by Jenny Blaser
“I have your new pain medication!”
It’s not Alice this time, but Nicole. She smiles at me and uses her wrist to push up her glasses and move her long bangs out of her face in one swift movement. Her pink scrubs and the decorated stethoscope that hangs from her neck compliment her bubbly demeanor.
“First, I have to do assessment!” Nicole places the medication on my cluttered side table between the large bottle of iced tea and mess of medication bottles that represent my own private stash. As she is getting her stethoscope ready, I adjust my position and prepare myself to go through what is now my 17th regular assessment on the ward.
“BP - 132/70, heart rate – 90, O2 sat – 98%…temp – 36.8,” Nicole mutters half at me and half to herself while she jots down the values. “Your blood pressure and heart rate are up a bit! It must be from the pain …”
Nicole picks up the medication once again and holds it up so I can see. “This medication isn’t a pill like what you have been taking. It comes in a patch that I will place on your shoulder. The medicine will slowly be absorbed into your skin over the course of 48 hours.” Nicole gestures for me to give her access to my shoulder. Since I cannot hold myself upright, I roll over and slide my loose t-shirt down my arm a bit.
As Nicole peels the backing off the medication patch, a strong chemical scent wafts towards me. I am immediately relieved by the fact I don’t need to ingest it. I have a very strong personal policy about oral medications and taste. Basically, if I can taste it or smell it, I won’t take it. I feel the coolness of the patch as Nicole sticks it to my shoulder. I start to roll back over but I am interrupted.
“I need to put a dressing over it to hold it on!” Nicole presses the clear flexible covering onto my skin around the patch. “The doctor said this dose is on the low end and we may need to increase. For now, take breakthrough medication as needed!”
I accept a dose of breakthrough medication and then attempt to drift off to sleep. It’s 10pm and I have been awake for quite some time from the pain. I have been warned that I will be getting a new roommate in the next day or so and as such I feel like sleep is especially important.
“Hi Jenny, it’s time for your 12:30am medications …” Nicole is standing beside my bed and holding a small cup. “Did you manage to get some sleep?”
“Yeah, I was asleep until you opened the door. The light from the hall always wakes me up. It’s a Deaf thing,” I reply in my groggy hoarse voice. “Do you see my hearing aid?”
Nicole hands me my hearing aid and I shove it in my ear as press the button on the bed that sits me up.
“Hey! The medication is working!” I am starting to take notice of my body and I am aware of the lack of pain. “Wow! I love this stuff!”
Nicole giggles a bit and we go through the pill routine – she dumps them in my lap, I carefully focus my energy on picking up each pill and place them in my mouth, and Nicole is ready with my juice and guides the straw into my mouth so I can swallow them all down.
“Good night. and use the call button if you need anything.” Nicole says on her way out. We both expect this to finally be a good night and one that is fit for nothing but sleep.
Jenny Blaser is a young, Deaf and Disabled Queer who loves all things pink and butterflies. She is a chronic story teller who uses narrative as an act of resistance and reclamation of identity and experience. To learn more or to reach Jenny, check out http://fiestydeafanddisabled.wordpress.com/