Wednesday, May 22, 2013

My Transplant: That Bike Keeps Staring At Me...

Around Day +4 (four days after Transplant Day 0) I already had mucositis bad (described here). Real bad.

To stave off some of the pain, I was on heavy-duty opiates. My doctors made daily adjustments to my pain med dosage to ease the pain, but also to keep my hallucinations under control. My nurses would check in with me a few times a day and ask "On a scale from 1 to 10, how is your pain?" and, "On a scale of amusing to psychotic, how are your hallucinations?" They didn't want to give me too much to cause permanent damage, but they had to give a substantial amount to keep the pain at bay. It was difficult to mediate both, and often it didn't seem like either issue was mitigated. This left me with a lot of pain and a lot of hallucinations.

I remember very little of my three weeks in the hospital. I think that's probably a good thing because the few memories I do have are filled with horrendous mucositis, anal seepage, and painful vomiting. There was little amusing about the entire process. At one point my nurse checked my breathing and told me my right lung was "diminished", which I can only assume is one step down from a collapsed lung. I had to do special breathing exercises to prevent permanently damaging my lungs.

In all seriousness, lot of my hallucinations were frightening and frustrating. Looking back, however, my loose grasp on reality was hilarious!

Some of my hallucinations were adorable. I saw dogs and cats running around people legs and around the floor. My cat was a frequent guest as well.

Some hallucination were gross. I would hallucinate bugs all over my room, to a point where I was concerned that my room was not as sanitary as the doctors had told me.

Some were creepy, as in the time when I thought the exercise bike in my room was a really tall lady staring at me:

SIDE NOTE! I had an exercise bike in my room:

It was there because I lost almost all of my muscle mass and I needed to do some sort of exercise each day to increase my chances of survival. (This was in addition to my daily exertion of shuffling to the toilet and back, a trek that seemed like climbing Mt. Everest.) Since I couldn't leave my room for the bulk of my hospital stay, they offer these bikes to transplant patients. After hallucinating that it was a woman staring at me, we had to cover it with a blanket.

Others hallucinations were just confusing. Doors appeared in walls and opened onto mysterious rooms:

And then one day a toddler in a yellow dress stood at the foot of my bed and stared at me. She left when I got mad and asked, "Who let this kid in here?!"

Every day I asked my mom if they had moved me to another room because I was convinced the room I was in was completely new. She continued to assure me that I had been in the same room since my transplant. And then I got tired of her disagreeing with me all the time:

Despite everything, the hallucinations certainly brought a spark of excitement to a reality that was filled with pain.

1 comment:

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