The first thing I remember after waking up from surgery in the ICU was being happy. Really happy. I don’t think my family were with me when I first woke up, but I didn’t really mind. The next thing I remember is laughing and smiling with my family, attempting to make peace and metal signs with my hands while my mother took pictures of me. I was in barely any pain at all, but my head felt very heavy and very hazy.
The nurses showed me that I had a small control with a glowing green button on it that I could push any time I was in pain to release some painkillers into my IV. When I’d press it, the glowing light would switch off for five minutes until it was safe for me to have another dose, but I didn’t even notice that for over 24 hours as my pain was never bad enough to warrant me pressing it every five minutes. More like once every 20 I’d start to get a little uncomfortable and a nurse would remind me that it’s better to press it before the pain gets bad.
One thing I did learn from ICU, however, is that there is a reason why they adhere to visiting hours. After just a short amount of talking with my family, I was extremely tired. Pat intended to stay until visiting hours were over, but I was falling asleep at 6pm so he let me rest. I woke up at 8pm and my lovely night shift nurse showed me the TV and helped get me some food. We tried to get the bed to sit upright a little, but I was dizzy beyond all belief and couldn’t manage even a slight inclination. I was told it was the result of my painkiller, fentanyl. Eating soft and mushy food was quite easy, although I had to swallow a few times to get a mouthful down as the muscles felt weak. Aside from food, I also enjoyed sucking on ice chips rather than drinking water.
That night I watched NCIS and Medium on TV and chatted to the nurses about whether they enjoyed their jobs. I was given a sponge bath and the bed sheets were changed, which was quite uncomfortable as I had to turn to either side and needed a bit of assistance to get my head to turn. I then spent the rest of the night meditating, listening to the others in the ICU who were not doing as well as I was and reciting mantras for them (in my head). After several hours of this, I nodded off to sleep.
The next day, I had a nurse come in and try to get a blood test from an arterial line in my hand, but nothing would come out so they sent for a pathologist (my body is very uncooperative when it comes to blood tests). Thankfully, the pathologist was great and managed to get blood from me first go. I watched the coverage of Kevin Rudd resigning as foreign minister on TV and just relaxed, not concerned about anything at all or feeling bored. When the nurses came in I’d chat and laugh with them, which they seemed to enjoy as it sounded like they had a few difficult patients in other rooms. I seriously kept forgetting to hit my painkiller button, as I was in almost no pain at all while I remained still.
Towards the end of my stay in the ICU, a nurse came in to remove my arterial line. I have a pretty bad phobia of bloodloss, so when she let me know that it could bleed quite a bit I instantly started to feel very sick and even more dizzy. Other nurses rushed in to pump some anti-nausea stuff into me, which was great. I’ve never had anti-nausea medication work so well! Taking out the arterial line was actually very easy and I barely bled at all. Seriously, the most painful part of the whole ICU experience was when they had to get all that tape off my hands!
Towards mid afternoon, I was scooted over onto another bed and wheeled back up to a private room in ward 2. I made sure to write down the names of my ICU nurses so that I could thank them later for their kindness and attentiveness.
I’m sorry to be writing this in parts. I know you all want the full story right now, but it’s easier for me to get it down in short bursts. I will continue the story tonight.