This is, obviously, a couple of weeks old. I didn’t have time to get it off the camera before I went to the hospital.
In between Scouts, nine years ago, I went up to White Marsh to look over a Scout on Craigslist. What I found was a rough example with a lot of rust, bondo, and primer. It was a non-runner, up on a trailer, and the victim of questionable aftermarket mods, the best of which was a chain steering wheel and skull shifter knob. I snapped a picture and left.
Imagine my surprise when a Scout showed up on Craigslist this week with the same shift knob. A little comparison shows it’s the same Scout with a new steering wheel. The rest of it looks exactly the same: rust, bondo and primer.
I didn’t buy it then and I wouldn’t buy it now.
I have two hats to keep my bald head warm, one Renie made me, and a Carhartt cap I bought a couple of years ago. Because I’m wearing them all the time, they get funky and need to be switched out like socks, so I need more than two. I’m also looking for something that isn’t too tight or hot (Carhartt, I’m looking at you). Pulling a hat down over my ears is warm but leads to sore ears and/or a headache after an hour or so, so I’m constantly pulling it up and then back down. After a lot of searching on Amazon I found two candidates that might be the ticket; a Columbia beanie that looks pretty shallow, and a knit cap from a company that apparently caters to Japanese fashion. If they work out, I’ll have something fashionable and warm to hold me over until spring.
Otherwise, I’m still sore in all the same places. I’m still using Tylenol mostly, and supplementing with lidocaine patches at the site of the incision, but my arms are still throbbing. This could be caused by something called mechanical phlebitis, which is something where the veins get irritated by the physical lines. I’ve got to start putting warm compresses on them and using anti-inflammitories.
Here’s an interesting collection of The New York Times’ best illustration of 2017. There is a lot of excellent work in there–and it’s telling that a lot of it is animated.
Another day of rest on the couch. It’s a blistering 22˚ outside, and this drafty old house is a far cry from the relative warmth of Johns Hopkins Hospital. Still, I’d rather be here than anywhere else. Last night I slept on my side for the first time since the surgery, which felt great up to the point when the gas in my GI tract filled up like a shaken bottle of soda and the rumbling woke me up.
I’m still missing range of motion in my left arm. I’d say that on the whole my forearm is more painful than the incision in my stomach. Ain’t that a peach? Generally, I’m stiff all over but a lot of that is due to inactivity. I asked Jen to take us to the Target tomorrow so I can walk off some of the soreness and get some activity.
Yesterday I did fuck-all at home. Sat on the couch, ate, watched Netflix.
This morning I took a shower, and before I got in I peeled off the last fresh gauze from the hospital over the drain hole in my stomach, still expecting to see purplish entrails come pouring out. Nope. Looks like it’s healing over. But, EEEEEWWWW.
While I was in the shower I shaved off the disgusting Fu-molester-Chu I’d been growing in the hospital. So much better. Today it flurried slightly in the morning, but the sun came out and we went out and get some lunch together. It felt good to walk around in the real air. Some friends came by to pick up Finn and take her to the aquarium for the afternoon. I commenced to play about 5 hours of Fallout 4 and now my eyeballs hurt.
- A scar running from below my sternum down to my pubic bone, which makes it hard to stand upright but strangely satisfying to lay flat (slowly).
- Multiple holes on my left arm from three IV leads: two veins and an arterial. The arterial is numb and tingly and feels like it’s about 3″ shorter than the rest of my arm. The line they pulled out of there was the diameter of a garden hose, I swear.
- Multiple scars on my right arm from two IV leads, both veins.
- A hole in my stomach to the right of where my bellybutton was from the drain. They just pulled out the hose and taped it over with some gauze. HOW ARE MY INTESTINES NOT OOZING OUT OF THIS?
- A crick at the base of my skull from the 1″ thick hospital pillow. I should have asked for six of them.
- A sore spot at the base of my spine from the hospital bed.
- A finicky right knee, still recovering from the pre-surgery radiation. It’s still numb and if it hasn’t been stretched every half-hour or so it locks itself up.
- Sparse, eleventh-grade fuzz breaking out in my moustache/goatee area. It’s coming in lighter and more random than puberty but the effect is the same.
- General aches and pains from being laid up in bed for a week. Overall I feel like I did 3 rounds with an MMA fighter.
I’m out of the hospital and home. This morning I woke up in my usual achy pool of sweat and ordered some breakfast from the menu; Jen and I got Skype set up because FaceTime just wasn’t working, and I watched Finn open her gifts. Thanks go once again to Aunt Renie, who went above and beyond with her efforts. During the telecast, I had to run for a morning constitutional, which was the best present I could have unwrapped.
After we jumped off to get the day started, I took the first full shower I’d had since the Sunday before the surgery. And that shit felt good. It was a long hot Hollywood shower, and I scrubbed every part of my yuck body three times at least. Then I got out in two new gowns and did 10 laps around the ward. Things were definitely quieter on the floor, and it turned out they’d discharged a bunch of people right before and during the holiday. I told my nurses about my, uh, present, and they began making calls in the background.
The ladies showed up around noon and we sat quietly, reading more of The Order of the Phoenix and waiting for my lunch to arrive. I must have been really hungry on Saturday evening, because the same meal for lunch this afternoon didn’t taste nearly as well as it did the first time. Around three o’clock we got excellent news from my nurse, who told me they’d released me. It took about two hours of paperwork and some prescription pick-ups before we were able to go, but I walked myself into that hospital and I walked myself back out a week later.
I’m laying in my own bed, in my own PJs, under my own sheets. Nobody is barging in here in two hours to take my vitals, prick my finger for blood sugar, or give me a pill. The bed is flat and firm. The pillow is thick and firm. If I don’t get a decent night’s sleep tonight, there’s definitely something wrong with me.
I’ve focused a lot on my bottom system here because that’s the baseline for the doctors knowing you’ve healed up. They make sure you’re walking and pooping and BOOM you’re out the door. My journey has been slow because of all the movement and trauma to my digestive system, and it’s taken a lot of time to get things back on track. Yesterday was a big milestone for me, because not only did they take me off IV fluids, but they let me move up from a Clear Liquid diet (basically your choice of three flavorless broths and/or Jell-O) to Full Liquid diet (several choices of soup, yogurt, pudding, ice cream and milk). I had beef broth for lunch and it was OK but pretty bland after the first two minutes. By dinnertime I almost cried when I had the Cream of Wheat and cream of potato soup, because the former was so shitty and the latter tasted so good. About an hour later, my intestines started ramping up and things got painful, so I ran to the bathroom and exploded. This happened several more times, and while it was unpleasant in the moment, it was a huge relief to know things are getting back up to speed.
The girls came to visit me at about 11 and sat with me through the day, which was lovely. I caught up with them while they busted out some crafts, ate my lunch and then promptly passed out on them for an hour and a half. Having them here was the best thing I could have asked for because I’d been back and forth with the nurses and doctors over the amount of progress I was making and had gotten really discouraged on Friday. We played some card games, talked and laughed, and capped things off with another chapter of Harry Potter while I ate my glorious dinner.
It was immediately quieter and lonely when they’d left, and I settled in for another difficult night of sleep. It’s hard to regulate temperature in these rooms, probably because the slow drip of pain meds I’m on comes out of me like a whisky drunk overnight: I sweat everything out from my back and freeze from my chest. No amount of AC manipulation, blanket arrangement or positioning will help, so I have to wait for exhaustion to take over after midnight and hope the 4-hour tech doesn’t flip ALL THE FUCKING LIGHTS ON when they come in to check my vitals. Hopefully the pills they put me on won’t have the same side effects.
Spending Christmas Eve in here is going to suck, no doubt. But hopefully I can get home sometime in the next two days. It can’t come soon enough.