Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Le Voyage - Deuxieme Étape or Was That Stalin?

So it's day two of my incarceration, er, I mean, hospitalization.

My initial roommate, Joe, is about to be released back into the wild. His was a one night stay for an ongoing ailment for which he'd spent 9 days in the hospital before. Not sure what his prognosis would be. Seemed like a right decent chap. Though his TV viewing habits tended to drone on long into the night. (There are signs all over reminding everyone that from 8 PM to 8 AM are whatcha call "Quiet Hours." I had the distinct impression that this did not apply to us patients.)

So I ask my nurse, upon Joe's departure, if I could now get the window side of the room. Not a problem, was the answer. As soon as the cleaning staff had cleaned up the other side (and wheeled in a nice new clean and shiny Stryker, again the bed, not the vehicle) I was assisted over to the bright and shiny side of the room.

A few commented that it wasn't much of a view, the roof of the adjacent wing of the hospital was spread before me, but one could lift one's eyes to the surrounding neighborhood of small homes and lovely yards. Further out were ridge lines covered with trees stretching all the way to the horizon.

It was very nice, the picture at the head of my previous post does not do it justice.

So, I'm starting to feel some actual pain at this stage of the game and rather a great deal of discomfort. The staff assured me that it would pass, eventually. (That being true on a number of levels, nudge, nudge, know what I mean?)

Then I hear a disturbance by the doorway, my nurse then informs me that I am getting a new roommate. I see the corner of a hospital bed being wheeled in and wonder who is this guy?

Well, my reveries about my new cell roommate are interrupted by a sharp and spreading pain coming from my right side, around the back and over by the patio chairs. I mention to The Missus Herself that I am having an issue, so to speak. All too soon I am rendered nearly incoherent.

Part of me is there as a remote observer, most of me is "in the moment." Unbeknownst to me, I have been graced with a kidney stone which was beginning its headlong rush to the sea (well, not the sea but that sounds more poetic than the alternative).

For those who have passed a kidney stone, no explanation is necessary. For those who have not, no explanation could nearly describe the sheer agony of such a thing. My best guess would be to take a poker, as found near a fireplace, heat it until it's red hot, then drag it up and down one's back, from kidney to waist. That ought to simulate it close enough.

Now as I was literally flopping about, one nurse was concerned that I was going to tear out staples, rip open wounds and possibly even damage the structure of the building itself. I was down on my knees, writhing on my back, squirming and blurting out just how awesomely painful this was.

That's when the young doctor walks in and suggests increasing my pain meds might help. My nurse assured him that I had enough pain medication on board to stun a freaking rhinoceros and The Missus Herself turned to Young Doc and asked him if was just going to stand there looking stupid or perhaps he could come up with a novel solution to the predicament within which I found myself at that time.

Believe me boys and girls, Your Humble Scribe is a bit ashamed of his behavior during this episode, squealing like a young lass, moaning and groaning like nobody's business. But don't judge me, not unless you've "been there, done that."

But back to the matter at hand, they wheeled me down to sonar, er, I mean ultrasound, scoped me out and wheeled me back. Nice young lady doctor told me that it was likely a small kidney stone making its way in the world and it should pass quickly.

A "small" kidney stone? It felt like a rock the size of Delaware was working its way through my plumbing. I shudder to think what a "large" one feels like!

What it felt like I was passing. (Source)

Eventually it did pass. (My surgeon, he who asked me if I knew that I had a hernia, was incredulous when I told him of the stone. "You had a kidney stone?!?!?!" Why yes Doc, yes I did.)

Now with that being over and done with, I anticipated a quiet night within which to continue my recovery and delete all memories of the Great Stone. However, I had forgotten my new roomie. He introduced himself shortly after his arrival, in the morning, with...

"Where is my sleeping pill! I need my garbled damn pill!"

Now his voice was very loud and he sounded very old and rather cranky. After the nurse had got him to calm down and explained to him that a sleeping pill in the middle of the day was not forthcoming, roomie was agitated but gradually settled down. Bear in mind I was on the other side of the curtain which split the room in two, so I couldn't actually see this fellow.

But as the day wore on I came to realize that he was one messed up guy, not apparently through any fault of his own. He had MS, he can't work, he lives with his mother (which put paid to my, "it's a cranky old guy" theory) and has apparently been running around with an installed catheter for many, many months. Seems he forgot to return to the doctor when he was supposed to. Now he was the victim of a whole bunch of nasty bacteria for which he had been admitted "five days ago" according to him. Like I said, the poor dude was seriously messed up.

And he loved to watch television, the worst kinds (think Maury Povich and others of his ilk) and he loved to watch it LOUD. Just throwing that out there for the moment.

Now when one has been the beneficiary of surgery, the docs and nurses think it's a good idea to get up and move around. Walk up and down the hallway pushing one's magical tree of wonder out in front of you. I felt like an ancient crone wandering the Earth what with pushing that IV stand, being draped with multiple johnnies (so as to be covered fore and aft) and somewhat hunched over from, ya know, the pain and all.

Magical Tree of Wonders (Source)
(Just want to note that mine had considerably more crap draped thereupon. Lots more.)

As I fall lean carefully out of bed, grasp my IV stand and push the curtains back, there before me lies my roommate. Lo and freaking behold, I'm rooming with Joseph Stalin, old Dzhugashvili himself. Same thick shock of hair, same bushy mustache, same nose, same eye color. He is staring fiercely at the television as if it had just insulted him. Dang!

I thinks, put this lad atop Lenin's Tomb at the May Day Parade and all the Russians would be bellowing his name and saying "Vladimir Who?"

The likeness was uncanny. Mentioning this to my nurse, she said "Who's Stalin?"

Ah, the wonders of a modern education.

Anyhoo, I did my walk, returned to my bed and was enthralled the entire day with Comrade Stalin bellowing for his meds (many of which he had no idea why he took them, just that he was sure he did).

Also, I swear to all that's holy, he actually asked the CNA if he could get a sandwich sometime in that period between lunch and dinner. She told him that food would be served at its proper time.

"But I want a sandwich now!" bellowed Comrade Stalin.

"Ain't gonna happen sweetie. Just be patient."

That particular CNA was Jenn, a blue-eyed, red-haired Irish lass who brooked no bullshit from anyone, not even me! But in the middle of the night she was there to adjust the pillow, bring me ice chips (Lord how I loved those ice chips) and generally make a fellow comfortable, she's an angel but she would brook no nonsense from Comrade Stalin. Or Your Humble Scribe. Go figure.

Oh, the television, don't forget the television, constantly blaring and even for long stretches being set on Spanish-only stations. I was quite confident that roomie didn't speak Spanish. I'm guessing he happened upon a news or weather report. I'm told, not that I have any personal knowledge of this mind you, that TV stations south o' the border often have buxom young ladies in tight clothing doing the news and weather. What a concept!

After realizing that, I guessed that Comrade Stalin was somewhat normal after all.

Soon The Missus Herself had to go when the visitors were chased out (2000) and I was left alone with the Chairman, er my roommate.

More bellowing ensued. During the day he used the call button like everyone else, at night he would just bellow out...

"Excuse me, can I get some help? I want a: (choose one) sandwich, lemon-lime Gatorade, weird medication or what-have you!"

Let me tell you, that got old very quickly.

But with the help of the magic button connecting me to the tree of wonders, I did manage to get some fitful sleep. (Remember the odd dreams I mentioned a while back?) But then it was bound to happen.

I needed to get assistance to unplug the tree of wonders so that I could get up and "go" (I'll leave it at that.)

Along comes Jenn, who disconnects me and helps me up. That's when we both hear...

"Ma, who turned this light on? Ma, turn this light off! Somebody? Hello!"

At that Jenn turns to Comrade Stalin and hisses, "That's enough, I need the light to help the Sarge to the bathroom! You be quiet, you're not the only one in this hospital. OKAY?"


While roomie wasn't exactly quiet the rest of the night, he was at least calmer.

The next day they moved him out to another wing. I don't know exactly why but I think it's because he was annoying the staff constantly and really annoying the patients, me especially.

If I had been able I would have done my "happy dance." Instead I just grinned at The Missus Herself and thanked the hospital for ending that particular ordeal.

While it wasn't the same relief I felt at passing the kidney stone...

It was close.

Very close.

I guess I should elaborate on the Gatorade. Seems that roomie had a passion for the stuff, wanted it with every meal. He even wanted it in the middle of the night. Had to be lemon-lime though.

Personally I can't stand the stuff, regardless of what hideous artificial flavor it comes in.



  1. Ooh! The kidney stone...no fun at all, especially when you were already recovering from an operation. Of course my wife sniffed when she saw what I passed, "Try passing a baby out your hoo ha!" She did have a point, but it didn't make me feel any better.

    Glad you are better and out of the Hospital. I hate Hospitals, they are full of sick people.

    1. Ah the ladies, always playing the "try having a baby card." Valid point but, a little sympathy love, just a little.

      Yeah, hospitals...

    2. Oh yeah, there's that old comment Carol Burnett made in describing childbirth as akin to taking one's lower lip and pulling it over your forehead. Glad you're on the mend now Sarge.

    3. Heh. I remember that line. Now there was one funny lady.


    4. I think she had a follow up to the effect that childbirth could also be compared to pushing a grand piano out of a room via the transom above the door.

    5. She also compared it to shoving a watermelon through a hole the size of a quarter.

    6. No doubt Chuggy's wife told him something like, " You think that hurts? You should try giving birth!" http://www.petethomasoutdoors.com/2013/08/wounded-great-white-shark-surprises-divers-with-remarkable-healing-power.html

    7. Oh yeah, the shark story. It all fits.

      Kinda looks like my buddy's surgical scar, though on a larger scale.

  2. Excellent Post, Sarge. Mrs Juvat had a kidney stone. Watching that episode scared the snot out of me. Can't imagine that while recovering from Surgery.

    1. Thanks Juvat.

      So does Mrs Juvat have any input on passing a kidney stone versus giving birth? I've heard stories, but mostly from guys. Who can do the one but not the other.

    2. My wife had kidney stones (yes plural, at the same time). While in the ER a doctor came by and said ,"it.s about the same as having a baby" My wife whos had already had Demoral and Morphine sat up and said "Oh H-ll no" She had two childern, both long deliveries, and was quit emphatic that she would have 50 more birthings to avoid the pain of the stones.

    3. Dang! Thanks for that data point DoninSacto.

  3. Lemon-Lime Gatorade was the solvent for my colonoscopy prep stuff. Enough said......

  4. In a meeting of the City Council of Plymouth, Massachusetts, last night they unanimously agreed to a resolution demanding that you immediately return their rock. I'm glad to see that you managed to retain some semblance of your sense of humor during this whole experience.

  5. So no photos of Uncle Joe - and no photos of what you actually passed. . . .


    1. But those photos are close, so very close!

      Sigh. Lawyers.

  6. That was a lot of fun to read! I laughed out loud at several parts of this. Good to know you only passed a stone, and not your sense of humor!

    1. Trust me, I was totally without humor during "The Passage."

      Afterwards I began plotting to make it into a funny tale. Not during, most assuredly not!

  7. OK, so I see why Mr. Stalin was watching Mexican Television.

  8. I understand that Joe was calling for lemon-lime gatorade when he had his final stroke. Coincidence?


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