112.8 — recollections

The thoughts trickle into consciousness in unconnected still images, a slideshow of a trip I did not sign up for.   But paid plenty for.

The hour before we went to emergency, Big Mister took my temp and told me the high number.  A few minutes later, he asked to be reminded what it was.  I said with certainty that it was 112.8.  I didn’t feel well.  Off we went to the hospital.

Waiting in the ER lounge, throwing up into my vomit condom, amidst the other sickos, sorry that they were in the same confined space with my antics.  The headache that blinded me with pain and nausea.  Teetering back to the welcome desk, right eye closed and left eye only a slit, fuzzy hat pulled low, with Big hanging onto my reeling self, and me telling them I was sure it had been more than 45 minutes.  By then, we had waited more than two hours.

Later, seeing IVs hanging out of both arms.  The ones for the right arm were tough to get started because the nurse couldn’t catch a vessel, sunken as they were from the massive dehydration and low blood pressure.

Being encouraged strongly to have the lumbar tap to rule out meningitis.  Getting two doses of Verced, otherwise remembered by me as Xanadu, so I was blessed to miss the actual puncturing of my spinal column.

On the bed-ride to the CAT scan of my head, pulling the sheet over my face because the lights hurt my eyes.  Not really all there for the CAT scan.  The caballos muertos at the hallway intersections were murder on my headache.  Round trip.

In the ER, the nurse behind me who stuck the oxygen cannula in my nose “to give her body support.”  I was sinking into oblivion then.

Seeing Big’s serious, focused, and worried face.  I would have died quietly, not struggling and shouting, but smiling at Big and holding his hand or somehow telling him I loved him, but not realizing it was the last time.  Absent.

Thank you Michael McGinty and Christina for keeping me going.

The bed-ride to the hotel room where I’d be staying for a while.  Sheet pulled up over my face again to shield my eyes from the stabbing lights.  Wondering if the folks in the hallways thought I was a dead body being transported somewhere.

Looking out the picture window at the night sky, winter trees silhouetted, the only time I could stand to look out the window.  Confused about where I was, even when Big told me that my room overlooked Wright Park not too far from home.  Thinking I was in another hospital because that was the only hospital I could think of, the place I had spent countless hours with Mom, and a place where I observed, with drawn-out and exhausting horror, her going through the worst of her own bout with sepsis.

Turns out that I was the one struggling to surface from the killer that sepsis can be in a hospital not far from home.

Hearing the IV pumping in my right ear all the time, so much so that it became a lullaby to sleep, rather than an annoyance.

Oh the headache.  Close the curtains, the light is knifing through my head.

Being so cold that the shivering hurt.  Asking politely for more blankies.  Ringing for the nurse to beg for Tylenol for my searing headache.  Hearing the voice ask me what I needed, but I didn’t know where it was coming from so I took a chance and spoke to my companion, the IV stand.

Still got the remedy even though that’s not where the speaker was lodged.  Looking at the pole and figuring that it was logical that there’d be a speaker cinched against the pole, among the boxes that controlled the rate and mix of the bags of fluids pumping into me.

Dancing with the IV pole every hour and each time getting tangled in the call button cord.  Couldn’t figure my way out of that, so had extra steps thrown in.   Danced.  Every damn hour.

Brushing my teeth.  Finally.

The next to last day in the hospital, Big visiting after work.  Suggested we go for a walk.  Since I had the easy acc-ass hospital gown on, I asked for a rump cover of some sort.   Put on nonskid slippers.  Unplugged the IV stand from the wall.  On the walk kept blonking my toes on the sticky-outie legs with wheels.   In my head, far far away.  So weak that walking required concentration.

Seeing a conference in the corridor outside a patient’s room.  Heard one medico say, “We’re looking for a stiff.”  Big assures me that I did not hear that.  Yes I did!

Discovering that I was lodged in oncology, a very quiet unit where people are very, very sick.  That’s where they found the isolation room for me and my disease.  I didn’t mind; I appreciated that it was quiet all the time in my room. No TV, no visitors, no roommate who wanted to chat.   There was also no phone.  Didn’t matter.

Being so far away, removed from understanding life around me.  Quite calm, just very far away.

Thank you Gwen, Alicia, Alocasia, Kathy, and Oliver.   Thank you Alocasia for talking to me about your trip to the Cinque Terre in Italy, where I had planned to go.

Getting home … falling into the routine, but actually unable to keep up.  Sleeping and sleeping, then napping hard.   Reduced to basics, but showering and dressing each day.

Many, many days after I got home, realizing that the C. diff had been trying to toxify me to death, one strain of my own bacteria running rampant and causing systemic havoc.    That I had outsmarted sepsis even though I didn’t realize I was in a contest.

Still, 6 weeks later, I can’t seem to surface from this odd calm, a quiescence best described as a flat affect.  I have for some time realized that I have no enthusiasm for going to Italy, that in effect, I don’t care.  How did that happen?   The distance from real life is exacerbated by the physical recovery, the regaining of physical strength.

I have become aware that my brain is not working the way I assume.  Concentration enough for reading a series of historical novels set in Ancient Rome that I’ve read before, but otherwise seem to be working through a benign fog.

I look like me and go through the motions, but I am elsewhere.


24 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Debra Kolkka
    Mar 26, 2012 @ 23:12:59

    It seems you had a very lucky escape.


  2. heretherebespiders
    Mar 27, 2012 @ 12:05:59

    Hi babe! I read this first thing this morn with my coffee, and it was too much at the time to repond to properly. I’m upset first off that they left you there and didn’t realise how bad it was. I’m surprised Big Mister didn’t ‘throw a wobbly’ as they say in the UK. He must have been so worried. On the other hand, I’m interested to hear the weird things you experienced – or thought you did. Don’t worry about not feeling or thinking like yourself right now – it only serves to bring home that this was dead fucking serious. I’m happy to have you around, and knowing you’ll be you again.


    • lahgitana
      Mar 28, 2012 @ 09:22:28

      Hey you–to be fair to the ER folks, they were full up with urgencies, but Big was assured I was next–as soon as they had a room free. Also, I did a lot of my sinking while I was in the room being treated–pretty handy, that?!

      Thanks for the reminder–that this is just part of the process. That is how I have moved through this time–just taking the ride until it was over. Some moments I have wondered if the ride will ever end, but then I sit back and read my books about Ancient Rome and get lost….

      Nice to see you–I have been gone and missing so much. >:-D I shall try to do as Isobel suggests and keep writing.


  3. IsobelandCat
    Mar 28, 2012 @ 00:18:59

    Take your time and convalesce. Enjoy the burgeoning spring. Let it sink into your retina while your body and you recover. And continue to write posts as powerful as this one.


    • lahgitana
      Mar 28, 2012 @ 09:26:56

      Isobel, thank you for being here. You’re right about the springtime–I have been able to work in the garden a little, clearing out the winter detritus, and seeing the new life in the perennials beneath. I look out our front storm door, full glass, and watch the lone hyacinth blooming, while its companions are still in bright leafy green, with no sign of bloom.

      This post, in retrospect, became powerful for me, too. Getting the pictures out of my head allowed me to move on. Summoning the brain-power to write was a difficulty–I think it took me 3 days to write this, unlike my usual dash it out in one go.

      So happy to have met you, Isobel. –Laurel


  4. nadbugs
    Mar 28, 2012 @ 15:01:27

    Welcome home, dear Lahgitana. Take your time. In every way.


  5. minlit
    Mar 29, 2012 @ 14:02:01

    I’m sorry – this probably won’t come out right, but I’m just fascinated by where you’ve been, and how your mind is now. It’s as though you were hijacked by some rollercoaster from hell which then had the bad manners to drop you off at the wrong stop when it was done. It sounds like you’ve been wrapped up like a spider might do to a fly, only the spider’s walked off and forgotten about you.
    The description of the pain caused by the lights suggests that there were some serious conditions around your brain. It’s not surprising that it’s not back to full power. If you break a leg, it takes months to heal properly. A brain must take as long, if not longer. Hmmm.
    We are not as constant as we would seem to ourselves.


    • lahgitana
      Mar 29, 2012 @ 14:46:16

      Nothing to be sorry about, D. You have described my feelings very well–the disorientation is like being the wrapped up fly dropped at the wrong stop, with no signs to tell me where I was.

      Happy I tried to capture in words, right here, the experiences. I’m relaxing even more just hearing other people’s take on these pictures.

      Since I was told by the discharge doc that I should be fine to travel two weeks after the discharge, I have continued to be confused about the time elapsing beyond that. Now, as my brain clears more, I see that of course, my poor old bod went through hell, maybe being dragged under the roller coaster, and needs time to right itself.


  6. JustI
    Mar 31, 2012 @ 16:49:01

    It’s an amazing story. Hard to believe that sepsis can wreak such havoc on your mind and body. I’m glad it’s spring and you can take some time to smell the flowers and heal both mentally and physically! I hope you feel stronger each day!


    • lahgitana
      Mar 31, 2012 @ 18:07:23

      Along time ago, I studied emergency medicine for 10 years, plus took anat and physiology in college because I wanted to. So, knowing what I know about massive dehydration and very low blood pressure and the chemistries involved, I shouldn’t be surprised by the process.

      Thank you for stopping by, JustI. I AM getting better; it’s just slo-o-o-o-o-o-w!

      (No after effects from the aliens, dearie?!)


  7. JustI
    Mar 31, 2012 @ 21:12:38

    Speaking of the aliens, that reminds me…I walked my 81yr old neighbor home after our Friday night get together in the neighborhood, and she said to me, “You know you’re showing.”

    My first thought was, “Am I pregnant and don’t know it?”

    She said, “I can tell you’re losing weight!”

    Whew, for a minute there, I got a little worried!!!


  8. JustI
    Apr 01, 2012 @ 07:34:25

    1. you mentioned ‘after effects of the aliens’
    2. neighbor tells me ‘I’m showing’
    3. wait 9 months and see what develops

    Hopefully, I’m losing weight and not ‘cured’ of menopause!


    • lahgitana
      Apr 01, 2012 @ 08:19:32

      Whew. For a minute there, I had to wander in my head about aliens disguised as old ladies and all-knowing!

      Aggggh! Not THAT cure! Me, too–very nice to be cured in the customary way!


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  10. Alexandra
    Apr 04, 2012 @ 15:39:15

    Hi, Lahgitana! I’ve just read this post. I wanted to tell you that I admire how brave you are and I’m so happy you are recovering now. I’m sending positive thoughts your way :)


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