal has done on my body. It's eaten away at me, and I feel 80 years old because of it.

But, I'm at home. And I got to shave my HAIRY as hell legs tonight. That was worth about $5 grand right there. And I got to spend time with The Geej tonight (who I swear has grown a damn foot since I went into the hospital). And I ate a piece of pizza for dinner. PIZZA! So, it's all good.

And I know this is L-A-M-E, but I've got to send thanks out to all my friends who kept me going during these long 3+ weeks:

Mama Malcontent--magazines, visits, flowers, the biggest mylar balloon you've ever seen, collages, A.O. artwork, staying with me twice, rallying the troops, guest posting...YOU are an amazing woman and a dear, dear friend.
Bookhart--visits, calls, helping me get a shower (sorry again about mooning you repeatedly), books, magazines, general chipperness. It all meant a ton.
Krisitin--Your ghost visits, flowers, reading materials and random goodie bags were the bomb. Laura--Showing up in your swimsuit to help me get my first shower. I mean THAT is a damn good friend.
Jules--Concered calls and warnings about yogurt and fake fingernails. I can't WAIT for you to be a P.A. because you're one of the most caring people I know.
La Turista--staying with me, staying on top of everything, and being there when I got sprung today. Muchas gracias.
Shazza--Your postcards and cards rawked! Thanks, dearie.
Jenny--Visits, and flowers, and phonecalls: the magical triumvrate. You rule.
Karla--A gorgeous hibiscus followed up by the most godawful ugly arrangement of all time (I'll post a photo tomorrow), plus your overseas phonecalls and prayers for my flatulence were all signs of your friendship.
Badger--Way cool flowers dude, and you're right: Hospitals suck.
Erwina--Your calls and visits meant a lot. I know you hate hospitals, so I really appreciated you coming to see me.
Jimmy--Your phonecalls and visits and general sweetness were much needed, much appreciated.
Jaye--I think I laughed more during your visits than anyone else's. Oh, and I remembered: Anne Heche's twin characters' names on "Another World" were Vicki and Marley.
My work team--They have taken up the slack and been so incredibly understanding and awesome throughout all of this. I am lucky to work with such wonderful people.
Mr. Wonderful--I still can't believe you flew down at a moment's notice to spend the entire weekend taking care of me during one of my roughest times. God bless you. I am so lucky to have you in my life.
Internets--I got home today and read (and posted) all of your comments. Wow. My God. Thank you for all of your sweet, positive thoughts. This has been one of the hardest things I've ever had to endure--definitely the hardest thing I've ever had to endure physically--and I can't believe that all of you, friends and strangers alike, were worrying about me and actually caring what happened to me. I am humbled by your kindness.

Dear Lord I hope I'm not forgetting anyone, although I'm sure I am. Please forgive if so. I am exhausted and on pain pills, so not all pistons are firing.

Speaking of, I'm signing off. Keep thinking good thoughts that will keep this damn infection at bay and somehow get me back to normalcy sooner rather than later.

Monday, September 18, 2006

From the desk of Karla May

Well, I don't even know what day this is of my captivity. Total (trip 1 and trip 2)? Nineteen days. Just this go-round, I've been here since the 6th. To say I am frustrated, exhausted, and ready to GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE is a massive understatement.

This whole experience has humbled, humiliated, saddened and tortured me in ways I never knew imaginable. The long and short of it is that I came in for a (relatively) simple surgery on 8/30 (Trip 1). It went fine except there was the unforeseen complication of having to remove about a 10" portion of my colon. This sucked, mind you, but I was told that since you have like 750 feet of intestine/colon-y stuff in there, a missing foot or so was no big whoop.

So I get released from Trip 1 on Labor Day. I'm doing fine for a day or so, then WHAM! 104.2 degree fever and intense abdominal pain that literally defied description.

So they send me back to the ER at this place--my blood pressure is alarmingly low, I can't sit up or walk on my own, my fever's out of control--and re-admit me on 9/6. And I've been here fighting the infection of a lifetime since then. I've had some progress, but these moments are almost always followed by some ridiculously disappointing set back. Victories have been too few and too spread out to really see them. (Although, I suppose avoiding surgery that would've left me with a sick-as-hell temporary colostomy for 3-4 months should be considered a pretty big deal).

The food has sucked. My room has become like a prison cell, and my IV tower is like a literal ball and chain. The nursing staff on this floor--all of whom I've had as my caretakers at one point or another--vary wildly in skills and abilities. Thankfully, about 75% of them are good to very good, but that other 25% should look for something new to do because nursing is clearly not their gig.

Right now, it's 6:30 AM on Monday 9/18. I'm writing on a yellow pad the wonderful Mama Malcontent brought me for just such an occasion. (She also brought me a collage she made of Justin Timberlake pictures, with JT urging me to "get my sexy back and get well!")

I have two drains coming out of my abdomen, draining out icky, infected fluid. I'm hooked up to an almost constant supply of antibiotic fluids and (thankfully) painkillers that go in through a central PICC line in my upper, inner arm. I run a fever at least a couple of times a day.

My sides and back hurt immensely because of the amount of time I simply spend lying in bed. My legs haven't been shaved since late August. My back and chest are broken out in an ugly, itchy rash. I haven't gotten to hang with The Geej for more than 30 minutes at a time in weeks. And that promotion at work that I worked so hard for? THIS is how I'm spending my crucial first month. Damn, I hope my health insurance is good because there is seriously no imagining how much all of this fun is going to end up costing.

I am miserable, Internets. And I have no idea when I'm getting out of this place (this week, surely) or how long it's going to take me to be back to normal again. I don't have any recollection of what "normal" is anyway.

So even though I'm not there to moderate them, and post them right away, please feel free to post some comments. It'll give me something to look forward to reading when I finally get home. And please keep me in your thoughts. I just keep repeating the words "WELL," "STRENGTH," and "HOME" in my head over and over with hopes that somehow their positivity will impact what's going on.

Until next time--

Peace and health,
Karla May

P.S. Mad props to Mama Malcontent for doing these guest posts for me. Thanks gal!!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

For those of you needing a Geej fix...

Anything to knock that awful dead lizard a few more notches.

Malcontent Mama pirating Ms. Pine Curtain's world again. She's still stuck and is getting mighty testy, with a little luck and some progress she hopes to be sprung by the weekend. She's shown some improvement but is still being dogged by a slight fever, fatigue, loss of appetite and most of all boredom/frustration. She is not the sort to kick back and enjoy ill health and the past 2 weeks have been agonizing. Keep the healing thoughts headed in her general direction.

As you can see, the Geej is doing just fine with her saintly Dah and had a wonderful time hanging with the Malcontettes.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Karla May is Alive and Well...

and still raising hell in the hospital.

Hopefully the stupidfucking infection is an abscess that can remedied quickly and non-surgically with another night under observation. If everything goes well, she could be out as soon as Wednesday.

Keep sending the love and good thoughts in her direction (the comment moderator is on) until she can come home.

-Malcontent Mama

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Next time you think you're having a craptacular day...

...consider this pitiful guy: I have a basketball goal located next to my driveway because I'm REALLY into b-ball. (Notsomuch. It came with the house.) And I spied this poor little bastard hanging there, dead when I was getting out of my mom's car today. Pending the full forensics report, I'm guessing that the cause of death was that he shoved his big ol' gecko head in that hole and both of his arms too, then couldn't figure out how to get out of there and just croaked. How sad is that?


Well, THAT sucked.

Had that stupidfuckingsurgery last Wednesday. Got out of the stupidfuckinghospital yesterday. I've got 19 staples in my lower abdomen and my colon's about 1 foot shorter, but hey--IT WASN'T CANCER--so there you go.

I'm in for a pretty long recuperation, which should be interesting since
a) I just got a promotion that I haven't gotten to move into in any officical way since I've been out of the office so freakin' much and
b) I have a 2 year old who is suddenly more needy than normal

So yeah.

What does Karla May's long recuperation mean for you? (God, you're selfish!) Why, lots and lots of boredom-inspired blog posts, of course!

By the way, a big, heart-felt THANK YOU to all of you (some friends, some total strangers) who posted comments of encouragement when I wrote my previous "Blog Hiatus" post. This here internet thing is pretty cool. I think it may catch on!!

P.S. As I type this, it's 8:30 a.m., raining, and only 70 degrees. I am a HAPPY camper about that.