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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Tales of the Horrorspital, Part II

Calcium burn at one IV site

So, where were we already? Bemoaning the lack of adequate staffing at our hospital surgery recovery rooms? The paw in the above picture belongs to yours truly. It was actually the better of the available paws. The other had swelled up like a house but was not discoloured, so we went with this photograph for the "roast chicken" effect.

The nurse staffing situation was actually the least of the problems. Or the least enervating, anyway. Pain is pain, and bad as it is, it only hurts until you pass out or fall asleep or they bring you medication to numb it.

My roomie, on the other hand ... think ground glass in underpants. With all appendages tied, so you can't even get it out.

After the nice Vietnamese lady left, and before I regained consciousness, the hospital staff trundled in the Roomie From Hell. Naturally, when I awoke, I was otherwise occupied, as in, trying to get pain meds, but once that was taken care of, I began looking around. The Roomie From Hell (let's call her Dolores, shall we? Dotty for short? As in, that's what I was after two days of exposure to her?), for reasons that will never be clear to me, decided at this point to introduce herself. Thus:
RFH: Hello.

TPC: Hi. (All friendly-like.)

RFH: Can you take me upstairs please?

TPC: ??? (with a silent WTF? for emphasis)

RFH: Hello?

TPC: Yes. (Probly a mistake. I should've said, "NO!")

RFH: I need to go upstairs.

TPC: Uh, well, I'm sorry, Ma'am, I've just had surgery and I'm not mobile. Maybe you should press the call button.

RFH: I need to go upstairs. Can you take me to the operating theater? I'm supposed to have surgery at four o'clock.

TPC: (Squints at clock, which clearly shows the time as being 11, although it's not clear whether this is in the AM or PM) Ma'am, I'm sorry, I'm your fellow patient? And I'm not mobile, so I can't take you anywhere. Please press the button, and a nurse will attend to you.

RFH: (Begins to hum a song, and then talks to herself, first in Spanish (fluent, unaccented AFAICT), then in French.) Excuse me?

TPC: Yes?

RFH: Nurse?

TPC: No, ma'am, I'm a patient. The nurse will be along in a minute. (Begins to long for a larger dose of painkillers to drown out rather annoying RFH.)
Nurse arrives.

Nurse: What's the matter, dear?

TPC: (Cringes at the use of the word "dear." It's pretty obvious the patients are "dear" only in the sense of "expensive.")

RFH: Oh, nurse, could you have someone take me up to the operating theater? My surgeon, Dr. Blarney (I swear, that's what she said) is supposed to be operating on me at four o'clock.

Nurse: (Distinctly unamused) Uh, ma'am, why don't you try to go to sleep, you're not having surgery till tomorrow.

RFH: Are you sure?

Nurse: Yes, ma'am. Let me know if you need something to help you sleep.

RFH: Begins a lengthy gabbling conversation full of extraneous details about friends, family, dog, surgery, clothing, doctor, and blood while TPC desperately tries to sleep. No such luck.

Exeunt Nurse, edging out of room after fluffing RFH's pillow and sneaking away.)

RFH, stymied, picks up her cellphone and begins calling everybody she knows with details about her dog, car, surgery, clothing, and some fireman's luncheon at which she will donate blood. TPC desperately continues trying to sleep.

Some time later (the attempt to sleep was, apparently, successful) TPC is woken by the morphine wearing off and the gabble of voices. Apparently, RFH has now decided that she is actually at the firemen's luncheon and needs to go home.

Nurse: Ma'am, you're here for surgery.

RFH: This is America. You've heard of the Constitution, haven't you? You're holding me against my will!

TPC: (sotto voce) WTF?

Same arm, reverse side

Nurse: Ma'am, we're not holding you against your will. Your doctor will be here in the morning, I suggest you talk to him about it.

RFH: But I'm not supposed to be here. We finished the demonstration, and I have to go home now. My dog, she'll be all alone, and I've never left her alone in my life!

Exeunt Nurse looking annoyed

TPC: (Feeling sorry for the lady despite her obvious lack of anchor to reality) Ma'am, it's in the wee hours and your doctor will be here in a couple of hours more. Why not just take a nap now? I'm sure your dog will be fine, you were talking to your neighbour earlier, and you said she was looking after the dog for you.

RFH: I'm calling the police. I'm being held against my will. This is America. You can't do that to people here. (Calls 911)

Enter young policeman, looking confused

COP: Ma'am, are you Dotty?

TPC: (sotto voce) Hell, yeah, she is.

RFH: Officer, they're holding me here against my will, I've told them and told them that I need to go home, but they JUST won't LET me GO, Office, you've GOT to DO something ... gabble, gabble

COP: Ma'am, this piece of paper here? You signed it, Ma'am, that's your signature there? It says you're having surgery at this hospital. So, no, Ma'am, they're not holding you against your will. You're having surgery tomorrow and then they're going to release you. Do you understand me, Ma'am? Is there someone you'd like to call who could come down and help us explain this to you?

RFH: Gabble, gabble (punctuated with breathy, hand-wringing cries about the firemen, the demo, the blood samples, and other completely incomprehensible blatheramskate).

TPC: Oh, Deity, fucking kill me now. (very sotto voce. Not in front of the cops, and all that.)

Several more hours pass in a stupor, with TPC regaining consciousness at intervals.

Enter a short, brown, efficient-looking man.

MAN: Ma'am, are you Dotty?

TPC: (sotto not so voce) Holy Mother of God, can a person get a little shuteye in these parts or what? Excuse me? Can I help you? (This last addressed to the man)

MAN: No problem, I'm just here to take a blood sample. Dotty, could you roll that sleeve up for me?

RFH: (Complies while engaging man in a lengthy conversation about her youth in Argentina, spec. Buenos Aires, her education at a French convent, her subsequent marriage and move to the US, her membership in the local Democratic Party, et cetera ad infinitum ad nauseam, winding up with her own declamation about what an interesting person she is)

TPC: Oh, Christ. (semi-audible groan, combined of parts physical pain and parts guilt about being not-very-nice to an apparently impaired and elderly woman - also parts sheer crabbiness from meds and lack of sleep)

Man leaves, silence reigns, TPC passes out, only to be wakened by TWO screaming nurses.

NursieChorus: WHAT have you DONE? Oh, my GAWD! What has she done? What happened to you? Who did this to you?

TPC: (Abandoning all further thoughts of sleep) WTFFFFFF??

NursieChorus: Oh, my GAWD. Can you believe this? What are you doing, Dotty? Who did this to you?

TPC: (Wonders WTF is going on but daren't ask. Not in the mood for further gabbling details of woman found dead in her bed or whatever. Hears, with relief, the dulcet tones of ...

RFH: Well, a man came up here, he said he was from the fire department, and he wanted a blood sample, so I gave him some blood ...

NursieChorus: WTF??? Dotty, there are no firemen here.
Apparently, the man was actually a hospital employee who had been sent to get a blood sample, which Dotty generously provided. While in the same generous mood, she apparently decided to provide a poop sample, too. Apparently, the man then fled. Dotty, discovering that her fit of generosity had, so to speak, spilled over onto her dressing gown, took it off. We leave the audience to imagine the result.

Dotty spent the next X hours until surgery railing at me for failing to get her wheelchair, find her dressing gown, find her coat, dress her, and take her upstairs for surgery. She punctuated the raillery with a hearty breakfast, complaining all the while that she was STARVED, yes, simply STARVED, and a person couldn't get a thing to eat around here.

Over the next two days, she somehow managed to persuade a really sweet gay man to wash her disgusting pooped-on dressing gown and insisted to anyone who would listen that I had stolen her lamb-lined floor-length leather coat. In between, she hissed the following repeatedly through the curtains that separated us.
RFH: You think this is funny, don't you?

TPC: Oh, jeez, wouldja leave me the fuck alone?

RFH: I can hear you laughing over there. You took my coat, it cost a thousand dollars! And my Democratic Party keychain, and my watch, and my bracelet. You think I don't know. But I do. I know you took them. And now the two of you are standing there behind the curtain, laughing and staring at me.

TPC: Goddammit, where's my book?

RFH: Why won't you take me upstairs? I need to go to physical therapy!

TPC: Look, I've told you before, I'm a patient just like you. I've just had surgery. I can't walk. I sure as hell can't take you anywhere. Now please, leave me alone!

RFH: You're just angry because I'm using logic on you.

TPC: WTF x n???

RFH: Why don't you just come over here and help me get upstairs?

TPC: Lady? I can't walk. But if I could? I wouldn't be pushing you upstairs, I'd push you through that fucking window. It's a three-storey drop. Now leave me the fuck alone, goddammit.
I don't think I slept more than two hours at a stretch the entire time I was saddled with Dotty. And how glad I was to get out of there, you'll never know. I was definitely ready to kill someone by the time I made good my escape.

Poor thing, it really wasn't her fault, though. Her surgeon had her on a pretty toxic combination of drugs and a psychiatrist or geriatrician should have been monitoring her. I think she was suffering temporary psychosis. Ah, whatever, lookit, I'm still feeling sorry for the bitch, and after she deprived me of sleep during the worst hours of my life, at that.

Part I of the saga here.

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At 4:06 PM, Blogger Fixer said...

You're better than me, PC. I'da dragged myself over and put a pillow over her face and that woulda been the end of it. Either that or I woulda choked somebody else until they got me another room not in the psych ward.

At 8:01 PM, Blogger ThePoliticalCat said...

Yeah, well, don't be too hasty, Fixer my man. If it hadn't'a hurted so much, I *would've* crawled over and done the old girl the favour. As it stands, the minute I got away from her, I fell into a deep and healing sleep, only to be wakened by ... I'll leave it for tomorrow's post.

Good to see ya!

At 4:51 PM, Blogger Fixer said...

I'm a miserable patient and have no patience for anything. If I'm confined to a bed or a hospital room, I turn into an ornery old bastid. I blew an Achilles tendon a while back and was in a cast, in bed, for 2 1/2 months. Mrs. F was ready to put me out of my misery for sure. I swore I'd wake up one day with a knife stuck in my chest. Heh ...

At 5:09 PM, Blogger nunya said...

Oh Lord have mercy, you have the patience of a saint :)

At 6:52 PM, Blogger Distributorcap said...

oh boy

At 7:04 PM, Blogger ThePoliticalCat said...

Nunya - wait till I post Part III. Actually, it wasn't the patience as much as the pain. If I hadn't been fuckin' dying of pain, I would've sent her to a better (for me, anyway) place. There is nothing worse than coming out of extremely painful and traumatizing surgery (I'm told knee replacement is the most painful surgical procedure a person can have) and not be able to sleep for three days because of some lunatic windbag.

At 7:05 PM, Blogger ThePoliticalCat said...

DC - oh boy, oh boy.

Gut pesach, kindalah.

At 1:22 PM, Blogger John said...

"You're just angry because I'm using logic on you."

That was a laugh-out-loud moment, for sure, though I can imagine not terribly funny at the time. Hope you're healing...


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