Things Consumed

visit the latest entry in things consumed | visit the things consumed archives | return to | subscribe to the feed

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

  x-ray image of Arlene's broken elbow

Mending, mending...

It's funny how easy it is to misplace a few weeks, or a month, of your life due to an unfriendly experience with gravity.

My time is blurred from May 16th, and only came back into focus at the end of nearly three weeks. The 15th is sharp and clear: the fall; the trip to the hospital; the modern, empty waiting room; apologizing so politely for getting blood on the x-ray machine; waiting until the software glitch showed my caregivers the digital x-ray image, and then, finally, knowing they had seen it from the alarmed looks on their faces and offers of strong medications... Having my ulna described as "shattered..." Being ordered to stay; getting a plaster splint and the initials of the doctor who cast it written in my shoulder in marker; getting an intake interview (and being able to emphasize my vegetarianism); falling into a medicated sleep, and dreaming of the fall onto the streetcar tracks, over and over, as vividly as the fall itself; being wheeled to "my" room when Steven was away, and worrying that he'd have trouble finding me; meeting my darling young doctors (attending doctors? Residents? my co-workers would have adored them), who told me I could have surgery at odd hours of the morning, OR when everyone is rested and awake (my choice!); learning from them that I'd receive a plate and 8 screws to reassemble my ulna, which was also cracked lengthwise; listening to construction noises echoing outside; being allowed to eat dinner once my surgery was postponed until morning; having Steven try to console me, and bring me things to read; being afraid to use 'the pain button,' but using it anyway, often; having to tow my IV into the bathroom with me, with assistance, on and off throughout the night...

The 16th is less clear. Telling Peter I'd call him back in 10 minutes, when actually I was about to be taken to surgery. Leaving a voice message at home as my hospital bed, IV, and all of its trappings were rearranged for the trip downstairs. Moving through the hospital in the wheeled bed, in medium-slo-mo. New names in pre-op I wouldn't remember. Asking that I be unconscious when the plaster splint was removed. The nice anaesthesiologist warning me about the improbable but serious risks of general anaesthesia. Another computer monitor that couldn't show me my fracture, due to software or network problems. Meeting my grown-up lead surgeon, and having to reluctantly give him permission to take bone from my pelvis if there wasn't enough whole portions of my elbow left to reassemble. Having the nice anaesthesiologist tell me that she would give me something to relax. Rolling toward surgery...

Half-waking up back in my room in the evening. Steven. Peter. Larry. Having the world's volume adjusted: the sound turns up, I hear and ask a question, the sound goes down until it fades completely, the world goes black. Being violently ill (and perceiving, in the background, Peter fleeing the room at light speed). A day nurse I didn't know teasingly calling me a ''lightweight" (my tolerance for anaesthesia being lower than that for good vodka), which was stored in part of my brain to confuse me days later. Evacuating my friends; using a bed pan, and then another. Having the nurses change my gown and bedding. Having Steven & my friends, whose presence I was only intermittently aware of, go to dinner and home for the night.

The 17th. Having the night nurse introduce herself to me again (which I thought was funny for the brief period when I was lucid). Pain. Going to the bathroom 1,000 times, each time with assistance and several minutes of rolling-mechanical-island. Dreaming of biking along the Embarcadero without incident. Having the pain button fail. Having both night nurses working on my pain med dispenser at some ungodly hour of morning, and swap it out with another, switching all my IV stuff over. Dreaming of biking through the countryside on a pleasant day without incident. Listening to the pulse alarm going off over and over, because the sensor didn't stay taped to my finger. Being mildly annoyed by the breathing tube that gave me supplemental oxygen through my nose. Watching the sky get lighter through the blinds. Having the young doctors visit, and asking them to show me the x-ray: they brought in two, and each presented one to me, so I could FINALLY see what all the fuss was. Being relieved at Steven's return! Having the IVs removed. Getting dressed. Sitting in a wheelchair. Getting into the car. Having Steven drop me off at home with my modestly-sized cast while he got the prescriptions for vicodin and a stool softener (oh no). Having my parents visit briefly, and managing to stay awake for their visit.

Two weeks of taking 2 vicodin every 4 hours, each time my alarm went off, all day, every day, with murky unconsciousness in between.

It did not completely control the pain. Especially not between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m.

x-ray image of Arlene's elbow with plate and screws[And now, the introduction of the past tense.]

9 days after my surgery, I left the house for the first time and took a bus to the hospital. My half-cast, half-splint came off, my stitches were gently removed, and I walked down the block to the odd basement-o-gadgets where I was fitted with a wildly uncomfortable arm brace, which dwarfed my skinny little arm completely.

I went out to lunch at a crepe place, and unknowingly missed Steven (who stopped there while working nearby) by a few minutes. I went home and resumed my sleeping schedule, while cutting back on my pain meds with varying degrees of related pain.

Two weeks after my fall, I returned to work. My routine: sleep, take medication, commute to work, take medication, work, commute home, take medication, eat, sleep incessantly. I phased out vicodin (due to alarming internal bleeding and uneven effectiveness) to phase in Aleve (at double plus the usual dose). I gradually regained my sense of being sentient, but remained exhausted.


At night, I dreamt of biking: happily gliding through town, or along country roads in the East Bay, quietly, in warm weather, in the day or evening with friends. Smiling.

Labels: , , ,

posted by Arlene (Beth)10:16 PM

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

comments Return Home