Monday, June 10, 2019

More hospital memoirs


Life definitely got easier when I got the Most Unpleasant Procedure over with. The next day I got my drainage tube out, and THAT was a good day. No longer did I have it poking me all the time.

Now that I didn't have to think about all the extra appendages, I started to obsess about the wound more. As I didn't have stitching, did that mean there was just a big hole in my side? I didn't like to think about it.

That first weekend, my regular doctor had a day off and had suggested I get a dressing change with the doctor on duty. The Saturday surgeon poked his head in the room, saw that I was getting my IV meds, and told me to come find him for the dressing change. Ummm...okay? Come to find out, the doctors' lounge was wayyyy down a long corridor and I hadn't walked that far yet. On the way there I passed the kitchen, which meant I could technically fetch my own meals...more on that later. But it was so painful shuffling along and then I felt awkward entering the lounge in my pathetic state when there were professional people dressed in normal clothes, such as pants.

Speaking of clothes, Lesson #1 in socialist medicine: don't expect extras. And apparently hospital gowns are an extra. Remember how I had to strip naked before my operation? Well, I didn't have anything to wear afterwards either. I must have had underwear on, but I couldn't do anything like fasten a bra with the IV port in...so, sorry for the non-glamorous visual, but I was basically wearing underwear, a tank top, and a bathrobe from home that I couldn't close all the way when I had the drainage bag. Eventually Andrei did bring me some long underwear with an elastic waist. But, yeah..fashion was a challenge.

It was kind of an odd experience seeing other patients shuffling around in their clothes from home. You'd think it would feel homey, but it didn't. It felt awkwardly intimate. I didn't want to see everyone else's fuzzy bathrobe and slippers and dishes that they washed out themselves. It felt like summer (prison?) camp in some kind of twisted universe. Also, I really didn't need to see everyone else's drainage bags. But I'm glad my roommates (and husband) took care of me even though it was messy at times and they saw things they probably didn't want to.

So, the surgeon caught up with me at the Bandaging Room, took off the old bandage, did a quick swab, and slapped a new bandage on. Which had become unstuck by the time I got back to my room. Sigh. Did it really matter? Yes, it did...I had an open wound, after all. The doctor was gone, of course. I asked the bandaging nurse for a new one, and she said they "didn't have any more." Now, on Friday, after my drainage tube came out, she had carefully cut a bandage down to size and attached it with finesse. And now they had run out? It was time for Lesson #2: Buy your own supplies. When a friend was visiting that afternoon, she went down to the pharmacy for me and bought bandages...the same kind that had been used the day before. My roommate hobbled over and put it on for me.

From then on, I had Andrei buy bandages every few days so I always had a supply. Lest you think I was being taken advantage of, I saw plenty of other patients waiting their turn, holding their own supply of bandages. Sometimes the pharmacy downstairs even ran out and Andrei had to go elsewhere.

It doesn't seem like bandages are a large expense, but when the supplies end, patients buy their own. That's how it goes. And for many procedures, such as childbirth, it's expected that you will bring your own consumable items.



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