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The Fine Line – Pt. 5: The Hobgoblin, Backups, and Boredom

The Fine Line is a series of stories from Rick. Check out part 1, part 2, part 3, & part 4!
Note: Some of the details in this story are not for the squeamish.

Unlike a normal room, the ICU had a massive glass sliding door and a curtain for privacy that was too short for the glass doors. It was also not wide enough, so shutting it completely was not possible. The ICU also had a hidden toilet with a small curtain that would leave the occupant exposed from the knee down, as well as the window opposite the glass door would find no privacy. I would proceed to lose most of my body fluid into that toilet. But I couldn’t urinate. My nurse, whom I’d nicknamed Wolverine explained that if I could not provide a urine sample that they would need to use a catheter to take the sample from me. Over the course of the next few hours I would try, however the lactulose I’d taken earlier would ensure I would poop far more often than urinate.


Unable to provide a urine sample and with no pain meds I asked the nurse (aka Wolverine) for an object to clutch while he inserted the catheter. A flashlight case’s integrity would be tested as my fingers turned white from gripping it while he inserted the tube up my urethra. My jaw clenched and eyes focused keenly on the unmoving curtains which provided some privacy for this wretched experience. After what felt like forever, he removed the catheter having enough for the sample they needed.

I would remember this pain for the next week every time I would pee. The swelling would die down, but my returning ascities would cause my lower half to become a shape I was completely unfamiliar with. I referred to its unusual appearance as the Hobgoblin. My thighs would swell to the thickness of my torso, and it would become clear that another tap could rid me of the quickly returning edema.

Backups and Boredom

My eyes would become more yellow as I woke up the next morning, they informed me that my MELD score had shot up from 24 to 35 and I was now to be transferred to a hospital with liver transplant unit. I barely recall the paramedics who transported me from one ICU to the other, but there was a team of them, monitoring different vital signs, as some pain meds would make the trip less memorable. At this new ICU, I had a hard time understanding why I was there and in my confused state they brought me a mysterious meal, the main was something bean related. I had neglected to explain that beans and lentils caused me intense pain. So I ate the tortilla, everything else was not cooked properly, rice…was randomly crunchy, so I waited for safer foods. I was restricted to less than 1,500 ml of liquid so ice chips became my friend once again.

This ICU had no toilet, and I was  given a urinal and a commode. Thankfully I would only need the urinal once before they moved me to a real room.


My new room had a lovely view and the friendliest nurses I’d met yet. Each nurse, CNA and charge nurse would introduce themself and every one of them had a unique and awesome hairstyle. In a hospital I often see the world without my glasses, hair becomes an easy identifier. I was lucky enough to bring some product with me to make sure my hair looked fantastic. The rest of me looked like I’d swallowed a high pressure garden hose, and it was filling in some areas, deflating in others, and most of all my skin was fragile and stretched thin.

The first day in my room was frightening. Thankfully, I had friends and family staying with me keeping my sanity and assisting me with minor things, things that were too small to ask a nurse or CNA for help with.

Check back soon for the conclusion of Rick’s trip to the hospital.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.