Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Night in the ER: Adventures and Observations (The End)

With Mr. B off getting X-Rays, I had nothing to do but flip mindlessly through the TV channels (BTW, I found it interesting that each cubicle had its own TV; I guess even when people are in dire straits, they simply cannot do without the boob tube). So, we're at, what? 12:30 in the morning now. Not a whole heck of a lot going on at this hour, which, I suppose, was a good thing, otherwise, Mr. B may have been kicked down the priority in the hit parade had someone having cardiac arrest or a gun shot wound come in.
Suffice it to say, though; I was still freaked out at this point because the hospital remained concerned enough about Mr. B to keep him there, even though they'd yet to pin point any particular issue (although his blood pressure, normally low, was on the high end but that certainly could have been due to the pain and being in a hospital).
When Mr. B came back, it was time to move to the other side of the ER into what was in essence "Observation ER". This meant they wanted to give him a bit more privacy but had to continue to try and figure out what was going on, or at the very least, rule out that he was not in any imminent danger of dying.
So, off we went through a myriad of corridors and turns, past the main entrance into the ER (where two policemen were talking to a few hospital staff advising them to "keep all visitors in rooms, don't let them wander the halls" (I never did find out what THAT was all about) and on through a few more corridors until we got to a smallish but private room, equipped with a real hospital bed (not just a Stryker gurney), a comfortable enough looking recliner (for yours truly) and a small bathroom area (sectioned off by a hanging curtain; yep, I definitely would not be using these facilities).
I have to say upon entering this room that I was more than happy to still have the blanket that Austin (remember him from Part One?) gave me, oh, about seven hours earlier. The room was FREEZING. There was also a white board on the wall with the names of the PA and nurse on duty (from two days prior).
After Mr. B got settled in the bed, the nurse commenced to talk me into going home before I got "too tired to drive". Frankly, it had been running through my mind that I really should go home for a bit; I WAS exhausted (and freezing), I was starving (poor Mr. B was still not allowed any food), there were several hours ahead of us of more blood work and the ever present WAITING WAITING WAITING for news, any news, of what was going on. As previously mentioned, we'd be told, "I'll be back in a bit", or, "Let me go find out what the doctor thinks", followed by a long period of wondering if they'd forgotten we were there. Anyway, I was also thinking about the kittens needing to be feed, the dog probably needing to go out again soon, packing some things for Mr. B (in the awful event he had to stay in the hospital longer than one night), etc.
Most importantly, the nurse told me (when I stepped out to use the bathroom) that it was unlikely Mr. B would sleep if I was there and he really needed some rest. The nurse assured me I could return at any time during the night (no set visiting hours in the ER, I guess).
So, feeling terribly guilty for leaving him there and after many kisses and "Are you sure you are ok with me going?", I departed around 12:45 or so.
I collected my car from the valet (I still find this odd; valet parking at a hospital, are you supposed to tip them? I took out a dollar but the guy handed me the key and ran off before I could give it to him) and drove myself home.
Now, here is an interesting thing. I got home after 1:00 am. I was dead tired. I was worried sick and a bit discombobulated. So, what did I do? I proceeded to clean and tidy the house; to do a few chores that certainly could have waited until later. As I was doing this, the thought crossed my mind, "You're doing this so you don't have to think about what may be going on here". "They" say when a person is stressed/has their back against the wall/feels out of their element, etc., that said person will tend to fall back on predictable, comfortable behavior (even if they usually try to suppress that behavior). Well, mine is doing something, anything, so that I feel I'm in control. Even if it is something as simple as being in control of a clean cat box.
Finally, I couldn't stay on my feet any longer so I took myself up to a very lonely bed. I knew from a recent text message I'd received from Mr. B ("Bring food tomorrow!") that he was still awake and this didn't help my guilt any! I told myself I'd sleep a few hours and get back to the hospital well before six am.
My cell phone alarm went off at 3:30 am. I had that awful heavy head feeling which relayed to me that there was no way I could drive until I had more sleep. I sent Mr. B a text; he was awake so I called him. No, he hadn't slept much because they'd been in and out of the room drawing more blood, checking his vitals, giving him more pain medication, etc. But, he thought he might be able to sleep now so we decided I'd get more sleep, too.
I woke up at 6:00; jumped up, ran around putting together a bag of various stuff (books, cards, snacks, bottled water, toothbrush) for Mr. B, took care of my pet chores, unloaded the wine we'd bought the day before from the trunk of the car, and set off back to the hospital by 6:30.
I dropped the car off with the valet again (this time the attendant accepted the tip), checked in with the front desk, and found my way to Mr. B's room where I found him wide awake, still unable to eat, and quite grouchy (I didn't blame him in the least, of course, but it was still disheartening).
There was yet another PA and nurse on duty now. They told us that the doctor would come in to see Mr. B in a bit (yey, a real doctor) and that he wanted to confer with Bob (the original PA, who was due back on duty at 9:00 am).
To wrap this long missive up (and since you all know by now that Mr. B is fine, nothing dire was wrong with him and he's since been seeing a chiropractor to work on strengthening is back/spine), they finally fed Mr. B around 8:30 am and we checked out about 11:00 am with everyone there still puzzled by what was wrong with him, but, satisfied that he was not in any danger of keeling over dead.
We were both never so happy to get out of a place (I can think of maybe one other place in my life I was happier to say good-bye to). Mr. B spent the better part of his Father's Day sleeping while I tried to catch up on stuff that had gone undone the day before, thankful that he was upstairs and knowing things could have turned out far worse.
Everyone was relatively efficient (other than the disappearing acts and the first monkey man intern who didn't really appear to know anything). Although the place was freaking freezing, it was very clean and sterile. I wasn't overly worried about picking up Swine Flu. I was a bit put off by some of the other patients/visitors but that certainly was not the fault of the hospital and I never felt unsafe (though having to go through a metal detector to get into the ER was a bit weird; I think maybe this was to deter would-be drug thieves). The stay was much more comfortable once Mr. B was moved to the room (and the chair wasn't bad; I probably could have slept there if I'd had to). According to Mr. B, the food was just so-so, but, hey, no one would expect Magnolia Grill caliber food in a hospital and by the time he finally was able to eat, I think he was so hungry, he didn't really care). I can't argue with the convenience of the valet parking, especially as I left the hospital after midnight and would have felt creeped out having to walk by myself to the parking garage.
So, not that we want to return to the ER anytime soon, but, as far as ratings go, I suppose I'd give it 3 1/2 out of 5 for comfort, 2 1/2 out of 5 for keeping us informed, and 5 out of 5 for the most important thing of all; keeping Mr. B alive :-)
Mrs. B

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