Another picture I took that fateful day at a place that I now lovingly call Rattlesnake Ranch.
I was finally headed up to ICU.The morphine was fun, but it wasn’t doing a great job keeping my pain at bay. The nurse asked me where my pain was on a scale from 1-10, 10 being the worst. I answered that it was around a nine.
She said I’m going to try another medication with you. It’s called Dilaudid. For those of you who have never had Dilaudid...I’m sorry.
The nurse shot the drug into one of the many tubes dangling from my arms, I felt this weird feeling creep up the back of my neck and then, then...Nirvana. What snakebite? You doctors and nurses sure are pretty—and nice—and good conversationalists. Can we all live together in a house by the sea?
The bad part about my stay in ICU was that it is a little clouded by my friend Dilaudid. The good part about my stay in ICU was that it is a little clouded by my friend Dilaudid.
The first person I met in the ICU was my cute male night nurse Page who helped me into my big new high tech bed with all the bells and whistles.
Page hooked me up to monitors then poured fluids, antivenin, and really good drugs down my veins. He brought me pillows, warm blankets, pudding, and Jello—and gallons of ice water.
He brought me little green socks, moisturizer for my lips, toothbrushes, and combs. He had to watch as the stubble grew on my big fat ugly blue leg and helped me brush my teeth and change my foley (that would be my urine bag).
The only thing I could say that was remotely bad about Page was he liked to talk rather loudly during the middle of the night with the other bored nursing staff. But what he took from me in sleep, he gave back to me in Dilaudid.
My daytime nurse was a guy named Ip. Ip was equally as saintly as Page. He performed all the same duties as Page—except Ip took a special interest—in my urine.
The first few days of my hospital stay, I had many visitors. Each time one came and sat in the chair next to my bed, Ip would take this as an opportunity to empty my foley, which just happen to be hanging by the feet of my guests. I found it quite amusing to watch my poor disconcerted visitors shrink away in awkward disgust as Ip emptied the foley in to another container. (I couldn’t see this, but I’m sure it probably splashed a little. It is liquid, after all.)
Then Ip would hold the golden fluid up to the light, get a big smile on his face and say in his wonderful Taiwanese accent, “dat’s a goo ouput.” How can you not love someone who loves your wee-wee so much?
I have never felt so loved as during this whole rattlesnake ordeal.
I had many friends come to visit my in the hospital. I love my friends, I truly do. They know what I like. I received loads of flowers—which I love—but I also received other things like trashy gossip rag magazines, some sort of rattlesnake venom infused alcoholic beverage, and little knick-knacks decorated in a rattlesnake motif.
But the best was the rubber rattlesnake, mostly because it gave me something to do. I wore it around my neck. I put it on my dinner tray and under my bedding with just a little bit peeking out.
Again, my sense of humor was not appreciated by the staff.
I didn’t sleep the first couple of days because—besides being disturbed every hour or two for either meds, food, or blood draws—my monitor alarm would buzz every few minutes to warn the staff that my blood pressure was so, so low and my breathing was slow.
Then, when it wasn’t setting off an alarm, my blood pressure monitor would squeeze my arm so tight I thought my head was going to pop off. This happened every 15 minutes or so. Ah the joys of ICU—more Dilaudid please.
On the second or third day in ICU, when it looked as though I was out of the woods for compartment syndrome, I finally fell asleep.
I fell asleep about eight o’clock in the morning.
At about 10:30 am I woke up to find four doctors in my room staring at me with very concerned looks on their faces. I actually smiled a blissful sleepy smile and said “Good morning.”
They still stood there looking concerned.
I started to sit up and one of the doctors spoke. I believe his name was Dr. Harris. He told me that they had come in to talk to me and when I didn’t wake up each one had taken a turn trying to shake me awake but I didn’t even flutter an eyelash.
Boy, they sure don’t like it when you sleep in ICU.
I was given approximately 44 vials of the antivenin Crofab when two things started to happen, one good, one bad.
The swelling leveled off in my leg and showed signs of actually reversing. But I was showing signs of “serum sickness” also.
Serum sickness is a reaction to the antivenin, which is similar to an allergic reaction.
The doctors decided to put me on a maintenance dose of Crofab, —just two vials per bag of saline—where I had been getting six before. Almost as soon as they did this the terrible swelling started to return to my leg.
So back to six vials per bag.
I ended up receiving 66 vials of antivenin, which is very expensive. Depending on whom you talk to, Crofab costs between $1,000 and $3,000 per vial.
Boy, what I could have done with that $132,000. I could have bought a brand new pair of yoga pants just like the ones that the firemen cut off me.
My husband told me to quit bitching about my yoga pants and be glad I’m alive.