I Can’t Put My Arms Down!

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Photo Credit: http://www.hark.com

I had to stay in the PACU a little longer to make sure that my bleeding had stopped but after that I was moved up to my room where I would spend the night.  The nurse on duty that night was a girl about my age who was 6 foot 1 with long blonde hair.  I think I told her she looked like Aphrodite while I was still high.  Unfortunately, I would soon find out that Versed does wear off.  As it did, everything started aching.  My head began to pound and the packing in my nose was not very comfortable either.  My back and neck hurt from sitting up and I was exhausted.  I also have not mentioned until now that I am allergic to iodine based contrast dye which had been pumped into my veins quite a bit in the past 72 hours during both my CT and angiogram.  It’s not serious but it does make me break out into an itchy rash all over my body.  I was in pain, I was tired, and I was itchy!  These three things have the power to retro my maturity level back to that of a three year old who hasn’t had a nap.  But my parents were there and they looked anxious so I tried to put on a happy face.  I told them I felt great and gave them a thumbs up which was wrapped in surgical tape and IV tubing. Later to prove to them (and myself) that I felt fine I would stop taking pain medication way before my body was ready. Idiot.

My dad settled into the barca lounger by my bed and started flipping through channels and my mom familiarized herself with the nurses’ station and where to refill my pitcher with ice and water.  Matt sat on the other side of the bed and held my hand.

Now, I’m going to take a break for a moment and give you a fun fact about me.  I grew up as a swimmer who worked out six days a week with multiple two a days and in my later years turned to triathlon to fulfill my competitive need.  I like to be active and I can’t stand sitting for extended periods of time.  I can barely tolerate the desk job that I have now.  My boss has walked into my office multiple times to find me doing lunges while negotiating contracts via a Bluetooth headset or sitting at my desk reading policy briefs while lifting free weights.

I am also someone who appreciates speed and efficiency.  There’s no reason to have two people do a job when one will do.

I give you this little tidbit and then remind you that I was forced to watch a video earlier that morning which highlighted the importance of having someone help you out of bed every time you have to go to the bathroom.  I will then call your attention to the fact that my mother found out where the water station was because we felt bad paging a nurse every fifteen minutes for more.  Evidently heavy painkillers make me thirsty.

I will hand it to the Mayo Clinic, they do make it difficult to get out bed by yourself by hooking you up to so many machines.  I had a blood pressure cuff on my right arm that would automatically take my BP every few minutes, chest leads, 3 IV’s one on the inside of my left wrist and two on the outside, and a pulse oximeter taped to my right index finger .  All of these had tubing that lead up to different machines behind the bed.  On top of this I had compression boots that wrapped around the lower half of my legs.  Every thirty seconds they would fill with air and squeeze my calf muscles to avoid the risk of clotting while I was sedentary.

All of that crap made me feel claustrophobic.  And once those pitchers of water started working their way through my body it was quite a process to page the poor nurse, unhook everything, help me up, use the restroom, then get back in bed and reattach everything.  By the time I was tucked back in I almost had to go again.  It reminded me of when I was little and it was the first snow day of the year.  Your mom makes you put on long underwear, a sweater, thick socks, ski bibs, boots, mittens, a jacket, and finally the hat.  Then you break the news to her that all the layers she has meticulously helped you don need to come off because you just remembered you have to use the restroom.  By the time you actually get outside it’s spring thaw.

As the night wore on I started to feel ridiculous. I did not need any help getting to the restroom.  Aside from my headache and being itchy I was perfectly fine.  Around 2 a.m. my mom and Matt had gone back to the hotel and my dad was sawing logs in the chair next to me.  I had to go but I did not want to bother Aphrodite.  I had heard the call buttons from another room down the hall and she had a pretty high maintenance patient two doors down.

I could totally handle this.  I had been watching her unhook these machines all day and I was ready to make my escape.  I reached up and hit pause on the BP machine and then took the cuff off. Step one.  We had already taken the leads off my chest a little while ago because I couldn’t stop itching so I didn’t have to worry about those.  Step two, I would take my IV cart into the bathroom with me because it was on wheels.  I pulled it closer to the bed.  The only thing left was my footwear.  I reached down and got ready to unhook the compression boots.  I needed to wait until they had just finished a cycle. I could take them off, run to the bathroom, and be back to put them on before they started to refill and no one would be the wiser.  I counted down the clock.  Thirty seconds, fifteen, ten, five, the boots filled with air and once finished I ripped the Velcro straps that kept them on two at a time. I was free! I swung my legs over the bed and made a break for it.  I only got two steps when the pulse ox still taped on my index finger I had forgotten about ran out of slack and ripped off painfully taking some of my fingernail with it.

I gasped in surprise and since I now no longer had a heart beat according to the machine across the room, alarms started blaring.

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One thought on “I Can’t Put My Arms Down!

  1. Pingback: I Can’t Put My Arms Down! | The Chronicles of Mayo

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