It is later that night, the same day of the surgery. I am watching television (Bones, followed by NCIS—or is it the other way around? I don’t know. Besides, it’s unimportant.
What is important is I am still strapped to the bed four different ways. The pressure cuff still squeezes my upper left arm, both ankle cuffs do the same at the bed’s foot, the IV still flows into the back of my right hand with more antibiotics, and—most important—I am snuggled to the bed at my center.
Nurse said she would come sometime this evening and help me walk around the Nursing Floor a bit. I’ve been looking forward to that, as I’ve been unable to move since I got into this bed after leaving the Recovery Room. Let’s see, ten-thirty this morning to eight or so this evening comes to something like nine-and-a-half hours since I last made a major, physical move. Now, I realize I’m not as bad off as some other patients on this Floor, so I make allowances that Nurse and her staff are busy with other, more needy folk. Besides, the bed is motorized. I can change my angle of repose as I watch the TV. I can raise or lower my knees. I can do the same for my back, changing the angle of the bed to do so. All of which helps.
However, I cannot stand up. Well, let’s say that more distinctly: I do not dare stand up. Something might pull and that could hurt.
I don’t like hurt.
Therefore, I lay there, shifting ever so slightly. It’s not much, but anything can be everything when you have limits.
I drift off to sleep, cocked at an angle, yet anchored, secured. I am going nowhere.
“Mr. New, its time to take your vitals.”
“Okay.” I open my mouth for the thermometer and feel the pressure cuff inflate. “Thank you, Mr. New.”
“Sure thing. Say, can any of this gear come off?”
“Well, you don’t need the pressure cuff on your arm anymore.”
I sigh with relief as something gets disconnected. “Thanks.”
An alarm screams. It’s bellowing at the top of its electronic voice. I am awake. Isn’t everybody else? Oh, it’s only the IV. A green light blinks in time with the screeching. I check the nearest bag on the pole and press the nurse call button on the bed’s guardrail.
“Yes, Mr. New?”
“Could somebody please come and change out the IV bag? It’s gone dry.”
“Yes, sir.” Click.
I am amazed. In less than a couple of minutes, the door opens and a nurse strolls in. She immediately hits the IV unit’s alarm-off button—ah, quiet—and changes the IV fluid. She slaps a sticker on its side. Oh yes, more antibiotics.
“What time is it?”
“About one-thirty in the morning, Mr. New.”
“Do I still need the ankle cuffs?”
“Are they too tight? Do they need to slip up on your legs a bit?”
“Do I really need them? If I were at home, I wouldn’t be wearing them. And I’d be moving around better.”
“Do they hurt you?”
“No, they’re more like an irritant.”
“Sure, they can come off,” says Nurse.
“Thanks, again.” Oh, it feels so good to stretch and flex my feet and ankles. I drift back off to sleep.
“Good morning, Mr. New,” says a different female voice. “Would you like to walk around the Nurse’s Station before your breakfast arrives?”
I’m instantly awake. “Morning. What time is it? And yes, I’d sure like to go for a walk. Thanks.” Sunlight streams through the window blinds.
“It’s about seven am, Mr. New,” says Nurse. “Here, let me help you. Swing your legs to the right. That’s good.”
I jostle my way to the bed’s edge.
“Now lower your feet to the floor.”
I still have the cloth booties from Surgery on, the ones with the plastic-drizzled tread on the soles. I stand up.
Nurse snakes an arm around me. I’m taller and bigger than she is. What’s she going to do if I go down? “Okay, I’ve got you, Mr. New. Can you stand here and balance yourself?”
“Sure.” Hmm, I feel a bit lightheaded, but steady up fast. I’m going to move!
I feel the Foley Catheter tube bang against my right thigh. There’s a tug on my center. Now, that’s weird!
“Okay, Mr. New, I’ve got your IV pole, your Foley bag, and—”
I feel the rear-end draft close up. Things are suddenly warmer.
“—the back of your gown nice and secure. Ready to shuffle forward?”
“Yeah.” I move my feet forward, one after the other. “This is great!”
“Alright, now. Head for the door and turn to the left.”
We make it around the Nurse’s Station and head back to Room 442B. Along the way, I don’t slip, trip, or fall, or make a mess in general. I hear what sounds like a large cart rattling around the corner. Dishes bounce to the beat of a chipped plastic wheel.
“It sounds like your breakfast is here, Mr. New. Let’s get you back to the bed. Doing okay?”
“Doing great, thank you.”
I sit down on the bed and swing my legs up and over. Nurse covers me with the bed sheet, setting everything back in its place. She swings the food tray in place. “Okay, now. You enjoy your breakfast, Mr. New. After that, we’ll see about getting you out of here. How are you getting home?”
“My wife Carle is coming.”
Nurse nods, knowing the routine. “Good, good. Well, finish your food and I’ll be back in a bit.”
“Good morning, Mr. New.”
It’s Surgeon’s PA Number 2 (Physician’s Assistant). I’d met her in the Urology Clinic on one of my earlier visits.
“I’m here to evaluate you for discharge. Feeling okay?” Her swift, brown eyes glance over me, and then back to the papers in her hand.
“Yes, ma’am.” She makes what appears like a check mark on the papers. Check.
She bends down beside the bed and checks the Foley Bag. Check, check.
“Good. Your urine is nice and clear now, the way it’s supposed to be. I’m writing out three prescriptions for you to fill. The first is Percocet. This is for pain. It may make you drowsy, so don’t take before driving. The second is Ditropan, which should prevent any bladder spasms. And the last is Colace. I want you to take this for constipation while on the Percocet. I’ll print up a set of discharge instructions for you to take with you. These should answer any questions you may have once you get home.” She catches my eye. “I’m I to understand that you plan to go back to work tomorrow?”
“Yes, ma’am. I feel fine, like I should be doing something. Besides, it’s Thanksgiving, we’re short staffed in the lab, and I’d already signed-up for the positions. Besides, it’s too late to swap with somebody.”
She gazes at me, as if she’s a top-tier predator.
“Well, if you’re sure. In that case, we will see you at Clinic this coming Monday, five days from today. Is that okay with you?”
“Sure, sounds great. Will the Foley come out then?”
“It certainly will.”
Carle arrives and I get a good morning kiss. I’ve internalized my ham and eggs, cheese-grits, and milk. I did not even need to add salt. It is approaching ten am.
Nurse bustles into the room, all smiles and eagerness. “Morning, folks. Mr. New, are you ready for your last disconnect?”
“The IV? Sure, have at it.”
Swift as you please, Nurse shuts off the IV, the tape holding it in place disappears (taking a few strands from my hairy hand in the process), and she slides out the plastic catheter. She slaps down a cotton ball on the site, and then applies a Band-Aid on top of that.
“Now, Mr. New, about that Foley Catheter …”
Nurse reaches into a copious pocket and pulls out an alcohol prep sealed inside its aluminum enclosure, and what looks like a plastic clamp. What?
Nurse holds up the clamp for me to inspect. “This is a hose clamp. It should help keep the Catheter from swinging around too much, stabilize everything, and make an uncomfortable situation bearable. Okay?”
“Umm, I guess so. You’re the expert.”
Carle leans over from her position on the other side of the bed. Her eyes are alive with interest. On the other hand, she might be intent on learning about another torture device. As sweet and caring as she is, my dear wife’s a little devil at times. Which makes for an interesting marriage, I guess.
Nurse pulls back the hospital gown. “Here, Mr. New, hold this back out of the way.”
I do as I’m told. It’s not a bad habit for a man to learn.
Nurse positions the clamp on my leg, shifting it around with the catheter pulled over—gently—adjusting everything for position. “There, that should work. Now, this has adhesive patches on either side of the clamp,” begins Nurse. “I’m going to clean Mr. New’s skin, to get rid of any oils.” She breaks the foil containing the alcohol swab and rubs it on the skin of my upper, inside, right thigh. She uses a circular motion that spirals outward from her starting point. Nurses are trained to do this exactly this way, which minimizes contamination of a recently sterilized spot.
“Now, as any excess alcohol evaporates—”
I feel a cooling effect on the cleansed skin.
“—I peel back the adhesive flaps, lift the catheter a bit, slide the clamp underneath and press it in place.” Nurse has a firm hand on the clamp on my upper leg. Then she presses on the adhesive with a finger. “There, that should stick for five days.” Nurse presses on a little handle at the side of the clamp and it springs open. She lays the catheter in place and snaps the clamp on top of it. “If you need to, for comfort’s sake, Mr. New, you can unlock the clamp and slide the catheter back and forth a bit as needed. Okay?”
Nurse pulls out two more packages from her large tunic pockets. “These are catheter bags. I’m going to hook up the daily one for you, Mr. New, so you’ll know how this works.” She turns to the IV stand. “I’m turning off the rinse and I loosen the rinse line from the Foley, and plug it, like so.” Nurse pulls open the smaller container, showing the catheter baggy inside. She pulls it out and straps it to my thigh below the clamp. She twists loose the line leading to the bed-hung Foley Bag and twists it into the top of the daily bag. “Take a shower with this on, Mr. New. No tub baths. Your urine will flow into the baggy just like its doing now. There is a cap on the daily bag’s lower edge. Just twist it off to empty the urine into a toilet. Place the cap back on tight. Now, come bed time, you are to use this larger baggy.” She hands me another container. “It works the same way as the daily bag. You just don’t have to empty it as often. This large, plastic hook will allow it to hang from a bed support. Oh, yes, there is one last thing. When you fill the prescriptions, purchase some water-based lubricant, like K-Y Jelly, to spread over the tip of your penis. This will help with irritation.”
Nurse looks me in the eye and smiles. “That’s about it, Mr. New. Go ahead and get dressed. I’ll call Transport to come for you.”
Final Results: Home!