good spirits, we headed back to Virginia talking about the day's adventure.
I woke Monday morning feeling like a bullet was lodged between my eyes.
Tuesday morning arrived much sooner than I had hoped. It was the first
work day after my nose breaking kayak trip and I was not looking forward
to the ribbing the guys at the office were going give me. But the guys
at the office would have to wait.
Hot flashes, chills, and fever, had kept me up much of the night. I had
sweat through two t-shirts and drank close to two gallons of milk and juice;
and that damn bullet was still lodged between my eyes. I decided to pop
by the hospital and report my new symptoms to the folks in the emergency
room. What I was looking for was piece of mind; someone to tell me that
my symptoms were normal. But that is far from what the doctors would tell
"Mr. Henes, I am afraid that I am going to have to admit you to the
hospital. The wound on your nose has become infected and infections in
this area can be extremely dangerous. It does not take much for them to
spread to the sinuses and brain." Within thirty minutes I was receiving
IV antibiotics within my own private room at the Fair Oaks hospital.
Sitting back in my space age fold-o-bed with built in TV remote, I closed
my eyes as the super cool medical tech, Linda, juiced the infection from
the newly opened wound on my nose. Over the course of the next five days,
Linda would squeeze more puss from my face than anyone on the hospital
staff. I truly believe she enjoyed it. It seemed that whenever she had
a spare minute, she was in my room working my face.
Although the hot flashes and chills were gone, my first night at the hospital
was not a good one. It seemed as if every time I managed to nod off, someone
who needed to take my temperature, check my breathing, or hook me into
an IV was tapping me on the shoulder. I did manage to catch a brief wink
At 5:30 it was not an alarm clock that woke me. The overhead light switched
on and a cheery medical tech bidding me good morning walked in. "Hello
Mr. Henes, could you please sit up; we need to take a blood sample." "Holy
shit !!!" I thought to myself, "these guys are hard core. The
sun wasn't even up and they're thinking blood ? What are they, vampires?".
Sitting up, I closed my eyes and cringed as she plunged the needle into
my arm. Keeping my eyes closed, I waited for her to remove the needle and
give me the much anticipated "Ok, I'm done". But that never came.
When the needle was removed, the tech informed me she would need a second
attempt. When she finally finished up, and turned off the light, I settled
back into bed thinking I was home free. But I was not yet out of the woods.
As the tech left she said "Alright Mr. Henes, that's it for now. I'll
see you at 6:30 for a second sample." I learned to look forward to
my morning blood samples as if they were double non-fat vanilla iced lattes.
I hope you know I am kidding.
As the week went on I got to know my doctors and the hospital staff quite
well. They are a fun bunch of hard working folks who made my stay... well...
actually enjoyable. They were all interested in looking at the pictures
which documented the infamous day of kayaking and exchanging stories of
adventure and personal injury. This is my type of crowd. The week began
to fly by, until Thursday afternoon.
"Mr. Henes.... they're ready for you right now. Please remove all
of your clothes, put on a gown, and hop up onto the stretcher as soon as
you can." In a matter of minutes I was on my way to what I had been
dreading all day. The operating room! A cool draft blew up my gown as two
medical techs wheeled my stretcher to the OR staging area. When I arrived
I was greeted by anesthesiologist Dr. Chu who promptly asked "How
is your tolerance for pain?". "Excuse me?" I answered, hoping
I had heard him wrong. "Your pain threshold... how much pain can you
tolerate? Kayakers must have a high tolerance for pain." Not knowing
how to answer his question and feeling a wee bit of fear, I just laid there
with a dumb look on my face. Dr. Chu went on explain that a decision regarding
the amount of anesthetic to be used in the procedure had not yet been made
and that he was just testing the waters. But it was Dr. Soltany who would
make the final call.
Dr. Soltany is an ENT specialist who has been my primary doctor all week.
He is the one who decided that I should undergo a surgical procedure to
clean up my wound and decrease the swelling in my face.
When Soltany arrived, he was wearing his OR duds along with a hat that
looked like something Princess Lea(spelling ?) would wear. The hat was
smurf blue and wrapped around his head horizontally and vertically under
his chin. I immediately burst into laughter and turned to Dr. Chu "His
hat is all the anesthetic I will need". We all laughed and agreed
that we would try the procedure without an anesthetic.
When doors to the OR opened I could feel how sterile the environment inside
was. It was a good sized room with bright white walls and lights that would
make Mile High Stadium proud. The technology was overwhelming. Machines
and monitors of varying types lined the room's perimeter. I would be plugged
into just two them.
As I slid over from the stretcher to the operating table, Dr. Soltany
began to describe the procedure. He was going to remove the remaining stitches,
pull back the skin surrounding the wound, and extract has much puss and
infection as possible. When all was said and done he will have extracted
about two cubic centimeters of unwanted debris.
In preparation for the procedure, sensors were taped to my chest and stomach
to measure my breathing. A clothes pin type device was placed on my index
finger connecting me to the EKG machine. The room was now filled with the
beep...beep...beep of my heart. This immediately reminded me of the Levis
jeans commercial where the ER patient's heart beats to tune of Soft Cell's
'Tainted Love'. I asked the OR crew if they would play 'Tainted Love' during
the procedure but they just laughed and said they had something much better
As the operation started, bright lights shined through my closed eyes
and Barry Manalow filled my ears. "Oh Mandy....you came and you gave
without takin....and I need you so bad...oh Mandy.....". I busted
a stitch laughing(just an expression), but midway though the operation
I was ready for some Metallica. The OR deejay sensed this and saved the
day by spinning the ever popular Neil Diamond Christmas Album. The operation
was over in no time.
My last couple of days in the hospital passed rather quickly and without
event. I became an expert on Princess Di, royal protocol, and the papparazzi.
At least there was good TV on this week(just kidding). On Saturday I was
switched from iv to oral antibiotics and discharged by mid-afternoon