Random ramblings of a mind damaged by years of disuse and abuse. Also a place to go to be bored to tears.
The Random Cartoon
Words to live by...
"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."
(The right to looseness has been officially given)
By the way... there's a crossword at the bottom of this page
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
The Cough: hospitals suck
The first week in the hospital was actually split between two hospitals. It seems that my health plan didn't have a contract with the one (Palms West) I went to for the emergency care. I spent two days there before they told me about it and arranged transport to the nearest hospital within my plan.
It was an interesting two days. After the initial treatment of nebulizer (two treatments) and steroids (prednisone), I was placed in a semi-private room with a suspected cardio patient. He was just there for observation. It turned out that was a good thing; that he was there, I mean. I was supposed to get nebulizer treatments every 4 hours to keep my lungs open and as clear as possible. It was about 10 PM or so when I began to realize I was seeing spots before my eyes and was very light-headed. I hadn't had a nebulizer treatment since about 4 that afternoon. I buzzed for the nurse. I coughed, repeatedly. I waited... and waited. No one came.
My roommate rolled over in his sleep and pulled a couple of EKG monitors off which triggered an alarm at the nurse's station (one supposes) and a nurse appeared, walked past my bed and checked on him then re-attached the leads on his chest. She walked past me on the way out the door while I whisper-wheezed "I need some help" which she failed to hear. Noting my distress, my roommate buzzed the nurse who came back to him and he directed her to my bed where I convinced her of the need for a nebulizer treatment.
In the morning, I was introduced to a pulmonologist who would be trying to figure out what was wrong with me. I gave him the background, explained I was not allergic to anything, and told him I was in his hands. He gave me the possibilities (Good: possibly unknown allergies, to Bad: cancer) and told me he will need to run some tests. they wheeled me to a room with a large machine and explained the Lung Function Test to me.
I failed. Miserably. I could not even get started. As soon as I tried to breathe deeply, I began coughing violently. I was given a nebulizer treatment. I managed to get past the first step in the test but then began coughing violently again. Which put an end to further attempts to test my lung functions. So I was wheeled back to my room and left alone the rest of the day except for a couple of nebulizer treatments and meals and the taking of "vitals." Faye visited, my doctor called and apologized for not treating me more aggressively, but he didn't come by.
That night, sometime around 11 or so, I began coughing violently and then I felt a sharp pain in my back on the lower right hand side. It felt like I had been shot or someone jammed a cue stick into it really hard. I had just broken a rib. I soon learned no one really cared about that. Seems they no longer tape you up when you do that. Better to just leave it heal on its own, especially if your lung functions are already impaired. Or so I was told.
In the morning, they broke the news to me that I either had to sign a request to be treated there or be moved to another hospital. I chose to move. An uneventful trip in an ambulance brought me to Wellington Regional where I got a private room and a new pulmonologist. He also promised to inflict tests on me in an attempt to ascertain why I was having trouble.
I spent the next 5 days there, high as a kite on O2 and prednisone. Tests were attempted with about the same results as at Palms West. But, after 5 days, I was able to walk more than 50 feet without passing out and was promised that I would be right as rain with the proper treatment. This turned out to be overly optimistic.
I also learned that night nurses rarely follow the doctors' instructions unless the patient demands it (I did) and that some of them are terrible at inserting and removing IV devices. And that food at hospitals is not uniform. Wellington provided quite tasty meals once I got the doctor to take me off the cardio diet. You have to be firm, they think they are in charge.
I went home. I went back to work. I was feeling better. For a couple of weeks, anyway. Silly me, I still trusted doctors then.