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Author Topic: Geezerville 2  (Read 1347 times)

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Magispook

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Geezerville 2
« on: September 17, 2005, 10:04:48 PM »

Uh-oh! - I sat on the bed the nurse told me was mine, completely and absolutely mind-numb.  Numb.  Trying to understand what had just happened.  I wasn't scared.  I wasn't angry.  I knew I had to understand my situation and was trying to make sense of it all.  The mind-wheels were turning but agonizingly slow.  Reminded me of my old Commodore 64 booting up “ took awhile."  I was trying so very hard to process the information but those brain wheels were frustratingly slow, slow, slow.    I had come to the Veterans Administration hospital upon the advice of the local hospital ER doc given a week previous: "if you're not better in a week, go see your regular doctor."  I had done my best to control the coughing and high fever the ten days prior to going to the local ER to no avail.  A course of antibiotics given by the ER doc had no effect.  I lost twelve pounds in about twelve days (no, I cannot in good conscience, recommend illness as a weight loss method).  The VA did the same type X-ray done at the local hospital but they also did some blood work.  As I sat in the VA's version of an ER, I overheard the ER physician doing a telephonic consult about me.  He was concerned about my symptoms and lab results.  I listened for awhile but the guy in the bed beside me was having chest pains and that drew my attention away from the telephone conversation.  About fifteen minutes later, the doc said he wanted me to stay 24 hours "for observation" because there was a concern about my symptoms and lab results.  I was passed to the hospital's specialist on infectious diseases.  "Hmmm," I thought, "infectious disease specialist--this probably is not a good thing to happen."  She was very thorough in her initial talk with me.  Asked me if I had any contact with birds, other people who were obviously ill, been in Asia, had exposure to blood-borne pathogens, been tested for HIV, been tested for hepatitis, any whole-house air conditioning problems, extramarital sex, venereal diseases history, ad infinitum.  Yep, I had been in Asia, had exposure to blood-borne pathogens, been tested for HIV (clean, BTW), seen lots of folks from Asia (my wife is Asian) but none of them were obviously sick.  I had been through a prophylactic hepatitis regimen as part of my job.  No, I had not been unfaithful to my wife.  We do not use our whole house air conditioning.  Fortunately(?) I have been unemployed and have not had opportunity to be in close contact with folks.  Very thorough questioning.  I was starting to think there was a concern about bird flu given some of her line of questioning.  She drew no conclusions.  Wanted to do more blood work and started me on a different treatment regimen.  Oh, and my room would be cleared of other patients.  If I had any visitors, they were to wear masks.  "Oh geez," I thought, recalling the procedures we went through when my dad had that MRSA infection.  I was to stay away from the other patients.  And, a welcome step away from the MRSA line of thought, "we don't want you to get any infections from other people--your immune system is not doing so well."  I had other visitors as well: social worker, nutritionist, the staff nurses, and the janitor.  A little drift if you will “the janitor did an outstanding job of patient care although I'm sure he didn't intend to.  I had plenty of time to watch him work from my lonely room on the corner.  He'd go into the rooms and engage in mundane chit chat with the patients while working.  Being hospitalized is no fun but his talk about having to cut grass or how WVU was doing brought a bit of normalcy to everyone “definitely a stress reducer.  And my own assigned doc, when he found out I was there, took time out of his busy schedule to come by and talk.  Even did a quick exam--seems to be second nature to the docs I know.  Pull out the stethoscope, "breathe normally for me"¯  At least he didn't put on the dreaded glove.  Two other visitors, my friend who happens to be the chief doc and high muckity-muck of the hospital, and his wife who also works there.  It was great to see some familiar (but, I noted, concerned) faces.  When my high-placed friend stopped by, a brand new nurse was also in the room getting ready to hook up an IV.  She apparently knew where he was in the food chain and was on her best behavior.  Imagine her surprise of my response to his question of how I was doing when I told him I was to get the three bed room all to myself.  I said "I guess flatulence pays off after all."  We had a good laugh and he had to answer a page.  Yep, I was pretty sick, but I was still ornery.  Boy I have digressed from my original intent here.  Sorry.  Back on track.  Other than a one night stay at a hospital after a procedure for kidney stones, I have never been hospitalized since I was a toddler--only once in fifty years.  The kidney stone stay was pure pain but had been scheduled and the post-operative stuff anticipated.  This stay was different.  I had not planned on this.  I am retired military.  I spent a good deal of time as an operations puke.  I have alternatives to my alternative alternative plans.  That is my nature.  But this had taken me completely by surprise.  I had no expectation to become an in-patient.  Never ever thought of such a thing.  I had no "hospital bug-in bag" or communications plans to set in motion.  I had to wing it and my mind was working at a frustratingly slow speed.  My condition deteriorated further and I was admitted as a regular patient after that 24 hour observation.  My family had to travel an hour or more each way to see me and I felt guilty about them taking time out of their schedule and the expenditure for expensive gasoline to get there.  My dad and siblings would be considered money poor.  I grew paler, weaker, and the IV hurt each time they pumped the medicine in my hand, then later in my arm.  Because I am diabetic, I got three meals a day on a schedule plus three snacks in between meals (eat your heart out, regular patients).  Let me tell you, forget what you have heard or thought about hospital food, when you're hungry, you'll eat whatever they put in front of you.  I even drank the coffee and I'm not a coffee drinker.  By the third day, the medicine, my ornery nature, and, who knows, maybe that coffee started to swing my health over to the other direction.  I was eventually released on the fourth day after my numbers got to the minimal acceptable level.  I'm sure they also wanted to have those three beds available again.  What a lesson!  You can't plan for everything, no matter how hard you try or research.  As I grow older, I can expect more hospital stays and most likely a final visit without me coming home to my family.   So I now have some plans for those stays.  Communications plan, comfort items like a sleep blindfold and perhaps some earplugs so I can get at least some sleep, a book or two.  Some way to access the internet to bore, I mean, communicate with folks at OCH and other friends.  But the bottom line is that there are things that will be thrown in your path that you have not thought could happen and to which you need to be able to respond.  Maybe my medical condition slowed down my thought process to the extent I spent too much time in what we in the military called "mouth-breather status" instead of quickly reacting to the circumstances and establishing at least some control over the situation.  I have now accepted there will be times when I won't be able to respond quickly to an unexpected situation but I have also accepted that I will be able to adapt and that falling back on one's core personality will expedite coping with that situation.  Verbose, ain't I?   Something for ya'll to consider though.
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