It's a Wonderful Day in the Neighborhood ER  

Posted by Heidi in

Isn’t the ER fun? We’ve spent a goodly amount of time there over the years, mostly with a little guy who becomes dangerously dehydrated after one minor bout of stomach flu but who somehow drags up the strength to withstand the efforts of four adults attempting to hold him still long enough to insert an IV. Now it was my turn. All the regulars were there; the old woman clutching her head, the tattooed guy drooling from his mouth who claimed to have “slammed” some bad dope (is there a good kind?), the laconic employee lounging behind the check-in desk, daring you to bother him with your “little” problem. Fortunately, it wasn’t too crowded so I only had time to upchuck into my bowl once before it was my turn to go back and have my situation assessed.

There’s a lot of “hurry up and wait” kind of activity in the ER but I was having none of it. I started whining the second I got any kind of attention. “I ‘m so thirsty! I want ice chips! When can I see the doctor? Won’t somebody help me? Plllleeeasssseee, somebody help me!” I had no shame, no sense of decency. I moaned, I rocked, I whimpered. I always think of myself as someone who can withstand so much (mostly because I have), sure that if I were sick with cancer or some dread disease, I would be stoic and quiet. Not so. All I was suffering from was nausea, thirst, high fever and a pronounced inability to breathe and I was a basket case. I was so obnoxious (“I’m gonna throw up, I’m gonna throw up, I’m gonna throw up”, was my chant at the time) that the woman with the headache, who was clearly fine as she was chatting up a storm with her daughter, asked if she could please have her stretcher moved to another part of the hallway.

“I can’t help it if I have to throw up,” I yelled as she disappeared around the corner, “So sorry to have bothered you!” In spite of all of that, it was hours before I got anti-nausea meds, which was just about the most wonderful feeling in the world, better than being able to breathe normally again. I have to say that I am pretty stoic about pain but fever and nausea are the two things that undo me and I had to deal with both.

Once I got my “bed” in the real emergency department, I was faced with a nurse who clearly didn’t like me. I don’t know what she could have had against me, she had had nothing to do with me up until that point. I must have come coded as some kind of trouble maker. She let me know right away just how in the doghouse I was with her by inserting my IV in the most painful, long drawn-out process possible. Even my husband was shocked by my howl of pain. When the doctor finally okayed some Tylenol for my 101 degree fever, she never gave it to me. I assumed it was one of those expensive looking vials she was putting into my IV but it wasn’t. So, I was left to suffer with a fever far longer than needful. When the doctor ordered an albuterol breathing treatment to open up my lungs, she stood out in the hall talking with her friends for so long, I got “high” on the albuterol and I had to stay longer to get over the negative affects of the treatment.

At this point, we had been in the ER for five hours and had left our three kids home alone. My husband went home to check on them so when I had to get rid of an IV bag full of fluid, there was no one to go get the nurse. No call button. I had no call button! What kind of class act joint doesn’t provide its patients with a call button? I asked for one three times throughout the day, but one never appeared. At one point, I had to toss a box of badly needed tissues into the hallway to get attention.

The good news is, the breathing treatment opened up my lungs. The bad news is, that’s when the wheezing and the coughing started which hasn’t stopped for the four days since. The doctor said that since this started as a virus, it was probably just a virus still (I guess she didn’t know yet, about the alien virus from outer space) and that no antibiotics were needed. I was too tired and worn out from being over-albuteroled, under tylenoled, and left to sit in my own pee for so long that I just got the heck out. However, she promised me that the four meds she was prescribing would make me feel all better in a jiffy. If I had the breath to do so I would say HA! To be continued . . .

This entry was posted on Friday, May 16, 2008 at Friday, May 16, 2008 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

2 wise, witty and wonderful comments

Sorry to hear you are sick! I hope you'll be doing better soon. I am out of town, otherwise I'd be over to see how you are doing. I hope you are feeling better by the time I get back. I am in San Diego right now for a week. Please take care...I hate being sick too. Hopefully Primary is holding up without us!

May 17, 2008 at 4:30 PM

I am so sorry that you are sick, but I am even more sorry that you had such a horrible time in the hospital!

I hope you are feeling better soon!

May 19, 2008 at 12:49 PM

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