It was 10am and I didn’t even have time to call Mr. Vixen at work before they wheeled MacD off again.
As I sat in the waiting room, I made phone calls. Suddenly the world started heaving and rolling beneath me. Dear God, I thought, it’s an earthquake. We are having an earthquake while someone stands over my son with a knife in his hands. Employees were running up and down the halls. As I sat stunned, I called home and told the kids to check the TV. Sure enough, we had just had a 5.7 earthquake. The kids said they had barely felt it. I was concerned because “barely felt” was nothing close to what I had experienced. I grabbed one of the nurses in the hall and was informed that the hospital was built on rollers to withstand damage during an earthquake. This made the tremors feel more significant inside the hospital. I went around the corner to the chapel again, dropped to my knees and began praying.
This surgery took almost two hours. Dr. B came out and explained that the disease had spread again, closer to MacD’s abdomen. He felt sure that this time he had gotten it all. I was curious as to how this could be so bad so fast? Dr. B said this disease appeared in the body like tiny vines, was hard to see, and spread very rapidly. This time, Dr. B said, he had left the wound open to better monitor. This meant the healing process would be much, much slower as we would have to wait as MacD healed from the inside out.
Upon return to his room MacD began vomiting uncontrollably. He was in terrible pain, opened up from rear to front, and retching. He was given a morphine pump. The nursing staff moved a bed in the room for me. The room was small and during the day they folded it up, put it in the hall, and marked it with a note that said “Do Not Take.” It was
stolen borrowed every single day and each night we had to search for another. At one point we required something and were ignored for hours. I became angry and confronted the nurse. He explained he was new and quite busy, as the lady in the room next to us and passed away. As the shifts came and went we had good nurses and bad nurses. The packing in MacD’s wound had to be changed twice each shift. It was terribly painful to remove and to repack. One nurse actually cried, silently, at the pain he had to endure. One nurse, known to us as Jennifer Devil, RN was abrupt and unfeeling. At one point during a dressing change, MacD cried out that the morphine was not working. She rudely informed him that it was the same amount he always received added to his IV. I actually had to yell at her to stop what she was doing for a minute. Then I pointed out that she had indeed added the morphine to his IV, but had forgotten to open the drip up. She apologized, opened up the drip and told us she would return in five minutes after the medication had time to work. MacD was shaking violently with pain. That evening MacD was very thirsty. I had repeatedly asked for more water/ice and it had been an hour. I found Jennifer Devil RN at the desk. I repeated my request through the window. She pointed to her watch (it was 7:05 and shifts changed at 7:00), shook her head no, made a slicing motion across her neck and went back to her paperwork. I was furious. I complained to the new nurse and to the head nurse. After that, I found out that she requested to be assigned to another section of our floor as long was we were there.
MacD slowly improved. He was more coherent and didn’t need the morphine as much, except during dressing changes. Dr. B had been continually asking me if I was a doctor. At one point as a nurse was changing his dressing, she asked for my assistance. She said that Dr. B had told the staff that I was a nurse. I do have a long background in the medical field, but I am no nurse. I learned as I went and I learned fast. One day when MacD was very hungry I asked a CNA to find out what he could have. After some time, she returned and gave him a Boost. When she left the room and I grabbed it and read the ingredients. I called the nurse into the room and asked if someone who’s blood sugar was often nearing 600 should be given a sugar drink? Of course not. There were so many instances like that and I knew I was right to never leave his side.
The days were long and difficult. His friends came to visit and tried to cheer him up. I was not paying very close attention, but there was something about ‘assless chaps’ and the Village people. I laughed until I cried. Sparkles came daily and fell in love with the food cart girls. He would leave his phone number on the board and ask me to pass it on to them. One day MacD’s phone rang while I was at the cafeteria and it was in my purse. It was a friend of his who had been in a horrible car accident the night before, in which another friend of theirs had died. I told him not to call and kept it a secret from MacD until he was stronger.
On the seventh or ninth or eleventh day (I honestly can’t remember), Dr. B said that MacD could be discharged, but would still need wound care twice a day. We could go into a nursing facility or “would you, Dr. Mom, like to learn how to do it so you can keep him at home?” MacD thought that was a good idea. I wasn’t so sure, but for my son, I would do anything. Training began and by the next morning we were able to go home. As we were discharged, I asked Dr. B about MacD’s diabetes diagnosis and what medication he would take for that. Dr. B said he could not make that diagnosis (although the boy was on insulin the entire time we were there) and we should follow up with his primary care for that diagnosis.
To be continued….