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Busted Out Of The Hospital

I took this while the doctor was lookin' around a month or so ago

I woke up to dozens of well-meaning e-mails saying the senders hope I feel better. I don’t feel better. I feel worse. You always feel worse after surgery, don’t you? Before surgery (in my case on Thursday)— taking out my thyroid— I didn’t feel anything. Today (Saturday) I feel a lot of pain. The doctor prescribed an opioid but… thanks but no thanks. I’d have to be in agony before I’d do that to myself. I’m not in agony. I have trouble swallowing and that hurts.

And I’m still freezing in the sweltering weather, which is what made me ask my doctor to start looking at the thyroid in the first place. Maybe I’m cold all the time because of thyroid malfunction. But, nope, that wasn’t it. None of the things I attributed to thyroid malfunction had anything to do with thyroid malfunction and my thyroid, it turns out, was functioning just fine. Instead the scan discovered a “suspicious” nodule and that led to a biopsy, which in turn led to a cancer diagnosis.

You know what they say about thyroid cancer, right? If you have to get cancer, that’s the one to get. Almost no one dies and it’s easy (at least for the patient) to treat. Not so easy for the surgeon but the patient is out of it— dead to the world— for 6 hours and only very passively involved. I remember telling the anesthesiologist that it smelled goo… and then many hours later I was waking up in a narrow bed in a cold, dingy room with no window and a curtain where a door should be. Eventually I saw my laptop and made my way to it and started writing. Then someone asked me if I wanted to walk around the floor of the ward. I gathered the answers was supposed to be yes, so I did. It was no big deal. I didn’t feel weak.

Yesterday Roland came and busted me out. Now I’m home. The surgeon wanted to keep me in the hospital. But she said she would let the decision be made by the endocrinology team. It’s hard to believe this surgeon— she’s the best in L.A. (says everyone)— ever lets anyone make any decision that’s different from the one she’s already made.

And the endocrinology team… well, the only doctor from the team I had ever met was out yesterday so it was two new doctors who had I had never met. One said I could go home and the other said I should do what the surgeon wanted me to do but if I insisted… I did insist. That room in the ward is not the kind of place where you go to get well. And the care… the care was just getting your blood drawn and sent to be analyzed. I have a port from my last bout with cancer— real cancer, the kind that kills you. If the nurse is skilled, you don’t feel a thing when they draw your blood from the port. I have a great nurse— the best, who always draws my blood, Cindy. But she was far away in another building and I got the impression that no one on this ward was comfortable using the port, so they kept sticking needles in my veins in my arms. I’m all black and blue, like I’ve been tortured. I didn’t want to push them to use the port. If someone isn’t good at it, it can be pretty horrible.

Once a nurse stabbed me five times to no avail. I finally said, “stop, hold my hand and we’re going to pay to Jesus.” That worked. But the head nurse at this ward said they don’t access ports there.

The ward was freezing. Once I got it back from them, I was wearing my heavy jacket over my hospital gown with a heat pumping tube down my back. The bed was uncomfortable and the food was unappetizing and you kind of feel dehumanized and trapped because you’re hooked up to machines and you pee in a bottle. And it’s noisy and you’re not in control. Instead of drinking water, you’re being hydrated through a tube into your blood stream.

I would have stayed if they were doing something for me. But they weren’t doing anything but drawing blood. The last time I broke out of a hospital, it was an infamous place where there was a killer nurse (a few years before) who murdered his patients. I didn’t belong in there. An ambulance had dumped me off there. I had 2 broken ribs and a punctured lung from having fallen down in the middle of the night (on cancer drugs). They ex-rayed my head, not my ribs and said they would release me. Unlike the hospital I use now, that place is really dysfunctional. After a week or so a nurse whispered to me that if I didn’t just get up and walk out, I would die in there. So I did get up and walk out.

Yesterday was different. I signed a consent form that acknowledged I was leaving against medical advise. I felt bad for not being obedient to the surgeon. But she doesn’t work on the weekends and I offered to come back on Monday for more blood (via Cindy and the port). They made me an appointment for Wednesday, which makes me feel even more certain I did the right thing by asserting my bodily autonomy yesterday.

I’ll try to get back into my blogging routine. Did you notice I missed a couple days? And I’ll get into my new meds routine. And figure out how I’m going to get some exercise since I’m not allowed to swim for 2 weeks. My slit throat is too ghastly for a photo. But here’s my purple arm.

It’s hard to swallow. Usually I chug down a glass of water in one gulp. Now it’s painful to even take a sip. A shallow cough is relatively agonizing. But I slept kind of ok last night and I feel like I’m taking back control of my mind as the drugs wear off. This isn’t fun but it could be a lot worse. It helps that Roland and my regular doctor care for me.

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