Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cat Fancy and Hand-Knitted Shawls

I'm not feeling terrifically funny today.  Nor have I experienced the bubbling-over of pent up self-deprecation or snarkisms urging me to post over the past week.  I blame it whole-heartedly on the lack of oxygen to my brain because my lungs have not been functioning for the better part of a month.

I want you to know that I took the doctor's orders to take to my bed very seriously, and aside from opening the door to let the dog out (I admit I kind of let this one go to the wayside for the first 24 hours...but mopping up puppy puddles and responding to Drama's woe-is-me cries when she discovered the tootsie roll-like treasures left on her bedroom rug made me re-prioritize letting him out), I honestly stayed on the sofa, in my bed, or sitting lazily at the kitchen table for 3 full days.  Despite a drug cocktail that would rival that of an HIV-patient, loads of rest and pitchers full of water...I found myself on Monday morning feeling, well, not a whole lot better.  Not worse, but definitely not better.

I take a very pragmatic approach to illness: First, Mind Over Matter.  If you do not allow yourself to get sick, you won't get sick.  Second: If you begin to feel slightly wonky or cold-symptoms come knocking...you take a million grams of vitamin-C, echinacea, and zinc and get a solid 12 hours of sleep.  In my universe, Sleep Cures Everything.  Third: If One and Two fail, Call the Doctor...the world will certainly End if I am not here to help my family navigate the trials and tribulations of each day. (or not!?)

So, Monday, I was trying hard to evaluate if I was feeling better and decided that I couldn't tell because I hadn't done anything to tax myself at all.  True, walking up the stairs to my bedroom was sort of a challenge...but I also haven't worked out in a week (aaaaahhhhhh!!  You KNOW something is not right here).  Trouble (my sweet girl who can NOT catch a break and truly gets every known illness and lots that you've never heard of) had been up a number of times during the night on Sunday complaining that her ear hurt.  Mind you, she had an ear infection not 2 weeks earlier and only finished that antibiotic 7 days before.  Also, I HATE antibiotics.  I hate that we need them and I do NOT want to be the family that does not get well because we've taken them too liberally.  Against my better judgment I took Trouble back to see our family physician, where she was diagnosed with Walking Pneumonia.  I kind of freaked...is that like Jr. Pneumonia?  Did I give it to her?  Answer to both questions is No.  Google it.  She has mycoplasma pneumonia and just needs a "Stronger" antibiotic.  My doctor knows my feelings about antibiotics and when I raised an eyebrow at her she reassured me that it WILL work.  Trouble's little system just cannot get well at the moment.  Then, she turns to me straight-faced and says, "I'm actually more worried about You.  You look absolutely Terrible.  No offense."  I try to tell her I think I feel better.  She clearly does not believe me and as we walk out with our 5th bag of prescriptions in the past 4 weeks, she says she is calling my pulmonologist ans she'll talk to me in a while.  I shrug and wander out to pay my bill and see if I can sweet talk the receptionist into giving me my own parking space (No Go).

Hours later, I've collapsed on the sofa.  That outing took it all out of me, literally, I couldn't even get up to let out the dog.  When my phone rang and the doctor told me that they have decided to admit me to the hospital and I needed to get there ASAP, I cried.  Both because I didn't want to go and I did.  See above comment about the world ending without me (though maybe I'm just afraid it WON'T).

I gather the children, explain the situation, phone The Husband and explain so that he can re-arrange his travel and take the red-eye back to Hong Kong to be with the kids in the morning, and then desperately beg our overworked helper to work straight through until he arrives so that I can go directly to the hospital (Have I mentioned that life in Hong Kong would not work without helpers?  Case in point). Then I pack an overnight bag and kiss the girls and tell them Daddy will be there when they wake up.  Tears all 'round.

FYI: This is how hospital admissions work in Hong Kong.  I taxi over, walk in to admissions, give them my Hong Kong ID card and my insurance card, answer about 3 questions and then get met by a nurse and escorted to my (very nice, very clean, very large) private room.  10 minutes later, I have been helped into my OWN pajamas, taken for a new X-Ray, been visited by the phlebotomist and hooked up to an IV.  Here's the downside of this hospital.  It's called Adventist.  I don't know any Seventh Day Adventists in real life...apparently they are vegetarian and eschew caffeine.  Okay, I'm on board with vegetarianism.  Particularly for the ill and elderly.  Let's face it, we don't need animal fat to heal our hearts and bodies.  But caffeine?  Are they insane?  I also tried to order my Vegetarian Ham Sandwich at 7:35pm.  And the kitchen closes at 7:30pm.  Bummer.  So I ate the complimentary bag of raisins and nuts for dinner and settled into my bed with my laptop.  Because of course WiFi is complimentary at Adventist (which is was NOT at the overpriced "5-star" hotel that we stayed at in Australia for at least 4 times the cost of this hospital room...but I digress).

Eventually, my admitting physician (the pulmonologist) came by to talk about his findings.  As I mentioned earlier he is a strange combination of very excitable and very dry.  He is fascinated by the Medical Mystery that is apparently Me.  I should mention here that he didn't make it to see me until nearly 11pm...despite ordering me to the hospital at 5pm.  Why?  He had an invitation from the Medical Attache to tour the visiting US Naval Carrier that is currently docked in Hong Kong Harbour.  Or, to be more exact, Lantau Island Harbour...which is an hour away by Ferry.  He was full of fascinating stories about this boat...that he wasn't supposed to be telling me, because they were classified.  Um.  Okay.  So, could we get back to me?  My lungs?  Right!!  With a wry grin, he tells me that he was happy to see that I still have a small pneumonia in the center of my right lung. (Happy!!??)  It is responding to the treatment but the pain and difficulty I am experiencing is my asthma.  Okay.  Only I don't Have asthma.  You do now, he says.  I implore,  "You mean...like....forever?  Aren't I a little old to just Get asthma?"  He is just half smiling at me.  "Is this "environmental" by any chance?", I ask.  He half nods his head and says that he does see a high number of late onset asthma cases here.
Then, the guy with a gift for delivery drops this little bomb, "I was so glad to see that it's Just Pneumonia.  Your family doctor and I were concerned.  I'll tell you now, because it's not...we thought you might have leukemia."

Full Stop.

What?  Dude.  Enough with the Giant Black Tumor and Leukemia talk.  I get that you like the medical mysteries and all that.  But let me understand you.  I have Asthma AND Pneumonia.  And that's all.



Honestly, he's kind of grinning at me through all of this.  I ask, "So, when can I go home?"  He says, "I'd love to get you out of here.  But the last thing we want is you going home and coming back worse.  So, you get At Least 2 days of nebulizer, oxygen, IV fluids, sleep and some strong antibiotics.  I'll let you know what I think tomorrow night."

Fast Forward.  I have now been here in the hospital for nearly 24 hours.  I have (AWESOME) friends that came by with magazines, cookies, DVDs, packs of gum (eat your heart out JSE...I am WT through and through), and Starbucks Caffeinated Latte.  The Husband, who can be incredibly sweet and concerned when he wants to be, brought two cleanly dressed (if not exactly neatly brushed and presented) little girls to visit.  Trouble brought me her favorite Dou Dou (read: stuffed animal) to sleep with (yes, I made sure she took it with her when she left!), and Drama wrote me a card. I also received a lovely hand-written card from the daughter of a friend (and a friend of Drama...wow, that's kind of complicated).

So, I'm feeling the love.   What you should also know is that Nebulizer treatments work.  I actually feel better than I have in weeks.  I'm NOT coughing up a lung (or anything else for that matter).  The downside (aside from no coffee and things like vegetarian crabmeat on the menu)?  I am wearing an oxygen mask, have an IV and am wearing compression stockings.  I've requested that my friends call me Ethel and the next time they visit I want a copy of Cat Fancy magazine and some Sanka.  And I'd like a hand-knitted shawl and we should play bridge.  I would be completely unobtrusive at an old folks home.

Truthfully, I just want to get well and go home.  We have Real Coffee and Meat there.  But it will have to wait until I can breathe on my own.

1 comment:

  1. Ack. That's a lot to go through. I can work on a shawl for you, but at my current knitting speed, it would be done sometime next year. :) Hang in there and get some rest (if you can ignore the nurses coming it to take your vitals every 15 minutes.) We'll be thinking good, caffeinated thoughts for you to be on the mend soon. :)