Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Coming Back

Okay, so it's been a year or so since my last post here. Bad on me. But I felt compelled to start this up again after finding myself in hospital again suffering from the same affliction that landed me there last year.

July 31st, I was starting to feeling crummy. I thought that I had a case of the flu coming on, so didn't think much of it. But, then I started to get the chills, and suddenly I had this horrible feeling that things were progressing the same way they did last year. We waited it out Sunday evening before panicing, but when Monday morning rolled around, it was quite clear that there was something serious going on. I was week, and I could feeling my thoughts becoming clouded, and my speech was becoming labored. We went directly to the emergency room.

I remember getting admitted, and getting onto the bed in the ER. Many nurses and doctors came through, but sometime an hour or so into the ordeal, I begin to loose coherent memories of the events. The next clear thing that I remember is being wheeled into the ICU and transferring over to the ICU bed, which, it turns out, was the exact same bed that I used when I was hospital last year.

My memories are very incoherent in ICU. At one point I woke up, and I had was I later found out was an ice blanket on, because my temperature was 107 degrees! I remember waking up and seeing that a nurse was just finishing up putting a PICC line into my arm, a procedure that I went through at least 3 times last year, and something that I wouldn't think I would be able to sleep through. I have a vague memory of our good friends Brendan and Emmily coming into the room to see how I was doing. It's a jumble. Like someone took a picture album and tore all of the pictures out, scattered them on the floor, and lost half of them.

More to come...

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Today I found myself in discussions regarding the timelines of when things happened when I was in the hospital.

When I was in the ICU, time became a big ball of timey-whimey goo, a string of images and half-remembered events. There are certain things that I remember with some clarity. At one point after I got the traych, I got a mucus plug stuck in my airway. This made it extremely hard to breath. Emily called the doctors in, as I tried (unsuccessfully) to remain calm and breath slowly. Eventually, as my breathing became more and more labored, I lost consciousness. I'm not exactly sure how much time passed, but when I came to, the doctors had successfully removed the plug. Another time that I remember is one of the nights soon after I was put on the liquids restriction. I seemed like the longest night ever, as I tried to satiate my thirst with ice chips. Memories like this are there, but I really can't piece them together into a coherent timeline.

I began to think about when I was able to actually stand without a number of people helping. I believe it was sometime in early March that we started to work on standing with a lift in physical therapy. This was nice in that it was a way to get me upright, but was a hindrance in that it wasn't tall enough to allow me to stand up completely. When I went to the University Hospital in Iowa City for surgery in April, the PTs there worked with me using another method to help me stand. That was the first time I actually stood since before all of this had happened, albeit with the assistance of 3 PTs. It was soon after this that I started to head in the right direction as far as standing and, eventually, walking.

I've wondered why it took that long to get to that point. I've tried to pick other memories out from that time to tell if there was any discernible change in how I was feeling, or how I was working on things, and I haven't been able to come up with anything. It is somewhat of an unknown part of my hospital timeline, but one that was a major milestone.

Please stop putting knots in my timeline... I'm going to need that later.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Hello all you kitties on the Internets. This is Mocha. Marcus and Emily are my humans. I hacked into Marcus' blog thingy in order to tell all you kitties about the disaster that has happened at our house.

Hershey and I were just fine, living our lives with our humans. Everything was great. But then, a few days ago, Marcus and Emily brought her home. She was a little ball of fur that they decided to call "Twix." What kind of a name is Twix, anyway? I mean, Mocha is sophisticated, and Hershey, well Hershey is cute. But Twix? Please...

Anyway, both Hershey and I explained to them in no uncertain terms that they were to take the fur-ball back to the pet store or Wal-Mart or the dump or wherever they got her immediately. Unfortunately, they did not listen to us. They put her into a big box with cagey stuff on it that they called a kennel. The whine bot made noise all the time. It was so annoying. I even made the hiss noises at her, and she wouldn't shut up! So, to punish our humans, we made ourselves scarce.

The next day they took Ms. Smelly Poop away in a small cage. We thought that they were finally getting rid of the thing, but a little later they came back, and she was still with them. How disappointing.

A couple of days later, again they put her in the little cage and took away. We figured since she had spent a couple more days in the big kennel that they weren't happy with all the noise she made. Finally, we were going to get the house back to ourselves. But, once again we were fooled. She came back with them a little bit later. Why don't they listen to us?

So, now the little home-wrecker is out and about with Hershey and me. We make the hiss sound whenever she gets too close, and we make sure that she doesn't take our favorite spots in the house. We will bide our time until our humans decide that there should only be two cats in this house...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Writer's Block: together we can find a cure

I really hate writer's block. It's the bane of every writer. Everyone has experienced it it at one point in their life (or more). Whether it was a college paper, a short story for class, an article for a magazine, or the great American novel, writer's block affects the best of us. It seems to sneak up on you at the most inopportune times. Sometimes it lasts for a couple of hours, or a day. Sometimes it sticks around for days on end, completely wearing out its welcome.

So, how does one overcome writer's block? Ask any number of writers, and you'll get a different answer from each of them. Some start working on other projects waiting for it to clear. Some take a break from writing completely in order to regain focus. I heard about one author who took up cooking in order to get over writer's block. As for me, I'm of the ilk that will work on another project in the meantime, waiting for the inspiration to hit me again. There are a number of websites and applications to help writers overcome the debilitating mental condition, and I have found some help there, as well.

One thing that I used to do was switch on a television show, usually some sort of science fiction program. I soon realized that when I did this, I would come up with a number of ideas. But, when I got them down on paper, I realized that they were more often that not complete rip-offs of what I had just seen on TV! I stopped doing that.

For short periods of mental rest time, I will take on a good game of Solitaire or Bejeweled to give my brain a rest. This seems to get the juices flowing again, and gives me the strength to get through that one last paragraph.

While I was in the hospital, I found it difficult to concentrate on any one thing for a length of time, whether it was writing, video gaming, sudoku solving, etc. I never got the chance to get writer's block, because the minute I got a good rhythm going someone would be coming into the room to poke me, prod me, or give me a pill of some sort. So, when I experienced writer's block a few days ago, it seemed like a new feeling; I wasn't quite sure how to deal with it. I think I've gotten myself to a better mental place, and the writing can continue (mostly) uninterrupted.

This blog post was brought to you by the letter... uhhh... can't think of a letter right now, so I'll use 42.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Don't judge a meal by it's taste

Did you know that it takes more than just the taste buds on your tongue to actually taste something? I knew that, but didn't realize how true it was until my hospital stay.

While I had the traych, I was unable to breath through my nose. All breathing was done through the breathing tube connected to the traych.

As I said earlier, I was on a fairly strict diet while I was on dialysis, so finding foods that I could stomach was paramount. I found that cranberry juice seemed to fit the bill, along with an egg-substitute that they served for breakfast. This, along with oatmeal with non-dairy creamer instead of milk, became something of a staple for breakfast for quite sometime.

When the time came to cap the traych, allowing me to breath normally, little did I know the culinary surprise in store for me. I quickly discovered, among other things, that: 1. I hate the taste of cranberry juice, 2. Egg substitute is no substitute for honest to goodness eggs, and 3. Non-dairy creamer does not, in fact, taste like milk. I found myself making a number of adjustments to my diet to satisfy my newly acquired sense of taste.

The lesson? It might not taste like a duck if it doesn't also smell like a duck.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Humanizing Technology

During the beginning of my stay at the hospital, I really found myself feeling out of touch with the rest of the world. I'm definitely of a generation that is "plugged in" to information constantly. Whether it is Twitter and Facebook coming in as text messages to the mobile, any number of gadgets that find themselves able to access the Internet in a variety of places, or a trusty laptop in front of me, there is a constant stream of information coming to our minds.

Soon after arriving in the skilled nursing unit, Emily brought my iPod Touch up and all of a sudden I was reconnected to the collective conscious of the world. I once again had access to email that I had been unable to check for over a month, and I was able to start sending out status updates via Facebook. Though it was a slow and arduous process due to the fact that I still had limited control of my hands, I felt that I was once again part of a larger community.

Soon after, I was able to start using my laptop, which became a constant companion, giving me access to information, friends, and entertainment. In a very real way, it helped to keep me sane during those times when there were no family or friends around. I also was able to take advantage of the technology to start creating video blogs detailing my progress and thoughts that I was having that day. It's interesting to go back to those early blogs now 7 months out and remember what was going on in my brain at the time.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Do you dream with wheelchairs?

Something that I have found bizarre during this time are the dreams that I have had. I remember my first dream that I can recall after waking up in the ICU. It was an incredibly fluid dream, and incredibly realistic, although the dream itself was pretty trippy, for lack of a better term. I was floating around this outdoor area, sometime in spring. A soprano was singing a beautiful song that I did not recognize (it may not have been a real song at all). I had this euphoric feeling the entire time.

As my sleep patterns normalized, and after I started using a CPAP machine (I have sleep apnea) I began to have dreams with a recurring theme: walking. It doesn't take Freud to determine the reason for these dreams. My mind was focused on a number of things during my stay at the hospital, but one of the foremost subjects was the idea of walking again. I had a number of dreams where I was in the hospital, and was walking around the floor, talking to the nurses, as if nothing had happened. The first time I had the dream, the nurses in my dream were very surprised to see me up and about so soon. But in subsequent dreams everyone I met seemed to see the walking as normal.

On a subconscious level, my brain always kept the hope of walking again alive, even if my conscious mind wasn't so sure it would happen. In fact, on a number of occasions, after having a particularly difficult day in therapy, I would have one of the walking dreams, as if my subconscious was cheering me along, telling me that it would happen, I just had to hand in there and work on it.

I've only even had one dream this whole time (that I remember) where I was in a wheelchair, and even in that dream, it wasn't long before I was up and walking. I've had a number of dreams where I am using some sort of forearm crutches or a cane, but I am always doing something more that I can now, such as climbing large stairs or running.

My friends and family may be my biggest cheerleaders, but my brain is obviously a close second.