Thursday, August 20, 2009

21 Hours

(WARNING: The following post, in particular the images, may not be totally suitable for the squeamish, the weak of heart or those wondering why I'm not writing about Nova. Also, all times are approximate and Eastern Standard Time U.S.)

Tuesday, August 18

6:30 PM: I get off the phone with my mother because I've begun to cough up blood a bit and am having trouble speaking.

7:00 PM: Megan returns home to find me spitting blood into the trashcan; it's nearly three-quarters filled with tissues from the past few days nearly all of which are now crimson red.

7:15 PM: Megan calls the doctor on call at the practice who performed my surgery. He advises using Afrin to try and stop the bleeding, but if it doesn't work, call him back.

7:20 PM: We use Afrin; it doesn't go well. The blood sprays the Afrin out of my nose and mostly into my both; I nearly choke on it (probably an exaggeration, but that's how I remember it).

7:30 PM: Megan hears back from the on-call doctor, having called him back; he says to meet him in the Emergency Room in a half hour.

7:50 PM: I check into the Emergency Room, gauze strapped to my nose to prevent bleeding and spitting blood into a Starbucks cup from Megan's car, which I've filled just enough so you can't see the bottom.

8:00 PM: The on-call doctor brings us into the ER proper (on a side note, I've never been in an ER before and have just seen them on TV; I was really impressed with how incredibly organized it was and how well the overworked staff managed everything).

8:10 PM: After looking me over and using a tube to drain some blood from my nose, the doctor is unable to determine any clear and immediate danger, but can see most of the blood flow is coming out of my left nostril.

8:15 PM: Around now I begin spitting blood into containers given to me by the nurses; over the course of the five and a half hours or so, I lose an estimated quart of blood from my mouth and nose.

8:30 PM: The doctor uses a tubing of guaze to pack my left nostril all the way up through my sinus; after it's in he uses salt water to expand it and because I'm a big baby I think it hurts like hell.

8:45 PM: The problem seemingly solved, the doctor leaves and asks us to stick around and wait to be discharged. He leaves.

9:00 PM: I start spitting up blood again. Megan and I become concerned over what to do. She goes to call the doctor back and ask for advice. He says to stay there and wait 15 minutes; if the bleeding continues, call him back

9:15 PM: As the bleeding has not stopped, Megan goes to call the doctor again. The doctor left in charge of the emergency room also comes to check on me and is concerned by how much I'm bleeding out of my right nostril.

10:00 PM: The ER doctor does a quick packing job on my right nostril; as she puts it, "It's not as fancy as the other one, but it will get the job done. She asks us to stick around and see what happens.

10:30 PM: Despite both my nostrils being packed, the bleeding continues out of my mouth, even heavier than before; at times, it feels like I'm practically choking on the blood, which isn't helped by the fact that I can't breathe out of my nose at all thanks to the packing.

11:00 PM: The ER doctor returns, having spoken to the on-call doctor on the phone. She says they have conferred and that if my bleeding doesn't stop within the next hour, I'm going to be scheduled for emergency surgery to determine the problem.

Wednesday, August 19

12:00 AM: With my bloodflow not having ceased, the ER doctor calls my on-call doctor and schedules an operating room for my surgery.

12:15 AM: Megan who has been keeping my parents updated over the phone and just generally being amazing while I'm freaking out more than a little, gives our friend Jodie a call to come keep her company; Jodie, who is now in the running for world's greatest friend, doesn't miss a beat in saying she'll be right over.

1:00 AM: Jodie shows up and boosts both our spirits. Nurses are prepping me for surgery, putting in an IV and replacing my blood-soaked hospital gown. Also, the blood from my right nostril has basically pushed the packing out of my nose and into my mouth, so they take that out, removing a huge clot with it.

1:30 AM: The on-call doctor comes back in to discuss surgery with us. He's not sure quite what's wrong, but theorizes that--for lack of a better description--a scab has come off where my surgery was performed and he'll need to go in and cauterize the wound. Another possibility is that a cut has opened on my sinus, in which case he'll need to attach clips to close it up.

1:45 AM: I use the bathroom, change into another clean gown, say goodbye to Megan and Jodie and get wheeled out of the ER.

2:00 AM: After going through all the necessary paperwork, etc., I head into the OR for surgery.

5:00 AM: I wake up in the recovery room feeling nauseous with the mother of all headaches; the awesome nurses give me some morphine and I drift back off for a bit.

6:00 AM: I'm taken to a hospital room where Jodie and Megan are waiting; the gentleman in the other area of the room is snoring loudly, which does not bode well. Megan tells me the doctor could not locate a specific wound that was the main cause of the bleeding, so he cauterized all the chief possibilities and also removed several blood clots to help the healing process.

8:00 AM: Having pulled an all-nighter, Megan and Jodie head out with my gratitude.

9:15 AM: The doctor who performed my surgery comes in to speak with me. He repeats to me basically what he told Megan. He also lets me know that nothing went wrong with my initial surgery and that there was nothing to be concerned about, some people just react differently to procedures like this and you can't anticipate what will happen (having since read several online testimonials, I can confirm this). He tells me I should be able to head home that evening, he just wants to keep me awhile for observation; already quite uncomfortable with the hot room, the stiff bed and my noisy roommate, I talk him down to 4:00.

9:30 AM: Sweating and nauseous (most likely from morphine withdrawl), I call Megan and ask her to come back.

10:00 AM: Megan makes it back and I feel a lot better; the painkillers and medication for nausea the nurse gives me also helps.

11:00 AM: The surgeon who performed my original surgery stops by to see how I'm doing. He doesn't tell me much new, but again reassures me that despite these complications, I've got nothing to worry about in terms of long-term ramifications; I bargain him to push my discharge up to 2:00.

11:45 AM: Megan takes a nap. I'm too sweaty and nauseous to get any real sleep, but with the help of a cold compress and some ice, I'm at least able to rest a bit; like every other person I've encountered since my surgery, my nurse is fantastic.

12:00-2:00 PM: I manage a sort of half-sleep in between watching pieces of the telenovellas my roommate has on.

2:45 PM: A resident of my two doctors comes by and issues my discharge papers.

3:30 PM: After waiting a bit for a wheelchair, I finally leave the hospital, 21 hours after this whole ordeal began. The rest of the afternoon/evening/night is spent feeling like crap from the surgery, morphine and lack of food, but I get a full night's sleep and feel much better Thursday morning in time for my parents to drive down from Boston to spend the day with Megan and I; I really wanted to get them here before October, I just didn't realize I'd go to such lengths.

Some commentary on this whole thing:

1. I in no way by this post mean to make light of the far more serious hardships and health problems other people go through daily. This incident was traumatic for me, but it's nothing compared to what a lot of other folks experience all the time. Writing stuff like this out just helps me to process (sorry for the fairly self-indulgent post).

2. You may have noticed throughout this post I didn't refer to any doctors by name; that is not because I feel like anybody involved with my surgery did anything wrong. On the contrary, everybody involved with both my surgeries did an excellent job, and I have nothing but praise for them. However, they are healthcare professionals, and I feel like keeping their anonymity here is just the right thing to do.

3. I sent my boss an IM earlier today saying I wish so badly I was back at my desk with him giving me a hard time; he made fun of me, but it's true. Stuff like this incident make me appreciate everything I have, from my fiancee to my friends to my family to my job to every other little dumb thing in between. I'm extremely blessed and I thank God and everybody who has guided me to this point and who will continue to steer my journey from here on out.

Thanks for reading.


Khaver Siddiqi said...

God Bless you man, get well soon. :)

Rickey said...

Holy fuck, I am NOT reading any of this. And those pictures...jeez.

Glad you're getting better.

Ben Morse said...

This was a highly personal post I needed to do more for me than anybody else, so I don't blame anybody for skipping it. Not even you, Rickey.

And thanks for the well wishes, guys, much appreciated.

Mel Caylo said...

Feel better, Benny.

And why wasn't your hospital room air conditioned?

Ben Morse said...

That's the million dollar question, Melly. I guess it's possible it was and I was just so out of it that it felt warm, but I swear it did not seem to have A/C.

And thanks, buddy.

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