Monday, April 23, 2012

14- Tapped, But Not Tapping Out


I'm still breathing, but today its a full time job.  It seems the cirrhosis has enabled my liver to hold back water like the Hoover Dam.  My portal artery is continuously leaking fluid into my abdomen.  They say today is the day I will receive some relief.  They are here to bring me down further into the hospital, and I sense that this ride is not going to be a warm one.  
Before we even start moving, the nurses have to get me from my hospital bed to a rolling stretcher.  At any other time in my life,  I would just push downward on the bed, and slide over.  No big deal.   Well, that was then, and everything from here on seems to be post-alcoholic coma.  I still haven't regained any strength.  That's not a surprise, since my body had to use almost all of my muscle tissue, and some bone to keep my formerly drunk ass alive.  My weight has not been lost it has been moved.  As a matter of fact, my skeletal remains are very light, but my abdomen adds a new level of cumbersomeness to the whole situation.

Picking me up by my feet and hands is outright impossible from the shorter female nurses.  My ass never leaves the mattress when they try to lift me.  After doing their best, and breathing hard, the ladies call on what must be the Linebackers on the Intramural football team.

After much debate from my end, the nurses have given me another catheter.  While the men lift me, the line leading toward the old draft beer bag catches my moo moo and pulls it up to my chest.  Humility is very useful during this stay.  Finally, they get me on the rolling bed, and its time to move.  As we spin around to get a move on, my toes drag across the corner of the wall.  "Oops.  Sorry.  Watch your feet."  Not unlike my hospital bed, this one falls a little short, too.  I'm not that tall, people.

So far, as we travel further down into the hospital everything is as expected.  Bright florescent bulbs hum straight above me, as the cold breeze sweeps up my gown and blankets.  A short descent in the elevator, and it opens up to a half lit area, with a receptionist, but all of the waiting area chairs are turned upside-down.  Through the last door on the left is the relief I've been searching for.
 Inside an attractive young girl who asks me if I'm cold.  She has a heated blanket for me.  I love her now, with her fresh out of college look, and warm blankets.

Yet, my new crush has turned on me, and bares my flesh-colored igloo.  The gel for the ultrasound is frigid, to say the least, as well as the paddle that she begins to rub over me.  I can see the monitor of my insides, and I see people in it.  Here we go again.  The crush gently pushes on my stomach to try to move the fluid around a bit.  This gentle touch feels like she has threaded a stick through my entrails, and she turning it clockwise.  Finally she sees a spot that she likes, and marks a perfect X with her Sharpie.

The doctor enters, we say our hellos, and he asks my if I've ever had a Paracentesis.  He holds up about a six inch long needle with a shunt attached to demonstrate how he is going to tap the fluid.  He sticks the needle into my abdomen and it is hot.  X marks the spot.  Then, he points out that the completely dark areas on the monitor are fluid.  The rest are my guts.

As I look at the monitor, and the fluid sprays into a bottle, this aqueous mass starts to get manipulated.
There are the faces again, and as Doc moves the needle  around, and changes the shapes, the needle moves from one party to another.  In groups of two or three, they all have drinks, and seem to be having a blast.  They look like snapshots passing by, while I continue to think about how long it took me to get to this moment.  When I was pumping my abdomen with vodka, I was setting myself up to get "tapped".

This continues for about 20 minutes as they fill three and a half  liter-bottles of the fluid into glass bottles.  The watery jet looks like a perfectly healthy persons urine.  A perfectly healthy man does not have urine exit through his side.  My kidneys still work, but you can't get power from a dam without some flow.
I will count this as the longest leak I've ever taken.  I can breath without effort now, but I'm dizzy and whipped.  Just get me back to my icebox,



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