Damn Sarcoidosis, it's now worked its' way into my brain. Fantastic. My kids had been ill, my husband had been deathly ill (kind of feel badly for bugging him so badly about the Man Flu once I found out what it actually was - loving, compassionate wife fail) and I had gotten a bit sick too. No fever, just a dull headache in the back of my skull and an excruciating headache if I stood up or bent over. Thought I was about to have an aneurism, and it kept happening for like, a week (don't want to be a hypochondriac and go in for every little thing, right? I figure that the dr's and hospital see me enough with this crap as it is)
So I went in for a regular outpatient appointment with my Rheumatology team, mentioned the headache and they admitted me on the spot. Right in, stabbed with a cannular and into an MRI within the hour. Swollen brain, sarcoidosis is now in my brain, and I'm flaring up like crazy in my joints, bones, neck and face. I looked (and felt) a lot like this:
It would only be a couple of days, they told me. Don't worry, they told me. You'll be home soon. But noooo. I was back to eating that dreaded hospital macaroni and cheese suspiciously lacking in macaroni for 13 freaking days!
My husband and kids came to see me so often that when the girls saw the hospital from the car they said "Hi Mama". They came for picnics and cuddles and well, I can't even sugar coat that. It's awful to have to watch your babies leave you day after day while you're stuck to an IV, or stuck on a hospital ward not knowing when you'll get to go home to be with them again. Anyway, too depressing, don't want to talk about that.
Luckily for me, every time I'm admitted to the hospital they put me onto the same Rheumatology ward, though I'm always the youngest one there by at least 35 years. The staff there know me well now, and call me "the Baby". (either because of my age in comparison to the other patients on the ward, or because I cry a bit when they jab me with needles. I didn't ask) I had some fantastic roommates. The one to my right was a very sweet little elderly lady, 82 years old, that used to be a ballroom dancing world champion. I know this because she has alzheimers, and introduced herself to me constantly. Constantly. She also had trouble walking, so when they gave her meds to prep her for a colonoscopy that would clean out her bowels they gave her a commode, right next to me and separated only by a thin curtain. The poor woman nearly blew herself off the commode a couple of times. It was extremely difficult not to giggle like a 12 year old boy at the noise coming from next door. Thank god the drugs I was on removed my sense of smell.
The one across from me was even better. She was an 86 year old, loud, racist, angry Italian woman that swore at the nurses, wouldn't deal with anyone that didn't have English as a first language (and was sure to tell them why), cried that she was being abused by the food quality and slept with her pink nightdress over her head and spread eagled on her bed, curtains wide open. Every night.
So to determine what was going on in my brain, they needed to collect some of that lovely fluid. Bring on the Lumbar Puncture. Was I nervous? No, just a lumbar puncture. Just a needle going into my spine. Not a big deal, I just wanted to get it over with. So a ward doctor and a newbie prep me in my hospital cubicle and have at er. 6 times. It wasn't working. They needed a bigger needle, the tissue around my spine was too swollen. Nobody wants to be huddled up with their bare back to doctors preparing to stab them in the spine with potentially paralysing affects and hear "we need a bigger needle". After 6 attempts (FML) they gave up and arranged for the surgeons to have another go the next day.
It doesn't help that while being wheeled in a bed to the surgical suite the elevator we were in dropped an entire floor. The three of us (porter, nurse, me) thought we were going to die. We lived, barely, but after that surely one has no fear of a lumbar puncture. So in we went.
5 more tries and they finally were able to suck out some spinal fluid - it felt incredible to have such instant relief in my head. So wonderful that a couple of days later I asked for another one. They thought I was nuts, and told me that the story of the girl who had 11 attempts at a lumbar puncture had already travelled throughout the hospital and will become Imperial Healthcare Lore. Again, lucky me.
However, nasty treatments aside, the most entertaining and bizarre part of my hospital stay was definitely the rotating string of pirate themed prostitutes with special needs, there seeing a male patient with special needs. It was crazy, and for awhile I wondered if I was really seeing this, or if I needed to reduce my painkillers again.
Every day at around 4pm one or two of these girls (4 in total), that dressed like pirate themed hookers but also clearly had special needs themselves, would come to visit this guy. They would close the curtain and you could hear them chatting (not very clearly, some due to speech impediments, some due to my lack of spy equipment that I solely needed while in hospital) and laughing, and then you would hear him shout something like "Gerr Off Woman!" and then the girls would leave.
In chatting with the nurses, I found out that they all go to a special school together and all have similar learning disabilities. She explained that their prostitute-style dress was probably just their personal style preference, but she was also confused by the pirate theme. So it wasn't just me.
The first time that the nursing staff kicked them out is when they brought in some beer and got the guy properly drunk. He tore out his IV line and went wandering down the hall talking to the walls. It was fantastically entertaining. (Hey, I'd been singing show tunes to myself at this point I was so bored, I'd take any form of entertainment I could get. I was even debating introducing myself to ballroom dancer next door, just for the conversation!). Then they were banned for, get this, having a threesome in his cubicle. You can't make this stuff up. He wasn't in a private room. He was on a shared ward with 3 other men and across from the room I shared with crazy 1 and racist 2. It was fantastic.
The best bit? When he was discharged he was replaced with a prisoner from the jail next door to the hospital - who was chained to a prison guard at all times. This was a further source of much entertainment, though the nurses did not know what he was in jail for (though there was much speculation over tea at my bedside with them).
The worst part? Even HE got out before I did! Paul kindly reminded me that he wasn't going home, he was going back to group showers and prison shankings, but still. What the hell??!
So in the end, on Day 13 of captivity I was feeling much better, my immune system had been completely decimated by a crazy high dose of steroids and I was due to now wait out the meningitis ( ah yes, turns out I had meningitis, which caused my sarc flare, but the virus was found after they decimated my immune system, so I was kept in like an outbreak monkey) and I asked my team of 14 doctors and professors if I should ask my husband to come and get me or if I should go ahead and tell him to start dating other people.
They reluctantly discharged me to the care of my overprotective husband who put me on house arrest for the 4 day Queen's Jubilee weekend. I didn't care, I was just so happy to be home.