I’m returning to the hospital now and picking up where I left off with what feels like many posts ago now. Sorry for the confusion. I can’t promise I won’t do it again, the skipping around, but I’ll always let you know when I’m leading you into confusion.
I was given showers once a week while I was in the burn unit. This isn’t your average shower. It’s a burn shower which means you’re placed on a stainless steel gurney and wheeled to a large sterile room where there are spigots hanging from the ceiling ready with a plan and purpose. It was determined that these showers would be excruciatingly painful for me. I had many open wounds, grafts that were healing, so I was given a drug called ketamine. Ketamine is known as a dissociative anesthetic because it can make a person feel a sense of detachment, as if their mind is separated from their body. I was usually given enough of this drug to knock me out.
There was a time where I came to during the shower.
I can’t see anything, but I can hear them. My doctor, my nurses. They’re discussing my central line.
“She needs a new one. We’ll take out this one and put in a new line.”
I can hear him. My doctor. And feel their hands. I try to blink, to open my eyes. I can’t. We must be in the shower. I am unable to distinguish the nurses voices. I know there’s more than one, but somehow they have merged into one voice, one nurse. I can’t move, I can’t move. My eyes won’t open. I concentrate and will my hands to move, to signal that I’m here, that I can hear them. I’m short of breath. I can’t move. I can hear my doctor. I can feel the nurse’s hands. I’m awake.
“Her pulse is climbing.”
“She needs oxygen.”
“What’s going on?”
“Give her oxygen.”
I want to speak, to open my mouth.
When I come to properly and realize that what had taken place wasn’t a dream or a gone sideways morphine trip I groggily tell Marie, who was the first person to come into my room and happened to be the head nurse, I was awake during the shower and paralyzed.
It never happened again.