Saturday, July 28, 2007

What I Did Yesterday (July 27th Late Edition)

What I did yesterday was, unfortunately, nothing like what I had wanted to do when the day started. In fact, I spent most of my day in various locations within the Emergency Room. (I couldn't help but think of how familiar it all seemed after all those hours of watching E.R. over the past decade.)

I've had a large boil on my back since shortly after my vacation started, and up until Friday Vicki and I had been treating it with the recommended approach: hot compresses, several times a day. Because it's essentially at the level of my shoulder blade, and close to the center of my back, I couldn't really even see it, beyond the odd glimpse I'd manage to catch of it in the mirror when it didn't know I was looking at it. Vicki and Tammy both assured me it was quite something to see, though, and I did eventually persuade Vicki to take a picture of it (photo to follow, when I get a chance!). What I can say with certainty is that it hurt quite a lot, to the point where on Tuesday this week I actually started to get a headache (I don't get headaches!) and I decided on my own that I had to take some acetaminophen tablets (I don't take pain pills!) The pain was fairly easy to understand, though: the skin back there was being stretched awfully thin, considering how huge this thing had become! Over the last several nights, I'd been sleeping fitfully, as of course rolling over onto my back, as I'm wont to do when I'm sawing lumber, inevitably causes sharp pain as I put pressure on this tender red horn sticking out of my back!

On Thursday evening this week we were overjoyed to see that it appeared to have popped, as some small amount of pus was spotted on it at that time. Several hot compresses later, however, it seemed to have sealed up again, and we were no further ahead.

So on Friday I asked Vicki to call our family doctor and see what he had to say. He wanted to see me, so off I cycled downtown, expecting to either have him lance it, or prescribe me antibiotics. Instead, he sent me off to Emerg, where my five hour odyssey would keep me for the rest of the day, and require Vicki to come to pick up both me and my bike.

Several long waits, a blood test, an IV line that never really seemed to work quite right, and a very painful excision surgery later, I was being told that I'd need home care for about a week! (I say the IV didn't work because both the doctor and nurse kept telling me that I shouldn't be feeling the cuts or scrapings, and yet I felt every damned thing they did to me, and was flinching repeatedly. I also never had the woozy feeling they'd told me to expect when the sedative was supposedly given to me.) After cutting the boil out, they packed the area with some sort of material, and then bandaged it up. So apparently that packing material needs to be removed and replaced once a day, which Vicki's going to learn how to do from the home care nurse who's coming by today. And I'm on percocet and an antibiotic for the next several days. (Two of the percocets, it turns out, numb me completely and make me want to sleep, as I found out when I took them around 8:00 pm last night. Taking just one, on the other hand, dulls the pain moderately but didn't appear to make me drowsy, as I was awake for most of last night. In both cases, they only last about 4 hours. And they only prescribed me 30!) Needless to say, all of that made for a very long day - not exactly how I'd choose to spend a vacation day - and one that I'm glad to have behind me.


mikem said...

Must... refrain... from... hunchback... jokes.

Glad to hear you're OK - I know what a pain it can be to change the bandages/flush the wound on a daily basis for that sort of thing.

Nurse Vicki said...

Patient #1 - OK, so is it very nasty. You know those ubiquitous bottles of water....well I'm pretty sure I could fit the cap of one in that hole (size and depth). And I get to pull out about a foot of packing, rinse out that hole with about 100 cc of salt water (yes water runs everywhere when you do this) and then 'push' about a foot of fresh packing back in (strip of material a bit bigger than a bandaid in width). And while Matt doesn't have a hairy back...there will be no hairs left anywhere near the area by the time we are done ripping off bandages each day. Poor guy. Nasty. Sleeping lots now.
Patient # 2 (Lucy the cat - spent an hour at the vets today and she gets 1 cc of tuna flavoured liquid squirted down her throat twice a day now).
Every day you are healthy, just thank whatever gods you believe in.