Saturday, January 14, 2012


And how was my week? Nice of you to ask. I spent 3 days, Tuesday through Friday, in the hospital for a bowel obstruction....another lovely side effect from chemotherapy (most chemo patients deal with this). Every month it seems that prunes and Miralax do the job, but when my belly resembled my niece Kate's (who is 5 months pregnant with my newest great-nephew), I knew I was in trouble.

At times like these, I am grateful to have been raised in a family who felt bodily functions were just that---functional. Normal, universal, mundane. The subjects of belching, peeing, sex, periods, pooping, and farting were as easily talked about as perspiring, breathing, chewing, and blinking. I always wondered why so many of my friends' families made normal bodily functions embarrassing or secretive to talk about. Our bodies were created by God to do all those things, and many more. So why the big hush-hush? But, I digress.

A poop problem is just a poop problem, and I am thankful that I wasn't uptight about getting it treated. I was in a lot of pain by Tuesday. It took 3 days of no water (just ice chips), no food, IV fluids, magnesium citrate, and 2 powerful enemas (or as my Dad said he used to call them in his medical practice, the Triple H Treatment.....high, hot, and a hell of a lot) to annihilate the blockage.

I learned some things while hospitalized. I learned that hospitals need to cut some of their extravagant advertising budgets and buy some pillow top mattresses. My back is now out because of those rock-hard rectangles. Where do they get those things? From an abandoned Boy Scout Camp from the 1970's? I also came home sick. Sick for the first time in 16 months. Even though they had me on level 2 isolation (everyone entering my room was supposed to gown, mask and glove because my white blood count was very low), it was amazing how many medical personnel did not do it and came in and touched me or touched surfaces I was using. I finally asked for antibacterial wipes to wipe down things when people left. Interesting that nurses take orders so lightly. Even after I would say something. So now I have bronchitis from the germs in a hospital, great for a lung cancer patient.

I also saw startling differences in care from shift to shift. As any other profession, I saw perfunctory only to amazingly warm and professional. If only HR directors had to be patients while interviewing CNAs and RNs, those hired would all make the grade.

I learned that daytime TV is worthless and that even an avid reader like myself cannot read when your back is deeply aching from hard mattresses. I learned that it would not take too much more provocation for me to backhand across the cheek the next person who turns on all your lights at 5 AM for vitals-----and at 6 AM for blood work-----and at 7 AM for x-rays. Clearly, there is a perverse thought that getting well does not require rest. It makes you so angry that the adrenalin then keeps you awake anyway and you can't go back to sleep. One more morning of that, and I think I would have stooped to my lower nature and done it.

Was there an upside at all to the week, you ask? As I lay here on my sofa with Mentholatum on my chest, hot tea, and my back hooked up to electrodes for pain control, I can say yes. The poop chute is pristine and full of air (as seen clearly on x-ray), and I found out that I can count on my Catholic little brother for prayer advice. He texted me that all I really need to do is pray to St. Magnesia, the patron saint of diarrhea.

Thanks for your prayers, friends!!


Cole said...

I'm certainly glad your belly is feeling better and that you are OUT of that place!! After my last hospital stay, I told "patient care director" about my treatment, which had similarities to yours and their reply was to give me the number of times my nurse came in my room which equated good care in the woman's opinion. Frightening.

I will be praying that your lungs will be as clear as your bowel! NO MORE BRONCHITIS! =(

Risa said...

Cheers to your pristine bowels!! Glad to hear most of you is cleared up. Now for the rest of you . . .
Prayers are a coming!

Anonymous said...

mary I wish you'd share your feedback to Sanford on what you experienced during your hospital stay. Tim T. and the like to hear all that!!! Ju