Last month we had a bit of personal drama when I spent a few days in hospital. I’m fine now, but it was a bit worrying at the time. Having nothing much else to do while there, I jotted some thoughts down when I could. Presenting you with a wee glimpse into the health system.
The Patient Diary
So it seems that the national drama being played out isn’t enough, my body has to create some of its own. While sirens wail and missiles fall, I get to deal with my own crisis.
Woke up with vertigo so bad I couldn’t even sit up. Very disconcerting when the body is lying flat and the mind is absolutely sure you’re in freefall. Scary as hell. When I finally managed to get up with kid’s help, the nausea took over. Partner decided not to take any chances.
Bad side: the gurney the ambulance team brought in scared the cat badly. Good side: one of the very nice team was a sweet immigrant trainee from the US. Bad again: I may have been too out of it to thank her/them properly.
Bad: spent the next 6 hours undergoing a whole lotta uncomfortable tests. Good: was wheeled around to many of the tests by a funky funny dude with dreads who made me laugh.
Good: brain CT was OK. Partner was somewhat surprised by this. Told her that until she does one and it’s OK she shouldn’t make remarks.
Bad: blood pressure is high for me.
Was admitted for observation overnight in the Neurology ward.
Good: room is clean and comfy, roommate is nice. Bad: I really really don’t like the backless fashion statement. Does nothing for me.
Good: I finally managed to eat a meal and keep it down. Doubtful: this may be due to all the Pramin they pumped into me earlier when they got tired of my throwing up spectacularly every time they tried to do balance tests. (The Ear doctor holds the record – he succeeded in making me throw up once more than anyone else.)
Good: they let me go to the bathroom. Finally. Holding the infusion pole on wheels helped me stay on my feet, as did the two strong nurse hands at my back. This was much better than the (bad:) wretched bedpans I had to use until then. Somewhat bad: they didn’t allow me to lock the bathroom door and it wouldn’t stay closed.
Bad: kid is pretty freaked out by all this, especially my staying overnight. Good: managed to convince her to sleep at home with partner instead of in the armchair in my room.
Bad: no TV, no news. Good: no TV, no news.
THE VERY WORST: Too dizzy to knit!!! Can’t yet wear my glasses without random things like walls and furniture spinning, so no reading either. I do have my kindle with me, so may try later.
Good: night was quiet and uneventful. Bad: kept waking up every couple of hours, mostly due to the infusion doohickey taped in my arm. Couldn’t get comfy with that jabbing me. Good: roommate said I didn’t disturb her, so either she’s a very deep sleeper or I didn’t snore.
Annoying: had to get up at 6:30 to pee in a cup. Even more annoying: they can’t use the existing doohickey to take blood, since it was used to give me various concoctions the day before, so they had to jab the other arm. Ouch. Pfui. Not fair.
Bad: Still having dizzy spells, but good: only when I move my head too much. Or stand up. Or look or bend down.
Took me for Doppler/ultrasound tests (neck and head). Orderly parked my wheelchair in the hallway, handed me my paperwork, and left. Lots of hall traffic but no one came for me. Finally snagged a nurse who checked on things. Bad: doctors were in a meeting so no telling when they would get to me. Good(??): only had to wait an hour. Funky dreads dude came by and we joked a bit.
Came back to my room to a worried partner and a now-cold breakfast. Good: nurse was happy to reheat everything. Bad: reheated oatmeal is truly disgusting.
After breakfast they took me for X-rays. Right next to the ultrasound room where I was before breakfast. Seems kind of inefficient, but hey, it gets me around more.
New doctor joined old doctor on rounds for more tests. Wobbled around for her flashing my backside. They’re keeping me here for another night.
Sigh. Good? Bad? Routine tests are discovering little things unrelated to the vertigo but needing to be followed up. Consults with other doctors who come dropping by.
They start me on fluids again. I ask about the possibility of taking a shower. Nurse says maybe tomorrow. Ick. I feel icky.
Good: partner has brought me toothbrush and toothpaste and shampoo. Bad: can’t use the shampoo. Very bad bed hair.
Try to knit for a half hour before dinner. Good: I knit English style so I’m not moving the left arm with the infusion too much. Irritating: the tube still seems to get in the way. Manage about 3 rounds. (Hey, they’re long rounds.)
Nurse comes in for more tests so I park my knitting on the infusion pole. Nurse is not amused.
Partner and kidlet come after dinner. We ask for an extra hospital gown I can put on “backwards” over the other so my backside is decently covered. Kidlet is mortified by my unshaven legs. I tell her to get over it. Good: I can now walk (slowly) with them down the hall to the ward lounge to watch TV. Bad: news on TV. First cease fire attempt- one side says yes, one side says no – it all continues.
After visiting hours, knit some more. Very good.
Bad: the extra fluids In the infusion kept in overnight caused me to run and pee every hour. (Well, shuffle…can’t really run while wheeling the pole.) Around 2 or 3 am I head out to the nurses station to ask if this will continue all night. Bad: they tell me that that’s what happens. I say I would really like to sleep for more than an hour at a time. Good: one of the nurses says let’s try this and sets the drip for much faster. He says this way it will finish much sooner. Bad: one of the other nurses clucks at him in disapproval so I guess he shouldn’t really have done that. I thank him. After a half hour I’m up to pee again. There’s still more to drip so I decide to wait instead of going back to sleep. Do puzzles on my phone for another half hour then give up and go back to sleep. Good: sleep through until 7.
Good: Shift change: I am now described as “independent”. I am inspired.
Good: morning nurse unhooks the damn tube when she comes to measure blood pressure. Bad: blood pressure is still higher than usual.
Small victories: I succeed in raising the head of my bed by myself. I can take my empty breakfast tray out to the nurses by myself for the first time. Only very slight flashes of dizziness. I’m making progress.
Bad: slight headache, can’t knit. Good: doc says more tests today with the ear doc and I can go home tomorrow.
Excellent: doohickey is out! Bad: removing the tape left two bare strips in my arm hair. Which wasn’t so noticeable before but now is. And it hurt. Good: now I can finally take a shower.
Ah. The pure simple pleasure of a shower. Partner hypothesizes that the earlier headache was caused by dirt. I’m not ruling anything out.
Off to more tests. Weird: for some odd reason the orderly brings a child’s wheelchair for me…slightly tight fit, sitting very low with my knees up. Not amused. Not comfy.
Ear doc thinks vertigo may be migraine-related. A new theory.
Good: blood pressure is down. Bad: headache is back and worse. Nurse brings meds. Feh.
Headache causes me to leave a meal unfinished. Meals have been pretty decent. They always ask me in the morning what I want for lunch. Usually choice of beef, chicken, fish, or veggie. Bland but not bad.
Roommate is released, many good wishes all around. I take a nap, wake up when new roommate arrives.
There are many instructions posted all over about hospital procedure. I must say I appreciate the diagrams in the bathroom that teach how to wash hands. Not counting the two pictures how to apply soap and the final picture of rinsed, dry and clean hands, there are six pictures showing distinct motions one should make to ensure hands are properly cleaned. I begin to pay attention to a routine I do numerous times a day so automatically. I am horribly ashamed to admit that I only do 5 of the specified motions. I’ll have to concentrate on adding the missing motion to my routine. See? One is continually learning.
Headache returns after nap. I ask for more meds, idiot nurse (the first person who hasn’t been wonderful) tells me the headache must be from the high cholesterol that tests have shown and that when I start taking meds for that the headaches will go away. (!?!?)
Bad: When dinner tray arrives I am in tears with pain. Good: In front of others, idiot nurse is sympathetic and brings me meds.
Chat some with roommate’s parents. They are very busy calling in influential connections to ensure preferential treatment for their daughter. As far as I’ve seen here, everyone gets very good treatment, but I understand them as a parent. Even so…
Family and friend arrive and we proceed to get rowdy.
We move to the lounge to avoid bothering roommate. Friend brings me a new murder mystery and partner rolls her eyes.
Didn’t sleep well. Ear doc recommends I sleep at a 45° angle. (He explained it all with diagrams of the inner ear, etc.). He told me at home to use pillows or sleep in a reclining chair. Good: I have a comfy reclining chair. Bad: I prefer sleeping in my own room, but I don’t know how pillows will work on the waterbed. Anyway, hospital bed is set at 45° but I couldn’t get comfy. Stayed awake much later than usual. Knitted some, did puzzles.
Bad: Headache and nausea are kind of hovering around the edges of how I feel. Bending and standing still bring a second or two of dizziness but good: it’s not too bad, and definitely better than it was.
For lunch I order chicken for the 3rd day in a row. Not feeling adventurous in regards to food at all! Although after two days of thigh/leg, today we are to get breast. I suppose that counts as variety.
Negligent: while making myself tea (see how independent?) I notice for the first time that there’s a menu posted. Good: haven’t missed much with my meal choices.
Roommate’s mom arrives and we all chat some more.
Talk with doc. Good: steadily getting better. She asks if I feel ready to go home and says I can stay another night if I prefer. I decide to go home later today. We discuss follow-up.
Doc tells me to take sick leave for another week. I tell her I have a mean boss. She says she’ll write a letter. I explain that I’m self-employed. She laughs and orders me to give myself a week’s vacation. Hm.
Good good good: after lunch I remove the hospital gown and put on my own clothes. Bad: I discover that no one folded or even rolled them when they were stuffed into the plastic bag that held them and they are now shockingly wrinkled. I decide I don’t care.
Relax and knit. I have challenged myself to see if I can finish the drop-stitch cowl I’m working on. 28 more rounds to go. I manage to finish 20.
Late afternoon/early evening release papers are ready. Letter and records to my family doctor with copies of everything for me. Follow-up appointments and tests to have done before them. Prescriptions for over-the-counter vitamins?? Contact names and phone numbers. I gather my things that have been ready to go for a couple of hours. Say goodbyes to roommate and mom. Get to the ward exit and go back because I forgot my water bottle. Get back to the end of the hall and nurse comes hurrying up to me to make sure they took all the needles out of my arm. (?! – I do think I would have noticed and mentioned it…but I guess they need to check it off the list.). Head out to the street where partner is waiting in a taxi.
Home. Frantic catbeast sniffs me over carefully then ignores me in a major display of huff. Gets over that surprisingly quickly and follows me everywhere. Seems worried that I will disappear again.
Kidlet makes me tea and runs out to the market for a few things to tide us over until I can order groceries online.
And it’s back to the real world.