“The vena cava. It’s the large vein that takes the blood right into your heart.”
No … that “what” wasn’t a request for more information — it was a yelp of shock, dismay and whatever is the next step down from terror.
“Hold real still,” she said as she picked up the IV port in my neck.
Oh, believe me, I was holding real still! There was nothing in this hospital that was holding stiller than I was. The chair in the corner wasn’t even as still as me. I coulda been a statue. I wasn’t even breathing.
“There,” she said. “All done. How do you feel?”
Terrified would probably cover it. Scared out of my wits. You’re putting stuff into my heart? Morphine?? Trust me, the pain wasn’t all that bad — certainly not bad enough that I’ll ever ask for pain meds again. “I’m fine,” I finally managed to croak.
I don’t know if my brain truly understood the significance of what was happening, or maybe that was really good stuff, but for some reason I never again had much pain. I think my brain figured I probably couldn’t handle anymore shots to my heart and just shut down the pain sensors. Worked for me.
The next time I was asked about pain, I assured them it was minor. “You think a pain pill will take care of it?” the nurse asked.
“Yes. Definitely. Absolutely. Maybe even a Tylenol. Trust me, it’s not bad at all … maybe just a bit up from a twinge. I probably don’t need anything. Really.”
“Well, why don’t you take a pill just to be on the safe side. You need to stay ahead of the pain,” the nurse said.
Yep. I need to stay ahead of the nurse with the needle, too.
Now I’m pretty new to all this hospital stuff. I always thought morphine was for major pain when nothing else worked — a last resort. And putting something right into the heart? Really? That is something I definitely would never want to get used to.
I’m home now and my heart’s fine and there’s no pain. Well, now and again just a little twinge to remind me that someone was cutting on my body last week, but overall, yeah, everything’s jake.
And as for that IV port in my neck — the one that went right into my vena cava? — the last thing they did at the hospital was remove it.
Different nurse this time, but no less terrifying. “Let me tell you what we’re going to do,” she said as stood by the bed. Yeah, fine, tell me. I’ve already got the “hold real still” part down pat. Trust me, I can do that.
“When I tell you, you’re going to take a breath, like this.” She took a breath. “I can do that,” I told her.
“Then you’re going to very slowly let it out through your nose while you’re humming.”
“Humming?” She nodded. I wondered if I should be humming any particular note. I don’t have perfect pitch. My brother did, but he’s the only one who got it. He also got the perfect teeth. And I guess he got the perfect lungs, too. In any case, I tried it out. “Like this?” I asked as I began to hum quietly.
“Perfect,” she said. “Now remember when I tell you, take a breath.”Oh, yeah, that’s not something I’ll forget. “But I can’t hold my breath very long,”I told her.
“That’s okay,” she assured me. “You’ll be fine.” She picked up the IV port and began slowly pulling away the tape. “Okay, now. Deep breath.” Well, dang if I could take a deep breath I wouldn’t be here, would I? But I dutifully inhaled. “And now let it out slowly …”
I felt some pressure on my neck and then she announced, “all done! that wasn’t so bad, now, was it?”
I smiled weakly. “No, not at all,” I lied. You know where liars go, don’t you? Well, I don’t know exactly where every single one of them goes, but I know where this one is going: home.
Thank you, Lord!