Because my surgeon, as we discovered in his order for me to withdraw from my pain meds before surgery, is a sadist, he also ordered that I sleep at a 45-degree angle until my staples are removed. I’m still doing this; I have a HUGE wedge pillow.
Imagine this for a moment. Imagine how your neck might slump to the side and then crinkle up, in a weird cramp. Now, imagine that someone just sliced through all your neck muscles, for the second time! Now, those same neck muscles crinkle up, while at a 45-degree angle. Oh, and there’s a relatively large line of staples in the back of your neck. Yeah, it’s super, super uncomfortable.
I’ve found that the thing that has made sleeping the most “comfortable,” besides copious amounts of morphine and muscle relaxers, is ice packs, nestled against the crook of my neck. I still wake up every other hour, but I sleep every hour too. It’s a nice trade-off. And yeah, I’m sure that this angle request is probably totally reasonable; I just hate it.
But, in the hospital, there was a terrible ice-pack tragedy. It’s a tale for the ages. Tell your children, and warn them of this potential danger, so they can avoid the same tragic fate that befell me.
There are two types of ice packs at the hospital: the gel packs, which stay “cold” for approximately eighteen seconds; and the bags of ice chips, which stay cold for hours. You have to activate the gel packs by snapping the thingamajig on the inside, and shaking them; they get cold instantly. On the other hand, the bags of ice chips take a while to get cold because they are paper-cloth; and, it takes some time for the cold of the ice to reach through the “fabric.” Once they are cold, they stay cold.
Ladies, you may remember the ice-chip bags from childbirth. I do, at least. I sat on a few in my day. Those, plus Tucks pads and that numbing spray that they give you are what saved my mangled lady bits. Ah, the miracle of childbirth; it’s such a beautiful, glorious time. Cough, cough. At least, that’s the party line we’ve agreed to so, we don’t scare off future ladies from having babies. Also, we have to pretend that it’s not filled with gore, and several weeks of what amounts to bits and bobs so swollen that you can’t sit comfortably.
Anyway, one night, one of my lovely orderlies brought me an ice-chip bag. I nestled it against my neck and I fell soundly asleep. I slept for hours, the kind of sleep that only exhaustion, pain and drugs can bring you. Then, tragedy struck. I woke up shivering and soaking wet. My legs were wet; my feet were wet. My arms were wet, and even my fingertips were dripping. I wasn’t wet. When I moved, drops of water flung off me like I was making it rain, and not in a stripper way.
At first, I was convinced that I’d wet myself and was unsure how something so embarrassing could’ve occurred. But then, I realized that my back and hair were saturated. Urine doesn’t usually travel that far upwards, unless you’re upside-down; and I’d not been upside-down (had I?). Was I doing acrobatics in my sleep again?
I did what any rational person would do: I screamed. But, I had such an extreme muscle spasm in my neck that I could barely croak. So, it was a meek and pathetic sound. Thankfully, Bryon hears me when I make any pitiful sound. I think he worries about me; that silly man has developed some sort of attachment to me.
Don’t be too swayed by his adorable charms. Last night, in bed, he poked me in the eye. It was so bad that it ran for hours. The only problem with this, aside from my near blindness, was that we were both asleep (well, I was until he poked me in the eye). He didn’t wake up, even when I poked him back, to tell him that I was practically rendered a Cyclops. So, he’s not always perfect; or, I was being dramatic. One of the two.
I don’t remember who pushed the call button that night, but, Florencia came rushing in, her Super Nurse cape waving in the wind, with her needle of rescue pain meds in hand. I got nice nurse hugs to help calm me down, because by then, I was sobbing hysterically. Pain, mixed with soaking wet exhaustion is a lethal combination for me, I guess.
For me, pain doesn’t usually make me cry, at least not tears (last post excluded, but I can be excused – I mean I’d just woken up from having my skull drilled into). Chiari has raised my pain tolerance, at least for tears. If there are actual tears, it’s bad. I may moan, yell, complain, or make any other noises; but if you see tears, I’m pretty uncomfortable. I guess, this time, throwing ice water and exhaustion into the mix was just too much.
P.S. I could NOT find the Gene Wilder Version of the video above. Forgive my sins...I know I should be punished for it.
I also kept apologizing to the orderly, who had to strip and change the entire bed, at 3 am. I’d previously had the bed changed that morning, by a student nurse, I kid you not, took over an hour to do it. She felt it was her opportunity to chat with us, rather than do a more disgusting student-nurse job. The forced conversation was more painful than the brain surgery; but she was working it. She. Would. Not. Leave. Plus, she did a terrible job on the bed. We had to re-change it, after she finally left. But, other than that, the nurses were all along the lines of my hero: Florencia.
Anyway, it turned out that the entire ice pack had drained out while I slept. It was such a slow leak, that I’d not realized it, or felt it, as it slowly melted and drained. The entire bed was saturated. It’s shocking how much water an ice pack can make. It’s also shocking that I didn’t wake up until it was empty.
Add, tolerance to freezing cold water to my list of life-skills. Maybe it’s like water-torture? Perhaps I can withstand a great deal before I break. When King (Czar? Maybe he’ll want to be called something fancier?) Trump takes his throne and he begins torturing the families of suspected terrorists, it will only be a matter of time until everyone is a suspect; so, maybe this will be an important life-skill.
I had to be “changed” too. I needed all new clothing, new underwear, socks, everything. I felt like a child. It was quite the pitiful show, really. Soaking wet woman in her mid-thirties, sobbing. Arched neck. Wet bed. If it weren’t an ice pack that had wet the bed, I’d have had a psych consult called to have me committed. Maybe I should’ve had one anyway!
Once I was changed, and the hysterics died down, I was relatively comfortable again. But, consider yourself warned, ice-bags can leak! We checked it in the postmortem, and discovered that it was not over-filled, as suspected. It simply sprung a leak along one of the sides.
Ice-bags: the danger you never knew lurked in the hallways of your hospital. First staph, then MRSA, now hypothermia.
P.S. Staples come out tomorrow!! Yikes...