Thursday, June 26, 2008

No Rest For The Weary

Sorry about the lack of posting but I've been a bit out of it the last two days as the Alta Bates doctors have struggled to come up with an adequate level of medication for my pain -- either it's too much or too little, but it's been tough finding that "sweet spot."

For the most part, the various medications I'm on are doing a decent job of dulling the pain, but it's still there. I'm not sure if it's ever going to completely go away until I'm healed, though, so maybe it's supposed to sort of always be there. Life tends to be best just after I get a shot of dilaudid, but when that wears off, the pain comes back.

Yesterday my pain doc upped both the available frequency and the dosage of dilaudid in pill form, so in my eagerness to control the pain, I had a shot and three pills at 11 AM and then again at 1 PM. Shortly thereafter, I was a groggy mess -- definitely too much medication. Whoops. I gave it several hours before taking anything again so I could get my mind and body back under control.

So, here it is Thursday mid-day and I've received several texts and emails asking if I'm okay, since the blog has been out of commission. Thanks for the concern -- I'm here and I'm fine, and in the "Best News of the Day" Dept., it looks like they are going to send me home tomorrow with two new pain med prescriptions. The thought of my own bed and some unimpeded rest is tantalizing.

See, as I've written before, hospitals are not a place for people to actually sleep. There are a variety of reasons for this; for me personally, one is that since I've been here at Alta Bates, I've been on constant IV drip nutrients. The good side of this is that I've gained a little weight -- you can see it in my face and feel it in my gut. The downside is twofold: a) it suppresses my appetite (so I haven't eaten much since I've been here) -- but more importantly 2) it keeps me constantly hydrated and constantly having to relieve myself. We're talking multiple times an hour here. Ergo, do the math: it's impossible for me to sleep for any large stretches of time because I'm continually needing to go wee-wee!

(Sorry for the above terminology, but we had to change the original description since this is a family blog. --Ed)

And remember how earlier in the week, I said that the nurses here were far less intrusive than they were at Stanford? Well, scratch that. Bottom line is that, during business hours (5 AM to around 11 PM), most hospitals are probably pretty much the same in terms of how often they will disturb a patient for any number of things. If you can grab some sleep in the off-hours (which, thanks to the aforementioned IV drip, I really can't), then all power to you -- but from before sunup until after sundown, there will be any number of nurses, nursing assistants, doctors, surgeons, clinicians, dietitians, service volunteers, custodians, specialists, and the like who will come and go as they please, performing their various tasks both in your room and on your body, guaranteeing that you will not sniff an ounce of undisturbed rest for the vast majority of your day.

It's not that I don't think these people are unnecessary or that I don't appreciate them; everyone's got a job to do and for the most part, all the pieces fit together to move the patient forward to the point where they can go home. It's just that at certain points, the timing of the whole thing is actually comical -- for instance, I'll get a pain shot that leaves me sleepy and relatively pain-free, and all I want to do is catch some shut-eye. Then, over the course of the next 90 minutes, I will get the two-cursory-door-knocks-and-then-enter routine from:

* An assistant who needs to take my vitals;
* A surgeon who wants to check my stomach to see if the scar is healing;
* A custodian who is swapping out the garbage bags;
* A clinician making her rounds, who wants to talk about medications I'm taking;
* A nurse, who checks in to see if I need anything;
* A dietitian, who wants to get my food selections for tomorrow;
* Another dietitian, who wants to talk about my appetite;
* Another doctor making the rounds that wants to see if my scar is healing;

and so on.

(I can't tell you how many people each day check my scar to see if it's healing correctly. I expect they'll be holding some sort of public symposium on it before long.)

These people tend to arrive at intervals ranging from 7-15 minutes apart from each other; before long, the 90-minute window of relatively pain-free sleep opportunity has closed, and now it's lather, rinse, repeat until the lights go out late at night, the hustle and bustle shuts down, there is a more definitive chance to get some real sleep... and I keep going wee-wee three times an hour through the night.

So. That having been said, as you can see, I'm really, really tired at this point -- but the fact is, until I get home, I'll just have to live with being really, really tired. And yes, I know it's all part of the process of getting better, but the simple act of sleeping is really integral to that process as well, and it's cruelly ironic that a hospital is one of the worst places for a sleep-deprived person to be.

Ah well. Like I said, everyone's got a role to play and I appreciate that. The people here have been good to me, and it's just another step in a long healing process -- and there'll still be a long ways to go on this journey once I get home. My parents had a consultation with Dr. Jacobs at Stanford yesterday to discuss the upcoming chemo plan, and we'll have a similar meeting with Dr. Checci here at Alta Bates probably sometime next week, since I'll likely be doing my chemo here. But mentally, that's not even on my radar at the moment; all I want to do for the next few days is just get some rest, if possible. If the pain comes back strong, we'll figure out a way to deal with it. Otherwise, I likely won't start chemo for a few weeks and therefore don't want to think much about it for the next several days.

You know, of course, that in the 30 minutes that it's taken me to write this post, not one person has come into my room. Let's see what happens once I log off and crawl back into bed!

I'll check in tomorrow once I'm back at the homestead and have caught up on some Z's. Until then, thanks as always for your never-ending love, prayers, thoughts and concern. Enjoy the rest of your Thursday and I'll talk atcha soon.

With much love,


Barry said...

Thanks for posting again and answering my text messages. I hope you get home soon and can rest.

Looney said...

You have your own editor?

Lucky dog... ;) :) :-) :^)

Keep hanging in there!

Loretta said...

Interesting...I had the exact same title for our family blog just a few days ago & it also had to do with doctors...

Are you so drugged that you're starting to plagarize me? :-D

Ross said...

Boy, Dino, you make hospital life sound so fun! You better hope the nurses and staff don't read your post, or they will keep coming in just to piss... er... wee-wee you off.

So, is your scar healing ok? Inquiring minds want to know.

smrose said...

A decent editor would have moved the plot along beyond this whole ' in the hospital' thing. Frankly, I've grown bored with the protagonist laying around on meds. I'm sticking around just to see if he either scores with a nurse or gets sodomized by one. Either way it moves the story arc in a more interesting direction.

Anonymous said...

Stryker, I just want to let you know we're all pulling for you.

Also, I do not want to feel your gut, but thanks for the offer

"you can see it in my face and feel it in my gut"

Lisa said...


My UCSF when we had a patient that just TRULY NEEDS REST and is not CRITICAL, we would put a sign on their door.

Ask your nurse. The sign should read either:
1. Patient sleeping. Please do not disturb unless absolutely necessary.
2. Patient sleeping. Please check with nurse before entering room.

Please do this Dino. You need some rest to heal (as you so well know)

Much love,

Priscilla said...

D, Hang in there - I'm crossing my fingers that you were able to go home today!! ;-) I hope this is a good and restful weekend for you. We are off to Kauai tomorrow am and so bummed you won't be with us, but am so happy that you are knee deep in kicking Kuato-butt!! Sending you loads of love, as always and big hugs (and big scary fishees too!) from Hawaii!! Our wedding will not be the same without you - but we will anxiously await seeing you upon our return!! Much Love, P&D

Chris said...

You know, hospitals, by design aren't supposed to be comfortable. That's why the food is bad and it's not generally much fun to be there. It's impetus to get the person feeling back on the getting home track. Or something.

Glad you are coming home!