I spent a total of fourteen days hospitalized after my diverticula burst in October 2012. The time was split exactly in halves: seven in the ICU, seven in a regular room. The week in the ICU was relatively normal as far as recovering from surgery goes. The only serious bump was bronchial spasms one afternoon. Bronchial spasms are an early sign of pneumonia. Pneumonia is treated with steroids. I could not take steroids because they would induce a rupture causing flare up of diverticulitis in my colon. The only thing that could be done was load me up on antibiotics and hope for the best.
Others were hoping for the best, at least. It became more obvious my depressive demeanor was real and not just weariness or grogginess. My attitude brought back the supposedly delirious post-surgery comment in which I expressed disappointment to be alive. At one point, two nursing asistants sat me up in a chair and talked for an hour about my life, my interests, and anything else they thought might perk me up. It was not a good idea, really. My life, as far as I was concerned, had been destroyed by poor health and my best opportunity to end the misery yanked me back to life a few days prior. I still had tubes everywhere and a huge incision on my abdomen. This was all pretty much a surreal nightmare.
The surgeon decided to yank out every tube save for the IV and move me to a regular room on the seventh morning. One of the nursing assistants who had sat with me previously was the one to settle me in the new room. A repeated piece I had received over the previous week was that I should watch television instead of staring at the ceiling. Not watching television was considered a sign of depression in patients. I still did not watch. But this nursing assistant had turned the television on before I got into the room. There was a rerun of Friends on. She kept alternating between cackling at the show while setting me up, periodically looking at me as if to say, “Don’t you think this is hilarious?” not really, no. At least not at the time. She pulled up a chair to watch the rest of the episode with the same to get me to laugh. I fell asleep instead.
Visitation is limited in the ICU, but Denise visited for a bit three out of the seven days I was there. My niece was having troubles of her own--I do not have her permission to discuss them-- so I did not pay the sporadic attention much mind. That is until the second day I was in the regular room. It was a Saturday. Denise had spent the previous day tending to my neice’s medical needs. Long story short, we wre noth hospitalized with very different ailments. The surgeon who performed my surgery had his partner look in on me that day. He and Denise both acted particularly odd. Even though I was flat on my back and had yet to take any fluids by mouth, much less food, he suggested I should be home in two or three days and “maybe he will act more like himself.” Denise told me I had to hurry up and get home because Boo, our cat, was upset that my neice and I were absent. Neither the surgeon nor Denise were being especially truthful in what they were telling me, but they were making it clear they believed I needed a kick start medicine could not provide.
Since when had Denise ever referred to her house as my home? Once in late 2006 was the only instance I could recall. Was this some embarrassment involving her callous comment just before surgery? I do not know even now whether there was a discussion about my depression in which she was advised to help or if she was genuinely concerned at this point. Hindsight says the former, but we still have a bit of a journey before we get to that point.