Sunday, October 5, 2008

How do you EVER get well in the hospital?

Because you will have to sit for half an hour in the ER waiting room even though you have doctor's orders and aren't actually an ER patient and SIT you will, no matter how ill you are because the room is solely furnished with armchairs. Then, for reasons unknown, the staff will have you WALK down to lab to have your blood drawn even though you've actually been admitted as an outpatient. By the time you get back to the ER you will have to pee, but will be so tired that you'd rather wet yourself then walk to the restroom. When the nurse calls you back he will want to chat with you and apparently doesn't take the hint from the blanket you are holding over your face or your barely whispered replies that you have the worst headache you've ever had and aren't exactly in the chatting mood. Finally, he will cover you with a heated blanket (ahhhhh) and leave the room so that you can get some rest, but will return in a nano -second to start your IV. Unfortunately, he will want to give you a mini-lesson on IV fluids and equipment and will also need the lights on high during the whole process. When he finally leaves again (after anchoring the IV with approximately 3 miles of medical tape which you forgot to tell him you were allergic to) and you begin to relax, the drunk and belligerent man in the hall will stand outside of your door and argue with hospital staff until security removes him after a brief (but horribly loud) scuffle. After a brief moment of sweet silence, the nurse will return and give you the news that you have a "massive" infection and are being admitted as an in-patient. Then he will tell a couple of jokes to try to cheer you up, but eventually gives up and throws another heated blanket over you while telling you that he'll be back in a minute with your antibiotics. He's actually back in about 5 minutes during which time you kissed your husband goodbye and assured him that the kids need him at home more than you need him at the hospital. Upon his fully lighted return, he hooks two bags of IV antibiotics to your IV pole, then giggles about having forgotten the tubing. Once again, he disappears for a few minutes only to return humming with the misplaced tubing and proceeds in hooking up the promised antibiotics, then he's off again. Before you can drift off, another nurse-type person arrives and asks you for your name and birth date, then loads you in a wheelchair and takes you to the third floor by way of the most fluorescent lighting possible.
Ah, the room! You may think that you will finally be given the pain meds that the doc promised you a full two hours ago at the start of this process, but you will be wrong. First, the nursing staff will try (unsuccessfully) to talk you out of your street clothes and into a gown. Finally, they will give up, but rest is still a long ways away. The admitting nurse informs you that she has some questions to ask you...seven pages of questions. She is not kidding. At least she kindly turns of the offensive overhead lighting and only switches on a mild side light to see her questionnaire by. After providing fully informing the admitting nurse about your personal workout habits, grooming habits (why do they need to know how I prefer to clean myself and what time of day I generally do it????), drug and alcohol usage, bowel habits (size, shape, texture, and frequency), and answering every other question they could think of (including whether or not your illness is causing you stress), you will then be shown a chart consisting of a series of happy faces and asked to point to the one that most indicates how you are feeling. Actually, not all of the faces are happy. The first face is happy, then the next four faces rapidly decline in mood until the last one is bawling. You'll point to the spot in between the last two faces (hint: where's my pain medication???) and sign in three places, then that nurse will finally leave the room after complimenting your shoes. You will try to drift off to sleep, but the mattress is rubber, your IV is throbbing, the pillow is plastic and sounds crinkly under the casing, and your head hurts so badly that your own heartbeat is agony. Finally, the medication nurse will arrive with your morphine. Unfortunately, morphine does not knock you out and by the time the meds nurse leaves it is well after midnight. You look at the clock at twelve forty-two and your last thought before finally succumbing to sleep is that at least you will get to sleep in.
At one twelve you awaken abruptly to the most horrible noise imaginable that seems to be coming from your bathroom. You realize that you have to pee in the worst way, but you are afraid to go in there and since your head doesn't make you want to die for the first time in twelve hours you don't really want to move. Finally, the noise is identified as vomiting. Forceful, LOUD, manly vomiting that is, in fact, coming from the room next door. When it seems to subside, you will wrestle your IV pole into the bathroom and pee in the hat someone has placed in the toilet. As soon as you slide back into bed, the vomitter is re-visiting his bathroom. His is very sick. Since you can't sleep through his heaving, you pray for him. He throws up for hours almost continuously. In between praying for him, you consider calling the nurses on his behalf, try to listen to what the people in his room are saying, and wonder why they aren't helping this poor man. At shortly after three a nurse comes in to check on you and you request more pain meds since the pain has become (once again) blinding. She brings you a wet washcloth for your eyes and says she'll be right back with some Tordol which your doc has ordered. Apparently right back means thirty-five minutes (or two heaving bathroom trips for my neighbor...ugh), but she finally shows up and hooks up the Tordol. At four fifteen you conclude that Tordol is medical jargon for "worthless." The man next door is moaning pitifully and you want to feel sorry for him, but really you just want him to be quiet now.
The next thing you know, your overhead light is being flipped on and someone entirely too perky is chirping "good morning!" It is the lab and it is 5:40 a.m. Someone has decided that more of your blood must be collected and that the best time to do this is at the crack of dawn. You surrender your non-IVed arm while holding the IVed one over your eyes. Your head hurts so badly you cannot think. When she leaves she forgets to turn off the overhead light and you ring the nurse asking for more pain meds. After an agonizing twenty-three minutes, she arrives with more morphine. Twenty minutes after that injection you feel well enough to get up and fill up the potty hat, but once in the potty a wave of nausea hits. Fearing that you will regale the man next door with your own heaving, you lurch to your bed and try to let it pass. Somehow you doze, but awaken at seven when they bring your breakfast which you quietly refuse, then ring the nurse for anti-nausea meds. Those knock you out...blissfully OUT, but your doctor arrives at eight o'clock to inspect your breast and inform you that you will not be going home. You cannot keep your eyeballs open, but that will not stop him from thoroughly checking you over (he is, after all, a wonderful doctor and would do no less). The day is a blur. You sleep all day, only waking to urinate (why must they pump you so full of fluids???), answer the nurses questions, turn away food, and ask for pain meds. At some point you realize the man next door is no longer moaning OR vomiting. Is he dead?
The next day they tell you you are still running a fever and cannot go home. They try to talk you into more meds, but you know if you take them then you will also need more nausea medicine and you'd really like to just tough it out on your own. Every time you doze off today, someone new comes in your room to wish you well, draw your blood, or tell you to rest. The nursing student needs to know when your last bowel movement was and if it was small, medium, or large. Compared to what? You actually eat lunch! You are so tired that you know if you don't go home you may die of exhaustion. You recall celebrities being admitted to "rest," but you know they cannot be resting in YOUR hospital!

1 comment:

Dawn said...

I loved this post, great stream-of-consciesness writing. (oops, sorry, I forgot I wasn't evaluating an essay for a moment!!!) I'm so sorry you felt so bad. Glad you're better. Had fun with you guys Friday night!