It’s only been four and half years since C stepped on his IED. Only, right? Four years, seven months, and nineteen days since he landed one foot in the grave. One thousand six hundred ninety two days since we all did a lifestyle 180. And, boy, do I have stories.
The first couple of weeks in the hospital were rough. Like, really rough. I had a newborn and on top of trying to tend to the needs of my baby I was trying to tend the needs of an essentially invalid, and drug addled husband. C’s schedule was completely backwards. He slept all day, couldn’t sleep at night. He was in constant pain. He has a morphine allergy so instead he was given ketamine to manage his pain. Yep, you read that right. They were giving my husband doses of Special K for pain management. Which, of course made his heart hate and blood pressure go sky high and made him hallucinate and just generally loopy as all hell. I remember one night in particular, about a week after he arrived in Bethesda, C had one nurse who was making it her personal mission to make him have a bowel movement. Now, keep in mind, he’s a medic so he has more knowledge of what’s happening to him and more general medical knowledge than most of their patients. He’s also having multiple cleanings and revision surgeries every day and going under anesthesia that often so not only did he not want to eat, but he couldn’t because there was usually less than 12 hours until his next surgery. There was legitimately nothing in his system to come out. He lost 40 lbs since being admitted for Pete’s sake. But even being told all this, this crazy nurse was absolutely hell-bent on making C poop. She even went so far as to threaten him with an enema. (I would never have let that happen btw.)
So C, in his Ketamine induced mental state, made it HIS personal mission to make her regret it.
“Alice, I need you to do something for me.”
“Anything, C. What do you need?”
“I need you to find a CVS. Or a drug store. Anywhere. F*ck, even a Walmart. I don’t care.”
“Okay. What am I getting there, C?”
“Get me a box of X-lax. And a bottle of milk of magnesia. And some stool softeners.”
“If you have to go I’m sure I can get something from the nurses station.”
“NO! Do not tell her I’m getting that stuff. She’s going to regret this so hard. I’m going to sh*t all over this bed. And she’s going to have to clean it up.”
“C. She’s gone after tonight and I’ve already requested that your room be removed from her rotation. Let’s just wai–”
“I don’t care, Alice! I’m going to sh*t all over this bed. And the next time we change the baby’s diaper I’ll smear that all over the bed. And you should sh*t on the bed, too! We’ll all crap all over this room and she can come clean it off the bed, the walls, everywhere but the bed pan or the toilet! I’m going to sh*t the freaking skittles rainbow all over the walls!”
Again, Ketamine is no joke. This is a real conversation I had to have with my husband. At this point I tried to change the subject because his blood pressure was already elevated because of the ketamine and I didn’t want him to have an aneurysm.
He eventually talked his brother into going out and getting those laxatives for him. And he took them, and when he finally did poop, it was days after this nurses shift (and after he ate food more substantial than applesauce) and I helped him get to the bathroom so he could go on the toilet. It was an experience that solidified that nursing is NOT, in fact, my calling and I thought more about the people who do that as their profession, not just for their families. I feel like so many nurses have such a selfless heart, to help people so in need, and not only that but to bond with them. I have a special appreciation for the people who do feel that call to be a nurse. That help people and families who were in situations like ours where you spend days or weeks or months in the hospital. It is not for the faint of heart. We had so many that were so wonderful, caring, looked after not only C, but me too. Checked in on me, the baby, went to get us food, or just hold a baby if I needed 5 minutes to myself. I even had one nurse who offered to take a load of laundry home to do because it was just one of those days where A pooped through outfit after outfit and spit up on me more times than I can count. She was a true angel. They were all truly beautiful people and the saddest part is that I think I can remember only two of their first names. I wish I could find some of them. The ones who helped us the very beginning, when my brain was totally fried and I could only deal with the problem in front of me. The ones who worked behind the scenes to make sure the room stayed dark enough for the baby to stay asleep in the pack and play on the corner while they grabbed C’s vitals in the middle of the night. Or held his hand for me when he went in to surgery because I couldn’t bring the baby in. Or brought me his wedding ring after he’d been wheeled back with a tear soaked face to tell me, “he didn’t want to take it off, he said he needed it. So I had to wait until he was out.” Those are the ones who guided me through the most difficult phase of my life to date. Those are the ones who were my therapists before I had the wherewithal to actually go to a therapist. Those are the ones who held me and reaffirmed my faith in humanity. Thank you for your profession, your kindness, your help when I needed it the absolute most. Thank you.