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  January 24, 2003


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Friday, January 24, 2003

Don't insult the nurses

Tuesday was my gallbladder operation and I was expecting something along the lines of a root canal. Iíd done my homework and talked to several people who have had the operation. It just didnít sound like it would be that big of a deal. OK, a root canal can be pretty bad but it doesnít mean an overnight stay in the hospital and I was expecting this operation to be along those lines.

For this laparoscopic operation they pump your midsection full of CO2 to separate the organs thus allowing access to the gallbladder. When the doctor was doing that to me he ďnickedĒ my aortic artery causing bleeding. It was a serious mistake/accident and though he continued to remove my gallbladder, there was no way I was going home that day. I was hustled by ambulance to the main Kaiser hospital in San Diego and spent the next three days in their ICU.

This was my first real surgery and it was my initiation into a world that, most likely, everyone will experience one way or another during their lifetime. In the past Iíve been the observer but now I was center stage.

I now know what it feels like to have a catheter. Unfortunately the nurses were kind of new at it themselves and before the task was accomplished, I had three women trying to get it right. (Thereís no way to word that last sentence appropriately) Thankfully the third nurse got it done and I spent the next two days without the need to walk to the toilet. Embarrassment was never a factor during this undertaking. Man, you just want them to get it right the first time!

Another thing I learned was to be circumspect when dealing with the nurses. I realized that when I pointed out a problem with one of the sensors that was glued to my chest. Every time I would begin to drift off to sleep it would think I had stopped breathing. Beepers would go off and the nurse would come in to see if I had died. Obviously it just needed some adjustment but the nurse preferred to think that it was doing its job keeping me alive. I appreciated her concern until I noticed that she had turned off the warning beeps at her desk and just let it beep incessantly at my bed, waking me up every time I was about to fall asleep. We discussed it. She pointed out that maybe I had sleep apnea and once she even commented that I just wasnít breathing correctly. There was no way she was going to make adjustments to ďherĒ respiration monitor. I crossed the line when I mentioned it to the doctor. He was surprised that it was even being used and he quickly told the nurse to unhook the darned thing.

One of the things a child of alcoholic parents learns is how to interpret the moods of other people. I had gone too far and she was pissed. Luckily, this was after her failed attempt at inserting the catheter. I can only imagine what that ordeal would have been like if she had been really angry while trying that. Anyway, after the doctor interceded, she never spoke to me again.

Iím home now. I feel kind of crappy but Iím taking next week off to recuperate. I can imagine how bad it must be for someone getting over a ďrealĒ illness. I consider myself lucky and no, Iím not suing the hospital. ;-)

It's Super Bowl Sunday in San Diego and I'm supposed to be excited. I haven't followed football for about 20 years and if it doesn't have something to do with Notre Dame, I don't pay much attention.





October 3, 1966 Monday

I've been in another of my strange moods for the past week. Sometimes when I'm in a good mood I'll really show it by singing and talking a lot. When I'm in a bad mood I'm grouchy and irritable but lately I've been in a mood that's somewhere in the middle. Nothing seems to interest me. I just go around in the same routine and I canít get enthusiastic about anything. Maybe itís just that everythingís been the same for such a long time I need something to liven things up. I sure wish we had more of a change in Coronado during the winter. It seems to just stay like autumn until summer. We had a pretty big storm this morning and the air is very clear. If it wasnít for school tomorrow it would be perfect to go up on the roof. You could see for miles around.


It still seems like autumn but I can detect a slight change during the nights. During the summer as you walk down the street, you can smell hundreds of different aromas from the pollen and flowers. Now when you go outside at night thereís a certain crispness in the air that makes you feel cool and refreshed. The trouble is that we never get anything else in Coronado. I really miss having snow storms or at least something more like winter. You can imagine trying to get into the Christmas spirit when the temperature is 68 degrees.


A few weeks ago I slept over a Kirks. We stayed in the apartment that his parents own in the back of his house. Thereís a room upstairs with a big picture window and you can look over to the ocean. It isnít very important but late that night I woke up and looked out. The beacons at the airport were on and there was a gentle mist over the whole area. Itís times like that when I wish I was an artist because it was such a peaceful and calm sight. I would have loved to capture it on paper.


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