Monday, August 17, 2009

A day in the Emergency Room

If you don't friend me on FaceBook, or talk to me on the phone, then you may not have heard I spent Monday morning in the ER. I'm fine. In fact, I've only been admitted to the ER twice - once when I was young and I barely remember it (although under all my hair there is probably the scar to prove it) and once with food poisoning. And after that trip I thought a saline drip was the best thing ever invented. It was hubby who wasn't doing so hot this time.

I dropped the kids off to school early - thankfully it was swim day so they were eager to go - and then went back home to pick up my husband for the one mile trek to the hospital. I really do appreciate having a hospital close's an odd comfort in my sometimes panic-stricken world.

He had been running a really high fever for over 24 hours and wasn't showing any signs of getting better. My mind instantly raced to "H1N1" and how we were going to be visited by men in germ-proof outfits like the ones from E.T., put in lock down for a week crawling the walls until we got the "all clear" from the CDC. I didn't have enough food to feed us all for a week. How would I get my CSA pick up? I have a hair appt and she leaves for a 2 week Puerto Rico vacation on Thursday so if I miss this appt I will have a frizzed head of dead-ends and wayward tendrils!

You see the priorities?

When we arrived around 7:45 I walked him in, sat him with a nice triage nurse, and went to park the car.

When I returned, he already had a mask on, had popped 3 pills for 102.5 fever and looked even worse than when we got there. I'm not sure whose hands were sweating more, mine or his.

We were almost immediately taken to a lovely, 2 bedroom suite with a private bath and view of the Valley.

Ha. I'm joking.

We had room #4 with 2 beds and an oxygen hookup in case he needed it. Like I wanted to see my 47 year old husband hooked up to oxygen. I wasn't going to handle this situation very well. I'm bad in crisis. I'm the one that would drive past the accident and call 9-1-1 on my cell but wouldn't have it in me to stop.

Add to that, the fact that my ever-expanding-vacation-enjoying self could barely squeeze between his bed and the wall to sit in the "comfort chair". You know, the chair where you're supposed to sit and ask,

"Are you thirsty?"
"Do you need me to help you to the bathroom?"
"Are you going to vomit on me?"

That made me feel a tad bit claustrophobic. But there we sat. His body shook in the bed from the fever. I covered him with the see-through sheet they provided to keep him warm. Until he started to sweat and then he didn't want it on any more. I'm not even sure how much time had passed before the nurse came in to do the H1N1 test - I was literally obsessed with getting this done and over with. I was sure with all his symptoms he had the bloody swine flu.

Ever have a flu test? Nasty. A wire q-tip is shoved up your nose. As the nurse put it, "All I have to do is just put this up your nose, but I can tell you it's not all that pleasant." I had sympathy pain watching it happen. If I haven't said it, sorry about that honey. Didn't look fun.

When the Dr. arrived he asked the same questions as the nurse (can't they read the form?) and decided to take chest x-rays. At the same time the flu tests came back NEGATIVE!

I was dancing in the hall with the gospel choir singing "Hallelujah!!" (You're picturing an episode of Scrubs right now, aren't you?)

That is not to belittle the obvious pain and discomfort my hubby was in, but MAN was I happy I didn't have to stay cooped up for a week with the whole family germs.

Once the mixture of acetaminophen and ibuprofen kicked in, and I could breathe a little easier (and so could he), the eavesdropping began!

It's hard not to listen to all the goings-on in the hall. We identified *at least* two addicts with social workers getting the low-down on detox.

"I can't promise you you'll be out of here by 4:00 today. That's not how detox works."

How many times do you think the nurses utter those words a day? They are special people. I wouldn't believe a word that anyone said - seriously. I thought our room mate was totally scamming the system so she could avoid going to work. I don't know why I thought that but I did. Mean, huh?

There were a lot of old people - those poor old people - who were having problems breathing from the heat. Broke my heart as each one was wheeled by.

There was a 6 year old boy strapped down - brave kid - who fainted from the heat and hit his head on the concrete. That made me tear up. I have a 6 year old.

There was the priest who held the door open for me as he arrived to give one of those sick souls their last rites.

There was the angry husband whose wife had cut an artery by shaving so now his trip to the beach was canceled. If I were her I would have used the razor on him.

We were visited by a nurse who kept insisting we were pushing the call button. Come to find out, the light she was looking at belonged to room #3. Hopefully that person didn't really need help because she kept coming into our room.

After 5 hours it became apparent that we were VERY LUCKY we arrived so early because the place was jammed with people. They were calling nurses down from other departments to help out.

The nurse who was accusing us of pushing the button returned to take hubby's vitals so he could go home. Ready. She put the thermometer in his mouth and was looking at the blood pressure machine for the results and was getting frustrated. Ah, you might want to check on the little box attached to the other end of the thermometer stick? Just a thought.

As she was searching all over the room for the gauze that was right on top of the cabinet, I had to blurt out, "It's okay honey. She doesn't usually work in this restaurant so she's not sure where the supplies are." Luckily she laughed and confirmed she was from a different floor. Great. Is that why my husband shouted, "We have a bleeder!" after she took the IV out of his arm?

But in all seriousness, the nurses, doctor, x-ray techs and blood tech were all fabulous. And we walked out the door with 800mg Ibuprofen, a Z-pack and a positive pneumonia diagnosis. Until next time Holy Family Hospital...


Whirlwind said...

Swim day at school????? Can my kids go to your kids school?

designHER Momma said...

I've had pneumonia - and it's absolutely miserable. I'm so glad it sounds like everything will be ok.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

Glad he is doing ok. You've had enough illness to take you through 2010!