Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Night In The ER: Adventures and Observations (Part Two)

So, we sat around in Mr. B's little cubicle room for what seemed like AGES before the nurse came back to inform us that the PA would be there shortly and apologized it was taking so long but explained it was because it was taking longer than expected for him to suture up another ER patient (BTW, I saw that patient a bit later; a young woman whose face looked like it had had a terrible encounter with a windshield). Mr. B asked if he could have something to drink; no. Poor guy was parched but he had to continue to suffer.
We waited some more. About 6:00 maybe (we were called back right before 5:00), a short monkey-looking man (I'm sorry, but he did resemble an ape) came in and introduced himself as the assistant to the PA (ok, assistant to an assistant...whatever); really, this translated to "Intern". He asked Mr. B a lot of questions, poked at him a bit, and, almost (but not quite) scratched his head, perplexed with the situation in front of him. After 15 or so minutes of this, he left, saying he had to go "consult with his boss" (the PA, who, we supposed was still off sewing).
While we sat there with not much to do, we watched T.V. Let me tell you, there was nothing on the T.V. that night that even remotely made me rethink our decision to forgo T.V. at home. Talk about inane programming; frankly, it made me more irritable to watch it than not, but, there was nothing to do (I did halfheartedly work at a crossword puzzle I found in a copy of The Independent). Mr. B wasn't much into talking, understandably. Oh, I also took stock of all the interesting items in the cubicle's storage bins; bandages, tape (tit tape!), various bottles of alcohol, peroxide and the like; pee cups and catheters (ugh) and bed pans. Oh my.
Probably around 7:00, the PA FINALLY came in (along with monkey man). The PA was a much older man; maybe in his sixties. He took a look at Mr. B and said, "YOU'RE 52?" and then asked him if he had a picture in his attic. "Yeah", Mr. B said wryly, "Just call me Dorian". As an aside, I find it interesting that both of my husbands look (or at least the first one DID, don't know if he still does) so much younger than they actually are.

Anyway, after more questions, poking, bending over, etc., the PA, also perplexed, went off to ask HIS boss (the ER MD) what HE thought. Sigh.
By this time, in addition to worrying about Mr. B, I was starting to fret a bit about Lucy at home locked in our bedroom. I knew she'd be okay for a while yet (we'd put her in there around 3:00 and she usually is ok at least 10 hours, if need be), but, she hadn't had her dinner and who knew how long we'd be in the ER? We discussed my calling my brother Jon (who lives fairly close) to alert him to the fact we may need some help.
But, at that point, back in came the PA with this news: WE ARE CONCERNED! Well, no shit, so are we! Seriously, though; their perspective, it seemed, was that since they had no idea what was causing the pain AND Mr. B is not the type of person to want to spend a Saturday night at the ER (read: not a hypochondriac), that they were going to be cautious and run a bunch of tests. And, I mean a bunch; an Ultra Sound, EKG, Cat Scan, X-Ray, urinalysis and blood work.
It was now a bit after 7:00 so I figured I'd better call Jon, although I still was not sure how long we'd actually be there.
The next hour or so was a flurry of activity with various people coming in and out of the room with equipment to do their tests (mobile Ultra Sound and EKG machines), draw blood, etc. The Ultra Sound tech quipped, "I wonder if you'll be my first pregnant man? I keep hoping..." Sorta odd to see your husband's insides, but, I can assure you, there was nothing in Mr. B's stomach save some gas.
Then, there was SEVERAL HOURS of NOTHING. I mean NOTHING (although Mr. B finally got some water from monkey man).
A bit after 9, I called my brother to confirm I needed him to go over and let Lucy out, feed her, etc.
Sometime before 10, the PA came back to say that, although they hadn't yet found anything wrong, they were still alarmed and were going to keep him over night for observation. Both of our hearts sorta sank at that point. The entire night in this cubicle? Oh, BTW, there were several small children in the ER shrieking away; one, apparently, had swallowed something and they were waiting for the "obstruction to pass"; probably didn't feel too hot. Anyway, it was not an environment conducive to anything good. Thankfully, the PA followed his announcement up with the fact they were going to move Mr. B to another part of the ER where he'd have his own private room and toilet. Whew. But first, they needed to finish up with the Cat Scan, X-Rays, etc. AND wait for the shift change so that the nurse/PA on duty could arrive and the outgoing PA could explain everything to them. Monkey man had long since gone home and we never did see Rachel/Rebecca again (she fell into the black hole, I guess).
About 10:30, they wheeled Mr. B away for his Cat Scan. I called my mom to tell her it didn't look like we'd make it over the next day (a planned celebration for Father's Day). I almost lost it talking to her; amazing how one can keep it together for hours, then, upon hearing your mom's voice, start to cry! Well, thankfully Mr. B was out of the room for that little melt down.
Mr. B came back around 10:50 or so. More waiting. We watched enough coverage of the US Open to last me a life time. Mr. B was antsy and starving and constantly thirsty; I was starving and freezing and fretting with nary a thing to do about it. Around 11:30, the 2nd nurse of the evening, a man this time, came in with the older PA. The older PA (Bob) talked Mr. B into some pain medication and the nurse administered it. Bob left. Then, there was a young man standing in the "doorway" who looked like he was 20 and was wearing a Northern Face fleece jacket (I told you it was cold in there) instead of anything remotely resembling hospital garb. I wasn't sure who he was. He came into the room with a broad smile on his face and said, "Hi, I'm Adam from the morgue and I'm here to measure you for your coffin". I KID YOU NOT! I just looked at him, mouth a gape. Mr. B didn't even crack a smile. Ok, ok, not funny, says Adam. He was actually the 2nd PA of the evening, come to hear Mr. B (yet again) explain what was wrong.
Now, I know these folks have to have some humor in their work "day", but, seriously, to say something like that in an ER? I sort of thought that was out of line. Anyway, while Mr. B was going through his spiel, someone else showed up to take him for his X-Rays and, apparently, he couldn't wait (where he needed to go in such a hurry was beyond me; it was now approaching midnight; was he gonna turn into a pumpkin?) So, Adam says, "I'll catch up with you later" (yeah, we'll be HERE!) and left. Off Mr. B goes, this time I noticed he was on a Stryker gurney (we own some Stryker stock; a medical device company). Well, at least there was THAT!
Mrs. B

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