Thursday, November 15, 2012

Inside Recovery

My writing is usually very dialog heavy, and pretty sparse on the setting. Writing dialog has always been easy for me and I hate describing things. But one of the most important scenes in my medical memoir doesn't involve much talking. I think I did an okay job of describing the inside of a post-surgical recovery room. What do you think?

An excerpt from INFECTED...

                I was never asked to count backwards or anything like that, and I don’t remember having any kind of a mask placed over my mouth. They must have slipped the anesthesia into my IV. Or maybe I just feel asleep. I really don’t remember anything concrete about that morning.
                I do remember waking up though. The pain was worse than I ever could have imagined. I could feel a deep cut along the full length of my abdomen, but that wasn’t the only thing that hurt. My entire body felt like it had been carved open and turned inside out. It probably had.
                I didn’t dare move, not even my head. But I did blink open my eyes. The only thing I could see was the ceiling. I was in a large room near a corner. There was a wall a few feet to my left and another one somewhere relatively close behind me head. It wasn’t to close though, because several doctors and/or nurses were standing behind me. There was a curtain hanging from the ceiling somewhere towards my feet and off to the right. I thought I heard other nurses farther away to my right treating some other patient. He may have been in the same room as me, or possibly just down the hall.
                A woman’s voice spoke near me, “Welcome back.”
                When I didn’t turn my head to look at her, the woman’s face appeared above me. “I’m going to put some morphine in your IV.”
                I tried to talk, but I didn’t know what to say, and it hurt too much to move my lips. An unintelligible croak came out instead. I had no sense of time. The voices were talking about vital signs and poor reaction responses. Nothing made any sense to me. I just wanted to go back to sleep and have all the pain disappear.
                The woman’s face came back. “Are you ready for more morphine?”
                I thought about nodding but didn’t know what would happen to me if I attempted that much motion. I managed to whisper, “yes.”
                Sometime later, another voice that I recognized rose above the rest. It had probably been there the entire time. Everything was confusing. “Kate, can you tell me what you’re feeling right now?”
                It was Dr. Surgeon. He was there above me, where the woman with the morphine shot had been before. “Pain,” was the only thing I could say.
                I got another shot of morphine and Dr. Surgeon’s head disappeared, but his voice remained. He was talking louder now, yelling at someone. At first, I thought it was the nurses but when the other side of the conversation didn’t come, I realized he was talking on a phone. “I need an IV of acetaminophen up here now…”
                “…You’re a hospital pharmacy, don’t tell me you don’t have it. Grind up some pills and dissolve it in saline if you have to, just get it here…” I’d never heard Dr. Surgeon mad before. He normally had the personality of a friendly grandpa.
                I got one more shot of morphine before the acetaminophen showed up. My pain was so intense, I couldn’t even think. How could Tylenol possibly make that go away? None of it made sense. But Dr. Surgeon was right. Maybe the Tylenol reacted with the morphine in some weird way I didn’t understand. I didn’t care. All I knew was that as soon as the acetaminophen entered my system a giant fog of pain lifted off of me.
                Everything still hurt. But it was a tolerable hurt. In less than a second, I dropped from an eleven to a nine on the pain threshold scale. Moving my head felt like a stretch, but at least I could think again.
                Dr. Surgeon was back. “Kate, are you with us?”
                “Thank you.” My voice was week, but I got out the words.

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