Had I more experience in the 60's with psychedelic drugs I may have coped better with the dilaudid I was given post-surgically. However, I passed through Vietnam prior to the breach-barrel huffing days, and never encountered a "drug" of any kind. It was not until 1977 that I was even exposed, and even then it was a harmless toke that made the white-rubber woofers of a Kenwood appear to dance out into the room!
Weed and drugs were never my thing, and I was usually in control of alcohol, with an exception of a reunion or family gathering or two!
The "Step-Down Unit" at Oak Ridge Hospital is designed to the post-surgical patient through recovery steps before being moved out into the general rooms, and finally release. However, somehow I managed to fake my way from that unit straight out the door! I just couldn't stand the thought of any more days inside. I talked my way around misjudgments in depth perception and wobbled steps, good enough for physical therapy to pass me. That write off, with the blood, EEG, and EKG test put me over the top. It may have done me some good to stay in a general care room a few days, but everyone knows there's no place like home.
I received a nice card from all the nurses I don't remember several days after getting home. They were apparently the day shift gals, and the ones I attacked and flashed in the first few days of my incarceration! I pulled off all my clothes, and pulled the nearly 12" long IV PICC line from my right arm, which caused a lot of hemorrhaging. I also tugged violently at my catheter...which isn't a great idea.
The response was to tie me to the bed, and I broke loose once...I'm told. Had I been conscious I would have tried to reduce the CT scanner and the bed to small hex-nuts! Can't stand to be still, even for a moment! That's psychological trauma my mom inflected on me as a small boy. When dad was away working I would sleep with mom and she would tell me, "If you wiggle one more time, I'll spank you!"
It was all innocent to her, but I would lay stiff as a board until I feel asleep. Today...I sleep alone, free to kick and squirm until I root out a good place in the bed to sleep! So, don't let me know you have tied me down!
It's the night shift and weekend girls that remember. They were with me through the good, the bad, and the ugly!
I'd like to be able to say it was all a good trip, but it wasn't, due either to my intolerance to drugs or the amount I was given access to. There were light moments trying to whip cotton from my tongue while people watched and laughed, or like being asked if I recognized "this man", and me answering, "It's my son."
"Well, do you know who Lily and Kingsley are?"
"Got to be saved," I replied to everyone's surprise.
But it was the dark time, the time when you always feel worst when ailing. I would begin by complaining, begin to be restless, and giving short answers. That's when the suggestion always came that I was most probably "in pain" and needed a magic tap on the black IV pump button. "Don't be afraid of it...it's here to help you. See...", giving the button a quick push or two, "...hit it anytime you want to!"
Little did they know that each time sent me off on a "magical mystery tour" that never took me beyond the confines of the "step-down unit".
Of the seven days I spent "inside", the last four are the only ones from which I can recall vivid parts. I went in on September 27th and came home on October 4th.
One evening I watched the shift change take place on the unit, seeing a new face of a rather meek little young lady. I had been fretful, so the nurse encouraged a tap on the black button. I dozed off and saw this new girl whispering to the older nurse, and giggling. I thought I overheard them plotting to video some procedure on me, so I became very distrustful of them.
They posted something on the "tube" and then showed it to a fellow in the bed next to mine, which I'm not sure ever existed. I never saw him again!
I opened my eyes and there stood the new night nurse. "I need to check your vitals," she said.
"Okay," I agreed.
"I need to check your blood sugar."
"Okay," I again agreed.
"I need to give you a shot of insulin," she told me.
"NO," I told her very sternly.
"Because you're not a nurse," I said, sounding very assured.
The shy nurse walked away slowly, head down, over to where the day nurse sat preparing to leave. They talked and looked in my direction.
"Go ahead and show it to her," I shouted. "You've already put it on YouTube...ask him," I said pointing at the imaginary male patient's bed! "He's seen it!"
After a long conversation, I finally excepted the fact that I had been dreaming and the little lady was a nurse. I allowed the shot and the evening went on, after changing directions and I went off to another dinner with Alice!
The next night I awoke with the creative power to wave my hand and turn pieces of steel into beautiful animals and wild flowers. The colors were mind-blowing and the swirls and points were easily made by waving my other hand. It was wonderful...that trip, that time. I played with that a long time while, I'm sure, the nurses watched in puzzled amazement!
The young night nurse was standing looking at me, half in the dark, and I noticed ice shimmering on the Styrofoam ceiling tiles over her head. I also noticed that there was a track of plowed snow from about fifteen after to about twenty after three on the clock. "Looks like it happened about 10 minutes ago," I said to her.
"The power outage? No, more like 5 minutes," she said calmly, knowing that she had just turned the lights off for the night in the unit.
In my mind someone had released some deadly virus within the unit and power and heat had been cut. We were sealed off from the outside to freeze and die with the deadly virus. I looked terrified!
"Is there anything I can do to make you feel better," she asked?
"You can turn the light back on so I can see that ice up there."
Everything in the unit was coated in ice or frost, just like inside the Dr. Zhivago house!
She flipped the light switches and the frost disappeared! I told her at the moment to lock the IV pump and allow me no more dilaudid! She responded and I got remarkably better over the next two days.
It's a powerful drug...but some folks, like me, just can't handle it.
I'm home now, knowing that I survived an early encounter with kidney cancer. Thank you God and Dr. Sloan!
I have since had my 32-staples removed, and gone up and down in energy level. I continued taking my blood pressure med while having lost around 38 pounds! I had no blood pressure, so I was too weak to function. I've now stopped that nonsense and seem to be recovering some energy.
Yep, a lean 213! Oh, I know it won't last, but it's the lowest I've been since 1973 when I weighed 212 and was benching 225...more than my weight! I doubt I could keep 75 from falling on me today!
Anyway, keep a good thought for me...I'll make it back soon.