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Hospital Games

Posted Jan 12 2010 12:13pm

My crisis had indeed been caused by my brain surgery. The pituitary gland where the tumor had been removed was responsible for the regulation of several different hormones, one of which “tells” the kidneys to reduce urine output to make it more concentrated in order to keep your electrolytes balanced. Because of trauma to this gland, the hormone wasn’t telling my kidneys to reduce output. It also caused me to be very thirsty. So I was drinking too much water, and urinating in wild abandon, causing me to be waterlogged and sodium depleted. It took several days of intravenous therapy to get my body back in balance. But I wasn’t released immediately because of the risk of it happening again. I learned that this was not an uncommon phenomenon after pituitary surgery. So why did the other hospital release me so soon?

My roommate was now able to hobble to the bathroom, so we both had “hats” to pee in so the nursing assistants could measure our output. Our instructions were to leave the hat in the toilet until it was measured and dumped. I was still on restricted water input, so accurate measurements of my intake and output was crucial. However, our names were not on our hats, so there would be no way a nursing assistant would know whose urine belonged to who. It would sometimes take them hours to come to our rooms to measure the urine, and sometimes by then, the other roomie would have to use the toilet, remove the hat and set it on the floor. By the time the nursing assistant would get there, she would have two hats of urine and no way to know which hat belonged to which roommate. My roommate and I had a great time waiting to see how long the nursing assistants would fake like they were getting accurate numbers. It wasn’t until the end of the week that we would finally see that each had a hat with our name on it – probably the work of an overachiever nurse wannabe.

Another game we had was called “messing with the temperature regulator.” I was fortunate in that my roommate had the same kind of temperature requirements as I did – we liked the room cool. Most all of the time the nurses would enter our room complaining about how cold it was, and crank up the heat. We never said anything to any of them; I would just get up as soon as a nurse left, and crank the regulator back to the opposite side. The funny thing was that the nurses never asked us what we wanted. I guess they just assumed if they were cold, we must be, too. What was even funnier was that as many times as we kept turning it back down to cool, they never asked how it got that way.

The nurse that wouldn’t give me a paper bag the first night was definitely on my bad side, so I enjoyed flaunting that I could have anti-anxiety medicine every four hours for my whole stay in the hospital. It was fun to watch the clock, and buzz her for it as soon as it was time. When she was on duty, she also had a difficult time remembering to give me my prednisone. I enjoyed reminding her of that, too. She really wasn’t a very nice person, and to top it off, she had dirty fingernails. The bright spots twice a day were when my family doctor and her physician assistant would visit me. She reassured me daily that she was keeping close tabs with my endocrinologist.

It was the end of the 1st week of June 2004. The week of my second hospital stay in two weeks finally ended, and I went home with trepidation. I still didn’t feel like my feet were on the ground, and the butterflies were still in my stomach. I wasn’t jumping out of my skin anymore, but I definitely didn’t feel like my old self. I found it difficult to concentrate and worried about starting nursing school in August. Even though I had lived with Cushing’s disease for many years, with its highs and lows, I felt much more agitated now. (At least with Cushing’s I was able to blow my nose.) Weaning off high doses of prednisone would keep me constantly edgy, irritable and unable to sleep when I wanted to – feelings I would have to live with for another 3-1/2 years.



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