May. 23rd, 2006

oneirophrenia: (Marv)
Today, I got home after spending three days (close to four, actually) in the Uniontown Hospital. That's why I haven't been around for days.

You ask: "What the hell did you do to land yourself in the hospital, dude? You been drinking Formalin again?" doubt you remember my nearly incoherent posts from Saturday detailing that I'd caught the same sickness that had knocked my mother down a few days before. At the time, it had seemed as though she had gotten food poisoning--because aside from occasional colds, my mother never gets sick (lucky stari žena)...but anyway can catch a dose of the e. coli from a Taco Bell enchilada made by some 16-year-old who didn't wash his hands after a power dump. However, she was sick for days with this, and had to go in to the ER at the Uniontown Hospital on Thursday because she was still feeling weird after two or three days. Regardless, though, I assumed myself immune. I haven't gotten even vaguely ill in over eight months--amazingly enough!--and, on top of that, whenever the "stomach flu" is going around, I never get that crap. Sinus infections, bronchitis (at the drop of a hat, usually), and The Black Death, sure...but never the dreaded Chundering Sickness.

Now things're going to get a little grody. Be prepared, or just skip down a few paragraphs.

Well...late Friday night, around 1am, I started feeling nauseous. I had felt sort of...well, weird, for a few hours before, but I attributed it all to the one and only Long Island Iced Tea I drank at the Boston Beanery when I went out to get something to eat that afternoon/evening. I should've known better, but I figured I'd try a happy-hour drink to lift my spirits. Anyway, by 3am, I was curled up on the floor of my bathroom with my stomach whirling around like a bag of bubbling mud at the end of a short rope. I felt horribly sick, but I'd taken some Dramamine earlier, so fortunately I wasn't heaving--if I'd started, I probably wouldn've ralfed up my entire skeleton, I was feeling so green. But it passed. Slowly, yes, but it passed. I fell asleep for a while on the bathroom floor, and when I woke up, I didn't feel nauseous...just ill, and kind of feverish. I slept badly for a few hours and was up by 10:00am. That entire day, I lay on the couch feeling absolutely blah, running to the bathroom occasionally to suffer the Demon Mook, watching movies, and drifting in and out of queasy sleep.

By the evening, though, my stomach felt bad. I was no longer nauseous, but horrifically bloated. I looked like I'd swallowed a soccer ball....My tummy was tight as a drum and it hurt, as though it were so pumped full of helium it was going to burst. I supposed I'd just gotten filled up with air or gas, so I ate a few Gas-X and attempted to get comfortable...which proved to be impossible. By midnight, I literally thought my stomach was going to burst, because now not only was it painfully swelled, it was giving me terrible pain. Finally, around 1, I asked my mother to take me into the ER because I was honestly, seriously afraid my stomach was going to physically rupture.

Fortunately, I was seen in the ER pretty quickly, though I still had to spend a great deal of time writhing on the cot and begging someone to help me stop the pain before someone deigned to see me. The ER doc tapped my stomach and said it looked "awfully distended" then had me give him a sample of whizz in return for an IV of potassium-rich fluids and a syringe-ful of stuff to make my stomach stop hurting. A little while later, he ordered a CAT scan and an X-ray because they'd found some blood in my urine...which I told him came from that prostate/kidney/UTI shit I've been dealing with for the last six weeks--but he wanted to rule out kidney stones. I swear I went cold when he said that. The last thing I needed was to start passing another motherfucking renal calculus on top of all the shit I'd already endured.

Well, the tests were done--and no stones. But...something didn't look right with my intestines. That, combined with my symptoms, made him somewhat alarmed, because it indicated the possibility of something a LOT worse than just a case of the pukes'n'mooks. He thought there was a distinct, but small, possibility that I'd somehow ended up with an intestinal obstruction or blockage, the symptoms of which very closely mimic the "stomach flu" until it's nearly too late. Remember the little blonde girl from Poltergeist, Heather O'Rourke? An intestinal obstruction/blockage killed her. And Robin Gibb from the Bee-Gees. if they're misdiagnosed, that shit (literally) will kill you. Better to be safe than the doctor admitted me to Uniontown Hospital around 7am just so they could do the proper tests and I would be right there if they needed to run me up to the OR. This was the first time I'd been admitted to the hospital since I'd had that kidney stone in 1989, when I was fifteen.

They promptly took me up to a room, which was empty when I got there. I was starting to feel a little better, to be honest, and I was thinking this wouldn't be so bad: I'd simply have to wait until I was tested to be sure I was clean, and then I'd go home the next day. But Sunday proved to be horrifically miserable. I was put on a clear-fluids-only diet, which left my stomach empty and aching all of the time, though eventually I was given some Pepcid to stop that. My doctor came to see me, and I was scheduled for X-rays and stuff the next day. Then another guy was brought in to the empty bed in the room. He was a nice fellow, but his "fiance" and his kids/grandkids were nothing but abjectly obnoxious white trash: loud, smelly, and unbelievably temperamental--they went from moments of sweet-talking to swearing at the kids and each other in milliseconds--sometimes in the middle of monosyllabic words, if you can believe that.

I could not believe how noisy the hospital was. Wasn't this a place where you went to rest and get well under the constant care of medical professionals? I never remembered the hospital being loud when I'd visit my grandparents there in my youth. But it sure as hell was now. The poor guy next to me kept dozing off and snoring loud enough to rattle the TV on its ceiling-stand. A little up the hall, some old man (I think) was coughing so loud, and so fiercely, I knew he wasn't going to make it more than another night or two (and I don't think he did: I kept hearing the "flatline" beep shrieking from his direction of the hall during the night, and I'd swear they wheeled him away with the sheet over his face--but perhaps they just took him to the ICU or the respiratory unit. And, of course, nurses were shouting at each other down the hall, and people were talking loud, and the goddamned air vents kept thundering. My mother had brought in my books for me to read, but not my earplugs (which she couldn't) find, so I knew I'd be getting no rest at all that night. In fact, I never even closed my eyes that night. My CHRIST, did Steve (the fella in the other bed) snore!!!

At least I was feeling better, if still horribly distended. I finally started to get twitchy from sleep-need, since I'd been up for nearly 20-some hours by then, so I asked the nurses if they could give me something to help me sleep or knock me the fuck out. My doctor hadn't allowed any sleep aids, but he had allowed pure fucking morphine for me if I needed it for stomach pain. Well...the nurse said it would knock me out. I remember the last time I had ol' C17H19NO3: it didn't do anything for the pain in my fucked-up shoulder, and just made me I said, "I don't care--just, please, help me get some sleep." So she came with the junkiemaker and shot me full of popppjuice.

It. Didn't. Do. Anything.

It didn't make me sleepy, and didn't even help my slightly sore knee (I'd knocked it on the stairs running to the can the night before at home). Morphine is fucking useless to me.

I was awake all night. And the worst thing was, I had to piss every ten goddamned minutes from all the fluids being pumped into my veins. But since I was tied to the IV pole by a meter of surgical tubing, I had to take that damned pole with me to the can every time I went to whiss. And the fucker just kept beeping because something kept "occluding" its pumping action. Every. Five. Minutes. It drove me and the nurses crazy. By Monday morning, I was calling the skinny metal bitch "Jennifer" because she never shut up and had to go everywhere with me. Someone finally figured out the reason it was beeping all the time was because the IV shunt in my left arm was at the crook of my elbow, and was being pressed closed by the vein if I bent my arm. I was developing a hideous red line up my upper arm from the insertion point, too; it hurt like hell to touch, and though I was terrified I was developing blood poisoning, I was told it was just a sign of irritation caused by something they were dripping into my arm. Turned out it was the saline they used to flush the line after squirting a dose of Pepcid or Cipro into the line. The saline didn't bother me at first, until body just became hideously sensitive to it. Now, if you push saline too fast into my veins, the pain is excruciating: my entire arm burns like I'm having a heart-attack, my hands seizes shut, and I break out in a horrible ultra-salty sweat. Ohyeah, and my veins glows red through my skin. Fucking disgusting.

Anyway, that morning I had X-rays and...yep: I'd developed some kind of intestinal blockage. HOW? I asked my doctor. I'd crapped myself crazy early Saturday afternoon...though I'd found it odd that that particular horror of the "stomach flu" had passed so quickly. Well, as he explained, a viral infection can actually cause parts of the intestines to slow down dramatically, spasm so bad they actually "kink," or cause regions of swelling that might block the passage of material. In fact, he said, considering my symptoms and the extent of the blockage, it was likely that the back-up in my intestines was the primary cause of the abdominal distention, the pains, and maybe even the nausea earlier. It was clear that the Sickness I'd caught from my mother had probably caused this all in the first place. LUCKILY, though, he told me that there didn't seem to be any sign of a physical obstruction now...but my digestive peristalsis was frozen and needed jumpstarted again.

I'll spare you the details from that point forth, but...eventually, by this morning, I was functioning properly again and actually feeling decent again. I was still incredibly tired, run-down, and flatout exhausted from, again, a night of very little rest. I actually slept last night, but only in fits and starts haunted by strange dreams and interrupted every two hours by some nurse with a pill for me or a BP cuff and thermometer to take my temperatre. At least Steve had been discharged the day before, though, so all I had to do was listen to the guy down the hall cough himself to death. Literally, I think. *shudder*

So this morning, they took me down to X-ray again, and my doctor came to see me. The mail was moving again in the postal department, and there was no sign of any physical problems. I was upgraded to a full, regular diet, and if I managed to keep that down and didn't suffer any weird problems with it, I could go home. By that point, I was so goddamned hungry I wanted to lick the TV every time an Italian Oven commercial came on. I ate two breakfasts, and lunch, and felt fine. I was then discharged, but warned to take it easy for about a week (no lifting anything, no strenuous activity, etc.) just to be sure nothing weird happened to my guts, and to really watch what I eat for a while. Nothing carbonated. Nothing alcoholic--at all...not even that fucking delicious Croatian beer at the Sharp Edge (Karlovacko!).

All in all, it wasn't a bad experience at the hospital. The nurses were all very nice, responsible, and helpful--I even saw one of my former Penn State students wandering around in scrubs there, probably doing her practicum now, though she didn't see me (which was good, because I looked like a starving African child with my knobby knees sticking out of my dressing gown and my awful Kwashiorkor belly thrust out). The food was...tasteless, mostly--but not exactly bad, save for the pureed vegetable soup, which tasted like bile. BLECH. It made me want to die. At least I had access to plenty of juices, milkshakes in cartons, water, and delicious italian ices in little paper cups. Still, nothing tasted better than the scrambled eggs I ate this morning after three days of nothing but fluids.

I'm incredibly glad to be home, though. The hospital is boring, noisy, and full of pain. Not just mine, but thousands of others'. It was depressing...but at least I managed to catch up on a lot of reading, and actually watched television for the first time in, like, ten years (mostly Discovery Channel shows about WWII, some odd show about tribal life on Pentecost Island in the South Pacific, and the usual serial killer documentaries and some stuff on Comedy Central [including Mind of Mencia, which may be my new favorite comedy program to download]). I feel okay now, and have been eating lightly all day long...though my stomach still aches weirdly if I eat too much at one time.

One thing is sure, though: I've realized that I need to be a LOT more careful about what I I won't be eating out much anymore, I'm increasing the fiber in my diet as much as possible, and I'm going to start eating as much organic stuff as possible. I'm done with pop, booze, and too much fried foods. I'm definitely not going on a health kick--if you think I will EVER eat "wheat germ" or get a "high colonic," you're fucking nuts--but I do need to watch my diet and I need to safeguard my health a LOT more than I did before. Which means I'm not taking any Vicodin or anything like that for this fibromyalgia shit anymore, because that stuff can lead to slowing down your intestines, too, and I don't EVER want to deal with this again. I ain't goin' out like dat.

Furthermore...I also realized that I despise being organic. Being stuck in this stack of meat, which can fail in so many incredibly painful, awful, and terrifying ways, is like being stuck in a spaceship held together with Dentyne and duct-tape. No way. I'm going to do everything I possibly can to keep this thing running as best I can until the day comes that I can finally ditch it for electrons and silicone and qubits. I mean...if you know you can't afford a better car, you do everything you can to keep the one you have running at tip-top shape until you can trade it in on something better, right? Well, that's it. I'm now committed to keeping this body running in optimal condition, which means cutting back entirely on the medications I'm taking, upgrading my diet and activity, and doing everything I can to ensure that I'm still around for the 2030s, or whenever the hell uploading tech lands on the world and ushers in the posthuman era, because I'm hopping that bandwagon while it's still in its alpha stage--FUCK the signal-to-noise ratio, the untried techniques, and all that: I don't care if as much as 50% of my mind and/or memories are lost in the scanning process, even if I have to wake up in the machines as the digital equivalent of a functional retard, it's better than ever having to deal with this crap.
oneirophrenia: (Contemplative Doctor)
Thanks to the wonders of Bittorrent, I now have about 2000 various Croatian jams to listen to--which I've been going through all day since I got home. It's a total mixed bag of styles, too: everything from traditional folk music that I actually remember my grandparents singing all the way up to Croatian techno and--dear gods--Croatian booty rap. THAT has got to be the strangest thing I've ever heard.

You'd better believe that the next time I DJ somewhere, there's going to be an all-Croat set.

And as far as my own stuff goes, my time in the shop has given me some great ideas for an ultra-creepy EP already titled Hospitaleyes that can serve as a lead-up to Malpractice. I actually have a number of tracks already finished that I can put on it, including "The Radiologist's Nightmare" and another track that I'm going to repurpose for this and retitle. I think I will call it "Saline Flush in A# Minor."


May. 23rd, 2006 11:49 pm
oneirophrenia: (Dracula 1)

Castle Bran in Bucureşti is not Dracula Castle. Vlad never even set foot in that damned pile of bricks and tourist-trap hype.


oneirophrenia: (Default)

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