It was last Thursday that I first started to notice the oedema (fluid retention) in my legs and it was starting to get uncomfortable. I mentioned it to the nurse and she decided to do something with the bed to raise my legs. I think there's some kind of platformy thing under the matress that can be lifted up in addition to the knee brace, and it was this that she was trying to do something with, but she'd never done it before so didn't know what she was doing. She fiddled and fumbled, and yanked and pulled at stuff under the matress, but couldn't get it to do what she was hoping for. Instead she ended up folding me in half. This wasn't particularly comfortable, it has to be said. Nor was it very condusive to breathing. She gave up trying to do the leg-raising thing and unfolded me.
As the day progressed so did the oedema so that by night time it was very uncomfortable, to the point of hurting, and my legs were so swollen that I could barely bend my knees. The swelling was spreading to my whole body too and I getting miserable. I lay in the dark feeling sorry for myself when I remembered that the bed controls at the end of the bed (the ones meant for staff use, as opposed to the patient ones on the side of the bed) had a tilt button. Perhaps I could tilt the bed so that the whole thing was slightly head-down/feet-up and this might help the swelling in my legs. Now you need to remember that I still had the drip in my right arm, and that this arm was still fairly incapacitated by the shoulder dislocation the other week (it's getting better now, thanks to the enforced rest). Right then, I was setting out on a mission.
I shuffled as far as I could up the bed, hampered not only by my fairly useless right arm, but also by the limitations of relatively short oxygen tubing. So I was as far up the bed as I could get, with my head pretty much turned in the opposite direction as the oxgen mask was pulling on my face and it'd be a bad idea to lose it all together. And it wasn't going to make a whole lot of difference to be facing the right way anyway as it was dark so I couldn't see very much. With my good, left arm I flailed about trying first to locate the bed controls that I knew were hanging on the end, and then trying to get hold of the controls. This was not an easy task, and was made more difficult by the coiled wire they're on having got caught on something. I eventually got hold of them. I found the buttons. Well, I found some buttons. First of all I found the button for the back rest, which wasn't much use to me, so I fingered my way down the control panel and found what I thought was probably the tilt control. It wasn't. It was the horizontal up and down control. So I spent a while going up and down, up and down, trying to get down, stay down and find the next set of buttons whilst keeping hold of the controls and still facing the wrong way. Success. I found the tilt buttons. I tilted the bed...first of all the wrong way, which threatened to have me slide down the bed in the wrong direction, pulling the oxygen mask from my face and the drip in my arm that was now quite painful in the shoulder area from the awkward position. I tilted the bed back again in the other direction, and kept tilting it so that the leg end was raised...only I tilted it too far. I slid down the bed, lost hold of the controls, the oxygen mask pinged onto my face where it had been pulling, all tension went from the tubing and from the drip and I was getting on for being upside down. I tried to scrabble my way back up the bed, but mountaineering wasn't my thing, and my useless right arm wouldn't let me pull on the bar at the side of the bed to help. What to do? I lay back and contemplated my situation ... an almost upside down situation. Right then, there was nothing for it. I was going to have to call the nurse with the bell and come clean about my antics in the dark. Great. I reached up to where the nurse call bell was and discovered that I couldn't reach it. I did some more one-armed windmilling in an attempt to get hold of the bell, but to no avail. I lay back, and I discovered that being upside wasn't actually very helping with the whole breathing thing. At least I could reach my own bed controls from where I was so I raised the back rest a little, which was kind of okay, except that now I was upside down and folded in half. Not too comfortable. It then occurred to me that I was not only stuck, but very stuck and not able to get unstuck, so I resigned myself to my situation, developed a new appreciation for bats, and comforted myself with the fact that I'd be checked on at some point and my (upside down) position would be noticed and rectified. I'm certain that I was checked on through the night, because everyone is, several times, but they must only have peeked through the window of my little room, seen that I was still there and failed to notice my predicament. I spent the night upside down and folded in half.
The nurse came in the morning to give me my meds. 'Oh my, what's going on here?'
'Hmm. Yeah. Morning ... Ya see, I'm a bit stuck...'
Lucy gave me that quizzical sideways look that says, 'I want to know how this happened, but I so don't want to know how this happened.'
Without a word, but still with that look, Lucy untilted me, unfolded me, and the blood rushed away from head where it had been pooling all night. What a relief.
'Go on,' she said, 'I have to know.'
I tried to explain.
Lucy fell about in hysterics and became incapacitated by the mirth.
I was somewhat embarrassed, but relieved no longer to be patient origami.
By the way, the whole thing failed to do anything for the oedema. Typical!