Many people have found that journaling and being grateful are useful methods to feel better and to enjoy life more. Grateful people seem to be happier. I prefer to be happy, so it follows that I want to be grateful. I will not discuss journaling since I don’t, but I admit that I should. Maybe this blog is kind of like that. I don’t make gratitude lists, but I could easily. I know many happy souls that do.
Last week, I had a medical procedure. It is not new to me. I inherited what I refer to as bad plumbing from my father. He called it poor circulation. Medical folks call it arteriosclerosis. I am not grateful for it. My doctors tell me that I am just ‘one of those people.’ Anyway, I have had this before. They’ve run things up into arteries from my wrists through both arms and into my heart. Years ago, I had stents inserted into my iliac arteries through my groin to help with circulation in my legs. Last week we again had to venture in at my groin. With all of these, I was awake so I could joke with my doctor and tell him how I was doing. As he tried to find my artery and his fingers pressed into the spot between my groin and leg, I let out a moan. He asked me if that was pain, or was I ticklish. I am very ticklish and I was also very stoned thanks to the happy drugs the wonderful nurses slipped into my IV. I already had four stents. These were numbers five and six. It took about two hours and I was off to my hospital room for the night. Not my best night, as it happened.
At that point, I had one order: “Don’t move!” I had to be (lie or lay?) flat on my back until told I could move. From my chest down, I was not to move a muscle, not roll to my side, not lift my knee, not bend my leg, nothing. This is to prevent bleeding. Until blood clotting improves, the doctor left a sheath, or tube, in my artery that the nurses would remove after checking on my clotting factor. Let me help with time.
I got to the hospital about 1:00 PM and was placed on a bed until called to the OR (Cath Lab) at about 5:00 PM. It was supposed to start at 3:00, but there was an emergency. From the time I got there (5:00), I was flat on my back for the next 14 hours. After the procedure, which took two hours, at 7:00 PM, I was in my room. The nursing team transferred this old gnome’s body by sliding me on my back twice. By 11:00 PM I was in miserable pain caused by not moving – as blood just pools with gravity. But there was one more problem. They kept pumping fluids into me, which means that eventually, that bodily function had to….well, function. I had to pee.
The last time I peed from a position flat on my back I was wearing diapers, or should have been. Since pressure was going to be applied to my groin, I had to let it out. But how? I asked the nurse how and suggested rolling on my side. “No, Mr. Bill. You will need to urinate into the container while not moving.” I protested, “That’s impossible. That will never work.” She smiled at me and said, “Let’s just have positive thoughts, shall we?” And then, like I needed extra motivation, she tells me, “If you can’t go, we will just have to insert a catheter. So do your best.” Uh, oh.
Several years ago someone stuck one of those things in me. I’m sure was an old garden hose. Back then, a male nurse (jokingly) informed me that they have a lady whose husband left her for a younger woman put them in. She is angry with all men for what that guy did to her, and she exacts revenge upon those of us who are so equipped. I recalled the pain of that experience and how it was many days later, before I could pee again without pain (Stephen King, are you listening?).
In less than two minutes I had filled the plastic jug to the brim without moving an inch. I handed to the nurse with a smile and asked her to keep that catheter thingy away from me. She smiled, let out a mildly sinister chuckle. Then she said, “See what positive thoughts can do.”
Finally, at about two in the morning, they managed to remove the tube from my artery with virtually no bleeding. That’s because the nurses maintained pressure on the wound for 25+ minutes. Then the clock started for a minimum of another four hours on my back.
I am grateful for all the nurses, doctors, techs, staff, cleaning crews, medical technology folks who manufacture the stents, the drugs, the plastic jugs, and all that they have done for me. I am grateful for my wife for being there and barking orders when the nurse was off dealing with other snarcastic old farts. I feel wonderful, my heart is doing great, and I am back to normal. Thank you.