Sunday, October 29, 2006

inane musing: hospital, illness, and can i get an article out of this experience?

ok, so those who know me or my beloved know that i'm laid up in the hospital* awaiting surgery on what appears to be a "large-ish" tumor** inside my spinal canal. this new development has proven to be both sociologically interesting (what a strange process it is to actually have to fight to get admitted to the hospital and then to be told rather sternly that perhaps you should have been there days and weeks before) and personally exhausting (who knew that just sitting in a hospital bed, being "observed" is so time consuming!).

random thoughts in no particular order:
  • one does not always know when one is being irrational, dopey, confused, or disoriented - thankfully loopy has been around to point these moments out to me
  • one can indeed knit while under the influence of massive doses of morphine, stockinette stitch only however
  • nurses are indeed angels of mercy and possess all sorts of secret potions, skills and tricks to ease your discomfort
  • a neurological surgeon is a wishy-washy sort of person. one day he fills your head with the most awful things that might result from your impending and crucially necessary surgery; the next day he attempts to reverse all this by filling your head with reassuring details, ending with the note that 8 or 9 people with tumors in their spinal canal emerge from surgery with fewer physical deficits than they entered it with.
  • hospital food is greatly improved and sometimes even quite tasty
  • if you refuse to wear a hospital gown and actually get up in the morning, put on clothes, brush your teeth or shocker of all shockers-take a shower!, none of the nurses, techs or staff know which one of you is the patient. even if you are wearing an IV and are clearly tethered to a large machine.
  • using a walker is a lot more fun than you'd imagine and doesn't make you feel old at all.
  • when picking out a hospital for an extended stay, pick one with room service. yes, they bring you food (no apparent limit on number of meals) whenever you call. and as far as i an tell, you don't pay for it. it's way cool!
  • visitors are awesome,* especially the ones who don't mind that you are having some sort of intestinal issue at the time.
why is any of this blog-worthy? well, mostly so that friends and family don't fear that i am on death's doorstep, flopped out on the stoop, tongue dangling out of my mouth and on the verge of a fatal spasm.

secondly, i like to prove to myself that i can string together a sentence once in a while, it makes me feel less despondent about what's going on, so humor me here folks!

i started this blog (over two years now) as a way to vent... feeling the need for an audience when i was surrounded by people who disagreed with my minority opinion on social, political and logistical matters. it's evolved into a kind of outlet for the mishmash of stuff (kerf, one might say) that doesn't find itself into my daily interactions with friends and family. so, i'm guessing that this blog will continue in that direction, i mean how often do you get the chance to tell someone how amazingly good oatmeal is first thing in the morning, knowing that you don't have to wash the pan! that alone outweighs the annoying fact that you have to wear a safety belt strapped across your chest whenever you leave your room with your walker (and an appropriate companion). :)

so, i flourish. i'm definitley not getting any worse here and am hoping that i'm getting better. Thursday is the big day, 5 hours of surgery will reveal the nature of my tumor, whether or not it will cooperate in the surgeon who is determined to un-attach it from me, and what lasting effects (if any) we might be left with. I guess I could be in shock still, it's only been four days since we even knew we had a tumor, but I prefer to think that i'm just coping with it by staying calm, musing over the details in a sort of unattached way and shooting them out into the blogosphere to see what happens to them.

It's so tempting to think about this experience in terms of publish-ability... I mean, when your dissertation topic is already focused on heathcare, surely there should be a way to consider this as an extended participant-observation experience! (I'm only half kidding here folks). Could be a new section in the ASA, illness as case-study.

wish me luck, don't fret over the negative possibilities (I could just as likely get hit by a bus and end up with the same outcome), and if you're in town, drop by!

* i'm at the university hospital, just ask at the desk for my name and you'll find me.
** the official definition of my tumor is (no, we won't know which of these it is until the skilled neurosurgeon attempts to remove it): Intradural-Extramedullary Tumors: Meningiomas and nerve sheath tumors (schwannomas and neurofibromas) comprise the overwhelming majority this subset of spinal tumors. Meningiomas arise from the arachnoid mater (a thin covering layer of the spinal cord which is located inside the dura), and are most common in middle aged and elderly women. Schwannomas and neurofibromas arise from the nerve roots which come off the spinal cord. Meningiomas and nerve sheath tumors are usually benign. Filum terminale ependymomas arise at the base of the spinal cord and may be large and adherent to many nerves, making total removal sometimes difficult.

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