Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Take Heart

On Monday morning my mom told my younger sister Chandra and me that she'd been having some pains in her chest on and off for the past few days and she thought she should do the responsible thing and go and get it checked out. After consulting with one of her friends who is a nurse she decided to call 911 so that she could get right in to the ER instead of having to wait in the waiting room for who knows how long.

Mom knows how I always detail all of my hospital excursions on my blog, so she thought it would be fun to make a guest blog post. After thinking about it I agreed, so here it is…

This week I had a hospital adventure. No, nothing involving Heather. It was me. I’d been having pains in my left shoulder, down my left arm on and off for a few days. At first, I dismissed it, but since I’m no spring chicken, and knowing you shouldn't ignore such symptoms, I decided I really ought to get it checked out. I called the doctor’s office hoping they could do an EKG to discern if anything potentially serious was going on, and perhaps schedule more tests if necessary, or maybe discuss other possible causes for the pain. But no, they said I ought to go to the ER. I did. It was unarguably the worst hospital experience in my recent memory.

First off, they couldn’t get an IV started. I was unsuccessfully stuck FIVE painful times before getting the IV placed on the sixth try. Not only were my arms bruised from the attempts, but they throbbed all day. I had been asking if I could drink water, and they kept saying no. I was possibly slightly dehydrated which makes needle sticks more difficult.

The hospitalist in charge decided I should be admitted, and after languishing in the ER for several hours, thirsty and ravenous, I was taken to a room. I was allowed to drink, finally, and the sweet nurse took pity on me and microwaved a frozen dinner for me, since lunch was long over. It was pretty awful, but I ate it all.

Dinner finally arrived at about 6:15, and I was ravenous again. I lifted the cover to find lukewarm fish, macaroni and cheese, and creamed spinach. A Dole fruit cup containing pears was on the side. Knowing I would be NPO until after my tests were over the next day, I again cleaned my plate, even though I’ve never liked macaroni or cared much for fish.

I spent a pleasant evening with visits from my home teacher and my daughter, Laura. Laura did a wonderful job of keeping the family informed of my situation. Then it was bedtime. Though I'd had numerous EKGs and 4 blood draws (for a total of 10 needle sticks that day), nothing much has been accomplished that day.

Next morning I was awakened at 5:15 by a tech saying she needed to weigh me. Really? This couldn’t wait until daylight? She brought in a scale that looked big enough to weigh a truck. Obediently I stepped on it. I felt very tiny, not a bad thing.

My back ached badly from the hard, uncomfortable bed. I had to walk in the hall for about 20 minutes before most of the pain was gone.

Again, I languished in my room, waiting until mid morning for them to take me for my stress test and echocardiogram. I really did not see why I’d had to fast for these tests. Here I was running on a treadmill after having no food for nearly 18 hours and nothing to drink for 12, while they cranked my heart rate up to 160. I could have collapsed from hunger!  I’m proud to say I didn’t huff and puff too much and I told them I could easily keep going. The tests took about 3½ hours.

Of course by the time I got back to my room, I had missed lunch. The nurse kindly wrote an order for me to get a lunch tray. Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and carrot coins were what was on the menu. Oh my gosh… that’s not lunch, that’s torture! I asked about other options and settled on vegetable soup (very good), a turkey sandwich and an apple.

By 2:15 the cardiologist came to my room and told me I passed all my tests with flying colors. Nothing was wrong with my heart and I could go home. No possible explanation for my pain. I didn’t care. My heart was OK and I wanted OUT!

Not so fast. The admitting hospitalist had to “lay eyes” on me before I could be discharged, and he didn't round in that area of the hospital until 4:00-6:00. Are you kidding me?! I didn't get on my way until 5:50. The nurse said something about calling for a wheelchair. I said, “Could I please just walk out of here with my friend?” She let me.

Wow, home never seemed so good! Heather, Chandra and I were back together again. Chandra had done a fabulous job of keeping the house running in my absence. There was food that tasted good, and a bed that didn't hurt my back.

Well, that’s my experience. I've got to say that the nurses were all so sweet and kind. The actual medical care was thorough. I am VERY grateful to be OK. I have some beautiful bruises on my arms that give me a ghoulish look for Halloween. I’m thankful for the outpouring of love and concern from friends and family. The whole experience could have been very frustrating, but I chose to look at the humorous side. So, take heart, Heather’s fans… Heather’s mother will be around to cause trouble for years to come!

I'm glad to have Mom back where she belongs, and I'm also especially grateful for Chandra. She took off work on Monday and Tuesday and took great care of me, nitty-gritty and all.


Kendra said...

Wow, what an experience! No wonder so many people put off going to the hospital when they feel sick! So glad it turned out fine.

Julie said...

I'm so glad the results were ok but what an awful experience to go through.

The food sounds like typical hospital food! It's like that here in the uk too.

They also have a hard time finding my viens too & it's
not true when people say it doesn't hurt - it certainly
does. I hope the bruising goes soon.

I'm glad your sister was able to look after you Heather.

As they say, "There's no place like home":)

Julie said...

* whoops, I didn't mean to leave such a huge gap there!

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