Wednesday, September 23, 2009
The yellow tiger moving through my veins
Tigecycline, the powerful, bright yellow IV antibiotic that drips steadily from a little bolus through plastic tubes and into my veins, holds the key to my keeping my remaining ovary. I’m not sure if it was intended to conjure these images or if it’s because of my literal interpretations of language, but because of its name, and the powerful punch it delivers to abdominal infections, I picture a small tiger streaming into my blood stream ready to pounce. I picture its claws extended, its teeth barred, hear its snarls as it travels to this infection ready to rumble. I hold onto this image. I visualize the 4 cm pocket of infectious fluid surrounding my left ovary shrinking, defeated from the Tiger. It’s got to work. I can’t face another surgery. It’s got to work.
Yes, I'm back in the hospital. Abdominal pain and a low-grade temp prompted a visit to my doctor's ultrasound tech, which revealed the glowing mass of infection around my ovary. My only remaining ovary. And I don't want to lose it like I lost the other one. The treatment plan right now is to try to kick this with aggressive IV antibiotic therapy and a possibly ultrasound-guided needle drain in the back. No one wants cut me open again after what happened last time, including and most importantly, me.
My roommate is the most obnoxious, demanding and self-centered elderly woman ever made by God.
She calls out constantly, “Nurse!” every 30 seconds when she has to relieve herself – what she calls going “tinkle” – and she has to relieve herself every 20 minutes. Apparently she abuses the nurse call light so much that the nurses have started writing her pleads for assistance off, like the boy who cried wolf, so now she’s just decided to yell for them. And yell she does, starting before dawn at 6 a.m. when she soils herself.
Dawn breaking over the busy buildings of the hospital
Later, she takes to asking me to push my call light for her...as I’m puking my guts out. My nurse comes in to give me some Phenergan, and the elderly lady interrupts her to yell out, “help me!”
She’s happy to chat about her various illnesses and surgeries, and offers up odd information at random.
“I have a husband,” she says out of the blue.
“Okay, that’s nice,” says the nursing assistant who is awaiting the lovely task of wiping her up after her current tinkle.
When she’s all clean, she makes a phone call, I presume to her husband who I know from her random offering of information that she’s been married to for 57 years. She tells him how she’s being discharged today. She tells him the nurses don’t come when she calls, that they “giggle at her from the hallway.”
Being “sick” has become the elderly woman’s full-time job. At 78 years of age, it’s what she does with her life, and it contributes to the economy just like any job. This woman helps employ many people, from nurses to assistants to doctors and their secretaries; home health aides, Medicare claims adjustors, right down to the people who make the equipment all of those people use.
I wonder what she did with her life before she became sick and frail.