When I awoke from my mastectomy, I felt like I had a thousand pound weight sitting on my chest, drawing in air was excruciating. And my throat was raw from having had an air tube forced down it for 15 hours - but the nurses and doctors would only give me ice chips to relieve the pain for fear I would throw up and pull my incisions.
My ears were plugged and would pop every time I opened my mouth, it took days for them to clear.
The following morning in step down (like ICU), a man was brought in in a special chair. He had a trachea and therefore couldn't speak. He too was desperate for water and kept slamming his fist on his chair. They finally brought him a pad of paper to communicate and he kept writing water...over and over. Every time a new nurse or doctor entered the room he would pound his fist on the pad of paper.
The crazy thing is he had this tube that looked like it was attached to the top of his head which made him look like he was a Borg from Star Trek. And he made me uncomfortable because by my day 2 (his first) they finally gave me water and I drank constantly - with him glaring at me the entire time. I'm sure that if he could have figured out how to detach himself from his chair, out of desperation he would have attacked the nurse for one sip.