Coming Out of the Mist

When I was admitted I was sure that, due to boredome and lack of things to do once visitors had left, I would be writing, writing, writing…… (and perhaps reading). How wrong I was. Ok, in fairness I have at least another week to go so that want and need for writing may still come. One never knows.

I have had major surgery before. I remember very well how long it had taken me to come round properly after my Crico-Tracheal-Resection. I was put into an artificial coma for two days to allow initial healing to take place. The first week after coming round and out of the ICU was rather rough to say the least. I lacked appetite, slept for the best part of the day (and night) and just generally felt my body trying to get rid of all the medication it had pumped throught its system.

This procedure I think, even though different, has been a similar experience. I wasn’t put to sleep any longer than necessary, but never the less my body had to deal with the general anaesthetic, all sorts of pain medication ranging from the average paracetamol right up to good old morphine. I have not been doing very well in concentrating on anything other than trying to get my body into some kind of normal state again.

The first two days after the operation where pretty good. I felt fairly energised, walked around the corridors of this lovely locality and just generally felt motivated to get on with healing. But then day 3 came around. Because starting to swallow is a bit of a tricky process I wasn’t really able to eat all that much orally. I was put on drip feeds and all soluble medication such paracetamol was also passed through the tube directly into my stomach. I appreciate that the staff wanted to rid me of the IV lines but I whish they had never started so quickly. I felt extremely nauseous to the point where I wanted to vomit but couldn’t as there was nothing really going in in the first place. This deprivation of energy and fluids (of course I wasn’t really drinking either) lead to me being in a constant state of sleep, or dosing or whatever, I daren’t even define it.

On day three it wasn’t that clear to me that it was the meds being passed through the tube that were causing it. However on day 4 post op, while the night nurse was finishing off her 6 o’clock duties, supplying me with the still very much needed drugs, I tried paying attention as best as I was conciously able to and noticed that, as soon as the paracetamol had hit my stomach I felt this extreme surge of nausea again.

One of the most frustrating things with a trach is that unfortunately a lot of the staff, being so blasé and probably used to it, don’t really tend to take the time to let you finish communicating. Mostly, they try and follow the first few words you are writing and piece together what they think you are trying to tell them. It took several attempts for me to say ‘look, it is NOT the meds, it is the way they are dispensed that is making me nauseous‘. I was then put back to IV administration and since then things have picked up a bit in that sector.

Ah yes, communication. That is also proving to be a challenge. Just think, all that you can use is a pad of paper and pen. Yet what you are trying to say goes beyond a simple ‘yes‘, ‘no‘, ‘I need the loo‘ and so on it can make you want to scream. Ok, appreciated that staff here don’t have the time to sit and chat at the best of times, but it is still nontheless a bit of a killer that whatever you are trying to say gets brushed off, that not very many seem to take the time and wait until whatever it is you want to say is noted down. I have learned to stare at those members of staff with an evil eye to get them to wait until I am done.

And then there are the regulars who tend to know your little routine to a certain degree already. Like the dinner matrons. I don’t have to try and explain that I dislike water out of the fridge as it is too cold. Or the nurses who are on this ward regularly, they know I don’t like the soluble meds so they do make an effort of crushing them for me as I cannot even begin to think of swallowing anything solid like that.

Sleep… well, I have been doing so much of that this week. Or, at least something that resembles it, because I cannot really call this sleep what I am doing. Since last week Tuesday, coming out of the GA it has been dosing rather than anything. It is virtually impossible to sleep with this trach in place. You can’t lie flat as it puts far too much tension in the larynx area, particularly where the stent is still in place. Also, the fact that the airway continuously produces mucus which can block the inner canula of the trach means that there is a need to get up on a regular basis to clear it, and of course this stretches into the night as well.

This, along with the inability to communicate properly, the discomfort and tension is starting to get to me. It’s odd, I really thought the boredom would be what would drive me mental. But so far, I have not really had the desire to leave my bed in order to roam the streets of this area. This could also be due to the fact that the weather here has been a nightmare with mainly clouds to be seen on the other side of the glass slate.

As I am gradually being taken off the meds I wonder how long this state of liberal indifference is going to last. Saying that, I am more or less at my half-way marker now. So I am tempted to say I am able to attain the minutest of glimpse of light at the end of this ten year long tunnel.

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