21 Things I learned when I got really sick and spent 5 days in hospital (includes bonus limerick)

im-feeling-sick-shirt_33_656x438_201307161659So last year I got really sick and had to go to hospital. It wasn’t a near death experience or anything, but it was pretty horrible. Here’s the story.

I had some training to finish off in the South Island so I flew down to Christchurch, hired a car and drove out to where I was staying.

When I got there it was about 9:30 PM at night on some weird night of the week, like a Monday. Can’t really remember now.

Anyway, I was starving as I hadn’t eaten before I’d left or at any of the airports I went through. I already had a bit of a cold and was feeling crappy so I’d ignored normal dinner time. And anyway, who feels like eating when flying.

I was staying in the middle of nowhere. Well… sort of. But the only place open for food was the McDonalds and the service station. I bought a dodgy burger and some chocolate and went back to the hotel to bed.

The next day was average. My students were pretty good but I was average. They did their presentations and we finished off the training with a meal together. I can’t remember if I ate it. I think I did.

Then I flew home. Then I got diarrhoea… You should probably stop reading now. Then I got the crazy sweats.

I had no idea what was going on because I was having OK days but these crazy nights where I would go through about 10 T-shirts and wake up every few hours drenched.

What I didn’t know was that my kidneys had stopped working.

On the second night of the crazy sweats and shits I got up at 2 AM to go to the loo and subsequently fell off the toilet. I blacked out and hit my head on the tiled floor.

Then I came to, tried to get up and blacked out again. Hit my head a second time. And generally lay on the floor of the toilet.

By now all my flailing around had woken my wife who thought I was having some kind of seizure. Luckily, instead of calling a divorce lawyer she called 111 and got an ambulance organised.

The ambulance dudes were awesome. They came quickly and by the time they got there I had cleaned myself up, and could talk coherently.

They took my blood pressure and seemed concerned. This was mainly because I didn’t really have any. Blood pressure, that is.

This meant a trip to the emergency department in Taupo and the start of what turned out to be around 10 litres of intravenous fluid and 3 different antibiotics over the next 12 hours.

This is quite a lot of IV fluid apparently. But it did the trick. And once I had some blood pressure to measure again they bundled me off in my second ever ambulance trip to the Emergency Department in Rotorua Hospital and then an isolation room.

In Rotorua they let me start drinking water again and my kidneys started working again. I had a double chest and stomach infection, extreme dehydration, and hypotension.

About 14 hours after the black outs and collapse I felt well enough to start live tweeting my experience. My iPhone and mobile internet connection stopped me from going stir crazy.

I spent five days in hospital and gained 10 kilograms which was the 10 litres of IV fluid leaking out of my veins into my tissues.

On day three when my wife realised what was going on with the weight gain, they started my on a diuretic at midnight and I spent the night passing out most of the 10 litres starting with intervals of 1 minute between sessions with the multiple bottles they had left me.

By 6 am I was able to get about 20 mins sleep between these sessions. Actually, I was so sleep deprived that I was having auditory hallucinations whenever I shut my eyes. I didn’t tell the docs this but I was hearing things and having weird lucid dreams, mainly including Simon the Dr from the mini series Firefly that I’d watched recently.

On days 4 and 5 I started showering, shaving, packing my bag, and telling the doctors that they needed to let me go. I could walk again by then. But not really well.

This turned into an argument on day 5 and I got them to agree that pending some further tests including a heart scan they would release me. Which they did.

Susan was there to pick me up at 3pm and we drove the hour back to Taupo with stops every 15 minutes to continue passing out the remainder of the IV fluid.

That’s most of the story. Here’s what I learned. These are some of my tweets during the five days in hospital. Roughly in order. Unedited. Note your favourites in the comments.

These were all tagged with #LessonLearned

  1. The manner in which a nurse removes sticky tape from hairy body parts has nothing to do with her competence.
  2. Words like output and productive take on new meaning to a badly dehydrated patient in a hospital emergency department.
  3. Sure it looks like a jug of beer… It’s not, ok?
  4. Smartphone + mobile internet = sanity
  5. “I need to appreciate your chest”. Never had that from another man before. (Or a woman) But I appreciated it.
  6.  They don’t do a separate drip for coffee. That’s not what drip coffee means apparently.
  7.  And they wouldn’t switch my oxygen to NO2. No reason given.
  8.  Don’t mock man nurses. Every man should have one. Mine is awesome.
  9.  When my man nurse Femor says: “your output is… Magnificent!” I know everything is going to be just fine.
  10.  PU is an incredibly underrated bodily function. If you don’t know what PU means count yourself lucky.
  11.  Best way to increase PU quality and quantity (from zero) if you’re a Dr: “We’ll have to cath…” Me: “gimme 20 mins…”
  12. Happiness is clean pajamas… I’ll take the blue ones. Are they from your spring collection?
  13. When you’re sick (especially) small kindness to and from strangers are important. Actually, when you’re not sick as well…
  14. Just tried to drink the orange juice they left with the hospital dinner. Turns out it was Jelly. Took me awhile to catch on.
  15. Everyday I’m shuffling…
  16. How to channel my own jack nicholson hospital gown look
  17. For every action there is an equal & opposite reaction. 9L of fluids has to go somewhere. Actually, most of it needs 2 go out
  18. How much?” Says I. One thousand six hundred seventy five [ml]” says Bindu with a look of amazement in her eyes.
  19. Don’t Weight: last night I was over 75kg. This morning I’m 71.5. Heading for 67kg being presickness normal. A long night…
  20. Take it slow. Last night: Me (too quickly) “want me to take my pants off?” she: “I think we can work around them…”
  21. Doc says I have to get an Echo. What that means: WAITING Waiting waiting w a i t i n g
  22. Thankfulness… Seems appropriate…

I also wrote a limerick:

There was a young man who took Panadol

But the pain got so bad they gave him Tramadol

It was a hellava night

But it turned out alright

What he really wanted though was… Alcohol

Author: Graeme Smith

Education, technology, design. Also making cool stuff...

8 thoughts

  1. LMAO all over again Graeme. Your tweets were PURE GOLD and had me amused and bemused.
    SO glad you rolled them into one place to read consecutively…i had tears and knots. Thanks for keeping up the humour throughout your ordeal and making light of what was actually a very serious situation.
    See you all soon I hope before summer disappears (well it practically has from Wellington already – if it ever really started at all).

  2. I appreciate your chest Graeme. I’ve never said it but I do.

    Regarding PU… I’m curious but also a little scared. I think I’ll trust you and hope I never get to know.

    I did a stint in Napier hospital many years ago. After three nights I longed to see the sky and finally sneaked out only to meet another chap who had terminal cancer and had not seen the sky for two months. We sat outside and stared at the ocean and sky like two kids wagging school.

    I’m very happy to come into contact with that sense of humour of yours again. Please look after yourself.

    Happiness is clean pajamas. Never a truer word said.

  3. Excited u had the orange juice/jelly scenario. Took a number of minutes (in a drugged state) to figure the juice was solid too!!!! Doh!

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