Bitten By a Rattlesnake, Part 6: How It Ended
When my relationship with Crofab was over, I was sent to stay down the hall -— outside the ICU -— in a normal hospital room, where I could wear a portable monitor.
It was the stroke and heart attack unit. They didn’t have a snakebite unit. While there, I saw more naked butts hanging out of the backs of hospital “gowns” than I care to think about.
A new nurse got me all settled in my bed. Then promptly left. The nurses were on eight-hour shifts -— no more twelve-hour shifts like in ICU -— and you never saw the same one twice. My next nurse approached my bed and told me that my beloved catheter had to come out.
I said, “But then I’d have to walk. And I can’t walk on this giant blue leg.”
She looked at me in the eye and said, “It was an order from your doctor.”
“But, but, I can’t walk,” said I.
That whining bought me another day, then they came in and yanked it out, along with my bladder.
That’s exactly what it felt like. After that ordeal I had to call a nurse every time I had to urinate. Gone were the days of drinking two plastic pitchers of water at a time and having my smiling nurse Ip admiring my pee.
Now some stranger had to help me to the can every time I needed to go.
But, before they yanked my catheter out they took away something even more precious.
It was about that time when I started to feel a little uncomfortable. So, I rang for the nurse. “Nurse,” said I, “May I get my pain meds now?” The nurse said, “Yes, of course I’ll get your Vicodin right away.”
That stuff’s for sissies.
I am a snake bite victim.
“I believe if you look right there in my chart it says Dilaudid.” The nurse, “No, no more Dilaudid, we’ll give you Vicodin here.”
Vicodin after Dilaudid?
You might as well give me baby aspirin.
My four ICU doctors turned me over to four more doctors that headed up The Naked Butt Ward. They would come in jointly in the mornings and discuss my case with me and how they were proceeding with it. They were all very nice and very professional and oh so young.
I was still getting blood tests and vitals tested every four to six hours.
My leg started to return to its normal size, and its beautiful blue sheen started to shift toward the green range. My visitors came in a steady stream, which kept me quite happy. But I was getting a bit antsy and tired of laying flat on my back with my leg in the air.
I asked the nurse if I could try standing on my own, and she said that I had to use a walker.
“Wha???” I was incredulous.
“A walker? Do you know what my friends would do to me if they saw me in a walker?”
These are women, who, after watching me suffer from a near-fatal snakebite, brought me a rubber snake and venom-laced liquor. They’re tough. You don’t mess around with these women.
The first thing they would do is reach for their little iPhones and click, click, click, there I‘d be -— all over the Internet -— pushing a walker with my naked butt hanging out of my oversized “gown.”
“No way I’m using that walker. Why can’t I use crutches?”
Without taking her eyes off the screen on her rolling computer/vitals cart the nurse said, “Well, the walker is all you have until you get checked out on the crutches by a physical therapist.”
“Hey, I was on crutches for eight months when I tore my calf muscle doing a jump kick in my Tae Kwon Do class -— same leg. I can handle crutches.”
“Sorry, you have to be checked out on them,” she said.
My bladder was about to burst, so, I grudgingly motioned to the nurse to hand me the walker. I got up and positioned myself behind the walker and started to push it to the bathroom.
Humiliation came over me like the breeze that was wafting through the opening in the back of my gown over my naked butt.
Finally on a Sunday morning, five days after my sleepy ambulance drivers rolled me into the ER, I was told by my doctors that I may be going home later that day -— as long as my blood tests looked good and I could “master” the crutches.
The physical therapist walked me down the hall on my crutches, up and down two fake steps, and back to my room.
She said I had more natural talent on crutches than she had ever seen in her whole career.
She really didn’t say that, but she did say I did fine.
Late that afternoon, one of my doctors came in to tell me my labs were almost normal and I could go home.
My husband, my youngest son, and my dog came to pick me up.
It was fitting that my dog came along because she had been bitten by a rattlesnake eleven months earlier. But that’s another story.
I left with a pair of crutches, cut up yoga pants, a bag full of cards, and gifts from my friends, including a rubber snake, and dozens of flowers, and all of my limbs intact.
Chigiy blogs at The Gardeners Anonymous.