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A Long Night In Hospital: A Short Story

Updated on April 19, 2015
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Josh felt a familiar pain starting in his lower left back area. He suspected he was getting them again – kidney stones. Drinking lots of water sometimes made them pass; he tried this but the pain persisted and he soon phoned to make a doctor’s appointment for 12 noon that day. Josh didn’t feel well at all and by the time he saw the doctor he was feeling nauseous and brought up a little in the bathroom basin there. Not something he'd ever done before in his life - the nausea was overwhelming! He was in his early fifties and had experienced some troubling health problems in his life thus far.

His doctor, a youngish, diligent man in his thirties soon deduced that Josh might very well have a kidney stone and arranged an appointment for him with a Urologist the very same day. It was a hot day; this didn’t help Josh’s condition much as he drove home to try to rest for a while before his next appointment.

He couldn’t rest much at home, the pain was excruciating; the feeling of nausea increased and he felt besides himself. He drove himself to Dr. Rhine, the specialist’s rooms and felt dreadful while waiting to see him - he felt as if he might go out of his mind, the pain was becoming unbearable. The urologist saw him, investigated his condition and booked him into hospital the next day. The good doctor assured him he’d only be in hospital for one night. After taking Josh’s blood pressure Dr. Rhine emphatically stressed that Josh must get a script for high blood pressure from his general practitioner that same day; it was extremely high.

Josh, still in much pain then phoned his doctor’s office for a script and drove a long distance to fetch it; he then had to get the necessary tablets at a pharmacy elsewhere. By this time the entire experience had become insanely stressful. That night he didn’t sleep much, writhing in unbearable pain, sweating from the discomfort it caused.

A new day dawned and Josh’s elderly mother took him to the hospital where he had to wait to fill in forms and get approval from his medical fund for the hospital stay. Finally he was taken to a ward then put in a wheelchair to have x-rays done. Josh kept asking for something for the pain but the nurse said he had to have the x-rays first. This threw him completely - he'd have to wait even longer! The orderlies wheeled him to a corridor where he waited for a long time to be attended to, all the while experiencing unbearable pain in the lower left back area.

After completion of the x-rays Josh was returned to his ward where he was put into bed and at last given a pethidine injection for pain. Immediately he relaxed, finally receiving the relief he needed, falling into a mild sleep for a while. He shared a ward with a younger man who had an illness that the doctors were as yet, unable to diagnose. Much later that afternoon he went for the procedure to remove the kidney stone and was given an anaesthetic which knocked him out for the entire time he was in theatre.

When Josh woke from the effects of the anaesthetic it was already nighttime. He was back in his ward bed and spoke for a while to his companion who experienced fevers every so often. Josh didn’t feel too bad, at least the pain was gone and he could rest and sleep peacefully that night. He and his ward companion watched a movie on TV that night before he went to sleep.

The following day his elderly mother visited him, then later Dr Rhine came to see him; telling him they’d found multiple stones and that he was losing blood for some unknown reason. The doctor said he wanted to have some tests done to try to find the cause of this problem. Unfortunately Josh wouldn’t be leaving the hospital that day; he hadn’t brought much with him in the way of spare pyjamas and other clothing. Josh knew already about the blood loss in his body, his own doctor had discovered it through blood tests and had given him iron tablets to take. A few years before he’d had irritable bowel syndrome which he suspected might have contributed to the problem.

He was no doctor so his presumption wasn't accurate; yet the doctor's were unable to say what exactly the cause of the problem that included anaemia, was all about. He was willing to undergo tests to discover what was making him sick.

Josh was to have a gastroscopy and an endoscopy done within the next few days. These were procedures to look inside the stomach and colon. He’d had these done a few years before, when irritable bowel syndrome had bothered him. Another whole day passed before the first procedure was done. He was given something to make him sleep during the gastroscopy; afterwards when he was being wheeled on a bed to a temporary ward the strangest of mental sensations assailed him. It was an eerie experience - his thoughts and visual sensations were bizarre. Josh couldn’t remember everything but it was most unusual, experiencing the sensation of travelling through a white tunnel, and when he finally woke up he found himself singing the old Beatles song “Hey Jude”.

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After this Josh was moved to a different ward where there was an older man who had some sort of stomach problem. This man was very talkative and sometimes Josh just wanted to be quiet and rest or sleep but the man kept on talking. Only the following day did he have the next procedure done, however it was not successful so he was to have yet some other procedure done the next day. His body was starting to feel sore and time seemed to be dragging on; he wished he could go home.

After the next procedure was completed Dr Rhine informed Josh that they had been unable to locate the cause of the blood loss in his body. He was to have a bone marrow biopsy. What was meant to be one night in hospital was turning into an ordeal of painful tests, stress and at times, boredom. There were sometimes long periods of waiting between the tests, often a day or two where he had to just lie in bed and read or listen to his ward companion talking excessively. He made friends with his ward companion but still found he needed to rest at times. Before having tests done he wasn’t allowed to eat anything after a certain time at night, but after the procedures the kitchen staff sometimes didn’t bring him anything to eat, they got things a bit mixed up at these times. He was hungry by then and had to ask for food which sometimes took a long time to arrive because of the mix-up. He received some phone calls from friends and relatives which he greatly appreciated.

Dr Rhine’s comments didn’t help matters; he once remarked that he wanted to give Josh nails to eat to increase the iron in his body. Unfortunately the doctor wasn’t always so pleasant with his comments. Fortunately some of the nurses were compassionate and spoke kind words to him. At night Josh had to ask for something to help him sleep; he sometimes slept during the day which made him wakeful at night. The bone marrow biopsy was done and still there was no indication as to what was causing his blood loss. Josh decided he’d had enough of hospital life, undergoing painful tests he decided to ask if he could be discharged. He wasn’t sure also if his medical fund would continue to cover all the tests he was having.

Within two hours of his request Josh was discharged from his week-long stay in hospital; he went home to have a relaxing shower and a good meal – a sense of freedom came over him; what was to be one night in hospital which had turned into a week’s ordeal had finally come to an end. He slept peacefully that night.

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© 2013 David Edward Lynch

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