Pulling a needle out sometimes hurts worse than sticking it in.

#Bionic Man 2.4. Friday, April 1, 2016. Finally had to break down and take oxycodon last night so I could get some sleep.  It worked.  Between the spinal block wearing off and strenuous physical therapy yesterday, the pain in my leg made it impossible to fall asleep without some chemical assistance.

I was very tired because the night before had been quite eventful.  About 11 pm on Wednesday, the alarm for my saline drip started ringing.  It had been doing that off and on since the afternoon.  Using my hands to push off the bed to get up for physical therapy disturbed the port in the back of my left hand. After that, I seemed to set the alarm off whenever I moved my hand too far.  If I stayed still after the nurse reset the alarm, things remained quiet.  This time, however, no matter how still I stayed the alarm would ring as soon as the nurse reached the door.  I needed a new needle stick to replace the port.  When the nurse removed the old port, she saw that the needle had been bent and rebent into the shape of a “z.”  She taped some gauze over the site of the old port and went out to get what she needed.

When she returned, she found that I had soaked the gauze with blood, which had then seeped through my blanket and sheet.  Since it didn’t hurt, I had not been paying attention.  I kept pressure on the gauze over the site of the first stick while she tried to find a vein above my left wrist.  Twice.  Each stick involved probing around in hopes of hitting the blood vessel.  After two tries she called for the nurse who specialized in needle sticks.  This was the same protocol they used with Laura.  The probing around once the needle was in caused Laura excruciating pain.  The black-and-blue marks on Laura’s arm lasted more than four months afterwards.  That tells me that the physical injury causing her pain was much worse than mine.  Besides I was dosed up with Tylenol, Celebrex and injectable NSAID shortly before this procedure.

The nurse specializing in difficult needle sticks didn’t get to me until after 12:30 am on Thursday.  She just went to the right arm, saying that I had “beautiful veins” there.  She got a port into a vein just above my right wrist, with little probing.  She left around 1 am.  I fell asleep only to be wakened by the nursing assistant to check vital signs.  She must have been concerned about my 180 blood pressure because the nurse came in shortly after I had fallen asleep again to ask if I normally had high blood pressure.  The first time they took my blood pressure at the hospital it was over 190.  The nurses seemed to dismiss this reading as just a sign of my nervousness over the pending operation.  Between now (late Friday afternoon) and then (early Wednesday) morning, blood pressure readings have bounced around between 134 and 191.  Yesterday I declined the hospital internist’s suggestion that I take blood pressure medication.  Today she just prescribed losartin.  So I took it.

Back to Wednesday night-Thursday morning.  I got some sleep between 2 and 5 am when a man in a white coat came in to  check on me.  In my fog I thought he might be a surgical resident or fellow.  Now I’m thinking he may have been my surgeon’s PA (physician’s assistant) who came in this morning to remove my surgical bindings.  Thursday morning he was chatting with me when I felt a very sharp pain in my left thigh. (10+ on a scale of 1 go 10.)   I asked what happened.  He told me that he’d pulled out the drain which had been collecting blood and stuff from the site of my surgery.  Obviously his technique was to reduce the stress of anticipation by taking me by surprise.  I’m not sure about the trade-off because surprise contributed to the sharpness of the pain.  At least the pain went away as quickly as it arrived.

Tomorrow (Saturday morning) I’m to be discharged to St. Lawrence Rehab, where PT will torture me for about a week.  (As I remember, St. Lawrence was martyred by being slow roasted on a grill.)  PT taught me how to get in and out of cars.  We’ll see how well that works in real life when we drive to St. Lawrence in Gale’s car.

One Comment

  1. Ouch! Sorry to hear of all the needle sticks and alarms and pain. Moving to me that when you have certain hard experiences you think of Laura. Fingers crossed that the next steps are not too hard.
    With love, Julie

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