I'm Back (and Furious!)
I'd like to share my experience with you, but make it as short and sweet as possible. Take this as a cautionary tale that will encourage you to leave the hospital as soon as you are able.
Incidentally, today is the first day that I'm somewhat mobile with almost the same pain level as I had prior to the surgery. That's still a lot of pain, but it's pain I'm used to, you see, so I can handle it so far.
Wednesday (the day of my surgery) the ETA changed a couple times. They finally wheeled me in for surgery around noon. But then I had an attack of nerves and insisted on speaking with the doctor just one more time to make sure this was really what had to be done. This delayed the process even more, which my loved ones weren't aware of. So, they paced nervously about for hours and a surgery that was supposed to take 1 1/2 hours stretched into 3.
I was finally released and came to in great discomfort. I guess that's pretty obvious, huh? After all, they'd sliced open the front half of my neck, removed two shattered bones, and replaced them with cadaver bones. The doctor told us later that it was a good thing that he went in when he did, because two of my major nerves were severely impacted and there was a great deal of debris and shattered bone that was only going to make my symptoms worsen with time.
Anyway, after the surgery I was sent to the tender care of the nursing staff at Morton Plant Hospital.
It was almost impossible to reach a button to page a nurse, with the stiffness and soreness I experienced. So, I was dependant upon their checking on me on a regular basis. As one nurse told me later, they had to deal with 12 patients at a time, instead of their usual 8. I, apparently, got in the way.
First I accidentally spilled my gingerale as I was turning to get more comfortable in my hard-as-a-rock hospital bed. For the next 24 hours, the nursing staff noted and ignored the sugary wet liquid which had spilled all over the bed tray and the floor underneath it. They would put drinks and medications on the tray, and even a food tray there, completely ignoring the sludge underneath.
Around 3 AM Thursday morning, I woke up in extreme pain and managed to page the nurse's station. I told them I was in great pain, and they said someone would be with me shortly. When you're in that sort of pain, every minute feels like an hour. I waited 15 minutes and paged the nurse again. They told me someone was on the way. 15 minutes later, an aid happened to be passing by and heard me crying hysterically. They finally got around to me, then.
The medication they gave me for pain nauseated me. I asked them repeatedly to call the doctor for another alternative prescription but they never did. Instead, they continued to give me an added medication to supposedly stop the nausea. It worked most of the time, but I ended up vomiting twice. Now that feels really good when you've just had your neck ripped open.
I was always cold. Visitors marvelled at how blue I was all the time. Because I didn't have the strength or chutzpah to ask for the nurses (The Person Who Holds the Needles Holds The Reigns) I was continually neglected and only had three thin blankets at the most. One nurse mentioned casually that my room was always the coldest or hottest in the whole place. I longed for it to be the hottest!
Knowing my body very well, I told them that I didn't need all the strong painkillers. Instead, a benadryl and an anti-spasmodic (for muscles) would take care of not only the pain, but would also help the healing process. They pooh poohed my comments and told me that they knew best (why call the doctor and disturb him?)
My throat began swelling shut, and I saw a tracheotomy in my future if I didn't get out of there.
So, less than 24 hours after my surgery, I called my friend and assistant (Zen Buddhist) and asked her to come get me. She was in a panic, and didn't want to. I insisted. She reluctantly retrieved me and brought me home, where I was able to take benadryl and an anti-spasmodic and get some rest in a warm bed. I slept for 6 hours straight, and found that I was getting well when I woke up.
The moral of the story is: Never stay in the hospital unless you don't have a home to go to.
And, nurses are the last resort. See if you have a neighborhood witchdoctor first. You'll stand a better chance of recovering.