It’s looking more and more like there really are 2 of me.
By day Im the sweetest gentlest person you’ll ever meet, by night Im a steroid fueled asthma devil.
Blame it on the disease or on all the drugs, but this week I reached new levels of ICU delirium of which I am truly embarrassed.
At the peak of my craziness last Sunday I managed to pull out my arterial line, my porta cath line and my foley catheter all in one go. And yes, I injured myself in the process and horrified a lot of battle hardened nurses.
After coming out of my haze, one of the sitters who stayed with me told me that I actually offered him money to put me out of my misery.
I’m not sure why this keeps happening, but according to some of the psychologists Ive talked to about, it’s very common in older patients who spend multiple days per year in ICUs and or on ventilators. And something else I learned, is that if you have a urinary and/ or blood infection, you’re twice as likely to suffer from ICU delirium. For the life of me I cant seem to make the connection between a bladder infection and brain function, but that’s what the pros claim.
After going through this a half dozen times now, two things stand out for me. First, is that this behavior almost always happens on what I call the flip side of an attack. By that I mean that it happens when things are starting to turn around, when Im starting to breath better…. like right after being extubated. The other thing that Ive noticed is that the delirium seems to be based on literally loosing touch with ones sense of location. I can vividly recall the medical staff obsessively asking me if I knew where I was and telling me that I was at UCSF. But in my mind it didn’t seem I was. It was as if if the hospital room in which I was originally admitted to, took on a different more scarier appearance.Almost like a mad scientists laboratory from the 1950s. The staff who clearly had UCSF name tags and white suits, took on the looks of more shady type characters. I think If they would have taken the time to perhaps opening the door to my room so that could see the layout of the floors beyond, or maybe walk with me down the hall to show that I was actually in UCSF, maybe that would have brought me back to reality quicker? All I know is that when I was finally relocated to a different, more modern appearing room, the delirium left and I no longer felt threatened by the staff. Obviously I have some psychological issues when it comes doctors and hospitals, but I think in this day and age of high tech medical care, the responsibly for minimizing the effects of ICU delirium has to be shared responsibility.
Thankfully Im still one piece after this latest ordeal, and the medical people who took care of me understand the condition better than most and wont hold it against me. Still, it irks me that one little person can piss off so many people, and all triggered by this stupid lung disease.
Next time you see a Nurse, give him or her a big hug, because they really do earn their wages. And thank you to my Nurses ( Al, Jin and the staff of the 13th floor ICU and 14th floor step down units) for putting up with my shit one more time.