This past Wednesday, I was back at Mount Sinai Hospital to address yet another post-op complication. This time, the focus was on the filthy liquid draining from my percutaneous tube into the collection bag on my thigh. The usually yellowish fluid turned an opaque brown. Wonderful. But wait, the fun didn’t end there. I also had the brown discharge coming out of my anus. More wonderful.
In case you didn’t know, real life emergency rooms aren’t like the ones on TV. Patients aren’t rushed in on stretchers. They don’t receive immediate attention from a squad of doctors. They don’t undergo operations that make everything better in minutes. At least, not at the ER I’ve visited three times now since my surgery three months ago. In fact, emergency rooms are just filled with people waiting. Sometimes, a few of those people get angry and yell at the doctors or nurses or their own family members for keeping them there. Other people scream in pain. Other people have accidents in the washroom. Other people ask if they can go for a smoke and come back. And some people sit quietly and read Miguel Syjuco’s Ilustrado.
Guess which one of those groups of people I fell into.
Wrong, not the bathroom accident group. Surprising, no? In between reading pages from the book that Jayee lent to me, nurses checked my vital signs and took blood, and doctors asked questions about my condition and recent medical history. My dad sat with me for a while, then went out for a walk, then sat for a while longer, then fed the parking meter, then sat, then fed himself, then sat some more. The good thing about this hospital stay is that overall I felt okay; I was just alarmed by all the putrid brown crap the kept heading for my exit doors.
One doctor said I would probably need a CT scan, so my nurse inserted an IV into my left arm and gave me a large cup filled with contrast fluid to drink. That contrast drink tastes strange, but I’ve had it so often over the last few months that I can guzzle it no problem. After downing my beverage, another, more senior doctor came to see me. She asked many of the same questions I answered that day, then performed a rectal exam. Even more wonderful. Because I had already been subjected to four CT scans since my surgery, the doctors decided they didn’t want to shoot any more radiation at me, at least for the time being. Turns out the IV in my arm and the contrast drink were nothing more than lovely parting gifts.
The theory was that some stool may be leaking into my pelvic pouch/abscess, and that’s why the discharge had turned brown. Since the shit was being drained from the percutaneous tube/my anus, it likely wouldn’t make me sick, and thus wasn’t considered an immediate threat. I was happy to hear I wouldn’t need to be admitted to the hospital, but I still left the ER somewhat unsatisfied. Part of me would have liked a CT scan, just to get a better idea of what exactly was going on inside me, but I understand the prudence of not going scan-happy. I also understand that the doctors who operated on me are highly skilled, highly trained, highly experience people. Yet I can’t shake the question that so often enters my mind, especially when new setbacks arise: What the fuck did those doctors do to me?
On my way out of the ER, about 7 hours after I arrived, I ran into another patient who I shared a room with during my last hospital stay. He, too, was back to deal with new complications to his condition. I also met the nurse who treated me during my last visit. It’s simultaneously comforting and disheartening when people in a hospital recognize you. It’s nice knowing you have familiar people to care for you or empathize with your problems, but at the same time it just shows how goddamn frequently you’re returning to hospital.
Hurry up and heal, stupid body.
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