Sunday, March 05, 2006

Chapter 22: Post Op & My Stay at the 249th General Hospital in Japan

I found this picture of patients at the 249th General Hospital on the Internet. I don’t know how old it is, but it is a very accurate picture of what the wards were like.

Daily life at this hospital was pretty monotonous. Every day the routine was pretty much the same. They’d wake you up early and give you breakfast. Then there would be rounds by the doctors. Each day a Red Cross volunteer came around with a cart of magazines, books and things like that, so I would get a magazine or two to read. There were no TV’s, but that didn’t matter, because all the stations were in Japanese anyway. I did manage to get a radio so that was pretty much the limit of my entertainment. I remember each night they played some of those old radio shows, like Mystery Theater. That was always a cool thing to hear. But most of the time we all just talked.

By now, my wounds had healed well enough so the bandages just covered them and I wasn’t wrapped like a frigging mummy. My large wounds were closed with metal wire sutures instead of regular sutures. Picture a metal twist ties without the paper. The twisted end stuck straight out and was forever getting caught on the bandages and pulling. The one that bothered me the most was right between my right butt cheek and thigh. Every time I’d bend my right leg that damn wire would catch on the bandages and pull, which wasn’t a pleasant feeling at all. I was stitched up with wire in a lot of places, because regular sutures were too small a diameter and would cut through the skin and wouldn’t be able to hold the wounds closed.

A few days after I was at the 249th, I pointed out the swelling in my left palm and how black and blue it was becoming. There was a wound in the back of my left hand about an inch or so in diameter, so at first, they thought that was the problem. It also still hurt quite a bit more than anything else did. They took and x-ray and found out I had a broken bone in my left hand. This is the bone that was broken.

Since I still had an open wound on the back of the hand, they couldn’t put my hand in a regular cast, so they put it in a half cast. The cast ran from just below my left elbow out to the end of my fingertips. Then they wrapped my hand and arm in a bandage. This was not much different than I already had, except now they immobilized my fingers again and I couldn’t use the hand at all anymore. At least before this, I could use my fingers on my left hand for things, now I really was limited to just my right making me all the more helpless, again. I didn’t really mind very much, because I got lots of help with everything. Since almost everyone working on the wards were nurses, (hee, hee, hee) well, you know me well enough by now to know how much I liked help from cute nurses.

I remember my most embarrassing moment at this hospital. I hadn’t had a bowel movement in quite a while so they gave me a suppository, sat up the head of the bed and put me on a bedpan. A little while later someone came around and told us a general, his wife and daughter was coming around visiting the wounded in all the wards. I was hoping they didn’t come too soon so I could finish and get off the bedpan. You guessed it; I was still on the bedpan when they came, but hadn’t started going yet. If only I could hold it in until they left, I thought.

There was a big group of people with the general and his family. They separated in a few groups and went from bed to bed and visited everyone. Since I was sitting up and covered in bandages, I attracted the attention of about everyone, so guess who got a lot of visitors. I mean, it felt really good to have all these people come around, give me sympathy and thank me for what I had done, especially the general’s 20-something year old daughter. But damn, why did they have to choose that moment to visit.

I could feel the suppository working, but made sure I held it in until they all had visited me, but I couldn’t hold it in until they had left the ward. I’m not sure if they figured out where the farts and smell was coming from, but things sure cleared out fast after I started going.

I week or so into my stay here, I started getting these pains in the lower part of my back and I couldn’t hold anything down. That started in the middle of the night and by the time morning came around, I had vomited all there was to vomit and was in agony. I wasn’t on Demerol anymore and couldn’t keep down the tablet painkillers they were giving by mouth, so it was a long night.

It was a Sunday morning and there weren’t very many doctors on duty, so it took what seemed like forever to get one to show up. He authorized Demerol by IV and that did the trick on the pain in a few minutes. He checked me out, took some blood and urine and in a short time, discovered I had developed a kidney infection. (WTF! Was there anything else that could go wrong with me?) The medication I needed had to be administered by IV. They couldn’t put the IV in my left arm because it was completely bandaged, again, so it had to go in my right. They also couldn’t use a needle because I had to use my right arm to function and by moving my arm the needle would puncture the vein it was in. So he inserted a small tube in the vein instead. The doctor had to cut a small hole in my arm and vein so he could insert the tube. (Great! More holes!)

Not too bad though; a little shot of something to numb the area and a little gusher of blood when he cut into the vein. He inserted small tube, taped my arm like crazy to stop the bleeding and secure the IV. Then the nurse connected one of many bottles of liquid I would receive for the next week or so. I also received a shot in my butt a few times a day of a very thick med. It hurt like hell when it was injected, so they numbed the area before injecting the medication. First they drew the medication into the syringe and then drew in something to numb the area. It still hurt, so a technique one nurse used was to smack my ass cheek before giving me the injection. That stung so I never really felt the shot. I wonder if that’s were I got my attraction to spankings?

I also received shots of Demerol every four hours for the pain and took advantage of every one. Since I was already poked full of holes, the nurses would give it to me directly in the IV. I soon learned how drug addicts felt main lining. They would stick the needle in the IV and ask me to tell them when I felt the effect of the drug. Yeah, right! Needless to say, they always stopped before I said I felt it.

I don’t know if you remember, but here’s the story I promised you in one of my earlier stories.

There was this very hot brunette Hawaiian nurse on our ward. Damn, was she hot and built, oh was she built. One night in the middle of the night, she came to give me a shot. All the lights were out in the ward, so she had to turn the light on that was attached to the head of my bed. She leaned way over and her boobs were coming directly for my face. Then just before her left boob, or it could have been her right one, pressed against my face, I turned by head away and it pressed against my left cheek. I swear, to this day a day doesn’t go by that I don’t kick myself for turning my head. Come on, do you blame me? Of course not, you’d probably kick me in the ass too. It was going to be the first time in my life I would have a boob in my face and I blew it and I blew it big time!

The worst part about the kidney infection was that I wasn’t allowed to have anything by mouth. That meant no food, no water, nothing. After a day or two I felt a lot better and was starving. They still wouldn’t give me anything to eat so the guys around me gave me anything they didn’t eat from their meals. I would eat anything, well, at least try it. The ones thing I remember specifically eating, was cucumber salad. I had never had it before that and I remember liking it a lot. I still do.

About 10 days or so after my surgery, my wounds had healed enough to remove the sutures. Removing the regular ones was a piece of cake, but removing the wire ones was a completely different story. You see, they cut the wire to remove it, which left the end bent over in a small hook ever so slightly. So when they pulled it out, that little hook cut into the skin as it was pulled through. Each and every one of those suckers stung like hell coming out.

One-day I received a telephone call . “Who could be calling me here?” I wondered. It was a man that worked for the company my stepmother worked for. When she found out he was going to Tokyo, Japan on business, she asked him to call me. He wanted to take me out on the town but I wasn’t allowed out of the hospital. Too bad, I would have really would have liked to have gotten out of there, at least for a little while.

I went to physical therapy everyday after the stitches came out to help me regain use of my legs. I was moving them around okay, but there was no way I could stand on them yet. During my first evaluation, they had me lay on my stomach and bend my legs up torward my back side. I had no problem doing that, but I couldn't keep my left leg bent like that. My left leg would fall to one side or the other. I also couldn't move my left leg directly out to the side.

They explained that the muscles in my left hip had been damaged and removed during surgery so that's why those things happened. I was told that the therapy would retrain my other muscles to take over and I should have full use of my left leg again. You would never imagine it was possible by looking at this picture, but they were right, I do have full use of the leg today.

Everything went well after that. I started walking around okay and by the end of first week of December, I had finally gotten over my kidney infection. You know what that meant? Now there was nothing else to keep me from being discharged.