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Fun at the Hospital
Let me tell you a story about my recent stay at a major hospital. Before this time I had never spent the night at a hospital since I was very young.
It all started when I woke up one Sunday morning and noticed my leg was red and swollen. I wasn't really sure what it was, but I figured all it needed was a flurry of vitamins and bed rest.
On Monday it looked worse. Apparently it needed a little more than just TLC.
So I took a stroll down to my friendly neighborhood medical practitioner.
"Yep, it's cellulitis," the doctor said with a rather distressed look on his face. I didn’t pay much attention, because he always looked distressed. He wrote me a prescription for some antibiotics and gave me a referral for a specialist.
"No problem," I thought, and went on my merry way.
After wrestling with phone tag, and a flurry of wrong numbers, I finally got a hold of the specialist's office.
She wasn't really a specialist. She was just another medical doctor, however since she moonlighted at a major hospital she probably would be better equipped to treat my predicament.
So basically my doctor was saying "I don't know; go see this person."
However, the non-special specialist was booked solid for three weeks.
Seeing as this was going to get worse before it got better, if it was going to get better, I decided to take matters into my own hands. So the next morning I strolled into my local major medical center for a second opinion. I didn't know what kind of doctor I'd see for this sort of bizarre inflammation and checked myself into the convenience of the emergency room. I figured they'd give me a prescription for some stronger pills and send me on my merry way.
"We're admitting you," the emergency room doctor snarked.
I did a double-take. "W-What?"
"We gotta admit you. You need something much stronger than what you can get in a pill."
"I really don't want to be stuck in a room," I whimpered.
"Well it's either that or lose the leg. Hey, if you wanna get out of here I got a bone saw; we can take that leg right off," the doctor laughed cruelly.
Suddenly a hospital room was sounding rather peachy. At least it would get me away from that pretentious asshole.
I decided this was a good time to call my boyfriend to let him know I wouldn’t be home tonight. He took the news rather well for someone who really hates hospitals. I can understand why he would feel that way. For many people the hospital is seen as a place where people go to die. I mostly see it as just another place with living facilities that are a cross between hotel rooms and prison cells.
The tech wheeled me into the elevator and up to the seventh floor we went. I'm glad to say he was much friendlier than Doctor Jerk downstairs. I'm also glad I just happened to bring my laptop that day. Being stuck in a hospital room all day with only a television, your smartphone, and some magazines would be awful... okay it wouldn't be so bad.
Before I could dwell on the terrible inconvenience I narrowly avoided I was interrupted by my nurse, TJ. She was a spunky sweet woman who was a little upset that I insisted on doing most things myself.
"Okay, we got you on the Vancomycin," she said as she rummaged through my electronic file. "And let's see what the doctor prescribed for pain... and he didn't prescribe anything! You're not in pain at all?"
"Apart from the sore spot where this IV is in my arm I'm not in any pain."
Oh did I mention I was hooked up to an intravenous drip machine for almost my entire hospital stay?
"So no fun drugs?" TJ pouted.
"No fun drugs," I smiled. In retrospect I realize might have enjoyed my stay there more had I gotten some nice loopy pain meds.
Another employee I saw regularly was my hospital tech, Samuel. He would show up every three hours to take my blood pressure and temperature. I figured he had a pretty easy job since that's all he did for me. Apparently, because I could move about and wipe my own ass my number of services needed from him were quite low. If I had been bedridden or needed some heavy lifting with medical equipment he would have been the one to do it.
About once a day I would meet with my attending physician and my bacterial infection specialist. That’s right I had a specialist... who specializes in infections... I’m rather glad he always washed his hands and put on fresh gloves before prodding my swollen leg. I know some doctors don’t believe in sanitation, but I’m thankful that mine does.
The major difficulty you have to get used to when staying in a hospital is realizing how helpless you have suddenly become. You have to rely on others for all your basic needs, some more than others. Any provisions you require are supplied by what friends and family that are willing to visit you in the hospital, otherwise you must make do with the generic hospital versions which may not be sufficient to your needs. Thankfully I had a boyfriend to get me important things like spare clothes, bottled water, and my cell phone charger.
As I said before I was hooked up to an IV drip machine to administer the hard hitting antibiotics directly into my bloodstream. I had a constant supply of saline solution slowly pumped in for hydration. You could probably guess it's not fun needing to go to the bathroom every two hours. Thankfully the machine had wheels and a rechargeable battery, so I could unplug it and take it into the bathroom for any personal business I had to attend to.
The IV drip did present some other challenges. I was able to wear my own clothes, however anytime I wanted to change T-shirts I had to beg the nurse to temporarily unhook me from the machine. Sure she was happy to oblige, however it’s a minor ordeal to get it done. I guess I should be happy they didn’t have an IV hooked to my leg as well.
Bathing was another issue entirely. There was a shower stall in the bathroom, but in order to use the shower the nurse would need to unhook and seal the IV port to protect it from getting wet. So any bathing beyond giving myself a sponge bath required medical assistance. They did supply me with a large amount disposable pre-moistened antimicrobial towelettes to assist me in my efforts... which were probably one step up from licking myself clean.
I didn’t get much in the way of sleep during my stay in the hospital. This was primarily due to the fact that every one of the people visiting my room was on a schedule.
I’d normally not get sleepy until about ten-thirty or eleven at night, struggling to get comfortable on the thin hospital bed mattress while making sure not to kink the IV fluid hose; it was an uphill battle. On top of that I’d have to get up to go to the bathroom several times in the night, resetting the process of getting comfortable each time.
About four in the morning my hospital tech would come to check my blood pressure and make sure I hadn’t died overnight.
Then at five a random person from the lab would show up to draw some blood; I never knew for sure if they really worked for the hospital or they were just some weirdo collecting blood, but I didn’t question it.
By the time my nurse would show up at six I had already decided that I wasn’t getting any more sleep that night so she would find me in front of my computer playing video games and doing other important tasks.
Sunday morning my boyfriend paid me another visit and brought me some much needed items: four pairs of spare underwear and a box of donuts. On the box of donuts were the words “You deserve donuts”, which was a nice touch considering the predicament I was in.
By this time I had been in here a couple days and was starting to go nuts from being cooped up in my room. The temperature in my room was at a constant 74 degrees. Outside it was springtime, or early summer for people not from Texas since we don’t actually have spring here. My window was sealed shut, and I longed to feel the warm breeze of the day however burning hot it may have been. I mentioned that I had cabin fever to my attending physician. She was from India, and had never heard of such a fever, so to ease her worries I had to explain to her that I was just getting antsy about being stuck in my hospital room for days on end.
I was granted access to the seventh floor waiting area so I could at least get out of my cramped room. Of course this required me to unplug my IV machine from the wall and wheel it around with me, which didn’t surprise anyone as apparently this was a common sight around here. I quickly realized that going from my hospital room to the waiting area was like going from a prison cell to the yard; you may have a little more room to stretch your legs, but you are still reminded that you’re incarcerated.
Monday night some friends came over to visit. My boyfriend brought me sushi, and everyone knows that your significant other bringing you raw fish wrapped in rice and seaweed with soy sauce is a sign of true love.
By Tuesday morning the bacterial infection specialist happily said I was free to go. I had to wait a few hours for the paperwork to be finished up, but that was okay.
“Be careful,” TJ the nurse said. “There’s a tornado warning today.”
“Thanks for the warning, TJ, but I’m not staying here any longer than I have to.”
There are others who would be upset after being stuck in a hospital for over half a week, but not me. This was just another experience to inspire my writing in some way. I may not get an idea based on this for quite a while, but you never know...
Hey wait a minute! I wrote this!
What's the longest you have ever had to spend in a hospital?
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