ICU, U C me, but I don’t C me

So much for picking up groceries today. I managed to forget both my wallet and my phone when I went out. No money, and no way to text J. incessantly for her input. Oh well. The grocery store will be there tomorrow.

Further to my last post, I spent 13 days checking out the facilities in Calgary’s state-of-the-art ICU. Except there are no facilities, or at least not for the inpatients.

Yes, one of the first things I noticed upon my arrival to the Unit was that my room had no washroom. This perplexed me. Where would I go when I had to go? It turned out I would have to go in bed, with assistance of course. Catheters, diapers, and bedpans are ICU staples. Thank goodness for that little red call bell.

J. explained why I wouldn’t be getting out of bed when she spotted the hard-to-miss Octopus (her term), a multi-armed IV stand. The usual spindly IV stand in a regular hospital room, a.k.a. The Skinny Bitch, would be dwarfed by this monster. My Octopus held numerous bags of medication, fluids, and nutrition to keep me alive. Yay, no hospital food!

So, you see, the reason there are no facilities in these rooms is that ICU patients are so enmeshed with their Octopi (of course I had to look that plural up) and other medical equipment that they cannot get out of bed. For the same reason, inpatient yoga classes are not offered to help ICU patients manage the stress of being in hospital.

The other thing missing from my ICU room was privacy. The wall facing into the Unit was all windows. That allowed all the “smart kids” (defined in previous post) to watch over me day and night. My nurse’s station–yes, I even had my own nurse–looked into my room. Thankfully, curtains could be drawn when I was being changed (interpret “changed” as you will). I would have changed myself but recall The Octopus, above.

Beagle looking in small mirrorTo this day, I am grateful there was no mirror in my room. Had I been able to see what my medical crisis was doing to my body, I might have died for real. Once I was transferred back to a regular unit, I was horrified when I first caught my reflection. I did not recognize this person, with my distended belly, spindly legs and arms, and jaundice. The washroom fixtures were mustard yellow–call it “midcentury outdated”–a highly insensitive choice of colour for the jaundiced among us.

I pray you are never in the ICU as a patient or visitor, but if you are, you’ll know now what to expect. Be sure to bring your own diapers, to ask for the blinds to be drawn as needed, and to leave your compact at home.

I realize these last two posts have been intense. Don’t worry, dear followers, Friday is coming, and Friday is fish for you and levity for me. I’m gearing up to talk about the drosophila (please don’t ask me the plural of that one). You now have 24 hours to look the word up if you, like me, don’t use it often in a sentence.

 

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