Ambien Sleep

This is basically just a continuation of my last post. I really wanted to tell you guys THIS story but got all hung up with how gross I was. Sorry.

 

After I got all shaved up, I was left to my own devices. Trying to fall asleep the night before my first heart surgery. I have terrible insomnia even at the best of times. And this was not the best of times.

I was 26. I was not emotionally ready to have heart surgery. I wasn’t ready to be talking about living wills and death. Unfortunately, I had to do all those things and more.

 

So I was lying there, wide awake and knowing sleep was never going to come. Soon it was 9pm and I was still awake. I had a 5am surgery that they wanted me to be well rested for. And that was just not going to happen.

 

Finally, I pressed the call button and the night nurse came in. I explained to her about my insomnia. And I told her that I didn’t know what to do. How was I ever going to sleep?

 

She checked my chart and found that I was allowed to take an Ambien.

So innocuous.

Now, I’m sure many of you have heard the stories about Ambien. That it gives you crazy dreams. That it makes you sleep walk, sleep talk, sleep eat. I wasn’t too worried. I already do all those things (except sleep eating, I hope).

 

I had also heard (from a source that will be unnamed but you know who you are) that trying to stay awake while on Ambien can make you hallucinate. And all of that sounded pretty funny to me. Especially in the hospital, strapped to an IV, with a dangerously elevated heart rate.

I think I got off easy, honestly.

The nurse came in and broke the Ambien in half and gave me one half. It reminded me of when I was a kid and my mother would make my sister and I share a piece of gum.

 

So I spoke up, “Excuse me. I am a grown fucking woman. I think I can handle an entire pill.”

 

The nurse laughed and said, “Well, we’ll just put it on the counter here and if you still need it later you can get it.”

 

So I said, “Listen, you haven’t let me up in weeks. Plus, I have this IV. How about you just let me hold it. I won’t take it unless I need it.”

 

The nurse studied me for a second and then relented. “Okay, here you go. If you aren’t asleep in ten minutes go ahead and take it.”

 

And I honestly laughed in her face at the idea that I could be asleep in 10 minutes. I have never fallen asleep in 10 minutes in my entire life.

 

The next morning I woke up with half an Ambien clenched in my fist. I hadn’t even stayed awake long enough to set it on the tray table.

I was pretty disoriented. I was like, what year is it?

The night nurse came in and I smiled at her, embarrassed.

 

“How’s my grown woman this morning?” She asked. Then she laughingly told me she had tried to come in the night before to get the pill out of my hand but I wouldn’t let it go.

 

I started cracking up and asked her if I could keep the other half to take home. Which she did allow.

 

She was the best nurse I had the entire time I was there. I know I talk a lot of trash about some of those nurses. But she was lovely, caring, and funny.

Though I only got to see her a few nights, she made my recovery better every time I got to interact with her. I knitted her a beautiful white seed stitch scarf and brought it to her once I was released. As a thank you. And she cried when she saw it.

Like this but white as the Magical Ice Cream Suit.

Shaved

So this one time I was in the hospital, waiting to have a heart surgery. I’m pretty sure it was the first one. To be honest, they start to blend together after enough of them.

 

The reason I think it was the first one is because I was in the hospital for about a month during that first stay. And I wasn’t allowed out of bed, at all, the entire time.

 

Every time I so much as sat up my heart rate would jump to over 180 bpm and all the machines would start beeping in a panic and the nurses would run in, sure that I was dying.

 

This means that I was using a bedpan for a month, which made me feel pretty sexy. Also, I wasn’t allowed to bathe. Or brush my teeth. And no, I wasn’t getting any sponge baths either. I was just marinating in sweat and body odor the whole time. It was gross.

 

I get that when you are on the verge of dying, having fresh breath and clean hair isn’t a priority to the hospital staff. But I felt repulsive. And I had always been obsessively diligent about cleanliness, so it was extremely frustrating. On the plus side, it almost completely broke me of my OCD.

 

But, since I was bedridden and also on loads of blood thinners, I also wasn’t allowed to shave. So, the night before my surgery, a nurse came in to shave my pubes.

 

Being me, I tried to lighten the horrifying situation.

 

I mean, her face was down in my unwashed vaginal area. I’d had a period come and go, and no bathing. I could smell myself from where MY face was.

 

Now that I think about it, I just realized this is where my vagina smell complex started.

 

So, this older lady came in with an electric shaver and I said, “I hear you’re going to give me a trim and a perm.”

 

Nothing. No smile. She barely even acknowledged me.

 

So, I tried again. “Actually, I was hoping you could do something fun down there. Maybe a mohawk or a Charlie Chaplin?”

 

Still no response from her. It’s possible she didn’t speak English. Or that I am completely unfunny.

 

She yanked the covers back, lifted my hospital gown and shaved me totally bald. When I looked down and saw it I said, “Oh, the old Bruce Willis. I dig it.” And then I winked at her.

 

And I need to tell you guys right now, that I have invented my own winky face emoticon. Because when I wink, I don’t smile, like this  😉 . Or grin, like this ;D . I kind of make this face ;V .

 

It’s really awkward.

 

She just kind of rolled her eyes at me and left the the room. Leaving me alone with my newly shaved vulva and insomnia. But that is another story.

 

Wheelchairing

After my most recent heart surgery I wasn’t able to walk due to the hematoma on my leg. But I still wanted to do things. I mean, I was young and wanted to celebrate not dying.

 

My ex, A, and I decided to go to Leu Gardens. It is a beautiful botanical garden. Sometimes there are weddings there. Also, I adore plants and love botanical gardens. One of my old friends used to tell me I was a lesbian for Mother Nature. So there you go.

My next gf?

 

A and I went to the main entrance and saw that there was an option to rent a wheelchair for free. I hobbled over to the lady behind the desk and let her know that I needed a wheelchair.

 

She gave me this appraising look with an arched eyebrow as if to say she didn’t believe I was sick enough to need a wheelchair and perhaps I was faking/lazy.

 

At this time, my leg was so swollen and painful that I could only wear elastic waist banded skirts. I couldn’t wear any pants or shorts. Not even sweatpants or pajama pants.

 

Instead of explaining myself or arguing with this rude bitch, I lifted up my skirt (flashing her my sensible but loose fitting underwear) and showed her my hematoma.

I was all “Bitch, please.”

 

She gasped and asked me what had happened. So I told her about the 5 heart surgeries and she ran to get me a wheelchair. She was super nice after that. But is still a terrible person for making rude assumptions.

 

A pushed me down the hallway and out into the gardens. They were beautiful. It was a warm and sunny day. Flowers were in bloom everywhere I looked. It was one of the most romantic things A ever did with me.

So pretty

 

And it all would have been really great. Except for my motion sickness. I almost immediately started feeling sick. A had to push me slower and slower because every turn felt too fast. Soon we were barely crawling along.

 

I don’t know if other people in wheelchairs get motion sickness. I don’t know what I would do if it were in one permanently. Even the motorized ones make me feel sick.

 

I was dizzy and miserable. I tried wheeling myself but it didn’t seem to help.

 

After about half an hour of rolling around in the wheelchair I begged A to stop. Unfortunately, he stopped me right by a park bench. And I immediately threw up my breakfast of eggs, bacon, and toast all over it.

 

Once I threw up, I felt much better. A and I laughed about me ruining the bench and we found a hose nearby to spray it down. We finished looking around and enjoying the gardens. But I would love to go back sometime now that I am ambulatory.

Maybe don’t sit on any benches there.


It took me quite a while to be able to eat eggs again after that.

In Love

I want to tell you guys about the only time I have ever been in love. I have dated a lot of people. I have slept with a lot of people. I cared about a few of them. I loved a few of them. But I have only ever been IN love with one person.

That might sound bad considering how many people I have dated. But I think after this story and this story, you guys might have started to realize I haven’t really dated anyone worth falling in love with. And none of you have even heard the worst of it.

 

This was during my heart surgery phase. I love that expression. It sounds like my heart surgeries were just a phase I was going through; like wearing glittery eye shadow or side ponytails.

That scrunchie is a nice touch.

As soon as the anaesthesiologist pumped me full of magical knock out drugs, I was out. I could have been dead for all I knew. The last thing I’d see was some random forest scene on the ceiling of the operating room. Then I would suddenly be riding out of the operating room on a stretcher and into the recovery room with no memory of the passage of time.

And I’d always be like, I don’t want to die looking at pine trees on a screen.

It was in the recovery room that I fell in love.

 

There was a perianesthesia nurse there in that room. He was the same person every time.  And this may partially be the drugs talking, but he was the loveliest human being I have ever met.

 

Waking up from anesthesia is traumatic. I would be wheeled in with IV lines in my arm or neck (or both) and heart catheters still hanging out of my groin. I also had very bad reactions to anesthesia every time.

 

But that nurse would talk to me with a voice that washed over me like a soothing balm. He was calm and soft spoken. I knew he would keep me as safe as he could.

 

He never put his hands on me without warning me first. He never lied to me. He told me it was going to hurt for a few minutes while he pulled my caths out. And it did. A lot.He told me it was going to hurt while he put pressure on my groin to keep me from bleeding to death with all the blood thinners I was on. And it did.

Apparently he was pulling this thing out of my heart. No wonder it hurt.

While he was hurting me and helping me, he was also talking to me. He would joke with me. He actually made me laugh in my miserable state. He made sure I felt okay, he would check in with me every few minutes. He didn’t try to rush me out of the room. He treated me like I was the only person in the world. Like I mattered. And he gave me some amazing drugs.

 

He told me I was brave and strong and good. And when he said those words I believed him. He made me feel brave and strong and good. He told me I was going to be okay. And I believed that too.

 

I think it is hard to not fall a little bit in love with someone when they are so good at their job and that pride and skill shows in their work. I think it is hard to not fall a little bit in love with someone that helps you through one of the worst experiences of your life.

 

I think we all want to be with someone that makes us feel brave and strong and good. Someone that makes us believe we are going to be okay. I never wanted to leave that recovery room. Each time I would stay literally for hours, just listening to his voice.

 

He never told me his name. I never saw his face. All I know is that he was a man and, judging by the ring on his finger, he was married.
I don’t want to find him. I don’t wish I knew who he was (though I do hope he knows how much I appreciated him). What I wish is that I could meet someone that made me feel as brave, and strong, and good, and safe, as he made me feel. But preferably without all the drugs and hospitals and surgeries.

Baby Robot Octopus

Alright, I am about to do something I have never done yet on this blog. I am going to show you a semi-sexy picture of myself. I am really nervous about posting it. but I want you all to get what I am saying here. Please be kind in the comments, at least about my body. Feel free to be dicks about everything else.

 

After every heart surgery, and still at random intervals even now, I have to wear a portable heart monitor. This thing looks like a baby robot octopus attacking my chest. It’s how I have always imagined it.

It actually looks like an iPod until it is attached.

The first time the nurse tried attaching it to me, I wrapped the cords around my neck and pretended it was choking me. I was shouting and fighting it off like a hero.

Oh god, it has me in it’s slimy grasp!

She was not amused. She was a tough older Russian lady. She was clinical, cold, and very unfriendly. I was a little bit intimidated.

 

Until I turned around to assist her in attaching this thing to me. Apparently, I was the first person to ever help her attach it to me. I was dumbfounded. I was just being courteous. I mean, she wasn’t my servant, she was my nurse. But after that, and ever since, she has always been very kind to me. She still doesn’t think I am funny, though.

 

The way this thing works is that there is a small box, about the size of a deck of cards. It has a green light and four leads that come out of it. The leads are wires with snaps on them. The snaps attach to half dollar size stickers that attach to your body.

20140320_232211

So, this is how it looks attached. Fun bonus for you guys, you can totally see my third nipple here.

The real issue is that you can’t shower while wearing this. And you have to wear it for 24-48 hours. I work a pretty physical job, in Florida. That means lots of sweating.

 

Not only do I smell bad, but the leads can come unstuck. The trick to keeping them stuck to you is two things: sandpaper tape to rub off the top layer of skin and hair, and a skin safe epoxy to keep them extra stuck.

 

The problem with those two options is that I have EXTREMELY sensitive skin. I have a mild form of dermatographia.

Mine is not quite this bad, but I do have a future story about it.

Also, as mentioned here; I am allergic to everything. This means that by the time the leads are attached, my skin is angry and irritated like a huge blotchy rash. It also means that when they are removed I have giant scabs, like I really have been attacked by an octopus.

 

 

 

 

Yeah, it looks exactly like that.

So they rub my skin raw, coat the raw skin with epoxy, and then coat it with a lead patch. They take the actual device and put it either in a halter mount, for men, or in your bra, for women. I don’t know why they cram it in there, I mean, my bra is already being used to hold my boobs. But that’s where it has to go for some reason. And you can’t remove the bra to sleep either. That is super uncomfortable all night.

 

When wearing these leads, I have to keep a journal of everything that I do and also any symptoms I feel. I like to make that fun for the people reading it, which I suppose is my cardiologist.

 

Here is an example of what I like to put (just so you know, all these examples are true things that happened):

 

6:30pm-7:00pm eating dinner (I eat really fast and food excites me, don’t be surprised to see palpitations here).

 

8:00pm-8:15pm sponge bath (bow chicka bow wow).

 

10:30pm-10:40pm I thought I saw a roach and freaked out, but it turned out to be a very roach realistic woodgrain pattern in my new wood floors (definite palpitations).

 

3:27am-3:45am I had a dream I was in an abandoned construction site fighting a zombie horde (definite palpitations).

7:00am-7:05am really hot guy smiled at me and I accidentally punched myself in the face trying to put on my seatbelt (possible pounding heartbeat).

 

After the allotted time, I would go back to see my nurse and she removes all the leads. She tries to do it carefully, but it doesn’t really matter. I usually remove my bra while still in the office. It peels off like a used band-aid. Then I drive immediately home and shower. And wash my bra.


The giant sucker marks generally go away after a week or two.

Undead

It’s no secret that I should probably be dead. Evolutionarily, there is no real reason for my existence. In fact, if I had lived just 50 years ago, I probably would already be dead. I am merely alive through the sheer chance of science and modern medicine.

 

And that makes me undead.

I hope we have the technology to reanimate skeletons when I die. I am so in. After science has it’s way with me.

 

I am living a sort of second life. It is the life beyond what I should have lived. In all honesty, I am probably living a fourth or fifth life at this point.

 

Let’s examine the evidence:

 

I’ve had between 5 and 10 minor to major strokes. I’ve had 5 heart surgeries. Any one of those things should have killed me. Those things have killed many other people before me and will kill many more after me.

My first intentional pun!

I’ve fallen down a flight of stairs. On two separate occasions. Both of which could have resulted in a broken neck. I can only attest my surviving those incidents to my yoga and cat-like reflexes.

My reflexes are as good as this kitten’s.

I swallowed at least one, fairly large piece of glass. Which I suspect is still floating around waiting to lodge itself in some crucial organ. Like my lungs.

microscope lens

Excuse me, I just need to go swallow this real quick.

Not to mention all the things in my environment that are trying to kill me. For example, one time I brushed up against a plant at work. It had been recently sprayed with pesticides. I found out the hard way that I am allergic to them.

 

I broke out in hive all across my neck and throat. And then my face. And then my arms and hands. And then my throat started swelling so bad that I couldn’t turn my head. Or pesky other things, like breathe.

 

 

Know what’s sexy? Not hives.

I still don’t know what the pesticide was. Every once in a while, I will re-discover it and break out in hives again. It’s sort of like being a detective adventurer, except I could die.

 

Then there was the time my air conditioner broke in the middle of summer. I came home to a house that was almost 120 degrees. The AC men came out and fixed it, but after they left, I kept noticing a weird smell.

 

I let it go for a few days, but I felt like it was getting stronger, so I called them back. They said it was leaking freon, which they claim didn’t smell like anything. (Then what was I smelling, huh?!) They couldn’t fix it that day, but assured me it was no big deal. It was only harmful to people with heart problems.

 

It wound up taking them over a week to fix even after I told them I did have heart problems.

 

So, I am sick, and clumsy, and unlucky, and allergic to life. And I haven’t even mentioned my emotional problems. And I can’t even reproduce, not that I wanted to.  So why am I even alive, from an evolutionary standpoint? I really don’t know. Hopefully I am funny enough to be using up all the resources I am.

 

What about you guys? Are any of you undead too?

The Old Apartment

Some time after my fourth heart surgery, I was finally allowed to start having a normal life again. I did what I should have done almost a year earlier and dumped my boyfriend, T, and moved out.

We had both been biding our time since I had initially gotten sick. Sometimes an illness can bring people together and bring out the best in someone. For, T, my illness was a huge hassle.

He hated everyone always wanting to talk about me. He hated having to visit me in the hospital (and didn’t do it very often). And he hated the way I wasn’t fun anymore. I could barely walk for months.

My sickness was probably the worst thing to ever happen to him. But I get it, we weren’t in love. Dating me was fine when I was fun, but when things got too real, he couldn’t handle it.

To be honest, our relationship was the worst I have ever been in. And I have been in some bad ones. Being sick kept me there as I literally was not capable of leaving. We were together for almost 4 years.

When I moved out, I was broke and physically very weak still. I had missed a lot of work and it took a financial toll. I needed some place cheap.

I was so broke that for that entire year, I would have to make a decision when buying my groceries. I could splurge on one thing a week. I usually had to decide if I wanted strawberries or lasagna. Strawberries won most weeks.

 

Yum! Food porn!

 

I was 27 and had never lived alone before. I always had a roommate or a boyfriend. And I had gotten rid of all my furniture when I moved in with T.

I found a furnished apartment across the street from the beach in a fairly bad neighborhood. It was a basement apartment in a house that had been converted into 3 apartments.

Basement apartments are almost unheard of in Florida, and this one was on a sloping property. The windows in the living room and bathroom were on the level with the ground. It was under 500 sq ft. Maybe even under 400 sq ft.

The ceilings were only 7ft, which is freakily low for someone over 6ft tall like me. Being on the beach meant everything was always wet. I had to mop the ceiling with bleach on a regular basis to keep the mold growth down.

The living room was the length of a couch and had a TV on the opposite wall, 5 ft away. The bathroom was smaller than a walk in closet. And I am pretty sure the building was built on an ancient ant burial ground. It was haunted with the ghosts of thousands of ants. I would find their corpses in piles, like tiny snowdrifts, all over the apartment. When I first moved in had thought their small crunching bodies were actually beach sand blown or tracked in.

 

They were mostly concentrated in the bathroom for some reason.

 

This was also where I had to take my laundry to a laundromat once a week. I know I have mentioned it several times. It was next to a seedy beachside bar.

But the price was right. The door locked. And I was safe inside. I had my first apartment.

There were two other apartments in the same house as me. The one directly above me was empty for the whole year I lived there. Sometimes at night I would lie in bed and hear things moving around up there. I blamed it on my disturbingly vivid imagination.

In the other apartment there lived three Czechoslovakian people. Two were married to each other and the third was a female friend.  I said hello to the friend a few times. None of them spoke English. After a few months I stopped seeing the wife. The husband and the friend had been having an affair and the wife moved back home to the Czech Republic.

There was an abandoned hotel across the street. It was a towering building about 40 stories, right on the beach. There were broken windows and on breezy days I could see the curtains waving in some of the rooms. It was like a scene from a post apocalyptic movie. I heard hobos would break in and squat in the lower levels. I never wanted to find out.

 

Pretty similar to this creepy thing.

 

Directly in front of my apartment was an empty lot. It was fenced off and for sale. Another condo waiting to be built. The lot was white sand, broken glass, and sand spurs. I could see the ocean between the buildings.

There was a house next to mine, on the other side of a private road. The set up was similar to my house. Several people lived in that basement apartment. They would sit outside drinking and smoking all night, every night.

A few days after moving in, I smelled the unmistakable smell of meth coming from that apartment. I knew the smell well as some neighbors had a meth lab at a previous apartment with a previous boyfriend. When they got busted, the cops said it was the largest meth lab they had ever seen. I quickly decided to avoid those neighbors.

I actually loved living there. I loved the freedom of being alone. I recovered well and gained back a lot of the strength I had lost during the past year.

When Christmas rolled around I was dating a new guy, M. He had lived in Japan for several years and was always talking about the buckwheat pillows they used there. I decided to buy him one for Christmas.

 

I find them uncomfortable.

 

One day, just before the holiday, I saw that my pillow had been delivered and that a neighbor had signed for it. I brought the tag over to the new Czech couple, but they pretended to not know what I was talking about.

I was confused and upset. The pillow hadn’t been cheap. And now someone had stolen it. I had no other neighbors that could have signed for it and I had no other gift for M.

One of the meth neighbors came running over as I trudged down the hill back to my apartment. He was clearly doing meth. The skin condition is unmistakable.

“Hey! We signed for a box for you today! Come on over and get it.”

I was hesitant to go into their apartment. What if the police chose that exact moment to bust them? Would I be taken to jail? Would I get fired?

I reluctantly followed him across the street. I waited in the living room while he went back into his bedroom to get it. I have no idea why it was in his bedroom. There were about 6 people in this dimly lit living room. People were lying on couches, chairs, the floor. Every surface was covered with bodies. And they all smelled awful.

The guy gave me my box and asked if I wanted to stay and have a drink. I practically ran from that apartment.

A few days later, I was making cookies to take to work. I created my own peanut butter cookie recipe that is amazing. My cookies are so good, that one time I had brought them to work and someone stole them off someone else’s desk and it turned into this huge investigation. HR was brought in for a resolution.  It was insane.

 

 

HR resolution cookies.

 

I decided to make a few to bring to my meth neighbors. I thought it would be a nice thank you to them since they had kept my package safe.

I made a dozen to bring to them. I used my fanciest homemaker skills and wrapped them in a white linen napkin and tied it with a fancy bow. I brought them over to my neighbors.

 

I’m capable of being pretty fancy.

They thanked me and after that would give me enthusiastic hellos anytime they saw me. But they never returned my napkin.

 

UPDATED: I’m including the recipe for Jana. But I am going to assume you guys know how to make cookies, in general.

 

1 stick butter (softened)

1 1/4 c. peanut butter

1/2 c. white sugar

3/4 c. brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

1 1/4 c. flour

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

peanut butter chips

 

Refrigerate batter for an hour before rolling into balls and cooking for 10 min at 375.

 

If any of you make them, let me know how you like them!