The Chronicles of Back Surgery - Part IV: This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs...

Nicole was my daytime nurse on Friday. She came in and introduced herself, then asked me how I was doing and wanted to know if I was comfortable. I quickly explained to Nicole that my entire goal in life for that day was to say absolutely as medicated as possible in order to avoid the realization of what a shitty situation I was in. I asked her if she knew what the results of my MRI showed, but she had no idea. Nicole did say that that a surgeon named Dr. Largent was supposed to be coming by to see me and talk about what my MRI had shown. Knowing that the doctor would be there relatively soon, I decided to put off getting another fix of hospital heroin. For some odd reason, I felt like I would need a clear head to understand exactly what he was going to tell me. By the time he got there, I was wishing that I’d gone ahead and taken that shot.

Dr. Largent finally showed up around 8:30 AM just as the fire in my legs re-ignited. The good doctor told me that my MRI revealed two ruptured disks and one herniated disk in my lower back. The ruptured disks were pressing on the nerves in my spinal column and were causing the pain and numbness in the lower half of my body. Doc Largent said that he was referring me to a specialist for further evaluation and treatment. The specialist would decide what type of surgical procedure would be necessary to correct the problem. I was told that the spinal specialist, Dr. Brown, would be coming by later that day to examine me and go over the procedure. The only ray of sunshine in the dark cloud of this conversation was that Doc Largent increased my pain medication frequency from once every four hours to once every two hours. The good doctor wasn’t even out of the doorway before I was hitting the nurse call button. Within a few minutes, Nicole showed up with my fix. As she injected the sweet, merciful nectar of the Gods into my bloodstream, she said that she was surprised that the doctor had increased my dosage. Drifting off into peaceful nirvana, all I could utter in response was, “I’ll see you in two hours…”

I succeeded in my goal of staying high all day on Friday. Nicole came by about every two and a half hours with my cocktail of body-numbing serum and kept me in a constant state of Shangri-La. Every time she would come in I would ask her if she had seen Dr. Brown, but he was AWOL. As daytime blended into night, Nicole left and Sherri came in. She said that Dr. Brown had called and added some additional medications to my daily ration of narcotics. I was to receive a muscle relaxant shot twice daily and a steroid shot once per day. Neither of them seemed to add to, or detract from my high, so I wasn’t really concerned. I was kind of confused and wondered why Dr Brown hadn’t made it by to check me out. Dr. Largent acted as if they would be looking to operate pretty quickly. I wasn’t sure if Brown’s absence was a good thing or not. Maybe I wasn’t all that bad if he wasn’t concerned enough to examine me on Friday? Surely he’d seen my MRI and knew what was wrong. Just as well, I was so screwed up on the synthetic black tar heroin that I probably wouldn’t have understood anything he was coming to tell me anyway.

Friday night was little more than a dark, hazy blur. I slept really hard for the first time in a week or so. I guess I had so much smack in my system that I finally just fell out. I slept clean through from about 11:00 that night until a little before 6:00AM Saturday morning. When I woke up I was beginning to hurt again. My legs were starting to burn and my feet were as cold as ice. I realized that I’d slept through my last two pharmaceutical pit-stops and must have been running on fumes. I hit the nurse call button and asked for another pain shot, then waited for the Angel of Mercy to come to my rescue. Five minutes went by… Then ten… Then twenty minutes. I didn’t want to piss the nurses off like Donnie and keep hitting the call button so I gave it some more time. After an hour had gone by, my legs were fully engulfed in flames. At that point I didn’t care if it hair-lipped the Pope; I hit the button again. The voice on the other end said that someone would be there right away to give me my shot.

Again, I waited. Ten minutes… Twenty minutes… Time seemed to drag on and on... Finally at ten minutes after 8:00 AM, my new nurse, Tiffany, showed up with my rig. As politely and respectfully as I could muster, I inquired as to why the fuck it took so long for a fucking nurse to do their fucking job and walk 30 fucking feet down the hall to give me the fucking medicine that was keeping me the fuck alive. She said that the night crew worked 11:00 PM to 7:00 AM and started preparing for shift change at about 6:00 AM; doing paperwork and somesuch. Then the day crew came on at 7:00 AM and worked until 3:00 PM. It takes every new crew about an hour to get up to speed on all of the patients’ charts before they hit the floor. Tiffany advised me to call about an hour and a half before shift change if I was going to need a shot while the crews were working on their handoff. That’s when I made a mental note to self: Try not to go into cardiac arrest or have any sort of life threatening crisis during shift change; you might have trouble getting a Band Aid…

No comments: