Thursday, October 20, 2005

back home after one night stay in the hospital

I went to the hospital for the insertion of a tunneled catheter on Wednesday morning as planned. The hospital information sheet given to me describes a tunneled catheter as "a soft flexible tube that is tunneled under the skin and placed in a large vein just above the collarbone. The catheter sits inside the large vein that carries blood to the heart. The catheter is tunneled under the skin to help prevent infection. . . . Tunneled catheters eliminate the need for frequent needle sticks and are used to give medications and fluids. They are also placed in patients needing dialysis or chemotherapy." The procedure was delayed about 2 hours, because of problems with a previous patient. When I finally made it into the operating room and saw the equipement around me, I became more nervous. Having waited for almost two hours in a cool hospital room wearing a thin, hospital gown, I lost the bravado which I had brought into the room intially, of course, hoping that the procedure would start momentarily. I was ready to "get it on" ASAP, but as I said there was a delay.

Actually, it wasn't painful at all. I felt pressure in the area of my upper chest (near the collarbone), where the catheter was being inserted, but no pain. I think the absence of any pain is in part due to the morphin they gave me. And boy, that was the absolute coolest part of the whole experience. Let's just say I went a bit "trippy." It's the wierdest but coolest thing: there I was on the operating table in the middle of what looked like the teleport in the movie Stargate going in and out of what I guess were mild hallucinations. Kaleidoscopic images of different faces changed before my eyes. The smooth and effortless transformation of images is perhaps similar to the abstract visualizations seen when music is played on Windows Media Player.

Afterwards, however, I learned that my heart became a little eratic towards the end of the procedure. The medical staff decided that although I was most likely fine, they wanted to keep an eye on me (and my heart) overnight. So, what was intended to be an outpatient procedure turned into a one night stay at the hospital. While I waited for a hospital bed for the night, family friends visited me and bought me food and gave me some much needed reading material. I was verypleased to see them.

This morning the doctors (who were all very friendly and attentive by the way) reviewed the data and by about 12:15 this afternoon, I was a free man. The area around the catheter is still sore and it will take a couple of days before the soreness disappears. Otherwise I feel fine.


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