Monday, February 23, 2009
Good night nurse
Before Friday, February 13, 2009, I'm sure the last time I was nude in front of several women was on the day I was born. February 13 was the day after my cancerous prostate was removed, and I was in a very low state. According to my surgeon, he did the operation in such a way as to minimize both pain and blood loss, so I should be able to go home on Friday.
What actually happened was I had more blood loss than expected, and by Friday morning my blood pressure was dangerously low. It had been low enough during the night that the nurse called my doctor at 2:00 AM to tell them her concerns. He came in at 7:30 the next morning, dressed in a workout outfit, to look at my incision, tell me there had been internal bleeding, mostly into my butt. After a few more words he left, and the nurse got me out of bed. I needed to go to the bathroom and the orders were, after every toilet call there would be a shower; the incision was close to where there are a lot of Bad Bacteria. (I loved the way they emphasized that phrase, just like my mother used to emphasize "Bad Companions," when describing my friends.)
I don't want to unnecessarily gross anyone out, but in the bathroom I exploded in a volcano of fluids. The nurse, whose name was Chris, got me off the commode and out of my gown so I could take a shower. I was standing and then suddenly I wasn't. I heard a voice, "Wake up! Wake up!" and the unmistakable feeling of my face being slapped. Chris could not lift me off the floor and immediately the nurse assistant, Matilda, moved in to help. My wife ran down the hall to the nurses' station, but there were no nurses. There were two doctors talking and as my wife explained the problem they avoided looking at her and kept talking. She asked again. No help there. She found an orderly. By the time she got back I was in a shower room, nude, with three women. Chris was yelling, "Keep your eyes open!" because my lids had a tendency to droop. If they closed I'd be out again. Why she let me take a shower on my own I'm not sure, but she allowed me to go into the stall and close the door and clean myself off.
I stayed awake with Chris on the other side of the shower door yelling, "Are you OK? Are you staying awake?"
A few minutes later, back in a hospital gown, hooked back up to various IV's, in my bed, I was aware of activity around me. It'd been nearly 24 hours since my surgery, and I was still drugged, still out of it. Through the haze I could see Matilda with a mop and bucket heading for the bathroom. She gave me a dirty look. After a few more minutes a young Asian nurse came into the room. "How it goin', Matilla?" she asked. I was alert enough to notice her mispronunciation of Matilda's name, which made me think of Attila. Ha-ha. Attila the nurse. "It OK in bathroom, Matilla?" she asked. "OK," said "Matilla," in a very broad German accent. "It's just poop und blood." Another dirty look in my direction.
JUST poop und blood? No, no, Matilla...it was MY poop und blood. I went mercifully back to sleep, but this time in the bed and not on the cold floor.