Myeloma, Sex, and Dementia

October 30, 2022

I hope you’ll forgive me if I’m not my usual chipper self today. I was in the Hospital again for a few days starting on Tuesday morning the 25th. On Monday afternoon I got radiation treatment on my back and right femur. That evening and especially during the night, I developed a high fever and once again I ended up on the floor in our hotel room unable to get back into bed. Paramedics came and they got me back into bed. They had to come back later to take me to Royal Jubilee Hospital in an ambulance. That’s the fourth time I’ve ended up in Emerg with a high fever after a treatment for myeloma.

The radiation oncologist at the BC Cancer Centre assured us that the radiation treatment had nothing to do with the high fevers I got on Tuesday after the radiation treatment on Monday. I have no reason to doubt her, except that it’s hard to deny the pattern here. It seems that every time I get a treatment for myeloma my temperature spikes and I end up in Hospital getting massive doses of antibiotics and other meds. I can assure you, though, that it will not happen again because I will not get any more treatment for myeloma, not chemotherapy, not radiation. It’s just too hard on me. My gut gets squirrelly, unsettled is too weak a term for how my gut feels. It’s still messed up and it’s Sunday. I can only hope that it gets better. Hope is all I have left. [It is better -Tuesday]

October 31st, 2022

I don’t mean to gossip, but my stay at the hospital this past week was replete with drama. Emergency Departments these days often stand in for family physicians. People with minor ailments are stacked in waiting rooms while often more seriously ill or injured patients are made to hold up in ‘rooms’, (that is curtained off areas) that are tiny. It’s possible to hear everything that goes on in these ‘cubicles.’ When I was taken to the hospital by ambulance on Tuesday 4:30 AM or so I was immediately introduced to the maelstrom. After a short time I was wheeled into a room that is set up for two patients. Carolyn was with me. We could hear everything that was going on in the area centred on the nurses’ station.

Enter a screamer. Make that an old screamer. She is eight years older than me but assailed by dementia. We eventually learned that she had fallen and broken a femur. She must have been in a lot of pain and she made it very clear to everyone within earshot that she was highly distressed. Initially, she was wheeled into the maelstrom, then for some reason the staff moved her into the room I was in. She screamed “Help, help!” over and over again, even if there was a nurse in the room. Then she would yell “No, no, no, no, no!” This went on and on and on at well over 100 decibels. I am not blaming this poor woman. She was in pain and she has dementia. But, man, did she have a set of lungs too. Every once in a while we’d hear a patient yell from across the room: “Shut up! People are trying to get some sleep here!” That didn’t slow her down at all.

November 1st, 2022

Finally, they got me into a ward on the 8th Floor of the hospital. That happened sometime after 11 PM on Tuesday. At the North Island Hospital in the Comox Valley I ended up on the 3rd floor a couple of times, in the same room too. It’s a large room for one patient. In the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria, I was wheeled into a room set up for three patients. When I arrived, it was already occupied with two patients, a young man probably in his twenties, and an older man. Not sure how old he was. During my stay there I didn’t talk to the other two patients in the room, not once. The older guy was very ill and demented. He screamed most of the time, often at the top of his lungs, much like the screamer in Emerg. The nurses told him on more than one occasion to be quiet and the care aides admonished him periodically to “be nice to us.” He was not nice at all. He swore at everybody and wondered aloud why people were in his bedroom. He was most unpleasant, but I can usually tolerate people in his situation.

What can I say about the kid in the third bed. He was young, he could move around, and often went to the bathroom. I’m not sure why he was in the hospital, but I know that he was visited periodically by someone working on mental health and addiction issues. On my last night there, two young women came to visit this guy. They arrived around 7:30. One of them left around 9. The second one didn’t leave until 1 AM. You can draw your own conclusions about what happened behind the curtain separating his part of the room from mine, but it brings to mind a certain Paul Simon song. I know, it’s unbelievable but it did happen. It’s a good thing I had earplugs, because I still detected the odd moan and groan through the curtains. The nurses must have known she was there, but nobody did anything about it. Interesting. Not something I expected to experience in a hospital. Always a first time I guess.