Monday, February 14, 2011

Honestly We're All Just Chasing Our Tails

Gestational diabetes is so stupid. It's so so stupid. When I first got thrown in here they put me on the diabetic menu but never explained how to use it. Then I asked about it and they took me off of it so they could get some baseline readings. Of course it took about 4 days for the switch to get to food services. Eventually I took (and failed) the delicious glucose test from hell. So here's how it went after my big fail. Day one I find out I failed the test and
get put back on the diabetic menu. This time it only takes about a day to switch. Also, side note, the diabetic menu is exactly the same as the regular except sometimes you can choose a small piece of cheese or a hard boiled egg. It's not like a low carb menu or anything that would actually make sense. Anyway. Day two the nutritionist comes
and gives me a diet of 30 carbs at breakfast, 75 at lunch and dinner and 15 at snacks. Fine, no big deal. I think most of my generation and socio economic status is pretty comfortable with nutrition labels and counting calories and carbs, etc. For the next day I stick to that diet. My finger sticks are still too high so for lunch and dinner I bring my carb intake into the sixties. Still too high. The next day I bring it into the fifties. Barely ok. The problem now is that there are no low carb choices in the hospital. Actually, there really aren't many food choices in the hospital in general. So to get my carbs down I am just eating less food. This makes mama bear HUNGRY! I'm freaking starving all the time so one of the doctors decides on Friday that for the weekend I should eat however much I need to and they will watch my levels and decide on the appropriate medication to control it.

Now I am on the diabetic menu but not contained to the carb limits. The complication with that is the computer caps you out at 30 carbs so to get more food in the morning the food services girl has to tell me what else she has on her cart and give that to me. For the weekend I ate as I pleased (as much as thats possible on hospital food) and of course had to explain to every other doctor that walked in what the other had said since clearly they never speak to one another. Ironically, on Saturday and Sunday my blood sugar started almost exactly the same. I had the same thing for breakfast and then for both lunch and dinner had significantly more carbs on Sunday than Saturday. The results were that even though I ate more carbs Sunday my sugars were all within range as opposed to Saturday when I ate fewer carbs I was high at every finger stick. Bite me. Really, I am clearly making myself nutso over something that has absolutely no rhyme or reason. So, this morning the doctors said to continue eating my fill and I will get insulin injections twice a day. Fine by me. I would love to say that I am sure this will stabilize everything no problem but considering recent history, I have a feeling this will just lead to more blog posts.

Judgement Day

Dr Devine had said she would do an exam on Friday to help her
determine whether I should go home. Of course I woke up Friday and
spent ample time looking my prettiest. I shaved my legs and showered
and changed my shirt (I had no more clean pants so I had to wear the
same ones). I know. Clearly I was serious about this momentous
occasion given the massive amount of work that went into all that.
This was like the biggest day of my life since the mag stopped and I
got to pee. I knew she wouldn't be there til evening so I bided my
time crocheting. Yes, I finally got all those knots undone. Although I
also made a vow that I will NEVER purchase unwound yarn again. Why
they even make unwound yarn is a mystery to me. Yeah, okay, maybe it
is easier to package and maybe loomers or something need it unwound. I
don't care. It's a terrible idea. Back to the point.

At about 10 someone came to my room while I was sound asleep (I don't
sleep at night but I take lots of naps) and knocked on the door. When
she poked her head in she said, "You're Ms Silverstein?". I affirmed
rather groggily and she shut the door. I promptly returned to my nap.
A few minutes later, another knock. Same lady. This time, rather
annoyed, she says, "I'm here to take you to your ultrasound." Okay I
knew I was having an ultrasound but you never know what time so it's
not like anyone had said, "Be ready at ten." Second, she didn't say
that the first time. She just asked who I was. I am not a mind reader.
A billion people come in and out of my room everyday so I am pretty
sure there was no way for me to divine that you needed me for
something so I am not sure you need to be annoyed with me. I scrambled
to get on my flip-flops and grab my phone. I took a seat in my sweet
ride and we were on our way. By the time we got down the hall and to
the elevator the woman says, "Where's your bracelet?". "I have no
idea. It must have fallen off in my sleep.". Ha! you thought I was
annoying her before, well apparently that was just the beginning. "Uh,
you need that," she tells me. Ok well that's fine but I can't do
anything about that right here. She asks some buddy of hers that just
passed us to babysit me while she went back to my nurse and got
another wristband. Obviously, keeping my mouth shut for the rest of
the trip would have been the socially responsible thing to do.
Obviously, I am a social idiot so I continued to comment on things we
passed, make little jokes, compliment her, etc. It took a long time
for her various grunts of reply to communicate to me that talking was
not a sweet idea. Eventually we reached our destination and the
torture ended. Now, I had learned the first time I was locked up that
you have to bring something to do with you, thus the phone. Do you get
dropped off in the waiting area? Oh no. They park you in a hallway and
then you wait for a tech to come out and get you. Last time that was
about 45 minutes. This time it was only about 20. It's not like there
are a bunch of people in wheelchairs waiting. It's just you, awkwardly
sitting in the middle of a hallway meant for walking, watching people
pass by, having to see the same people go in and out and decide
whether you should smile the 38th time they pass you or continue to
pretend you are not sitting in a hallway and ignore. Here's me in the

Eventually I got the ultrasound, everything looked ship shape and I
got to go back in the hallway to wait for my ride back. Luckily it
only took about 20 minutes as opposed to last time when it took over
an hour and a half.

Eric came by that evening just in time for the doc to come by. It was
possibly the most suspenseful moment in history. We're talking more
suspenseful than every sports movie where there is a tie and it comes
down to the last play/second/shot etc. I got ready and laid back. When
she was done she said "Yeah, it's 3cm and about 90%". Then she walked
into the bathroom to wash her hands. Eric, somewhat trepidatiously
asks, "So what does that mean?". Her reply? You really wanna know.
Come on, if you have been on Facebook you already know. Okay fine. Her
words were, "Well, you're not going home". She said it just so it
sounded like "well obviously your not going home crazy person". It was
perfect. She said it just how I would have. A girl after my own heart
I tell ya. Anyway, point is I wasn't stable enough to go home and she
will re-evaluate at 32 weeks. She is also pretty amazing and so she
sat there and chatted with me and Eric about medical and non-medical
stuff for at least an hour. Sorry but you are just not as cool as her.
Get over it.

Yeah, being in the hospital isn't completely awesome. I am currently
suffering from severe Fenway dog withdrawal syndrome. My symptoms
include dreaming he is next to me at night, watching little videos of
him for like an hour at a time and missing him. See how smooth that
was? They should just give me a medical degree. That said, even though
I only write about the ridiculous, it could be a lot worse and I am
certainly not miserable. I think it helps that I had been on bed-ish
rest for several weeks before coming so it's not exactly like my daily
activities have changed tremendously. At home, I laid on the couch all
day watching tv and playing on the computer. At the hospital I lie on
the bed all day watching tv, playing on the computer and crocheting.
At home I wasn't allowed out of the house except to try and get my fat
self to doctor appointments. In the hospital I am only allowed out of
the flor when pushed to an ultrasound and the docs come to me. Not
what I would call a major lifestyle shift if ya get me. Believe it or
not it even has its perks. At home I pay 65 smackers every time I see
a doc plus 42 bucks in cab fare to get there and back. In the hospital
I pay a low flat rate for all you can eat doctor appointments. The
food still sucks though. Don't ever forget that.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I Would Have Gotten Away With It If It Weren't For You Meddling Healthcare Professionals.

The Test
In a very fun and exciting twist I recently found out I am the lucky winner of...Gestational Diabetes! The crowd goes wild. The week before I got put in the clink (so around the 21st) I had to go take my 1 hour glucose challenge. Every preggo has to take it and I am sure we all have the same story to tell. That story is that the garbage they make you drink is beyond horribly disgusting and anyone who says it tastes like orange soda has clearly never drinken orange soda because orange soda doesn't taste like crap. I went to a Quest lab. I had made an appointment the other day. Turns out it didn't matter because the joint was deserted. After ringing the bell at least 3 times, several minutes apart, I was finally buzzed in. The lady at the desk gave me the drink. I somehow didn't throw it up. And we (her, another phlebotomist) watched The Price is Right for an hour. They stole my blood and I was on my way. A couple days later Ms Social (see I Don't Know If Anyone Has Chained You To A Bed) called and let me know I had failed and had to take the three hour. I had a sinking suspicion I had the 'betes. I don't know why I thought so. I had no symptoms I just had a feeling. Anyway, I scheduled myself to do the 3 hour after my doctor appointment on the 27th. Well, we all all know how that appointment went down. It went down with me in a hospital bed wanting to pee desperately. That's how. So I never went to the three hour. Since I was given the steroids in the hospital to beef up all the baby lungs growing in me I couldn't take the test for several days. Apparently the steroids raise blood sugar. I guess. I didn't really ask mostly because any reason to put it off sounded pretty awesome. Anyway, they instead did finger sticks on me four times a day to make sure I wasn't having crazy high levels of blood sugar. They were always higher than they really should be but never in the danger zone where I needed insulin. Although they gave me insulin once even though I was under the number that the order called for. I didn't protest.

About a week after the steroid shots were done I got the word that I would be doing the three hour challenge starting first thing in the morning. The upside was that the nurse would just do it so I didn't have to actually go anywhere. Well, because this is ME we are talking about, I didn't sleep at all the night before. It had nothing to do with the test I just do that from time to time where I don't fall asleep for a night. It's generally no big deal because I nap a little the next day and then sleep nice and sound the following nights. The problem here is that when you are awake you are hungry, like, real hungry. You have to fast for the test so eating was a no no. So, the blood taker came in at 5:30 and of course I was still awake. I gave her my blood and she left. The nurse came in with the drink at like ten to six. Ok. I thought the one hour drink was wretched but heavens to Betsy, I had NO idea what wretched was. This one was Lemon Lime flavored. Instead of having the viscosity of water or soda, like the other one, this drink was more of a syrup. Check it out:

I give you this close up. Notice how it says, "Pleasant LEMON_LIME flavor". That is a horrible lie. They should be sued for false advertising. It should read, "Warning, this crap will make you throw up all over yourself".

By grace of God alone I somehow managed to drink it and keep it all down. I really don't know how I did it on an empty stomach. I felt horribly nauseated from then on but managed to not throw it up. The last thing I wanted to do was have to drink again. Side note, I found out that another patient who had actually thrown up the glucose got to eat 36 jelly beans instead in order to do the test. Why is this not a first option? Anyway, I kept it down. The nurse came an hour after finishing to take the second round of blood. Well, she told me not to sit up because I was nauseous and got her needle into a vein in the crook of my elbow. Good thing no blood cae out. None. Like, not a drop. So, I am not awesome with needles. From the age of about 9 to 21ish I literally fainted EVERY time someone stole my blood or gave me a shot. Without fail, bam, pass out. Luckily, I have gotten much much better and can handle it without fainting. Doesn't change the fact that me + needles does not equal awesome. Being starving, thirsty, hot and horribly nauseous didn't really elevate the situation either. She took out the needle and went for a vein in my hand. This time I sat up cause I was not going to do this three times. She found a vein in my hand and dug in. It took an egregious amount of time, especially since I usually bleed nice and fast. And I was so so close to dropping off. The second that thing came out I let myself drop onto the bed and she brought me some cold washcloths to put on my face. I laid there and stared at the wall for pretty much the entire next hour. An hour after that the day nurse came and took my blood again. It was significantly less dramatic as it was the hour after that. However, by this time I was so over people touching me. I definitely would not have been as horribly grumpy if I had had ANY sleep the night before but, of course, I hadn't. I thought the day would get better. It had to right? How could it get worse? Oh, well, remember that awesome NST (see A Day In The Life Of A Prisoner) I had where the doc had to come in and everyone was pushing me and laying across me to reach things? Yeah, that one. It happened the same day. I knew they were doing an excellent job so I would never be rude to them but after that I literally just wanted to scream "DON'T TOUCH ME!!!!!!" to everyone who walked in the room. Every time they took vitals that day or did my finger pricks I kindof wanted to stab them. More than kindof. I did some excellent yelling inside my head.

The Results
That evening my special resident who is extremely nice and seems quite competent at his job but comes off a little condescending when you are getting to know him, and who we shall call Chris because his name isn't Chris but he looks just like someone whose name is Chris, came to give me the results. You ready? Sure? Make a prediction! Which way do you think it is going to go? You are right. I failed. I think you cheated and saw my Facebook though. He told me that all the levels were elevated and explained what it is and how to treat it, blah blah blah. I told him to go home and do something fun for me. He's so selfish he said he just wanted to sleep because he had to be back at 4:30am anyway. Jerk.

The following day, after a nice sleep, the nutritionist came to talk to me. She gave me my very own special diabetes book:

She did a lovely job telling me all about my new adventure with GD and the exciting things that it would have in store for me. At the top of my list is no more sweets. So, anyone who sees me for like the month after the babies are born will only be allowed in if they come bearing sweets. Cakes, chocolate or sour candy, brownies, ice cream, whatever you have. Those bringing dark chocolate need not apply. You will not be accepted. The GD is actually completely manageable and considering all the terrible complications every doctor I spoke to at the beginning of this pregnancy told me would happen, this isn't a bad one. Plus, I only have to make reasonable nutritional choices for like 6 weeks at the most so no big deal. Also, I can still have Chipotle, just no tortilla. Of course that was the first thing I checked. What did you think would be the first thing on my mind? Don't underestimate me.

During the afternoon the diabetes educator came by with another pamphlet all about GD. She introduced herself and asked me to read the pamphlet and she would be back the next day to discuss. She did in fact return the next day to discuss. She was not old at all but she had that old grandmother feel to her. She was dripping in sweetness and lacking in sense of humor. I am incapable of having a completely genuine conversation with a person and rely heavily on sarcasm to cover my idiocy. Most of the time this gets me by. However, this lady did not get sarcasm. It made for some awkward moments of me explaining that my comments were a joke. In the end she was very helpful in showing me how to use my uber-sexy techno gadget, a diabetes meter. I know. Stop being jealous. Not everyone can live up to the high bar of immense coolness that I set.

Now I get to wonder how much this is going to cost me considering I find that often my insurance blows.

A Day In The Life Of A Prisoner

You might be wondering what the heck one does stuck in one room 24 hours a day. Think of it like prison with visitors. Some prisoners bulk up with handmade weights. I bulk up, mostly around the belly, using nature-made babies. Inmates are allowed to care for their personal hygiene, as am I. In fact, I have finally created a system to shave my legs. Let me be clear. Leg shaving is difficult when you can't actually reach past your knees while standing. It leaves those legs "patchy" to say the least. At home I can sit on the side of the tub and put my leg up and get to my calves that way. At the hospital they only have those tiny stand up showers where it is impossible to keep the water in the shower so you flood the bathroom every darn time you cleanse yourself. Then you have to dry off while standing in the ridiculous pool of water before you can use your towel to mop it all up. Then your feet just feel dirty from wading around in that so you have to wash them in the sink before putting lotion on. Maybe the last part is just me... Anyway, my shaving system. It requires much prep time and many props. I take a chair from the room (it's like a dining chair) and place it right in front of the shower. Then I get down the razor and body wash and put them on the chair. I cannot undress because after this I have to go put the chair away or I can't get into the shower because the bathroom is too small. So, I roll up my pants and get the shower head down (its one of those that is on a hose so you can manipulate it). Sitting in the chair with my legs in the shower I use my left hand t hold the shower head the entire time so it doesn't spray water all over the place and my right hand applies the soap and shaves the calves and knees. It takes a long time but I can do it and that is what matters. Here is a photo of my setup:

Prisoners have to do chores, to earn their keep. I have to do tests. Monday and Thursday we do NSTs (Please refer to I Don't Know If Anyone Has Chained You To A Bed) during the day shift and then during those night shifts fetal heart checks are done. They use the same equipment but an NST is 20 minutes of uninterrupted monitoring with the Toco (contraction monitor) and a heart check is one minute monitoring all baby hearts. On other days we do fetal heart checks followed by 20 minutes on toco only during the day shift and then fetal monitoring only during the night shift. Sometimes, these checks are easy and it only takes a few minutes to get a minute of monitoring or half hour to get a 20 minute NST. Somestimes, though, the babies are bad bad babies and hide from everyone. These occasions are not fun. First, I have to be on my back. Yeah, I've discussed it so often I won't bore you again with how absolutely ridiculous this position is for me. Secondly, people have to cover my belly in gel and push with all their might into my already very full and very contraction-y belly. Generally, after the nurse sets up the monitors and gets all the babies on she can go do her business while they get their required time on. Well, Monday's NST took....(insert mystery music here)...TWO HOURS. The poor nurse had to hold the monitors on at all kinds of awkward angles to actually be able to pick up the heart beats. Monday was a bad day anyway and this made me rather grumpy (sense the sarcastic understatement-ness of the last line? If not, go back and read it again with that tone). Wednesday's one minute fetal heart check took not only a whole hour it also took both a nurse AND a doctor to first, find everyone and then keep everyone on. They are so nice and keep saying, "If it's too much pressure make sure and let us know" as they push as hard as they can on all parts of my very hard belly. Of course I don't say anything. I'd rather just not be able to breathe for a while and get it over with. If they have to move then this whole thing is just going to take longer. Ridiculous. I told the babies that as soon as they cae out they were going straight to their incubators to think about their behavior. Following that lovely check I got to do Toco for 20 which really isn't bad at all. I can lay on my side and relax. I was pretty surprised after all that drama that I actually passed and didn't have to go on the IV. I was contracting every 3 minutes but that's pretty normal for me these days. I was very proud of my uterus.

These are the machines they use to measure all that stuff:

And this is what goes on my belly while they do that. Obviously I took this pic on an easy day. You can tell because there aren't a hundred people sitting on the bed pushing their hands and my stomach every which way.

Finally, convicts pick up new skills. Martha got a lovely crochet shawl from her inmate friend so I thought, of course, I'll teach myself to crochet. The first task was to wind the skeins into balls. This happened....twice:

So, not sure how well the actual crocheting will go considering I even made a ridiculous mess of the preparation. Doesn't bode well anyway.

Like, Oh My Word, Like, You Wanna See My Room?

Okay. Here it is.

First stop- my nest. I have created a nest on my bed so that the belly has cushioning on whichever side I am laying on. Tied to the bed are: my phone cord, my computer cord, the tv remote (it has a cord), the call button and the cord for the light switch. This way, I don't have to move this massive structure around every time I want to change the channel. Also, I can hang my glasses on the knots at night so they are easy to find in the wee hours when hundreds of doctors descend on me.

This is my information board. Almost none of that actually applies to me since I have not had my baby yet.

Here is the view from my window. I usually have to keep the shade drawn because, as I have said, it's 111 degrees in here. Remember, they cooled it down from 112.

This is my clock. For the first week-ish only the second hand moved. One of my favorite nurses took the initiative to change the battery so now it looks like the second picture. Yes, the time is 3:55. What do you mean it's confusing? Just because the hour hand is actually past the 4 even though its still only 3:55. Pathetic you guys. Learn to problem solve.

This is Eric napping in my bed on the weekend. Its a cozy nest when there are two chickens in there. Especially if one chicken is the size of a manatee!

Just so we are clear. I HATE IVs. I now look like I have some sort of frightening disease because they have to change the IV site every few days so my wrists each have two holes and counting. I wonder if the number of holes makes me easier for the aliens to track. Uh oh.

Hope you enjoyed the tour. Tune in next time to hear a little about my daily activities. Bye bye now.

Home Sweet Hospital

After my night of torture and terror, where I was saved only by a holy angel, Dr Devine re-checked my cervix and it hadn't changed anymore. This is good news. You can undilate or unefface but as long as it isn't progressing you are good. So, they deemed me stable enough to move back to the good old antepartum ward. Gee, I missed it there so much! Late in the afternoon a private room had opened up so they put me in there. Of course I was transferred right at dinner time so I missed dinner upstairs and downstairs. I had to ask the nurse about dinner. Well, perhaps you remember how well this went the last time. She informs me that I should have gotten dinner upstairs and that she doesn't believe there are any trays left. Ok, I don't know what to tell you lady. It's not like I was darting through the halls avoiding the dinner man on purpose. I am pretty sure I can't go from 12:30pm to the following day at 8:30 am without food. If you want me to go out and grab myself something that's fine. I would be happy too. After making sure I knew how utterly ridiculous it was that I did not take responsibility and demand to have dinner before I left, she went off to find me something. Despite her disgust she managed to wrangle me a tray from pediatrics so I had chicken nuggets and potatoes shaped like smiley faces.

I soon settled into a routine. I go to bed around 1am, wake up at 5:30 for vitals, stay awake until after breakfast, take catnaps between monitoring sessions and finger pricks until lunch. Then I really get into my day. I watch movies, play on the internet and chat with my buddy in Dallas who is only one day ahead of me and also confined to the hospital. I make sure to get in the requisite 4-5 hours of Animal Cops. I honestly do not know how there are so many episodes of that show. I watch everyday for hours and have only seen a couple reruns. It's amazing. They should get an award.

Everyday 30 or 40 people ask me the same questions and tell me to make sure I tell someone if anything changes. Yeah, got it. Early in the mornings there is lots of hustle and bustle. First, it's vital checks, then finger pricks for blood sugar, then your resident comes in to check on you and then about half the time you get to have teaching rounds come in. I love teaching rounds. They are so awkward but so hilarious. So, it's the attending, a couple residents and a bunch of students all come into your room at like 6am (so if I have dozed off a little I get a nice big awakening). The attending does the talking, asking the same questions that everyone asks all day long and then she looks around at everyone and if a resident wants to pipe in, they can. I try and say hello to everyone but look at the students because they are clearly the least at ease in the situation. Afterward there are a few more people checking up on you and then breakfast comes around 8:30.

Some things are great here. I have no doubt that if I actually needed specific medical attention I would get it immediately and it would be excellent. The problem really comes in that this is a big, big, big hospital and as with any huge organization there is bureaucracy. For instance, I wanted to get Eric a discounted parking pass. All you need is a letter from your doctor that states when your stay began and anticipates how long it will be. The website says to ask your social worker about it. First, I wasn't aware I had a social worker. Well, we knew the parking office was closed through the weekend so I said I would take care of it Monday. In the morning I asked the nurse to request the social worker get me the letter. No social worker Monday. I asked the nurse AND Patient Accommodations about the social worker on Tuesday. I waited and waited and about 4:30 (because parking closes at 5) I called the doctor's office myself. They are happy to give me a letter with the pertinent information but they will only fax it to my personal fax. They will not fax it to parking. At first, I didn't know what the heck to do. Clearly I don't have a personal fax here in the hospital. When I explain that I don't actually have a fax machine in the hospital she says to ask the nurse if I can fax it to the nurse's station. I am pressed for time so I hurry and ask. No. That fax machine is broken. Why wouldn't it be? Thankfully, I realize that Eric has a fax machine at school. I call his school and ask for the fax number. I call back the doctor's office and give them the number. It's past five now so there isn't much more I can do. When Eric is off work he calls and tells me their fax machine was out of toner so no fax. Good grief. I was wondering if this simple thing could be ANY more difficult. I realize that even when he does get the letter, parking closes at 5 and Eric doesn't get out til 7 so I really don't know how he is ever going to get this pass. By the grace of heaven he gets the fax the following day after the toner is changed. I call parking and they let me know that he will be able to pick it up in the garage after hours. He finally got the stupid pass almost a week after I was admitted. Timely.

The other thing that should have been easy but turned into an epic battle was re-filling the soap machine. I wasn't sure who did this so I asked the nurse. She spoke to the front desk about it one day. No soap refill. She spoke to someone about it the next day. No soap. I asked the Patient Accommodations lady the following day. No soap. Finally, after 5 days, a different nurse tracked down housekeeping and that afternoon the soap was actually refilled. I felt like kissing her. I felt like I had completed my odyssey and could die a happy woman. Homer will write epic narratives about my adventures.

So, I have mentioned this is a teaching hospital. Also, it's just a hospital (I know, surprising). That means that instead of seeing a doctor, you see bunches of them. Some attendings, some residents, some fellows, etc etc etc. It's just whomever is on that day. I think that the more minds working on a problem the better, most of the time. However, you should really get your act together before talking about plans with a patient. One day, the nurse came in telling me the doctors wanted to know about my "social situation" meaning where do I live, how many flights of stairs, who do I live with, etc.. This was kindof out of the blue so I asked her why they wanted to know and she said she wasn't sure but it didn't take a brain surgeon to realize they were thinking about sending me home. At this point I had only been really stable for a few days so I was a little worried about going home. Of course, no doctor ever came to discuss their thoughts with me. I am just the measly patient, right? The nurse asked a resident who just told her they were debating in-patient vs. out-patient care for me. Discussing it amongst themselves but obviously not discussing it with me. So the next morning my resident tells me he is going to try and get me released. He didn't ask any questions or inquire about how I might feel about that. No, no. He just smiled and left. That night before leaving the attending, Dr Calm came by to check in. She clearly hadn't planned on saying anything to me so finally I asked her about it and she was quite surprised that anyone had said anything to me. She said that at some point I may go home but certainly not that week and that if that decision needed to be made we would discuss my concerns before making a final decisions. I was happy with that answer but still a little irked that I had been told a bunch of different, vague things by different people putting me on this roller-coaster of "What was going to happen?". A couple days later my actual doctor was on and we had a nice discussion about it. She said that when she had heard that they were thinking of releasing me she had said just said no and made them realize that it wasn't time. We discussed that it is a teaching hospital and part of what they had to learn was how to present a plan to a patient. I assured her I really wasn't mad at anybody. I wasn't, just confused. She's pretty awesome so I was down with it. Her plan is to check me on Friday (the 11th) and decide from there based on what she sees. That made so much sense to me.

So, wanna know what I look like now? Like this:

A Passion for Urination

Following my first descent into the underworld of medical care (aka hospital stay 1) it was made very clear to me that if my cervix showed any significant changes during my weekly ultrasounds I would be thrown back in to be fed on by the nurses of antepartum. It made every ultrasound a more thrilling and suspenseful experience. Since I was lacking in thrill and suspense in my daily life, due to its home-bound nature, I welcomed the excitement.

It was a cold and blustery day in January, the 27th, to be exact. I exited my town car (read taxi) and climbed the harrowing distance to the door. Alright, too slow. I went to my ultrasound and, Yippee, my cervix was about 1.6 so no real change. Also, Eric got in trouble for using the wrong chair. I warned him not to bring in a different chair but he assured me no one would even notice but what was the first thing the tech noticed. Oh , you know what it was. She made him re-arrange but let him keep his choice of chair. Anyhoo, I then skipped giddily over to the doctor's waiting room, assured of my going home by the excellent cervical measurement. Eric had a snow day so he actually got to come with me which was exciting in itself. They were very backed up due to people not being able to get there for work and just the weather in general so we waited for at least an hour and a half. When we finally went back it was business as usual. Got my weight, checked the ultrasound report for the cervical length, etc. The doctor came in shortly and was asking about how I was feeling. I told her that my uterus had been feeling a lot tighter for significantly longer periods of time but it wasn't painful or regular or accompanied by cramping so it was probably fine. She delved a little deeper asking exactly what the tightening felt like, how long it had been lasting, how long it was lasting now, etc. Apparently, my idea of normal was actually NOT normal (typical right?). She was pretty concerned with the fact that I was literally contracting all the time. She did a cervical exam and I was 2cm dilated and 80% effaced. So, I bet you can't guess where I went.... Oh, how did you know? You're right. Back to the hospital. Luckily, I was significantly less petrified this time for several reasons. First, this was old hat now. I had done the whole l&d triage thing twice before. Second, I knew that no matter how the doctor's were talking, it didn't actually mean the babies were for sure coming right away. Third, we were past the magic 28 weeks which meant that, barring any outside complications, their chance of survival was in the high 90%s and their risk of long-term, debilitating effects such as cerebral palsy was greatly diminished.

The docs did the usual shenanigans. They hooked me up to thousands of monitors, checked my cervix for themselves, etc. They did notice that I was pretty much contracting every 2-4 minutes (this had been happening 24 hours a day for at least a week). Given the cervix and the contractions they had good reason to believe that true labor could be starting. They had 2 goals at this point, a. stopping the labor and b. preparing the babies in case they couldn't.

*All my sexy monitors. There are 3 heart monitors, 2 contractions monitors, a blood oxygen monitor and a blood pressure cuff. These stayed on throughout the night and added to that were more leg squeezers.*

Thus begins the true tale of horror and torture. I was not taken to the cozy antepartum ward where I spent those 5 carefree days in early January. I was taken to the high-risk area because I needed continuous monitoring, meaning the contraction monitor and fetal monitors needed to stay on at all times.

This is how I got into drugs. First they started me on a Magnesium Sulfate drip. This can help with contractions and also helps the babies’ brains develop a bit more quickly. The drug itself was a trip, especially in the beginning because they start you on a very high dose for the first half hour before lowering the dose for the remainder. I was sweating like a fat, fat pig, shaking, extremely drowsy and frankly, a little delirious. I tried calling my father just to say hi and he said I sounded pretty loopy. The Mag was through an IV (my favorite) that they also used to feed me fluids and some sort of sugar water since I hadn’t eaten since breakfast and couldn’t eat on the Mag. They also started round two of steroid shots. Each round is two shots given 24 hours apart and the babies can receive a total of two rounds. The last time I was in the hospital they gave me round one. So, this time they started round 2. Finally, they gave me some indomethacin orally which is supposed to help stop the contractions. So I was getting drugs through an IV, shots and pills. Someone should probably call Intervenion.

I looked amazing.

I wish I could say that the drugs were the bad part, especially the Mag which I have heard many understandable complaints about. Unfortunately, my real problem was a policy. Hospital policy is that patients on Magnesium Sulfate drips are not allowed to walk. Supposedly the drug can suddenly make you really weak and you can collapse. Well, think of one place I might need to walk to every half hour or so. Keep thinking. Got it? Yep. The bathroom. I was not allowed to walk to the bathroom. The first nurse I had while I was there had me try a bedpan by lying in bed and sticking it under my butt and telling me to just go. Right. Of course. Just retrain your body after years of teaching it to NOT pee the bed. No biggie. Clearly I couldn’t do it. Even though I really had to pee I could not pee while lying in bed. This has to be the only time this could ever be considered a negative. So, she inserted a catheter. Alright, I expected it to hurt going in. It did. Fine. I am not a whiner so I didn’t complain. Here is what I was not expecting. I already had that holy-crap-I’m-about-to-pee-my-pants, have-to-go-so-bad-it-hurts-like-a-mother feeling. When the catheter was in and very visibly working that feeling didn’t go away. It got worse and worse and more and more painful. I promise you I am not much of a complainer. They do all kinds of weird and uncomfortable things to me here and I always say, “No, I’m fine. It feels fine. Don’t worry about it.” After about three hours of that feeling and the pain that goes with it increasing I just started bawling. It hurt so incredibly badly. Of course, even though I had been telling the nurse that it was hurting, she simply couldn’t believe that it hurt that badly. Her comment to me was, "If it's uncomfortable enough to prevent you from sleeping we can take it out and re-insert when you need it." Seriously, "if it's preventing me from sleeping"? IT'S PREVENTING ME FROM BREATHING you crazy woman!!!! I told her she had to take it out, which she did. Well, when she pulled it out did that feeling go away? No. This is me we are talking about. Of course it didn’t. So I’m bawling and telling her it still hurts and she’s asking, “Why are you crying? Are you scared?” Are you scared? Are you kidding me? Though I may be crying my communication skills have not been that impaired. I am telling you why I am crying. It hurts. She is unable to process this information. Lucky for both me and her, her shift is over.

*Eric took these lovely shots while I was on all the medicine and having fun with the catheter. I especially like the top one where I look like I belong on the exorcist.*

*In the middle of the second shot is the back of the nurse's head*

Then an angel arrives. A sweet sweet angel sent from God himself. A woman I will never forget. After the catheter is out I know that my bladder is empty so trying the bedpan again will do nothing. The doctor comes by and tells me I am allowed water, which is such excellent news. I am parched since I haven’t had any water since breakfast. Also, because of the monitors I have had to lie on my back, which makes my nose completely clogged, impassible by even the slightest stream of air. Therefore I have been breathing out of my mouth for a few hours and have had no water. The other excellent news she brings is that the fetal heart monitors can come off and only one contraction monitor has to stay on. Hallelujah. Unfortunately, all of this is overshadowed by the intensely-sharp and unrelenting pain in my bladder region. This is where the angel comes in. I tell my new night nurse that I have to try the bedpan again. I am just praying I can go because it’s now been a totally of about 5 ½ hours since this feeling started. I told her that I wasn’t able to do it when the other nurse tried. And that sweet sweet angel said she would put it on a chair right next to my bed so it was more “toilet-like”. It actually worked. I have never in my life experienced such joy and happiness as I did when I finally peed that night. I had no idea I could ever have such a passion for urination. The immensely lightening feeling of relief made me want to cry. It was such a beautiful, beautiful thing. I have my doubts about my babies’ birth being able to live up to the ecstasy felt that day. She then took care of the bedpan and put it back on the chair so I could just use it whenever I needed to. I made excellent use of it. The Mag infusion finished at around 3:30 am and they also took the contraction monitor off at that time. I could finally roll on my side, use a real toilet and drink real water. After watching some Netflix on my phone I eventually fell asleep for a couple of hours. Dreaming about my new love, peeing.

Even In First Grade The Rule Is No Secrets

Well, I went for another fetal echocardiogram (yay, another $65 co-pay) during my house arrest period in January. Luckily, this one was in a different department than the last one (please refer to Choices, Choices, Choices). I don't know if I could have handled one more there.

My appointment had been for 1:30 but they had called and requested I come in early, at 12:45, because the doctor needed to leave early that day. I was ecstatic. Certainly, the wait would be diminished if the doctor wanted to leave! When I arrived there was no one in the waiting area. Like, literally, the receptionist was the only person there. I took this as an excellent sign. Well, I'm an idiot. I have been going to appointments several times a month for several months so you would think I would learn a thing or two. You would think wrong. I sat by myself in the waiting room for an hour, watching others come later than me and be called to their various appointments before me.

Finally it was my turn. I wanted to jump and scream like the next contestant on The Price is Right but somehow I held it all inside. It was the same tech that I had had before, for that ultrasound where I may have, okay, DID fart on her. She pretended not to remember and so did I. I think that was best for all parties involved. Luckily she is very nice and very "quirky" so I didn't feel too shameful for the ENTIRE time I was there. I believe I felt just the right amount of shame, actually. Before we even started two doctors came in. I don't have any idea what their names were so let's just call them Twiddly Dee and Twiddly Awkward. Firstly, this was my third fetal echo so I am pretty clear on procedure. The doc never never comes in until the tech finishes getting everything she can. This usually takes at least an hour. Second, I knew the doctor that would be doing the echo and this wasn't her. The twiddlies introduced themselves and then sat down while the tech began the scanning. As the tech was going through all the pieces Twiddly Awkward (who was clearly above Twiddly Dee) was explaining different parts of the anatomy that were being seen and what it should look like and what it might look like if there were a problem. I enjoyed this and thought it was interesting. Well, eventually, they started saying the same type of stuff, nothing specific about me per se but they decided to whisper. It was really weird. There are only 4 people in the room and I can tell they aren't saying anything confidential, just teaching so what is the whispering about? If you came to my classroom I wouldn't spend the entire time whispering to my associate. It's weird. Considering my lack of social adjustment, if I think it's weird then honestly, it must be really weird. So, eventually the main doc, who I am kindof in love with, we'll call her Dr Calm, poked her head in and asked what the progress was. She then told the tech to come get her when she was finished and that would give Twiddly Awkward enough time to do her turn. Insert abrupt scratchy record stop here. What is going on? Apparently Twiddly Awkward is going to look too. It's obviously not a big deal and will help pass the time waiting for Dr Calm but I wonder why she is looking. I have done this enough times to know this isn't standard. In no way did I get any sense that it was cause something was wrong but I was still super curious as to why she was looking. Well, when her turn finally came she was asking the tech a lot of questions about getting a better view and what certain vessels were on the screen so she obviously wasn't an expert. I thought maybe she was doing some data collection type research or just practicing her own skills because she may be a resident or a fellow or something. When she was at the machine I decided perhaps I could talk to her, considering she must be done whispering by now. I asked her what she was looking at, etc etc. All the answer she gave me was that she was looking at the same things the tech had been looking at. Wow. Thanks for that most informative answer. Just so we are clear, I don't care who looks at me or studies me or uses me as a teaching tool. I am at a teaching hospital so I actually hope they are teaching the students. However, I'm not sure why we are being all cloak and dagger about the whole thing. I highly doubt state secrets are depending on you not telling me what you and your Twiddly Dee are learning. As soon as she was done, she said goodbye and left, Twiddly Dee following right on her heels. Eventually Dr Calm came in and finished up. She said everything looked great and reminded me of the problems they cannot see until birth yadda yadda yadda.

Despite the dozens of doctors I have seen since then I have never seen either Twiddly again. I am pretty sure they were the aliens, tracking me through "the mark" (please refer to My First Descent).

Craving Olive Garden Can't Be a Good Sign

After my thoroughly engrossing adventure of hospital stay number one, I was put on house arrest. The only fresh air allowed was taking baby dog out so he didn't crap all over the house. Your mind does crazy things when you watch this much OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network). I find that Olive Garden is possibly the most disgusting restaurant on the planet. I am pretty sure their food comes from a local Chinese Restaurant, is made solely of powdered food products (Lynette, you know what I'm talkin' 'bout girl) and may be used as a weapon of mass destruction should that time come. Well, after a couple weeks trapped in the apartment I started seeing Olive Garden commercials all too often and started to really crave it. Like, my mouth would water at the sight. Don't worry, I didn't give in. I'm just saying "cabin fever" is real.

I wish there were more interesting things to say about being at home but there isn't. Nothing is interesting about watching hours of television interrupted only by a striking need for food and several hundred pee breaks. I was lucky enough to get some visitors that dared enter my existential and literal prison. None of them left alive! Okay, maybe that last part is an exaggeration. Or Maybe it isn't.

My First Descent

This is me looking incredibly attractive for a patient. It's a wonder that all the doctors didn't immediately fall in love with me. They probably did but realized they needed to keep it professional.

This is what Eric did.

These are the chains that bind me to my bed. What would MLK say about this cruel abuse of power?

Ew. IV hookups are creepy and weird.

And they mark you for life. I think this must be how the aliens mark their abductees. So they always know.... Scully knows what I'm talking about.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I Dont Know If Anyone Has Chained You To A Bed.

Well, on the fateful night of Jan 6th...okay, it wasn't night but I think that adds a lot of suspense. Anyway, on that fateful night of January 6th I went to... guess. Come on it's easy. It's literally the only place I am allowed to go. YES. YOU GOT IT! I went to the doctor. The last time I was there my cervix had dropped to 2.2 and when they checked it this time...dun dun dun (that's suspense music) was only 1.7. Well, the doctor went into management mode and COMPLETELY freaked me out. They started talking about what would happen if the babies came immediately and the things they were going to do for the babies, etc. Well, I knew I was pretty fond of the babies but apparently I'm actually like really into them because I just started bawling (not that that's rare anymore but it's generally ONLY with Eric). So it's me, the ultrasound doctor and the tech and everyone's just watching me cry and saying really unhelpful things like, "Hey you are at 25 weeks. That's a week past survival." I mean, really? That's the best you can come up with? How about something more like, "We don't know that the babies are coming right now so let's just monitor and find out." Yeah, stick that in your bag of tricks you medical professionals you. Anyway, since my doctor happened to be just down the hall they went and got her. I'm pretty sure they did it mostly because they were just feeling awkward about all the crying. I know I was feeling awkward about it (shocker). She was very nice and helpful but wanted to take me down to her office. So, the list of people who get to see me cry like a little girl who lost her balloon began to grow. First person I pass, Ug (please refer to Whose Urine Is That In There) , on the way out. Then I pass by the main waiting room with it's many patients and the three ladies who work at the desk. Finally we get to her office area where I get to continue my absolute public spectacle in front of 2 receptionists, 3 nurses and another patient. Oh yeah, and some random who came to ask a question. All I can do is keep apologizing for crying and of course everyone is saying it's okay because let's be real my people, what the heck else are you supposed to say to a 175 pound (at the time), gurgling, messy creature? Nothing else. There's nothing else to say.

The nurse practitioner wheeled me over to triage and dropped me off. It's really awkward to be wheeled in a wheelchair in case you were wondering. It makes me feel really self-conscious and just....creepy. Apparently the hospital is also a labyrinth. We had to encounter many strange and frightening creatures as well as take several back alley paths in order to reach our destination. I kindof wondered if NP, let's call her Ms Social, would be crowned queen or at least win the snitch if/when we finally made it. It reminded me of an unfortunate period of time in my life when I had to live at Pace University for Teach For America (This is WAY off topic so bear with me). Every time we wanted to go to our rooms we had to go through a side exterior door that was labeled as the theater. Go to a desk. Show our ID cards. Choose the correct of two elevators. Take that elevator to a certain floor. Get out. Show IDs again. Go to another elevator. Take that to our living floor. Get out. Use a key to enter the main floor doors. Find our room and use another key to enter the room. Heaven forbid you needed to run out for a snack. Back to the story. Getting to triage we had to take certain elevators down to a floor. Get off. Go through a million hallways and through a sort-of tunnel. Get on some other elevators, take them up to the floor triage was on, get out, go through some construction before we finally reached our destination. Whew. But, we did finally make it and it gave me enough time to end the public displays of emotion that had been humiliating me.

Upon arrival, the first thing they do is make you go to the bathroom, take off your clothes and put on a small gown. Sweet. Next they put you on 1 monitor for each baby (so, that's 3) and 1 or 2 Toco monitors (measure contractions) and see what happens. The babies heartbeats were fine and they were showing no signs of distress. I don't know what these babies have to stress about. I feed them and give them blood and carry them everywhere I go and talk to them (but only when I am alone because I look a little nutso otherwise). There were some contractions but they eventually simmered down. Then you wait around for a really long time being denied food and water. It's like prison that way.  In this instance a doctor eventually came in and did a cervical check which is pretty great and really comfortable. She found no dilation or effacement. Then we waited around for a long time again but I was at least allowed water this time. Finally, they had a bed ready in the antepartum ward and we got moved down there. This was like 9:30. I hadn't eaten since 1 and let me tell you, this beast needs to be fed regularly. Since I had a shared room the first night Eric wasn't allowed to stay past 10. We asked the nurse about food and she just said dinner was over but she would look around. She definitely gave me the impression that that was a sillly thing to ask and what could I possibly need food for at this hour? Eventually though she found me a turkey sandwich so I ate and Eric left. The first night I shared my room with a nice lady who didn't speak much English. I stayed up late watching Netflix on my phone and fiddling around. In the morning I introduced myself to her and we actually had a conversation between her few English words and my few Spanish words. She was very nice but was moved in the afternoon. Before nightfall I had another roommate come in, this time a lady who was an orthodox jew and her husband. They were trying to have shabbat but of course that is difficult with millions of people coming in and out.

The first night I was hooked to an IV for fluids to stop the contractions I was having. Being that this was the first time I had been on an IV awake I learned that it is really quite annoying. It's not all glamorous like it is in the movies. The regulator thingymabob (that is the technical term for it) has to be plugged into the wall so every time you want to get up to go pee (which for me is about every 15-45 minutes) you have to unplug it, drag it around with you, and then plug it back in. It's amazing the cognitive ability required to unplug something in the middle of the night! Oh, and if you fall asleep and the bag runs out...yeah, that happened. I finally fall into a medium sleep and this screaming BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP starts going off. I bolt up to a sitting position. I am completely disoriented about being in a foreign place. The thing is going off for about 15 minutes and nobody comes to do anything. I swear on my hamster Hammy's grave you could hear this baby on the other side of the building. Finally I hit the call button and tell them it won't stop going off. Wait another 15 minutes. NOBODY COMES. I don't know about you but I am SOSOSOSO irritible when I am woken up in the middle of the night and this was just pissing me off. Finally I turn the thing off myself only to have it come back on every 3 minutes or so. After about an hour the nurse comes in and is so surprised that it had been going off. Really? So, the incessant beeping as well as me hitting the call button did nothing? Really? Your that surprised? Oooookkkkaayyy.

When I was in the clink this first time, everybody told me the same thing. Enjoy the sleep. Well, after having actually experienced a hospital stay, I can now safely say that you are all ridiculous creatures who have clearly never actually hung out in a hospital. Sleep? When do I do that? When someone's monitor isn't going off? When the nurse isn't coming in during the night to give medicine? When vital checks aren't happening every 5 minutes because certainly my blood pressure must have dropped in the last 11 seconds so we should check AGAIN? Also, I don't know if anyone has chained you to a bed (and I don't think I want to know about it, now that I think through that...) but it's less than comfortable. I had to wear these leg-squeezer machines. They are cloth pieces that wrap around your calves and every couple minutes inflate with air squeezing your legs. Apparently blood clots are frowned upon here. Well, those have to be hooked up to a machine at the bottom of your bed. Good luck rolling over with your legs tied to the end of your bed. So, Yeah, I'll go ahead and enjoy that sleep. All 38 seconds of it. Thanks for the swell advice.

I only got in trouble a few times and it was always for not wearing socks. Maybe all the nurses out there (Anita, Lacey, Aubreigh, etc) can tell me what this strange fascination is with socks that you people seem to have. I don't wear socks because it's approximately 112 degrees in this hospital. The nurses did ask them to try and make the room cooler so it was then about 111 degrees. Back to the point. It's too hot for socks! Yet, every time a nurse came in and noticed I had no socks on she (I had no murses, sadly) would tell me to wear socks and give me more hospital socks. Eric was in heaven because he loves hospital socks and I collected at least 5 pair for him. All ladies sized. I would usually say thank you and assure the sock pusher that I would put them on when I cooled down. Is this why you become nurses? Your sick sock fetishes?

The stay was pretty uneventful. They did NSTs (Non-stress tests) every day where they listen to the babies and monitor contractions for 20 continuous minutes. The babies, at this time anyway, were pretty good about staying on. Honestly, I'm only introducing the NST here because during my next hospital stay they got a loooot (Hahaha, this word looks like loot but its actually lot with superflous o's) more interesting. I watched a lot of television and since the stay was over the weekend Eric was there to entertain and delight me with the snap of my fingers. I snapped for him often.

When Monday rolled around they did an ultrasound to check my cervix and it was 1.9. Since it obviously wasn't shortening too quickly I was deemed stable enough (physically, not mentally, duh) to go home. So...I did. However I had to restrict myself to the house except to take Fenway out front. I made sure I asked the doc about that and she cleared it. Aye Aye Captain.

You want to know the best/most pathetic thing about being in the hospital? It was CHEAPER than not being in the hospital. Hilarious right. Yeah, I'm rolling in laughter.