Morphine makes me very, very sick, so what a blessing it was to find out that its genetically modified twin, a replacement for medically administered heroin in the early 20th century, makes me so so happy…… like floating on baby angel clouds filled with fluffy sausage gravy, held aloft by swaying hookers who are reminiscent of many of the better 90’s porn stars…..and every thought you have is hilarious and genius and peaceful and kind….dilaudid is arguably the greatest invention in the history of mankind.
Shit, I guess I’m getting ahead of myself here. I forgot to mention how great it is at masking soul-cauterizing pain. It really is, and I guess that’s about the only way you can get it legally.
So rewind to last Monday night (and this probably will get way more medical than I’ve gotten in a while)…..I got home from a meeting around 9:30 or so, hung out for a while watching tv and talking on the phone, went to bed around midnight and woke up at 1am or so thinking “damn, I haven’t had a case of gut-rot constipation like this in quite a while”. At 3 or 4am I started thinking “damn, this is getting worse”. I had a pretty good idea what it was and after going on WebMD it clinched it….at least for me. Fucking gall bladder. Post-gastric bypass patients have about a 30% chance of gall bladder issues within the first couple of years of surgery, so I guess I just got lucky. I waited for a couple of hours to see if the pain would pass, but it only got worse, so I called my mother and had her take me to the emergency room.
It isn’t like me to ASK to go to a doctor, much less an emergency room, but when you are in that kind of pain you’re going to do whatever it takes to make the pain stop. I knew at a minimum I had a couple of hours between the time my mom picked me up and any pain medication I had coming my way….so that was one long ass drive to Overland Park, followed by checking in, waiting in the waiting area, and telling six different people exactly the same thing over and over. The good thing was, as soon as I told the first nurse the symptoms “agonizing, nagging pain in my lower-right abdomen that travels through to the back” they put me in a real exam room instead of one of those little ER closets.
Once the doctor came in and fucking tortured me by poking my stomach until I about punched him in the face, he agreed with my WebMD assessment that it sounded like my gall bladder. Well no shit doc, I thought maybe it was just my period. So after the blessing from the Pope about ninety minutes after arriving at the ER, they hooked me up to the IV and gave me my first dose of pain medication. I had to go and get a sonogram, so the nurse said she’d wait until I got back to give the the REAL stuff, but the hydrocodone in the IV did help to take the edge off.
You know you are in for surgery when the lab tech doing the sonogram goes back and forth between you and the screen with a weird look on her face, asking you “you haven’t had any problems relating to your gall bladder before now?”. Nope, now get me back to the little room with the good dope.
Back to the little room for some bad news and some good news…..bad news was the sonogram came back positive for one f’d up gall bladder, so surgery was imminent. The good news was that the same surgeon who did my gastric bypass would be doing my gall bladder, and it would be arthroscopic. It was around this time that I was administered my first dose of dilaudid (which the nurse delayed until she knew I was being admitted because it might make me a little “woozy”). Now there was a time in the mid-90’s when I may or MAY NOT have tried something like dilaudid, I can’t admit that here one way or the other, but if I DID do it I never put it in my vein, just capsule form. Well she put this shit in my IV, and it was pretty much exactly like how you hear any heroin junkie describe their first fix…..your eyes dim a little bit as your pupils dilate, your face goes flush with a light sheet of sweat, you get a sudden wave of nausea in your gut that lasts for about a minute (I guess with heroin you actually puke), and then…..sweet magical pharmaceutical love and happy ridiculousness. Bad music that isn’t really there…..stuff like Mac Davis’ “Baby Don’t Get Hooked On Me”, which is a hilarious and stupid song you’re chuckling about one minute, and then the next the bittersweet realization that “oh shit, what if she gets HOOKED on me?”……..and then you’re like, “shit, fuck this place, gall bladder stopped hurting, I’m ready to go bowling or something!”. So yeah, this is basically the greatest shit that has ever been invented in the history of mankind.
Once I was safely in my room, waiting for my weird specific-drug-seeking roommate to get discharged, we waited……and waited….AND WAITED to hear when I’d actually have surgery. The debacle that we watched play out from around noon until 9pm reminded me of so many elements of my Masters Degree in Organizational Psychology…….on one hand you can’t get too mad at any one person in a hospital because there are a million little interdependent beaurocracies at play trying to get things done. On the other hand, you don’t want to take one person’s word for shit. I had a very nice nurse assigned to me all day Tuesday, probably too nice to be trusted. In short, after the ER discussion with the doctors we were under the impression that my surgery may happen at any time, but if the nurse had actually followed up with the surgeon’s office instead of waiting to hear from them, she would have found out that due to the level of inflammation they wanted to wait at least a day, maybe two, before they were going to take it out. They wanted to give me a ton of IV antibiotics and let the gall bladder settle down some first. So about eight or nine Tuesday night we found out what we could have or should have known at noon. Me being me, I DID track down that stupid nurse the next day and give her one of THESE… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t245tAdax_w . But that really was the only hitch in an otherwise pleasant stay. The nurses and aides were great.
I forgot how often they bug you to take your vitals and assorted crap when you’re in the hospital, but it was still nothing like gastric bypass. Mainly, it’s just boring as hell, but these days they have a ton of tv channels including in-demand movies and cheesy video games. PLUS you have high-grade pharmaceuticals to look forward to every few hours. The funny thing about THAT is, you can have hardcore shit like dilaudid more often than hydrocodone (which I started taking after surgery). Before surgery, a dose of dilauded every few hours was more than enough….I was feeling no pain. But after surgery I was a fiend because the pain was just atrocious….and the nurse would be like “well I can’t give you any more hycrocodone for thirty minutes, but I can give you dilaudid right now”. Why yes, I’d love some of that……then thirty minutes later they’d come in and go “you still need the hydrocodone?”. Who did they think they were asking? Were they being rhetorical?
So anyway, as far as pain goes they never shut up about “if you had to rate it on a scale from 1 to 10…”. When I first came into the ER, considering I know what kidney stones feel like, I rated the pain at a solid 9. After the shot of dope, it was down to around a 1. That is pretty much where it stayed, with intermittent jabs of pain and cramping, until I had surgery the next morning (last Wednesday). AFTER surgery is a different ballgame. First of all, I woke up too soon in recovery and was literally weeping with pain….it was unbelievable, probably the worst pain I’ve ever felt including anything from kidney stones. It was so bad that I was having a panic attack and hyperventilating, shaking, freezing, just generally freaking out. But the folks in recovery are real professionals….no matter how bad I got they kep telling me to keep breathing deep and let the pain meds start working. It must have been about ten minutes and five shots of meds later, but I started calming down. I actually apologized for freaking out and the nurse just went “don’t worry, everyone does that, they just usually aren’t awake enough to remember it”. So overall, recovery totally sucked. Bad. PLUS, once I got back to the room the pain was WAY worse than before surgery. I know there are a million different reasons for that, but I had gotten so used to my fun little dilaudid haze.
After I had my surgery, my main nurse was pretty new to the hospital…she was totally nice and very professional, but no fun at all. This is when I found out the weird legalism when it comes to getting regular doses of painkillers….you can have dilaudid every 3 hours, but hydrocodone you can only have every 4 hours…which makes no sense, hydrocodone is like aspirin in comparison. And I know I was sounding like a junkie because I had that shit down to the minute as far as what I could have and when….but the pain was very unexpected.
So the new nurse was great, but man she stuck to the rules. Since I’d had gastric bypass she even stuck to the “post gastric bypass diet” for me…..meaning, I could have sugar free jello, but I could also have full-sugar juice…which made no sense to me. When shift change came around on Wednesday night, my night nurse really pissed her off. Like I mentioned, they bug you to tell them what your pain was like on a scale from 1 to 10, and after surgery, dilaudid or no dilaudid, my pain didn’t drop below a 5 at any time. When my nurse came around to introduce her night replacement, the new nurse goes “I’ve heard you’ve been having some issues with your pain. You say it’s about a 5?”. “Yes”. “Would you like it to get below a 5, I can call the doctor to see if he’ll let me up your dosage of dilaudid?”. HALLELUJAH! HALLELUJAH! So my day nurse looked plenty pissed, but again, was that a rhetorical question? Long story short, they upped my dilaudid dosage and at that point every 2 hours I was either getting shot with that or hydrocodone. PLUS, the new nurse goes “you want some normal jello, that sugar free is terrible”. “YES!” “Well, how many do you want?”. So she was basically a rock star, getting me the full sugar jello and all the pain meds. Sure, I figured I’d be going through withdrawal once I got home and all I had was liquid hydrocodone, but fuck it, I was in for-real pain.
The floor I was on happened to be the same one where I recovered from my gastric bypass, it was the bariatric floor, so with my huge post-surgery weight loss success, I was kind of a rock star with the staff. Honestly, it felt great to be able to talk to the nurses about how I was doing, especially since they see so many failure stories come back for emergency surgery related to people basically being total dumbasses. I won’t go into an extensive description of my new roommate who showed up on Wednesday evening for a couple of reasons…first, it would take too long, and second, the dude had colon cancer and was back in for surgery that reversed the procedure that forced him to void in a bag. Cancer or no, the dude came off as a TOTAL FUCKING DOUCHE when he first checked in, because the first thing he mentioned to the nurse was “I was supposed to have a private room”. Then he asked why he was on this floor instead of the cancer floor, and the nurse explained how there was no room up there and this was the bariatric floor….to which he replied “I guess you have to be politically correct and say that, you can’t just say you put me on the FAT FLOOR”. So that’s how that started, and he was a douche, but by the next day I had worked my magic on him and he ended up being an okay guy. He’d lost 90% of his entire colon and rectal area due to cancer, so I gave him SOME slack……but if that motherfucker had been in there for an appendectomy, my ass would have been on CNN. Trust me.
I know, I’m going on and on, the word count is soaring, but this was kind of an eventful thing for me….first time back in the hospital since my gastric bypass. I got home last Thursday afternoon and used my my pain meds by Sunday, but honestly, the recovery has been a very quick and forgiving process. And once you’ve had dilaudid, there is no going back. This crap they sent me home with was like Flintstones Vitamins compared to that. But I’m doing great, can drive my car again, am heading out to dinner tomorrow night and back to work on Friday.
In all seriousness, if there is one thing I can say I’m thankful for other than family to babysit my sorry ass when I’m in a bad way, is the fact that I managed to make to to the Platte County Sheriff to get fingerprinted for my concealed carry permit BEFORE all hell broke loose late last Monday night.
So as far as the general public is concerned, I guess it’s good for all of you that I don’t have regular access to dilaudid AND a permit to carry a large caliber concealed firearm.