Click the picture for the story of Calypso, the Three Legged Green Sea Turtle, and why she's my symbol

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Insights From Inside the ER

So this past week was eventful. Last weekend another wonderful bubble from the infection in my back popped up. I got sent to the ER, in Baltimore... again. I whiled the 14 hours in the ER, what with some time on my hands, I discovered a few simple truths of Hospitals.  

Spend enough time in the ER and you too will unlock the secrets to the universe.

The Turtle's 5 Universal Truths About Hospitals 

1) 15 hours of fasting will turn a tortilla, sub-par ham, and American cheese into the most delicious meal of your life. 

The possibility of surgery was looming. I wasn't allowed any food or drink because of the vast chance that surgery would be done that afternoon. Fortunately we had eaten at a mom and pop diner where I got a big breakfast.

It's getting around 10:45 pm and I'm getting really hungry. So I call in the nurse and ask her if, since there was little to no chance of my having surgery that evening if I could eat. She disappeared, saying that she would ask. Around 11:45 pm I gave up hope and there she was with a cold ham and cheese wrap. Kings don't eat this good.

To my brain, it was kind of like this.
2) If given headphones during a scan and the music stops... STOP THE SCAN!

They took me back frequently for MRI's, CT's, X-Rays... the list goes on. During the MRI, a very loud and noisy process, they frequently give you earplugs or music to listen to through headphones. I'm not usually claustrophobic but the first time I went through one of those just about gave me a heart attack.The music allows me to calm down and go off somewhere else.

They stopped the music temporarily while they loaded contrast into my IV. But when they went to stick me back in the machine they forgot to turn the music back on. I tried yelling and getting their attention without moving too much; I was afraid to mess up the scans.

I should have stopped the scan early on to point out the music situation. But I sat back and tried to grin and bear it. My heart was racing inside my chest the entire time but I made it through. It was only after pulling me from the machine that the tech noticed "Huh! I forgot to turn the music back on..." YA THINK!!!!!

The music is usually better when it's switched on!!!

3) Lies are often more dependable than the truth.

It was a lie, of course, that it wouldn't hurt a bit. But since adults always said that when it was going to hurt, he could count on that statement as an accurate prediction of the future. Sometimes lies were more dependable than the truth.” 
–Ender's thoughts
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Bandages come off, nurses or doctor comes in, checks it out, bandages back on. Repeat. Tape on and off... all night long. My favorite line "This should only hurt a little bit."

When a nurse actually said those words to me I thought of this book.

4) My poor braincells. DAMN YOU FAMILY FEUD!

The TV was on to Family Feud. If any of you know Family Feud, it's been on so long that it's had 6 hosts since 1976. There are decades worth of the most obscure topics that you've ever seen. I felt I was both learning and killing brain cells at the same time. At least it killed time.

The show where everything's made up and the points don't matter.

5) "You smell clean... like... sanitary!"

The response from my awesome friend when I got back. Though I laughed it off, this reminded me of all the chemical smells of the hospital. All the disease, all the meticulous cleanliness, all the life, and all the death... all the cleaning products. Though you can leave the hospital the smells and memories never leave you.

Hospital Rooms have that great ability to make you feel super clean and super creeped out at the same time.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Why I Need A New Brace and What Happened in Colorado

When I walk I use an AFO, or Ankle Foot Orthosis. (A fancy name for an ankle brace) This little shell of plastic ends up doing more than its share of the work when I walk. I'll lean on the front to hold myself up, take full advantage of the small spring in my step that it gives me, and unintentionally bang it against nearly every object.

So True! Meanies!

While my old AFO has been good to me, it's time to move on to a new brace. I always feel better if I have a goal, something to work towards. And for the last year or so that goal has been learning to master my current AFO. Now that I've pretty much got that down, I'm finding myself getting comfortable again... and therein lies the trap! Once I'm comfortable I don't work as hard and I stop making progress, at least until I pick myself up and start again. This happened with my wheelchair, my KAFO, and now this. It's time to push on before I start sliding backwards.

My new brace, the ToeOFF. It's lightweight, it's cool looking, and it's something new to work on. What's not to love?

The new brace is called the Toeoff. It's got a sleek design, with only one very strong carbon fiber cable on the side. It gives me support but far less than I'm used to. The one feature that's vastly improved over my previous brace is that it has increased spring in the ankle, which propels your body forward. It's still hard to use and it will take a lot of practice but I'm confident that just like all the others I'm going to master this too. And I can guarantee that once I do my question will be, “What's next?”