We ended the last post as I sat in my recliner, virtually unable to walk 15 feet from where I was, bleeding out internally, holding the phone in my hand. I stared at it for a few moments – did I really want to call emergency services?
But as I sat there clutching the phone I knew if I did not call I would not last the night, Of this. I was certain. This was what it was like to die. In my case, no pain. Just an incredible weakness and exhaustion which made me just want to close my eyes and sleep.
I shook it off. Punch the numbers while you still can!
9-1-1. “What is your emergency?”
Is your front door open? No; I can’t get that far. The back door is open.
“Help is on the way. Stay with me till they arrive.” I remember little else on the way to hospital. Bouncing in the ambulance. Unconscious. Racing heart and falling blood pressure. Blood transfusions. Somewhere along the line I must have been CAT scanned and the broken spleen seen.
Surgery. I remember the lights of the O.R. and doctors talking while I was on the edge of life. A mask was put on my face and taken off. Wrong size. A second and instantaneous darkness.
I woke hours later in a raised hospital bed in the ICU – still alive. Eyes now open, nurses and a doctor came in look at me.
“Do you need anything for pain?”
“No. When are you going to do the surgery?
A bit of laughter. “Have you looked at your chest?” I lifted my gown and saw-a line of metal staples from my belly button to the center of my chest. “We’ve taken out your ruptured spleen and explored the rest of your gut looking for any other bleeds. You currently have two drains inserted into your abdomen; one to removed excess fluids which spilled into your belly and one to release any excess pressure below your lungs. And of course a catheter”
Again – “Do you need anything for pain?”
I don’t know about other folks but for me pulling a tooth without anesthetic or yanking off a toe nail is pain. What I was feeling was a soreness in my gut but certainly not unbearably so. In fact I was feeling pretty good.
I told the staff “No” and suddenly I became the old man who feels no pain. Just a tough old bastard. Seems most of the patients in trauma popped pain pills like M & Ms. The staff insisted I take Tylenol at least – until I found I was receiving 8 pills a day which did nothing but upset my stomach. I asked if the hospital corporation had investments in Tylenol. I had taken more Tylenol in a few days than I had taken in the last two decades No more Tylenol,
Day three was a bit of a crisis. I was running a low grade fever and apparently too much gunky stuff was being collected by my abdominal drains. Signs of an infection or other surgical problem.
And so I was rolled to the CAT scan for another look and see. It was rolling down those corridors that I began to think seriously that I would not get better. Something wrong would be found. I would pass from the scene, In the CAT scan tube, laying there arms above my head I reflected on my life – and I began to get comfortable with the thought that I might die.
After the scan I dozed off to sleep – and nothing was found and the gunky stuff declined – all by itself.
That morning I knew I wasn’t going to die – at least not yet. The realization of which means you must go on living. I got out of bed, with assistance. I could walk and stand. I sat in a chair; walked around the floor with a therapist and a walker. Winded. Short of breath. But I walked – to applause. I hadn’t known how close to death I had been.
I received chest x-rays twice a day and then the word came of another tube to be inserted, this time above my lungs to keep fluids and pressure down. Doctors made a small incision under my left arm and then pushed a small plastic tube into my chest through my ribs. .Such fun, but it served to increase my rep as a tough old crank. I have no doubt I was the favorite of every nurse on the floor. My daughter, who spoke regularly by phone with the staff laughted. “You have them all charmed!”
After 11 days all of the tubes were removed and I was discharged. It was nice to be home.
It is still being determined if the bleed out did any permanent damage to my heart. I am wearing a monitor. So far so good. I am currently at home and getting around the house tending to my basic needs. Washing my bod, changing clothes making meals, taking my pills and insulin. I am weak and if I ever fully recover to what I was before it will be months.
I have a support system I can rely on. Next week the row of staples will be removed.
Thanking all of you for your good wishes.