I haven’t written here in a long time. At first it was because I was very excited to get started on my road to recovery, then it was because I was super busy working toward associated goals that would lead me back to work. More specifically, I was going to physiotherapy three days a week to begin strength training so I wouldn’t be too much of a lush. I gained strength and energy very quickly, but started to lose it equally fast. I was also busy volunteering with girl guides. I had a spark and brownie group and was also helping with extra stuff within the guiding movement. For a good month everything was going great and I was ready to greet the excitement that came with what would be the end of my year and a half illness.
Things wend downhill fast. I started to get really tired at the gym and couldn’t understand why. I thought maybe I was just really out of the exercising curve since I hadn’t really done much when I was ill. I couldn’t figure out why people would say that you feel better the more you go to the gym, because I was feeling much worse. I had strange pains that I figured were just muscles learning how to work again, or for the first time in some cases. The chills were just allergies. I had been in the house all through spring last year so maybe my body was just naturally more sensitive to those spring things that I usually got through with a slightly stuffy nose.
So one Tuesday in April I dragged my sorry self out of bed, believing I just had a bladder infection and tried to force myself to go to my first day back to work in a year and a half. I was just nervous, I told myself, nervous about starting my first day. I wasn’t use to getting up at quarter to five in the morning anymore and once I ate I would feel better. Once I took a shower I would feel better. Once I put on those scrubs and became my former nurse self I would feel much better.
The 39 degree fever didn’t agree with me. I had never experienced a bladder infection before, but figured maybe they were this bad at first. My denial pushed both common sense and a four year nursing degree out the window. That night I finally went to the hospital, convinced this was a simple problem of being placed on the wrong antibiotics and perhaps a culture would show the sensitivities to be wrong.
I left three days later with a diagnosis of a new abscess and a tube inserted to drain it. My spirits got lost somewhere between the painful IV starts and my eighth cat scan (am I starting to glow yet?). The process repeated two weeks later when the tube blocked and had to be removed and replaced.
I think that was the most annoying trip to the hospital I have ever had, the replacement visit. My surgeon wanted me to be seen by gynaecology because she was worried the IUD I had was causing the infection. I had a tubal abscess as well and she wanted to make sure we were doing the right thing to treat it. She called Infectious Disease to make sure I was on the right antibiotics. She also wanted the IUD removed since I had a fistula to my uterus that she found during my last operation and she didn’t want any infection hanging around. I was suppose to explain all this, because she had a surgery to go to, but they were to page her if there was any confusion and she would explain it herself through one of her residents.
Something interesting about the nurse-patient ratio. I’m not talking about the one you usually hear about: the number of nurses present to care for a patient. This is the amount of time that will pass when a nurse is sick before she seems to suddenly know nothing. Nothing about her body and certainly nothing about healthcare. In any situation I have found it is much easier to advocate for my patients than myself. At least when I am at work I am on an even playing field with the doctors. I have proven myself to them. They know I have the goods to back up a theory. This takes time, and is something that must be started anew each year when they fresh second year residents arrive ready to save the world, one mother and baby at a time.
When you become a patient this slowly fades away. There are days when I can’t even come up with a proper argument to try and present my own case. Days later, I will think one up, and wish I could just be transported back to that day when I was sitting in a hospital bed feeling like a fool. Enter the new obs resident, so new she hasn’t even worked with me before. I was not a nurse to her, not even a was-nurse. And she wasn’t really sure why she was there.
The day went by and after one huge bout of frustration on my part she went to call her staff doc. Before she did this, she tried to inform me that she could understand my frustrations. I wanted to laugh in her face. She had no idea what my frustrations were. I was sitting in a bed, in a hospital yet again. No one could tell me why this happened and everyone had different theories. No one could tell me how I could prevent this in the future or if it was going to go away anytime soon. I should be back to work and I’m not. And I have a growing list of phrases that shouldn’t be said to a chronically ill person, although I do understand that people often don’t know what to say when faced with a person informing them they are sick yet again:
1. I understand your frustrations (see above)
2. At least it’s not cancer! (I don’t know where to start with this. At least with cancer there is an end game, and just because it’s not cancer doesn’t mean it’s not crappy)
3. Gee you have really bad luck! (No I have a sick body. If luck had anything to do with it this would have happened in the seven years after I broke that mirror ten years ago)
4. Back again? (Yes…)
5. But you look really good! (I understand this is an attempt to make me feel better, but at the moment I would rather be twenty pounds heavier and have my life back)
6. But it’s just infection right? (No, it’s just an abscess that this drain might not clear. Then what?)
7. So when are you coming back to work now? (I don’t know)
8. So what if the drain doesn’t work? (I don’t know)
9. Yes I heard you’ve been in the hospital off and on. (Understatement of the year)
10. Aren’t you lucky you get to sit home and rest! (Yes I just love watching Netflix. I’m currently on my third round of Glee)
Please note I won’t take it personally if any of this is said to me. Mostly I’m just in a bad mood and take these phrases as a personal insult, when really I know it’s just that people don’t know what to say. But I had to get my frustrations out somewhere and this is my blog, so what better place?