Posts Tagged ‘hospitals’

It’s been a long week. Had my second Covid vaccination on Monday, which landed me in bed for a few days. My way of dealing with pain to discomfort is to sleep my way through it. Put me somewhere comfortable, throw me a pillow and a blanket, and leave me alone until I rise again.

I have some experience with illness. Over the years I’ve had my share of major surgeries. As I’ve said previously, with each marriage, I donated a body part to science. Having four marriages to my credit, this has required significant sacrifice on my part. I hardly show up on an ex-ray any more. If you look at it through that lens, I really can’t risk another “I do”. Fortunately, all the essential pieces remain, so I continue to chug along like a well tuned engine, or at least one with most of it’s workable parts. Each day I am thankful for that.

I’m not a particularly good patient. I hate being sick, but I’m sure no one really looks forward to it. As a child if I became ill, I hesitated to mention it. My grandmother, though having given up her career to raise her family, had been an R.N. My grandfather and two uncles were physicians, one a pediatrician. I can remember the first time I mentioned I had a tummy ache to my grandmother. Back in her day, they treated everything from ring worm to jaundice with a good dose of cod liver oil. You think it sounds bad? You should taste it. Before I could emit another burp, my grandmother was standing before me, spoon extended, telling me to open and swallow. Leading the lambs to slaughter, I say. I had no idea what was in that spoon. I was belching cod for two days. Next my uncles would show up or my grandfather. I would be prodded and poked like a significant find at an archaelogical dig. If anything was amiss, usually not serious, I would be tucked in bed with a hot water bottle and dosed back to health.

It wasn’t enough as a child I leaned towards, and landed right on top of, being chubby. My mother and grandmother, both fabulous hands in the kitchen, equated food with love, and I was ladled out a generous serving of both. To add insult to injury, I had been born with a lazy eye, my left. Surgery not an option until I was older, glasses were prescribed to help correct the situation. In an effort to strengthen the eye, one lens covered with a patch. It gave me the look of a pudgy, midget pirate. Lovely. Fortunately, I had childhood friends more concerned with my genius prowess at hide and go seek, or my fear of almost nothing they suggested, that kept me socially acceptable in spite of my physical limitations. This generosity did not always extend to kids who did not know me, however, leaving me open for comments like “four eyes” and “ahoy, matey”, making the glasses my least favorite accessory.

Corrective eye surgery was scheduled when I was seven. The procedure has to be done when you are young, with any likelihood of success. The opthamologist, a family friend, and colleague of my grandfathers, assured my worried mother all would be wonderful once the procedure was behind me. The day of the surgery I was a bit scared, but it was nothing when compared to my mother’s anxiety. Being her “only chick” as she always called me, she didn’t have a spare to replace me should I come to a nasty end. The doctor came in to reassure and explain what to expect, the pre-surgery relaxer was administered, and off I went. Unfortunately, the all would be wonderful part fell through a crack in the operating room floor. The surgical nurse tasked with dilating my eyes with a diluted solution of Atroprine, accidentally used concentrated, causing a huge reaction by my little body. My face swelled up, I got welts all over, and was generally a hot mess. The concern beyond the obvious physical reactions was my eyesight would be permanently affected. Sigh. So, home I went, still one lazy eye and now so much more. For two months my grandmother took care me. Every day I had eye washes and then gooey salves. Eventually my eyesight returned to where it had been pre-surgery and my face, though still fat, was no longer swollen. Mother, so afraid of having me lose my vision or worse never signed me up again for the procedure. The window of opportunity before my teens passed, and thus my eyesight has remained poor in my left eye the rest of my life. Thankfully, my right eye is a total trouper, and the aesthetics of the condition barely noticeable unless I point it out or I’m extremely tired. To this day I have one hazel eye and one pale gray. This particular side effect is rather effective, so I don’t mind it so much. One should have a little character in one’s face. Shear perfection can be such a bore. (Insert smile here.)

At nine I had my tonsils removed. We had moved to California at that point and started our new lives with my first stepfather. He had family in Southern California, so we were livin’ the dream in Fullerton not far from Disneyland. They don’t warn you ahead of time how sore removing those little soft tissue masses makes your throat. Tonsillectomies were a regular scheduled surgery back then. These days they are more hesitant about doing them. The bonus for an eater such as myself was the copious amount of ice cream coming my way once I got home. Often I attribute this first body part donation to my stepfather. As I remember he was always suggesting I be quiet, and the gods have big ears so I’ve heard, so he got his way. Fortunately for all of us he moved on, or was nudged on his way, three years later and Mother and I found ourselves on our own. For me it was Independence Day. There was no love lost between my stepfather and I, and whether my mother realized it or not at the time or not his being out of our lives was a breath of fresh air in her lungs as well. Kids grow up fast, in my experience, when their parents get dysfunctional. Sometimes we can see the clearer picture at our tender age, better than they can because they’re all wrapped up in the drama. Certainly I have been dysfunctional more than once in my life, and I’m sure my children’s therapists have benefited well from my missteps.

Other than losing my wisdom teeth around eighteen there was a blissful hiatus in the migration of my body parts until I was 24, married, and wrangling two toddlers. Along with two of my husband’s brothers and their families, we had gotten away for a camping trip in glorious Rosarita Beach, in Baja, Mexico. What a lovely spot to forget your problems. Gorgeous sandy beaches, fresh sea air, and margaritas at sunset. Lovely. While there I began feeling a bit under the weather. As the weekend passed my symptoms became more pronounced. Not the best timing. Though I’m sure their hospitals would have taken good care of me, it was a long drive for a family visit should I have to be admitted. Deciding our best option was to head home, we returned the following day. Monday I went back to work, still feeling far less than on top of my game. Around noon a co-worker found me in the ladies room in distress. Somehow I drove myself to Kaiser Hospital in Los Angeles where my husband worked. Unbeknownst to me I had begun to bleed profusely from a nearly ruptured ovarian cyst. Arriving in the E.R. where my husband had already checked me in I was quickly ushered into an examining room. Five serious faces stood over me discussing my body like I was a prize ham at auction. Within a half an hour I had signed a paper allowing them to remove everything from my right ear lobe to left butt cheek. Apparently this was exploratory surgery which meant they were going to gain access to your innermost selfness. Swell. Hours later I woke up in the recovery room lighter by one ovary. They told me I had an angel on my shoulder (I knew it!) because had I waited another 24 hours the cyst might have ruptured and we might not have been having this conversation. K. Back then there wasn’t laser surgery where they just drilled a little hole and vacuumed the offending organ out of you. Oh no. They honed their cutting skills on your skin. When I finally saw the incision it looked like a long smiley face below my belly button about three inches. They called it a “bikini line”. Looked more like a clothesline. The opening was secured with what looked like chips clips which were apparently the only defense between my insides oozing out to the outside. Ewwwww.

Once I had been checked out thoroughly in the recovery room a nurse came to take me to the surgical ward for a few days. By that time the discomfort had reached my brain and though still groggy I found myself able to enunciate, PAIN MEDS!!!!! In my new bed, I came up out of my drug induced fog enough to notice another bed in the room, unoccupied. Yay. No witness to observe the sniveling and whining I was sure I was going to be doing. That first day after major surgery is always a blur. Nurses and doctors flow in and out in a haze hanging bags of fluid on the tree growing out of the floor next to you, monitors beeping and blinking, and your mind willing the hours away until the pain backs off and you are home in your own bed. Somewhere later in the day a very large lady was wheeled in and deposited in the bed on the other side of the room. We didn’t exchange pleasantries because, a) my fuzzy tongue couldn’t gather enough energy to form words, and b) there was nothing pleasant about being in that situation. Blissfully sleep consumed most of my time. My mother’s face hovered over me a time or two, as did my husbands. He told me later I told him “Run, save yourself. The ants are coming. Take care of the children”.

Later that night a voice permeated my dream state. “Lady”, it said. “Yes”, my mind answered. Annoyingly, the voice kept coming in with the same message. “WHAT”, said my mind sending a message to my eyes to open. “Are the ants here”? Blurrily canvasing the room I could see the lady in the other bed waving at me. Really? Now we’re exchanging greetings? Somewhere in the fog I heard her say I needed to get the nurse. Now, the absurdity of that statement even in my condition did not miss it’s mark. I couldn’t even get out of the bed to relieve myself and this woman wanted to me to get the nurse? Not happening, no matter how many times you wave at me. Then she screamed. Okay, okay. The “nurse button” they had given me had fallen to the side of the bed. I reached with my hand trying to locate the cord without inducing any of the pain associated with any movement of my nether regions. Ow. Finally I found it and summoned enough energy to depress the button. Shortly the room was a bee hive of energy. People were moving in and out, words were flying, and the bed lady was in full voice yelling the top of her lungs. Help. Drifting back into my fog, a while later I thought I heard a baby cry. “Hi baby”. The following morning a nurse came in to change my IV drip. Relating a bit of my dream to her as best I was able, she told me the lady in the other bed had delivered a healthy baby boy about 3 a.m. Apparently she was scheduled for a C-section early in the morning but the baby decided to go ahead and make an early exit the normal way. Wow. She thanked me for pushing the nurse button. “Did I”? Wow. Later that day a small bouquet showed up on my tray table with a note reading, “Thanks for the help. Baby Boy Dalton”. Awwww, you’re welcome.

Had I stopped at that marriage, I might still be intact. Some lessons are harder learned than others but I was glad to help a little one on his way.

Have a great Saturday. Two vaccinations down, I am happy to say I am finally done and ready to greet the world again.

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1Ach, I have been sick. It seems fall is going to insist on my remaining inside on these glorious color filled days. Most probably I’ll be feeling better by the time the rain moves in next week. The word hospital came up when I was told I needed to go home and take care of myself. Susie’s kryptonite. I do not like hospitals. The smell, the sadness, the desperation. Also, I am a firm believer it is not unusual to pick up a little something extra besides the bill when you are departing. A friend of mine got a staff infection while in the hospital for a hernia operation and never came out. He was fifty. The only part of a hospital that makes me smile is the obstetrics section, and only as an observer there. The last time I was interred, as I prefer to call it, I made it through all the procedures but the most painful part of my stay was the food. Some of the chefs must have been recruited directly from Purina. They did a nice job with Jello and whipped cream and tapioca but other than that I feared I would die from starvation before being once again released into the wild.  It was the first hospital stay where I was offered a menu from which to choose my meals. Amazingly no matter what choice I made they all tasted the same when you put them in your mouth.

Certainly we need hospitals. Dedicated people who staff them, for the most part, do a rough job with a good attitude. I wouldn’t want to do it. As I’ve said before I considered being an R.N. as a vocation, before choosing instead to be, uh, …………, whatever. My grandmother was an R.N. This is how she met my grandfather, who was to be a doctor. Three uncles were physicians, and my second cousin just graduated from medical school. With all that medical blood coursing through my veins it’s amazing I chose instead to be, uh, ……………., whatever.

To add to the mix, Thanksgiving will be here in a few weeks and right on its heels Christmas. Help. On my sewing table are patterns pinned to pieces of fabric. Each Christmas for about five years I get orders for aprons. Combining my artwork with the sewing, I make each apron unique with a general theme to guide me provided by the buyer. It’s a project, but one I enjoy when I’m both feeling well and have the time to devote to it. Neither is true at the moment but I’m muddling through.

Christmas always seems to sneak up on me. In October it seems a long distance off, but in a blink I look at the calendar and it’s November. Suddenly the month is powering by and I haven’t even thought about gifts or plans and it’s all right there throwing tinsel in my face. Traditionally I put my Christmas decorations up the weekend after Thanksgiving. It’s one of my favorite times of the year. Already Christmas Vacation and The Bishop’s Wife are waiting on my DVD, and the hot chocolate is in the cupboard next to the marshmallows.

Rick didn’t start out as a likely candidate for elf’s assistant. At some point he will take out his “Christmas Sucks” hat to show his support. Over the years I’ve never been associated with a male partner or mate who threw himself into the decorating with me. Several have gotten on the ladder and hung outdoor lights but usually it is me with my sea of boxes wearing my elf hat with the bells and singing happily to the cat.  A Christmas movie deal is not on the table for this story, but it makes me happy.  For the first time this year he said he looks forward to the lights and the blinking tree (not a euphemism). It is true when all is said and done the house takes on a warm and friendly feel not duplicated any other time of the year.

Boxes line the upper shelves of my garage marked Xmas or Christmas. This house being much smaller than our previous home, I have to be careful not to turn it into a Christmas store or put some of the larger items in places where they can be knocked off or become a hazard. Thinking on it, I need a larger house for the holidays with this one doing fine the remainder of the year.

I haven’t been out all week so today is the day. Our larder is bare and the dog has no bone. Oh, I don’t have a dog, but if I did he definitely wouldn’t find a bone in the cupboard. Rick said he went looking for a snack last night and settled on a stale graham cracker and some string cheese. Mmmmmm. Maybe I’ll feature this in my next blog?

In our house the shopping is mostly left to me. A list maker from way back, I always have a long one when I get to it and Rick gets antsy after about ten minutes in a store. Honestly I like grocery shopping for the most part. Making a list makes it easy for me. Somehow I seem to manage to omit one item no matter what only to get home and find I have to go back out again. It’s a personal problem.

Anyhow, I’ll make this list short for today. This cauliflower was really good and totally different. Give it a try if you get a chance. The lime juice and salsa give it a lovely tang.

South of the Border Cauliflower

l large head cauliflower
1 onion, diced
Juice of one lime
1 15 1/2 oz. can of petite diced tomatoes with juice
3 Tbsp. hot chunky salsa
1/4 cup Feta cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper

Place diced onion in small bowl with lime juice. Let sit for 15 mins. to soften onions.

Steam cauliflower and drain well. Season with salt an pepper to taste.

Heat tomatoes and salsa over medium heat until hot. Add onion mixture.

Pour over hot cauliflower florets. Top with feta cheese and sprinkle with cilantro.

Serves 4

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Photo by Susie Nelson

Photo by Susie Nelson

Surgery may be lurking somewhere in my future. I’m not a fan. This certainly wouldn’t be my first trip under the knife, but hopefully it will be my last. In my mid-twenties I had emergency surgery for removal of an ovarian cyst. After being examined by several different physicians, I was told something was quite wrong but they weren’t sure exactly what it was. A bit unnerving. If they didn’t know, who did? In order to clarify the situation, I was told, it would require going in and having a look around. Since I hadn’t come equipped with a zipper or any noticeable seams, I assumed this wasn’t going to be without some discomfort. Not having one single clue what surgery encompassed, I signed forms giving them permission for everything from removing the mole behind my ear to resetting my nose break from when I was sixteen. Almost immediately after obtaining my signature, hospital personnel began to show up. Blood was drawn, the surgical area was prepped, and questions were asked regarding allergies and medical history, etc. A nurse arrived with a syringe. Shoving the business end of the needle in my upper arm while depressing the shaft, she inquired what medications, if any, I was allergic to. Thinking this question might have been asked prior to the injection, I again recited the short list. Arriving at atropine, she pulled the needle out of my arm so fast a huge lump rose under the skin resembling an anthill. Oh-oh. If I hadn’t felt so awful, I believe I would have sneaked out a side door. Had she continued to push the liquid into my arm, we would have had at least one diagnosis wrapped up and in the bag, and me with it.

My frantic mother arrived about ten minutes before I was to be taken down to surgery. Being her “only chick” as she is wont to refer me, a crisis was afoot. Let me say first, I adore my mother. However, in emergencies she’s about as useful as a life raft with a slow leak. Sitting in the chair next to the hospital bed with a look as though I would momentarily draw my last breath, she asked if I wanted a priest. Not being Catholic, I felt this to be a definite no. The woman watches too many old movies. Next came the Demerol shot, every pre-surgical patient’s guide to the land beyond the beyond. Love the stuff. They told me later I sang “Mama Told Me Not to Come” all the way to surgery and offered my phone number to one particularly attractive young intern.

Fluttering my eyes in the recovery room, my mind grasped hold of that first post surgery twinge. Owwww. They keep you pretty well medicated after major surgery, a definite plus. Once stabilized, I was wheeled up to a room. I discovered later I was sharing it with a very pregnant mother to be. At the time I was originally unloaded, had an orangatan wearing a fez and smoking a cigar been occupying the adjacent bed, I wouldn’t have noticed anything amiss.

Fading in and out in my drug induced haze, I remember being vaguely aware of activity around me. It appeared far away, mostly blurred whisperings blending with an occasional machine beeping or humming. I would drift off to sleep only to have someone in a hospital uniform show up to wake me up. What is it exactly hospitals have against a person getting a full night’s sleep? The curtain dividing the two beds was drawn so as yet I hadn’t seen the woman sharing my space.

On the second night of what was to be a seven day stay, I woke up more frequently. They’d packed me ice due to a reaction to a morphine injection so sleep wasn’t coming as easily. I considered the definite possibility of a conspiracy brewing to kill me by injection and save having to compile what was likely to be a staggering hospital bill. Sometime late, with nothing illuminating the room but a shard of light leaking through the cracked door a voice interrupted my subconscious. “Lady”, it said. “Huh?”, my mind replied. “Laaaaaaaaaaady”, was repeated. This time the annoying voice was punctuated with a disturbingly loud groan. Waking up, then dozing, the “lady” rode the waves of my drowsy brain, each time becoming more urgent. “What?”, I wanted to say but my lips were somehow stuck together and simply refused to unglue to form the words. “LADY!” “WHAAAAAAAAT?”

Finally coming around enough to be in the room with my body, I realized the woman behind the curtain was addressing me. I answered, but I don’t think made any sound. Parched mouths do not an orator make. Trust me on this. Over the next half hour I came to grasp the woman was in labor and needed a nurse. Her nurse summoning contraption was somehow beyond her reach and she required my help. This was somewhat of a conundrum, as I was the human version of a sno-cone. Fumbling around in the bed of ice unable to sit or stand, I located the end of the cord to my call unit. Sleep again captured me before pulling it up, but the woman groaning beside me was not to be ignored.

Finally, I pulled up the unit and pushed the button. The response was not exactly spit spot, if you get my drift. They must have been eating a little tub of tapioca or watching late night TV. Once they arrived on scene, however, total chaos ensued. For me it was like what I imagine the experience of watching a movie on LSD might be like (never tried the stuff, swear). Lights flickered on and off, colorful uniforms filtered in and out of my vision. Lots of screaming ensued, this from the pregnant lady I presumed. Certainly I hoped it wasn’t from a member of the staff. That wouldn’t be good. Last came the loud protests of a baby crying following a slap. My muddled mind concluded I’d just had a baby and smiling I drifted off to sleep.

The next morning, somewhat more clear than the day before I awoke to find myself next to an empty bed. Reviewing my thoughts from the night before, I couldn’t be sure a baby had been delivered but my suspicion was there had been. This worried me. A nurse, coming to check my vital signs, confirmed indeed a little boy had been born around 4:30 and apparently I had alerted the nurses station he was on his way. It wasn’t mine. Thank God, I didn’t have any Pampers at home. It turned out his young mother was morbidly obese. Due to her considerable size, mother and baby were in danger so she was put on this ward to be kept under close observation. I hesitate to think what would have happened if they hadn’t been keeping such a keen eye on her. Ice woman might have ended up officiating, and my hands were cold, mighty cold. At any rate, unable to get her on the gurney, the wee boy was delivered in the bed next to me. Mother and son were doing fine.

My next roommate was to be an elderly lady with dementia who kept throwing the contents of her food trays at me. Once able to eat what was being served myself, dementia or not I completely understood the sentiment.

So, hopefully this stay if it happens will be less eventful. Knowing me it probably will not.

I’m also not a fan of salmon. Growing up in Nova Scotia salmon came to the dinner table disguised as cakes, loaf, salad and sometimes the whole fish appeared draped in cream sauce with sliced hard boil eggs. Lately I’ve been able to approach it again but it has to be cooked in a certain way and this one works beautifully with the tangy sauce.

Baked Salmon with Tarragon Tartar Sauce

Tarragon Tartar Sauce

1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. dried Tarragon
1 tsp. dried dill
2 Tbsp. pickle relish
2 Tbsp. capers, drained and minced
1 Tbsp. shallots, minced
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 drops Siracha sauce or to taste
Salt and pepper

Mix together all ingredients and chill for 1 hr. Serve with fish.

Baked Salmon

2 Tbsp. butter
4 salmon steaks (skin on)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. lemon pepper
1/2 tsp. black pepper
Sea salt
1 tsp. dried dill
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
Lemon slices

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spray bottom of casserole dish with cooking spray. Dot bottom of pan with butter. Rub steaks with olive oil and place on top of pats of butter. Sprinkle with seasonings.

Mix together wine and broth. Pour in bottom of pan. Bake for 15 mins.

Garnish with lemon slices and serve with tartar sauce.

Serves 4.

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