Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Laughing is a Gas

A bit of an adventure has occupied me this past month.  I believe I am coming out the other side now but will probably have to be careful for awhile.  My early summer fall down the stairs may or may not be connected to my ruptured disc, I don't know for sure, but following the fall, although a few visits to physiotherapy put my sacrum and pelvic bones back in line, I continued to experience mild sciatica.   It didn't improve over the weeks and then suddenly, one day it got worse and I fell to the kitchen floor in great pain.  I could not move in any direction with agonising equal to childbirth or worse pains. 

A few hours at home with the pain worsening, hyperventilating until my body went numb and shook incessantly, and being unable to get assistance in any other way, I asked my mother to phone the non emergency ambulance.   They were very kind, assessed the situation, gave me laughing gas and got me into a special chair designed to transport patients over tricky terrain where a stretcher on wheels won't go.  In this case that tricky terrain is three flights of stairs and no elevator.  Happily high on laughing gas (rather like chugging back three glasses of wine instantly) I prattled away about all the scents and smells that assailed me.  One of the ambulance attendants was chewing Juicy Fruit gum and the scent of artificial grape overtook all other sounds and smells.  I believe I had my eyes closed which may explain why scent and sound took over.

I spent three hours in emergency where they gave me a cocktail of pain meds, checked to see if I was able to walk two hours after, which I wasn't, and again after three hours, which I was using a walker.  I was released with a prescription and sent off.  My Dad went to obtain a walker and Mum took me home to their house where I could be popped into bed, fed and medicated under supervision and there were no stairs.  I am there still, three and a half weeks later, diagnosed via CT Scan with a badly ruptured disc right above the sacrum at L5/S1  affecting the nerves that travel from my lower back, down my right leg and to my right foot.

Improvement is gradual but steady.  I am heavily medicated but after dosage trials which lead to hallucinations and night terrors, I am comfortably taking medications that address the pain and inflammation, allow me to heal and don't give me any other troubles.  Other than the attendant constipation that is to be expected but I have some revoltingly strong orange syrup for that too.  It is really only today that I am beginning to feel grumbly about wanting to go home.  It's a sign of progress when the patient is grumbling, progression from the days of just lying there totally unable to function, dependent on others, to feeling a bit miserable at wearing the same old pair of pyjamas all day, and not liking the selection of books she has at her bedside.  It's a sign of progress when she decides that she will grumble on her blog, that she will write.

The last writing I did was while awake and hallucinating under the influence of too much morphine.  I had the notion I might be the next Coleridge and pen my own Kubla Kahn.  I have been afraid to look at it since the night I wrote it.

I am typically very optimistic, except when I am not.  I know my family thinks I am deluded wanting to go home in a few days.  Significantly, I cannot sit nor stand for more than a few minutes at a time.  How will I manage my specialised diet and will I remember that I am not to lift anything over 5 pounds?  Surely I will forget and pick up the cat.  I think she weighs six.

I sleep a lot but when I am awake my prime methods of amusement are reading and small dribbles of writing.  I do a lot of thinking of course.  When do I not?  I worry about my plants dying, because as wonderful as my son is he will not remember to water them.  I worry that I am a defective person.  Hah!  I know, I hear you telling me we are all defective.  Perhaps I worry that my defects are not normal defects.  

I foresee a blog post contemplating defects.


  1. Sorry to hear, dear. Hope you bounce back quickly.

  2. Oh Shawna I am so sorry to hear about your injury and everything else you have been through. I am glad you are being well looked after, please remain so, no need to be a hero. All the best for a recovery from this setback, and I for one wrote some really ingenius stuff on morphine after my surgeries - ha ha well maybe in my mind it was ingenious! You are a writer, you write if it makes you feel better, hope your convalesence isn't too stressful on you. All the best, Steff xo

  3. You are not a defective person, Shawna, and nobody is, we all have our hurts, but we are made from the same material... Sending you hugs and warmest wishes! Get well soon!

  4. Ha! Interesting to hear of your sensorily heightened experience.
    Glad it didn't heighten the pain!
    Also good to hear of the grumbling.
    it is hard not to have your own space when you are used to it.
    Many hugs! Xo Jazzy Jack


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