Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Room with a View

When I moved into my current apartment I was really excited about a lot of things: extra space, hardwood floors, a nice kitchen, and, most of all, honest-to-goodness floor-to-ceiling windows along an entire wall of every single room in the place (excluding, of course, the bathrooms). Being a recent graduate of student housing with a spectacular view of the Harlem projects, from which I subsequently moved on to a 6th story Upper West Side place that had a view of a grafitti-laden brick wall (as a bonus prize, a number of the grafitti markers were offensive racial slurs and/or curse words), you can imagine how excited I was to move into this mecca of lower Manhattan. I'm not kidding when I say that from my perch on the base of the island I can see all the way up to the Chrysler Building, and all the gorgeous sparkling lights in between. Given this excitement, I made the move without too much thought about those little things called "window treatments." Blinds, curtains, drapes, shades, whatever you want to call them, I rejected the entire concept in creating my decorating scheme. I was determined not to let anything get between me and my view, even if I put it there voluntarily.

It wasn't until I'd actually lived in the apartment for several months that winter turned to spring and spring turned to summer -- funny how that always seems to happen -- and then I began to realize the possible stupidity of the no-blinds choice. I mean sure, I love waking up to a bedroom full of bright sunlight and the delicious warmth of a summer day. I just wish it didn't happen at 6 in the morning. Turns out that floor-to-ceiling windows are more than just cool decorative perks -- they also make awesome alarm clocks.

Luckily for the past few days I've been avoiding the situation altogether by hiding out in a dark, dismal dungeon (um, whoops, I meant "cool, cozy corner") of Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. Otherwise known as a "respiratory isolation room", this little piece of . . . um . . . "heaven" comes complete with its own double-door separation shield from the outside world (by which I mean the hallway) and a separate air-filtration system. As a (small) concession to those fools who actually prefer to be able to see beyond the four walls enclosing them into their own private leper colony, the room does, in fact, contain a window. Unfortunately, as mentioned in the last post, this window appears to look out into some sort of eerie hospital graveyard -- a place where chairs, cots, and other miscellaneous furniture come to die. The effect is far from comforting, although it does provide one with adequate darkness to sleep until noon, so who am I to complain?

Another unadvertised perk of the "the hole?" Well, for someone not, in fact, actually on respiratory isolation, and therefore not restricted from leaving her room, there is a real opportunity for shock value. Simply grab your IV pole and head out for a romp in the halls, keeping a close eye out for the looks of horror you receive as other patients realize you emerged from "that room." Trust me, this is 100 times more exciting than coughing at the gym and just hoping that someone is paranoid enough to think you have swine flu, because this time they don't just THINK you have it: THEY HAVE PROOF. Or, you know, they think they do, because you did, after all, come out of "the hole." Who cares that the nurses smile and wave as you nonchalantly pass the station? You came out of the hole, and the hole is clearly marked as "strict isolation." Case closed, counselor, so you can take all your fancy mumbo-jumbo about "CF vs. tuberculosis and the different types of isolation" and shove it. (Only they won't, of course, be saying any of this to your face, because they'd sooner lock themselves in their own holes than come within 5 feet of you.) Add to this the slightly drunk-looking walk of a patient on IV polymyxin, and you've got yourself a recipe for some relatively exciting jaunts around the ward. Seriously, what's not to love here?

Well, sadly enough, yesterday I was moved out of "the hole." I am now in a normal room, with a normal window, that just happens to look East and thus brings me comfortingly close to the alarm-clock-like effect of my windows at home. And word on the street is that I might actually BE home by tomorrow night or Tuesday morning, because my sats are way up, my cough is subsiding, I haven't had a fever in several days, and I seem to be tolerating the polymyxin about as well as anyone could have predicted. True, I had a tiny bit of hemo this morning, but it was less than a tablespoon and no one seems overly concerned considering the beating my airways have taken from all the coughing/infection lately. They also took some samples from that strange rash on my legs today, so they should be able to confirm that it is, in fact, not serious. And then I can almost definitely go home, yay!

I did volunteer to do a study to help determine proper dosing rates for the use of IV polymyxin in CFers and transplant patients. I figure since I can't help out with many of the CFF's studies, I can at least help the medical community understand the drugs that are already approved a little bit better. So that may keep me here until Tuesday morning, but really that's the only reason anyone sees now for me to stick around. Here's hoping it stays that way and that I can do my part and then get the heck out of dodge and back down to my puppy.

And my many, many windows.


  1. Awesome I hope you get to break out of there today or tomorrow morning!!!

    I bet the looks on the others patients faces was priceless! I can only imagine :)

  2. Like Amy said, I can only imagine what the other patients were looking like when you emerged from 'that room'. If it was me, I'd probably start laughing insanely at their expressions (not my fault, I do have a weird laugh sometimes) which would only add to their paranoid thoughts.

    You said you've got the 'drunk walk'... have you walked/fallen into any walls yet? I did that many a time on IV colistin. Sometimes I would just be innocently standing still, then I'd fall sideways into a wall. Xx

  3. Piper, another side splitting (or should I more accurately write cough-inducing airway-clearancing ?) hysterical post! Now, if you could take that IV pole, and put on a mask (for good measure) and walk down a random crowded sidewalk in Manhattan, would that provide equal or greater entertainment value? If you count the number of sidewalk dodgers and compare them to the hospital hallway avoiders... Might be a new technique to clear a path during rush hour! :D

    Seriously, I'm glad to hear you're on the mend and the meds are kicking the arses of the CF bugs. I hope you can escape the slammer and be on your way home to your puppy and crack of dawn sunshine soon!

  4. I can't wait for you to look out your own windows tomorrow

  5. Hey there Piper... We love your blog and thought you should have this award... Check it out....