Tracie Cone has always been a trailblazer. This award-winning journalist is the former California Newspaper Executive of the Year. She shares a Pulitzer Prize with fellow staff members at the Miami Herald for coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew and has twice been nominated individually. She has focused her writing on helping the underdog and empowering those without a strong voice of their own. Now she takes us on the fight of her life.
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Life in the Hospital (or attack of the mad crappers)

Well, it’s hard to write here. But now I have access to a computer on Day 3 of my Stanford stay. It’s Thursday, and I’ve been basically bedridden for a week and a day. I’m getting stronger, but probably would feel better if I could actually start walking somewhere again. But first they must solve that pesky drop in blood pressure that occurs when I stand. At least they have ruled out all of the life-threatening reasons.

My first hospital stay has been interesting. First I spent 36 hours in an intermediate cardiology ward strapped to heart monitors. This was not a good place for a cancer patient on chemo. The smells were horrendous, and smells are magnified 1,000 times on chemo. Worse, it was was a co-ed ward, and the men of the unit had aim problems so I constantly complained about the bathroom. Until… a poor sick woman arrived in the bed next to me. I don’t want this to sound like I’m making fun or have no compassion, because I said many prayers for this elderly woman who had no control over her bowels. It started at 2 a.m. A horrible stench wafted my way. Kim and I began to gag. Then 3 a.m. Then 6:30. When my medical team arrived at 9 a.m., I begged them to get me out. They understood my sensitivity to smell in a way that the cardiac nurses did not. They promised a quick transfer back to the cancer floor.

It finally came at 4:30 p.m. on crap No. 7. By this time we had been given a box of surgical masks to wear during the crap attacks, with limited effectiveness.

When it came time to leave during the 7th attack, the gagging transport team had to work mightily to get my bed squeezed past the woman’s curtain-shrouded bed.

Alas, our attempt at allowing the woman a modicum of modesty would be temporary. My bed caught the curtain and began to open it as the hospital techs kept pushing, oblivious. I grabbed the curtain and tried to pull it closed, but by then end of the bed had caught the other curtain and dragged it open, too, like curtains opening on a stage.

Bryan was traumatized by what he saw that day.

Finally we were delivered to my peeps on the oncology ward and were lucky to score an empty room and the bed by a window overlooking a garden. Alas, our luck would not hold. A roommate was delivered, an older Russian woman that staff thought would understand better if they spoke to her more loudly.
Here were the first instructions:
“You’re not to get out of bed,” they yelled. “If you have to use the bathroom, call us. You’ll have to use this bedside commode.”

Oh, shit I thought. But it got worse.

“You’ll have your colonoscopy tomorrow morning so we’re going to give you some Golytely to help clean out your bowels tonight.”

Kim, Bryan and I collectively dropped our jaws. What kind of hell am I trapped in?????!!!

A couple of hours later Michelle arrived. She would have none of this and somehow managed to charm the nursing supervisor into moving me to an empty room. Thank God.

I know the universe must be trying to teach me something but I cannot for the life of me figure out what is the lesson of the mad crappers? So perhaps it’s a lesson for Bryan or Kim…

Any ideas?

Kim, me and Bryan during one of the crap attacks

10 Responses to “Life in the Hospital (or attack of the mad crappers)”

  • carol:

    “beats the shit out of me”

  • alejandro:

    Shit happens???

  • Rox:

    Hang in there Trac!….One thing I learned during my time as an EMT….”mouth breathing”! If you can focus on it, it can really help you get through the “crappiest” of moments. Glad to hear that Michelle can sell ice to eskimos when needed.
    Kepp kickin cancer’s a$$ and taking names….and don’t forget…you still have 7 Tour de France wins ahead of you.
    love ya, Rox

  • Bryan:

    Traumatized doesn’t cover it. Michelle, somehow I knew you would make that awful situation right. Kim is one scrappy lady but she doesn’t have your…how to put this gently…fangs. I’ve gone back and forth about the Mad Crapper, and called on Mrs. Linda for her professional opinion. We may have been wrong to giggle and, in my case lose it entirely, but if you can’t laugh at the worst life throws at us then you may as well die. Cancer fucking sucks, y’all, but Tracie’s fight thus far has proven that love and laughter, especially that deep down think-you-might-pee-yourself laughter heels all. Hang in there my dear, and I’m giggling as I’m typing this.

  • Bryan:

    And heals all too! Yikes…heels all? Wouldn’t that be something?

  • max & kevin:

    ewwww…Great read. Sorry to hear of your smelly experiences. Yuck. Good to hear you have friends with you & Michelle to bring you yummy food and to make things right. We love & miss you! We hope you get to go home soon! xoxo

  • Sue:

    OMG! I’m laughing, crying and sympathizing!!! Man, there IS a lot of shit in hospitals. That’s just a sad fact. I was a nurse’s aid in geriatrics for two years – so, I’ve seen my share of it. Laughter is the only medicine for that one. Beyond that – mouth breathing and masks are the only other remedy. Thank god for Kim and Bryan to share in the – um – hilarity?? YEAH Michelle for getting our gal out of a shitty situation!! Xoxoxo – keep fighting the good fight, Tracie!!

  • Abi's BF:

    OMG……I was sitting here eating a breakfast sandwich….I had to throw it out. Now that Im passed the gagging the chuckles have set in….all my office staff is gathered around reading this….they are grossed out but laughing their asses off….HURRY HOME,


  • Kathleen:

    OMG I am speechless, in situations like that all you can do is make light of it. Laugther is the best medicine and it seemed that you were literally SOL. You have the best attitude.

  • maria:

    I had to laugh at the first two responses! However, it’s true that at times like those, humor is what gets you through and that is a-okay!So hopefully this jokes will make you laugh.

    A lady walks into Tiffany’s. She looks around, spots a beautiful diamond bracelet and walks over to inspect it. As she bends over the display case to look more closely, she unexpectedly farts.

    Very embarrassed, she looks around nervously to see if anyone noticed her little “whoops” and prays that a sales person wasn’t anywhere near. As she turns around, her worst nightmare materializes in the form of a handsome young salesman standing right behind her.

    Cool as a cucumber, he displays all of the aplomb one would expect of a professional in a store like Tiffany’s. He politely greets the lady with: “Good day, Madam. How may we help you today?”

    Blushing and uncomfortable, but still hoping that the salesman somehow missed her little indiscretion, she asks: “Sir, what is the price of this lovely bracelet?”

    He answers: “Madam… if you farted just looking at it, you’re going to shit when I tell you the price.”

    Keep fighting trace…you are my hero!

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