I walked into the emergency room with mild chest pains at noon last Thursday and was wheeled to my pickup a half-hour PAST noon on Tuesday. That’s actually a couple days LESS than a week, but it felt like much more. They were pretty quick to get me admitted and give me an EKG, but they expected me to stay on that medieval torture machine they called a bed for three hours until they found me a room. It put my legs to sleep and made my back hurt. The doctor and nurses were very nice and even agreed with me that there was no excuse for such a non-ergonomic bed with all the technology now available. I mentioned that a recliner that could be raised and laid flat would be a great improvement. They told me that dentist chairs already do that. I’m sure it’s simply that the company’s bottom line is more important to the owners than the suffering of their patients. I spent most of that three hours sitting on a simple plastic chair which was infinitely more comfortable than the bed.
Naturally, they weren’t allowed to wheel me to my room in a wheel chair, so I had to climb back onto the bed and suffer, while they moved me two stories up and to the far end of the hospital. I was surprised when I realized that I had a private room, but was pleased. I did notice that the window presented a lovely view of a windowless yellow brick wall. No problem; I don’t bore easily.
Within 24 hours, they’d decided that I’d not had a heart attack and that the pain was muscular. HOWEVER, the heart doctor had me where he wanted me and kept me there with a near constant IV drip of antibiotics to clear up my cellulitis so he could perform surgery on Monday. At night, I rarely went more than an hour without a visitor checking in on me, drawing blood, or taking my vitals. Due to being stuck a lot in the past, and the blood-thirstiness of modern medicine, I can be a hard stick. I often had four or five draws a day and, sometimes, they would come only an hour or less apart, but for different needs. Common sense would dictate that you get all your blood at one time when possible, to save making a pin-cushion of the patient. Sadly, there IS NO common sense (or compassion) in hospital management. It soon got to where they had to make multiple sticks to get a good one.
I spent most of my days and nights in a slightly comfortable recliner in the room, and usually less than an hour a night trying unsuccessfully to sleep on the bed. With sleeping in the chair, my already irregular sleeping habits, and my constant stream of visitors, I got little sleep in the five days that I was there. They wouldn’t let me shower for liability reasons. The clothes hook on the bathroom door collapsed under about a ten pound weight, so no-one could use it to hang themselves. Also, when I requested a safety pin to keep my gown sleeve from constantly trying to pull out my IV, they told me that we weren’t allowed to have them for “safety reasons.” I suppose that they afraid the patients would all straighten them out and start an insurrection.
Since I had a private room and controlled the TV remote (something I’m not used to at home) I enjoyed watching TV more than I’d expected. Many were reruns from 20-40 years ago. Despite a total lack of respect for those who manage the hospital, I thoroughly like and respect those who actually do the work. Every doctor, nurse and assistant was as nice as anyone could possibly be, including the maintenance staff.
When they took me to surgery, they tried four times to put in a second IV before they finally gave up. Two blown veins didn’t help.
I was pleasantly surprised that they let me leave at noon the next day, rather than four o’clock. I pretended that I was waiting on my wife and stepson to show up and drive me home in my truck. After the wheelchair was out of sight, I slipped behind the wheel and drove home. It almost felt as if I was escaping from prison. © 2016