Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mom in the ER

Just when things start to smooth out a little and I figure that the worst part of the highway is behind me, a rock grabs the oil pan.

Last Friday Mom complained about feeling dizzy, disoriented and generally weak all over and she hadn't been drinking.  No chest pains were involved, but between short discourses about settling the estate and the mess she'll be leaving me in ten minutes from now, I manage to get a coherent answer about taking a trip to the ER.

Off we go.

12:17    Arrive and check in.  The list of questions is onerous.
12:31    Clerk Front Desk Material checks us in.  Vitals: BP = 127/73; HR = 85
12:41    We are moved into room 6.
1:05    Nurse Crystal Meth comes in and starts a Q&A session; she asks Mom to sign a consent for treatment paper that never appears.  I don't pursue this, as doing business with a ball point pen is seldom beneficial for the person being coerced into signing an eight page document in fine print written in top notch legalese.
1:16    Nurse Ratched (Nursing Practitioner) asks for symptoms.  Mom states that she is dizzy, her legs feel funny and she is weak and breathless.  Nurse Ratched performs a basic exam.  When Nurse Ratched  reiterates her questions Mom says she is feeling better; her right leg feels weak.  Nurse Ratched says it sounds like a heart problem.
1:23    Worker Bee (Nurse); enters and asks the same questions Nurse Ratched asked.  Nurse Worker Bee hooks up Mom for an EKG.
1:49    Zero from X-Ray comes and collects Mom.
1:59    Mom returns from X-Ray with Zero pushing the cart.
2:46    Tired of waiting, I step outside and request information from a stray medical person in uniform who refers me to Nurse Worker Bee.  Nurse Worker Bee says she'll be right in.
2:55    Nurse Worker Bee comes in and says that testing indicates all is well and that there is one more blood pressure test to do – check Mom's BP while Mom is lying flat, sitting and standing.  Nurse Worker Bee says the test will begin in five minutes.
3:01    Assistant Worker Bee performs the test.  Results:

                Prone    Sitting    Standing
BP           123/70    123/72    129/72
Pulse          72         79         85
Oxygen       96        96         96

3:06    Test complete; Assistant Worker Bee leaves.
3:15    Nurse Worker Bee arrives and announces that it's time for a urine test.  I want to suggest that it's time for a bullshit test, but I remain silent.  Mom and Nurse Worker Bee depart for the Lady's Room.
3:18    We're outta here!  Since nothing is going on, and since we can't get served and since Mom is feeling well and hale and hearty, I tell Mom to disconnect herself from the marvel of modern science they've got her hooked up to and we'll get out of here.  We do this.
3:21    Not so fast.  Dr. Sunshine (MD) stops us as we're leaving room 6.  Dr. Sunshine agitates for admission to the hospital for one night to observe Mom.  I object, Mom objects.  Dr. Sunshine suggests Mom may need to wear a heart monitor for a day.  That's fine, but I think Dr. Sunshine is more concerned with the bottom line than with Mom's health and well-being.  Dr. Sunshine is somewhat patronizing and has a know-it-all attitude combined with a false cheerfulness that gets on my very last nerve, and which I have found to be common in young ER doctors who desperately need a drink and are in denial.  I tell Dr. Sunshine to call Mom's regular sawbones, Dr. Cranky.  I complain that I'm hungry, having missed lunch in favor of a trip to the ER.
3:29    Dr. Sunshine is trying to get Dr. Cranky on the phone and get Mom a heart monitor in a halter.  Dr. Sunshine suspects heart arrhythmia.
3:34    Dr. Sunshine comes back in with a sandwich for me and another for Mom.  I accept the bribe.  Dr. Sunshine says they are waiting to talk to Dr. Cranky.  If I know Dr. Cranky at all, they'll wait a damn long time.  I am well and truly not up for this.
3:44    Nurse Worker Bee says Mom will start wearing a halter monitor.  Evidently Dr. Cranky has called and talked to Dr. Sunshine - probably cleaned out her ears.  We never see Dr. Sunshine again.
4:04    Tech Chesty from Cardiology comes in to hook up the heart monitor.  Tech Chesty explains that the monitor must be returned to the ER desk in 24 hours.
4:14    We are gone!

All I can say is that Mom didn't feel right, the ER couldn't find a problem but wanted to stuff Mom into a hospital room.  Now, if you want to get sick with some weird new disease, the very first place you should go is your local hospital.  They get everything in a hospital, and what they won't tell you is that the derelict that was just in your room succumbed to an odd virus that is common in primates and is transmitted by oral-anal contact and ingestion of fecal matter; in humans it's airborne.  The Cleveland Clinic saw three cases in 1971, but there hasn't been anything reported outside of Gambia - until three hours from now.

Me, I'm staying out of the hospital.

So that was that.  The ER didn't believe we had an emergency, and after that experience I'm not so sure I'd want to go back again.  Mom is very sure that she doesn't want to go back.

The results of the heart monitor haven't come back yet, and I'm not surprised.  I'm betting they lost the results.

Anyone who can interpret Mom's stats, feel free to do so.  They're just numbers to me.

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