Thursday, July 14, 2011

My Marshmallow Man Arm

I woke up day three feeling off, around 5AM. I was hugely uncomfortable. I think terrible was the word I used at the time to describe it. I tried to pinpoint what was making me feel so off. My abdomen had a small bit of pain-nothing to write home about though. I hadn't showered it what felt like an eon but I was pretty sure that wasn't it either. I felt heavy, achy and sore all over but especially on the left side of my upper body. I adjusted the bed to try to get more comfortable. AS I was doing that I realized what the problem was. My left arm was extremely swollen, to the point it was numb in places, with pins and needles in others.

Remember the efforts they took to get Righty working a bit harder? Well sometime after the diuretic was administered and the new bad of IV fluids was hung, my IV failed. The better part of 1 litre of fluid had drained into my arm overnight with nowhere to really go. My arm looked like it belonged to the Marshmallow man.

I couldn't bend my fingers or wrist. My whole hand ached-the kind of bone ache you get if you put your hand in icy water. I couldn't really grip anything or put weight on my hand or wrist (kind of key when you are trying to sit up after abdominal surgery). Conversely my elbow and upper arm were numb. I could bend it somewhat but couldn't really feel it. My shoulder and collar bone area hurt as well. I touched the skin-it was burning hot although wasn't pink or anything. You could feel the heat coming off of it.

At this point in my stay I had developed an aversion to buzzing the nurses station because it usually meant I'd get a grumpy voice on the other end (in one case on nurse actually was angry at me for accidently hitting a button twice). It also almost always meant nothing would happen (i.e no one would show up or would take an hour plus to show which is about the same thing when you are in a hospital bed). What would I say anyway? I think my IV has failed? No they wouldn't like that because that would be self diagnosis. My arm hurts? That would likely have the same response rate as a request for ice chips. It was probably stupid on my part but I waited another hour until shift change before doing anything.

A little after shift change a nurse showed up-she was the super nice one who had pushed me to the nurses station the day before surgery. She was just checking in-she wasn't my nurse (was a floater for the day) but thought she'd say hi and see how I was doing. I told her I was okay but something was wrong with my arm-maybe the IV had failed? She came over to check right away. She took one look and agreed that was exactly what had happened. She immediately took steps to stop more liquid from flowing into my arm. She couldn't believe how hot my arm was-she had never seen that before. She was also surprised my arm hadn't been noticed earlier. I told her I wasn't checked on a whole lot so that was probably why. She shook her head and said compared to some of the other patients on the floor and the nature of their injuries, I was a walk in the park. She went on to acknowledge and confirm some of the feelings I had had about my level of care-I don't want to get into details because I'd never want to see her get in trouble for speaking the truth. It made me feel better to know that my concerns weren't all in my head.

Depsite the IV being out, my arm still felt terrible and it was really impacting how I felt overall. My spirits were buoyed however by the arrival of my breakfast (vegetable consomm√© and red jello). (Okay not really!)

At least it was red Jello and not lime. Things were looking up. And it was time for a nap.

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