Saturday, February 28, 2015

Why the doctor / nurse softball game always ends in a brawl

I just started reading Bed Number Ten. It is Sue Baier's first-person account of a woman who has Guillain-Barre Syndrome.(This book is pretty much out of print, so first I'd like to thank my librarian friend's daughter for checking this book out of the library of the school I graduated from. Teeny world).  These first few chapters are about Sue Baker's trip into the hospital.  Her first day was a lot like mine. We both walked into the hospital and then woke up in intensive care the next day.

Intensive care is a terrible place to be for anybody. But it's especially fucked-up if you're conscious the whole time. But I'm not going to dwell on that. I'm going to recall my first experience in the hospital that I wanted to blog about.

I wasn't really in the intensive care unit. It was in something called the step down unit. I think it's kind of the same thing but I didn't have my own room. I went from the emergency room to a room that I shared with four other men and nurses station. So I was never alone. Every couple of hours someone would ask me if I could breathe and would make me wiggle my tongue. I didn't know until I left but there was a tracheotomy kit above my bed. At any moment they were ready to poke a hole in my throat. But that never happened. They also asked me a few times a day if I was incontinent. Eventually I snapped back "You've been sitting 4 feet from my bed you would know by now, okay!!"  I was actually the opposite of incontinent but will get to that in a more disgusting post later.

I was there for six days. I couldn't really tell how many different men were in the room with me or how long they were there or what was wrong with them. Except for one, we can call him Joe. I just don't remember what his name was, it was nine months ago.

Joe was in the bed across from me. He woke up he blurted out to the world that he had to 'have a bowel movement'. This announcement came from him like a man wanted two more beers before the seventh inning at Yankee Stadium. He told the nursing staff that he just had intestinal surgery and that he had swallowed a camera. He said the camera came complete with a spotlight and showed the surgeons where his intestines needed to be sewn up. He said it cost a fortune and the surgeons wanted to use it again. So he told the nurses to put a bedpan in the toilet.

So things just got interesting, because across from my bed there were three things. Joe, the nurses station, and the patient bathroom. I should add that Joe is a 75-year-old man who weighs about 250 pounds and is only wearing a hospital gown. So I get a great show as he heaved past my bed to the bathroom and sits down. No, they don't close the door. So I close my eyes and Joe's performance in the bathroom reminds me of the Fourth of July. Joe walks out and a nurse's aide walks in wearing a hazmat suit and retrieves the bedpan. This is repeated two more times because they can't find the camera.  I get the same show.

The next morning Joe is visited by his surgeon. The first thing he says is, "Doc, told the nurses to look for the camera but they can't seem to find it." The doctor replied," Are you nuts I was just kidding with you those things are disposable we can never use them again."  Yeah, I was kind of disappointed that the shift of nurses that had sifted through this guys bloody stool looking for a capsule were not there. It would've been exciting.


I hope to continue to update my blog with somewhat random memories from the four different hospitals I spent 135 days in.

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