23 September 2010

UVA Hospital: Day Six

Day Six was my last substantive day in the hospital. I made it through the night and was granted permission to sleep after the doctors made their morning rounds. I pulled up my blanket, closed my eyes and felt a refreshing darkness begin to pass across me when someone gently touched my shoulder. I opened my eyes and...

It was my sister!!!!

My youngest brother!!!

And my mom!!!

Holy crap. Their timing could not have been worse but what a treat after five days in the hospital to see people who didn't want to relocate my IV, didn't want to ask me if I had pooped, or weren't a horrible festering specimen of humanity.

[begin tangent]

Yes, they had to replace the IV once. The IV started out in my hand but, after two days, it became swollen and very painful. The IV nurse came by, shimmied the IV back and forth in the vein to make sure it was positioned properly (begin nausea) and then unsuccessfully tried to flush the line with saline (continue nausea). My IV had blown! The nasty thing got removed and a new one placed in my forearm (pile on the nausea).

[begin second tangent]

No one really LIKES needles, but I truly hate and fear them! Why? I had surgery several times in college. One of the times in surgical prep the nurse pierced the vein and blood whooshed out of my arm and pooled on the floor. ("Don't look!" she said, as I felt the blood run down my arm.) Another time, I was so dehydrated that the IV wouldn't take. They tried over and over to find a vein and finally started talking about putting one in my leg. At that point, I became an inconsolable sobbing mess. I knew it was bad because the parents of the kid in on the bed next to me tried to calm him down from his own personal woes by saying something along the lines of, "See? She has it much worse than you do." The anesthesiologist himself finally came over, put a teeny tiny little baby IV in my hand, and shot me full of sleepy juice. When I woke up from surgery, there was a real IV in my arm, but at least I wasn't conscious for any more prodding. Needles... are... horrible!

[conclude both tangents]

It turns out that my sister was in town for a conference and hadn't told me because she wanted to surprise me. Surprise! It was also why, when I asked my mother if she was going to visit me while I was in the hospital, she wouldn't commit. You guys know I love you even though you are SNEAKY BASTARDS!!!

My sister was six months pregnant at the time, and we had her climb into the bed and sit next to me so that she would be more comfortable. There was a monitor above the bed's headboard that showed live feed of both my brain waves from the EEG and the video of me from the room's camera. We were all watching my brain waves when we noticed that the camera was slowly panning over to my sister on the right. It stayed on her for a moment, then panned all the way to the left to my mother and brother in their chairs, then came back to me. A voice came over the intercom.

"MS. POCKETLESS PANTS?" Boomed the voice.

"Yes?" I said.


"My family!" I said.

"THEY ARE ADORABLE!" the lovely lady in the monitoring room boomed across the intercom.

"Thank you!" I said.


Well, shucks! Nothing like a pregnant sister taking a load off her feet to brighten everyone's day.

They seemed to have a grand time watching my brain waves. My brother pointed out that my brain's activity on the monitor did not increase when I used my iPhone, and my sister enjoyed talking to the doctors. It was rather funny, as she was asking questions and they answered as if they were talking to a noob. Little did they realize that they were talking to someone with a doctorate in brainology! She forced them to talk tech with her. It made me think of a truly horrible scene from Grey's Anatomy in which a patient didn't understand the doctor saying that poor dad had congestive heart failure, and the doctor was forced to compare dad's heart to a car engine so that the son would understand. Conversation ensued along the lines of "So, if dad doesn't get an oil change, he will die?" Aiee!! So... take that, and reverse it, and you have my sister spanking a neurologist for talking to her like a she's not sure what part of the body the brain is in.

My family stayed until the sun got low in the sky, and then headed out to try to get home before dark. I got a few hours of sleep in before the evening rounds. The doctors told me at that point that I was being discharged the next morning.

The end result:

(1) They saw the "background noise" in my EEG that was worrisome.
(2) They were unable to induce any seizures.
(3) Because they had not been able to induce any seizures, I was not a candidate for VNS surgery at the present time.
(4) They removed the Keppra from my drug line-up.
(5) They tripled the dose of my Trileptal.

End of experience. I was not particularly excited about the end results, but this is how epilepsy treatment seems to turn out, i.e., "Hey, Pocketless Pants, we see there is something wrong with you and understand that it interferes with your life, but unless you're flopping around on the ground we can't do anything else. Plus, don't expect too much from your drug therapy. There's not enough research out there, we don't understanding how most drugs work, and its really just luck if something works for you. Kbye!"