Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dorothy was right!

"There's no place like home!"

I was released from the hospital late yesterday and even though I'm not moving very quickly, it's lovely to be surrounded by my family and my own things. My surgery was sucessful. Still waiting on the lymph node biopsy report to make certain the cancer hasn't packed its little bags and gone traveling, but for now, I'm going to assume my cute surgeon got it all. Thank you for your prayers and well wishes. I appreciate them more than I can say.

And now, I wonder if I could prevail on you to direct your prayers and healing thoughts toward a young woman who was my roommate at the hospital for one of the nights I was there. Let's call her Jane Doe. I know her name, but she wouldn't appreciate me sharing it. She's 31. Single. With a boyfriend who slumped along with her to the hospital. She presented with back pain and numbness (and weeping and cursing and a chip on her shoulder the size of Nantuckett).

I was in a post-operative morphine haze, but it was apparent even to me as I listened to the conversations on the other side of the curtain (I wasn't trying to eavesdrop, but the way I was hooked up to multiple tubes and wires, it wasn't as if I could slip out and give them privacy), that she was desperately in search of drugs. When it became evident that she wasn't going to score, the boyfriend left pretty quickly. (Which relieved me no end. I knew I'd never get my DH to go home and get some rest as long as the boyfriend was hovering around.)

Later that night when we were alone, she spoke to me through the curtain separating us. "Do you have pain meds?"

A vision of her coming around the curtain, ripping out my IV and making a run for it flashed in my brain. "No," I lied.

She sobbed like she'd lost a child.

From what I could piece together, she'd been a patient at the hospital with a legitimate injury at one time. She developed a taste for morphine and percoset and oxycodone in the course of her treatment. Once the injury healed, she still needed the pain meds. Just to function. Even though she walked out of the hospital the next day and I was still effectively chained to my bed, I pitied her deeply.

And wouldn't have traded places with her for anything.

So now, I'm two hours past the time when I can have a pill (I do understand HOUSE'S fondness for them now.) but I'm trying to hold off. Pain management is a big deal in medicine these days. I lost track of how many times I was asked to rate my pain with a number between 1 and 10. It's so subjective, I don't know how it can convey any meaningful information. One person's 4 could be another's 12!

And who knows how our brains will react to pain meds? I know the hope is that we find relief enough to heal effectively, but in some patients, the drug seems to dig in its talons and not let go. How many pills does it take?

I don't want to find out.

So please say a little prayer for Jane Doe and all the other unfortunates who have a pain med demon riding them. I was going to try to keep my posts about my experiences in the hospital on the light hearted side and as much as I enjoy making fun of my Bride of Frankenstein belly and the semi-colon inside, I can't joke about someone else's pain.

I will end this post on an upnote though. I've been reading Christie Craig's DIVORCED, DESPERATE AND DATING, but with extreme caution. It's uproariously funny.

And I'm already in stitches!


Renee said...

Hey, Em, thanks for sharing. A child I care about deeply is affected by someone addicted to pain meds as well as other stuff. Sometimes I forget to pray for her, you've reminded me. So thank you! When I say a prayer for my Doe, I'll pray for yours too.

D, D, & D is so on my list. Would it make a good Christmas gift?

Get to healing.


EmilyBryan said...

Hi Renee. I bet if everyone who knows someone with a pain med problem turned purple, there would be lots of purple people walking around.

Definitedly DIVORCED,DESPERATE & DATING would make a great gift for any romance reader on your Christmas list--especially if they enjoy running gags, hunky cops, and a delightfully ditzy heroine.

Anonymous said...

Don't be so cautious about the pain meds that you fail to use them to heal properly. The Dr. can give you stuff that isn't addictive.

EmilyBryan said...

Thanks for the word of caution, Ruth. I do have a pretty high pain tolerance (2 natural childbirths with no drugs nocked on my belt) but I don't believe in suffering needlessly. My prescription says 1-2 pills every 4 hours. I only take 1 at a time during the day and try to stretch the interval from 4 to 6 hours.

I'm not a good candidate for drug use because I don't enjoy altered states. I hate feeling fuzzy-headed.

cheryl c said...

I am glad to hear that things went well during surgery and that you are on the mend. I will keep you in my prayers.

I will also pray for Jane Doe. You know, it is strange how we will cross paths briefly with someone who touches our souls with their hurts and problems. There have been strangers that I have prayed for that still have me wondering how things turned out for them. I guess we just have to put them in God's hands.

Take care of yourself, and get plenty of rest so that you can enjoy Christmas.

Cheryl C. (aka Cheri)

EmilyBryan said...

Thanks for sharing, Cheri. Sometimes, all we can do is leave someone in God's hands. And it's probably the best thing. The medical staff honestly wanted to help my Jane Doe, but she didn't want to even discuss anything that didn't lead to her receiving drugs immediately.

Until she's ready, no one with skin can help her.

Maggie Nash said...

HI Emily

I am so pleased to hear the op went well. I am going to believe with you that the nodes are clear :-)

That is so sad about your roommate. As an RN in my other life I have seen this so many times. There are so many issues here as well as physical dependency. As you say, until she is ready to accept help, there is not much anyone can do. But I will certainly pray for her. It is such a frightening way to live, not just worried a bout not getting pain relief, but also knowing that people will not take your seriously and will resist helping you to get relief. That pain is real to her, regardless of how she came to feel it, and there are many other methods of relieving it that don't require drugs of addiction. I hope she finds the answers soon so she won't be suffering for much longer and will find peace with herself.


EmilyBryan said...

Amen, Maggie. Amen.