About a can, a hospital and other not so fun things III
Continued from part I and part II
The morning came way too fast. The alarm rang and I didnt want to even acknowledge it. Thankfully Mr.Blab took care of it. My little man was sleeping peacefully next to me and my hand was resting on a pillow above him.
We got up and started getting ready.
Close to the time we were leaving our little girl complained of some pain on her foot. I had a look and it was a splinter. Usually I am the master of splint removal and it hasnt been an issue before, but with my right hand incapacitated, my skills were useless. Mr.Blab took it upon himself to deal with it, not very enthusiastically. A few cries later I go in and itch to get it done. I wonder if with my left hand I will be better than him and take the reigns. By now she is not very happy with the whole situation and my work is that much harder. After a few failed attempts and a bunch of tears I let it go and we get ready for the hospital.
We get there, but parking is atrocious. We get a spot next to one of the entrances and I go in to see where is the office they had sent me last night. Surprise, surprise it doesnt work on that day. Does anyone know what they are doing around here?!
So, we leave the car there and go on a search of how to be admitted. An information desk tells me I have to go where I was last night. Ok, we walk over there. There I am told, I have to go through the neighboring emergency desk. We go there. A woman there tells us to sit and wait.
The girls are looking through some of the books we brought and the little one is bringing all kinds of magazines from the table nearby. We laugh at how current they are – 70s and 80s. I think there was one from just a few years back. “Thats what we get!” ha ha haha…
But the wait continues and its beyond funny now. I go and check whats going on. They are waiting on my file…I offer to go and get it myself, but they dont take me on it. More waiting.
Finally after about an hour a woman shows up with a wheelchair. I kindly refuse it and we set off to the room. She is a very lovely, kind person and we chat about the horrid parking and whatnots as we walk through. We get to the ward, which is covered in brown paper. Holy cow, where am I going. I ask her whats up with that and she says its part of the decorations for Christmas. At least its not their idea of renovations on the cheap, I think to myself.
We are shown to the room. I am a bit surprised as I thought as a private patient I will get a single room (and the kids will be more comfortable waiting), instead I am in one of four beds in the room and all the other beds are full. There were quite a few empty rooms on the way as well. My queries are answered with “we will get the private patient liaison person here”, which pretty much assures me nothing will change, so we get as comfortable as we can – 2 adults, 2 children and a baby on that one bed and chair.
Within a few minutes we agree that they will go to find some food and walk around for a bit, as I am sure the other patients didnt appreciate the kids being around and they can have something more interesting to look at.
I go through questionnaires and forms and other fun things. I lay down and read the little guide that lays on my table. For being a private patient I get a whole lot of…free TV! Yupee! Its so ridiculous that its laughable. I cant believe that they make the other patients pay for free television channels. Every bed has a TV hanging over it, but only the chosen few get it connected.
we know you are sick, injured, in pain, without a limb or organ, or all of the above. And we know we are a place of healing and care, but if you want something, thats usually free, to take your mind off whats going on or make the wait a bit more bearable, you will need to fork out the dough.
With regards, Your Hospital”
I switch on my special treat and relax on the bed. I am exhausted, but quite calm. Things need to happen and there is nothing I can do about it.
My people come back with some cookies. The kids watch the end of Ice Age and nibble on. I feed Baby Blab. Or more like I try to, as he hasnt been feeding properly that day. But he is very calm and is causing absolutely no issues for us, which is very nice with all that is going on and the girls being more hyper than usual. I am sure the tension is in the air.
A nurse bring around my gown and a little tube of something and says quickly how i need to have a shower and put it on and goes off. I pause for a second. Shower? I just had one…I look at the tube, its some kind of antiseptik 4%.
She comes back a few minutes later and repeats her line.
– Ok, but can you please tell me why I have to wash my own bacteria? Isnt that going to make me more suseptable to the hospital ones? – I ask, curiously.
Pause and empty look.
– Plus, I have been walking around with slits in my fingers since yesterday. Wouldnt any of my bacteria be in there already?
– Ahum…I will go ask.
It feels weird to be asked to desinfect yourself. Reminds me of the nazi camps somehow. Plus it didnt make sense to me at all.
She comes back.
– Its not an antibacterial, it will just reduce the bacterial load.
– I understand – I say – I just dont see how its helping me. I would prefer to keep the bacteria that has been living with me, then to be exposed to new ones without protection.
– Yeah…but every patient does it. – she is sweet and my questions are confusing her.
– And I would do it too, if someone can tell me why. – I say with a smile.
She giggles and leaves.
We wait and chat some more. My doc shows up and we have a quick discussion about the surgery. It seems that my private insurance has at least secured “The Boss” for my surgery. From the way he speaks I get the feeling that they will be putting me under.
– We havent discussed this, but you will be doing this under local, right? – I ask.
– No, no. The surgery is done under general – he replies like I am nuts
– Why cant it be done with local? I would much rather not go under and suffer all the possible risks and side effects.
– I understand…we can talk about this with the anesthetist I guess – he says with a bit of a dismissive tone.
The nurse came back awhile later and said that I should at least put my gown on.
When they tell me the theatre has sent for me, I put the lovely attire on and give baby Blab a feed. The men they sent for me are waiting in the hallway.
My people leave for home. I have freshly expressed milk at home for bubba and they will wait for my signal that things are done and that they can come an pick me up.
I am wheeled out by the two men. On the way over I find out they are both from Poland and we make jokes about communism and discuss current political issues. They are lovely and that quick time with them helped me not get too anxious. I look up and see the lights passing by and laugh in my mind about how stereotypical this experience is.
I am delivered to the waiting for theater area and I say farewell to the Polish fellas. Its a big area with space next to me for about 3-4 beds. Equipment next behind each. An admin looking station is in the distance, where people are chatting and nurses are checking in. I am asked the regular questions and signed in by one of them.
A youthful smiling man makes his way to me and introduces himself as my anesthetist. He has a wonderfully warming European accent.
– I was asked to discuss with you my wish to have the surgery under local – I say.
– Oh! – he exclaims surprised – Why is that?
– Well, I have a newborn baby, which I am breastfeeding and would like to minimize the drugs that are put in my body. Also I would like to avoid the risks and possible side effects of the general. I cannot afford to be incapacitated for hours on end because of it either. – I list and try to sound as determined, but not pushy as possible.
– Ok. – pause, he is thinking – we can do local…or we can give you a block…yes. I know what we will do. As a matter of fact, back home, hand surgeries were never done with general. I will have to insert a niddle at the base of your neck, will that be ok?
– No problem – I say, trying not to jump around in happiness
– Great! I will organize the equipment I will need and will meet you in theatre – he sounds a little bit excited at this point, but not as much as me. He goes through the risks of the nerve block and other details.
– Wonderful! Thank you very much – I am grinning by this time.
I lay down and relax. The fight is over and went much easier than I thought. Another nurse tries to go through the check in questions, but the first one tells her it was already done. She leaves.
I see the doc and another man coming towards me. Even before he has gotten to my bed, the doc says:
– No, we cant do the surgery under local. Not possible – he sounds determined and lands on the right side of my bed. The other man is on my left one.
– But I just spoke to the anesthetist and he told me it was not a problem – my blood pressure is rising again.
– Maybe for him its not, but for us it is!
– We just cannot do the surgery without the general – the other man speaks.
– I dont understand. You told me to discuss it with the anesthetist and I did. He says its not an issue and that back in Europe it was a standard practice. I dont understand why I have to take the risks of general and all that it can do to my system under these circumstances.. plus I am breastfeeding – I am calm, but firm.
– Cant you give formula?
– I would rather not to, unless absolutely necessary. I have expressed enough for the next 2 feeds, so that is not an issue for a short while. – I skip to inform them of my freezer fullÂ of milk, I have been saving for rainy days.
– The surgery is quite delicate, plus we put this tourniquet on your arm that is just not possible to be done with you awake. You wont be able to stand it, plus it can take awhile – the left guy speaks, trying to get the job done.
– Not a problem, the anesthetist told me that he will block my whole arm, it will be completely numb from my shoulder – I insist.
– Oh! – he exclaims surprised.
– Yes! Look, obviously my main concern is to get my finger fixed. If the block is not working and you cannot do what you need to do, then you can put me under. But I dont see why you cannot at least try – I see a light in the end of the tunnel.
– Well – they are lost for a second and look at each other for support.
– I am strong. I have had umbilical hernia repaired under local, I have given birth with no drugs three times and have had root canal without any pain relief. There will be no scenes from me! Just give me a chance. You can put me under if needed. – I am shooting for the winner here.
-…hmmm.. – moving from one foot to another – Ok. We can try… – they are uneasy, but retreat and let me be.
My heart rate is up and I let my body relax and…breathe. Why everything in this hospital needs to be so hard. Why is it so hard to be dealt with as an individual, not like a meat on a chopping line. Its a dreadful position to be in, fighting for yourself with the people that are supposed to take care of you.
Two women come around and wheel me in theater. There is chatter about how I cut myself and small talk. I sit on the operating table and lay down.
Dr.Europe walks in and I look at him as my saving branch in a river of floating weeds. It felt like a whirl of fresh air to see him. At least someone on my side and able to listen and hear.
He puts a line in my arm and sets up his equipment. We chat. The nurses are surprised I am not going under and I am given warm blankets and ask how I would like my legs – bent with pillow or straight. Then little pads are put under my ankles.
He gets the ultrasound going and turns my head to the left to have a good access. Very gentle and I appreciate the explanations. Washes the nook of my neck and warns me the local for the block is going in. I could have taken anything at this point. The pricks did not bother me in the least.
Then he gets the main needle and explains he will be going through the skin. I felt the pressure and the pop. Then it was a bunch of digging and some uncomfortable bits, but he is done in a few minutes and tells me it will take about 20min. I feel the top of my arm going cold and tingling.
The theatre is quiet and little chatter is going around. I find out Dr.Europe has a family with one child and he got the pram in his car this morning, so his wife was not happy and how he is not getting dinner that night. More chatter and my arm is going more numb.
He goes through the questions and examines my hand and gives the all clear for the surgery. I little cloth is put on my right and I cannot see whats going on.
The Boss is called and comes in ( the left side of my bed man) and asks Dr.Europe about the block and they discuss what they will do if it starts to wear off. He says it will be easy to just give me some top up local if needed.
– Is she sedated? – asks The Boss
– No, nothing, per patient’s request – answers my Knight in Shining Armor
– How are you going? – asks me.
– I am fine, thanks – I am not moving, still with my head to the left, trying to be as still as possible and not be accused of making the surgery impossible.
Stuff is happening. I can hear chairs or something…low level talking…silence
– The surgery has started – Dr.Europe informs me with a smile.
– Really! Thanks for letting me know.
The surgery goes, I have a few small talks with people, but mostly I just lay and look around. I observe the machine that measures my blood pressure/heart rate/oxygenation. Heart rate stayed in the 90s and my bp was high for me, about 70/140, but my doc didnt seem concerned. I closed my eyes a few times and almost fell asleep, but the cuff tightening on my arm every few minutes will bring me back. Had to take deep breaths every once in awhile, as laying on one’s back flat like that is quite a pressure on the chest. Overall I was quite comfortable and didnt get fidgety or anything.
At some point it felt like the fingers on my hand started twitching, and I waited for The Boss to say its not working, but he didnt say anything, so I assumed its just a strange feeling from the nerve block.
He asked Dr.Europe about the routine of not giving general and my newest best friend happily explained how it worked and how it saved the hospital an estimated 20 mil dollars a year. The Boss almost sounded interested.
– How are you? – he asks me
– Quite well.
– We are almost done, just need to do the plaster.
I hear the swoosh and splat. A few minutes later the screen is lifted and I turn my head towards my right and see my arm. Holly cow! There it is, getting bandaged and moved around, but I cant feel a thing. It looks like someone else s arm. The most weird feeling I have had.
– Wow. That is weird – I say with a strange grin on my face, trying to compute what I see and feel.
– What? – they ask.
– That feeling…not feeling my arm…is that what an epidural would feel? – I am genuinely curious
– hmm..yes..it would.
I feel happier than ever for never having an epi now. That is not for me. It is a complete out of control feeling…foreign.
They finish up and the nurses take over. The wheel bed is brought over and the nurses bring a flat board on it. Then they have a short disagreement with one of the guys who claims that I can get on the bed by myself.
– No she cant, she has a block on her arm! Just leave her to us, your job is done.
She is right. I cant scoosh over to the bed with that useless hand. I even try to imagine it in my head, cause I would much rather do it myself. They lean me on my left side and slide the board under me. Then slide me on the bed. There one of the nurses drops my arm, which flings down as I watch it. I raise my voice and they have a squibble about it. I am hoping that no damage was done, but feel the worry raise in me again.
They wheel me out and I ask if I can be given vitamin C IV. Pause. They dont have that. Will have to order it from the pharmacy…I drop it, as I dont plan on staying so long around anyway.
We reach ICU and they park me and chat to the nurses there.
– Why is she not under? – I hear
They talk some more and I am wheeled again.
– You dont belong here – they smile at me and take me out.
– Bye!! Nice to meet you – the ICU nurses wave at me and smile, having fun with my short visit.
I am taken to my room and more explanations need to be made as to why I am there and not in ICU. Why was I not with GA…
I am still holding my arm, as I am terrified someone else will mishandle this dead meat attached to me. It feels heavy and really weird all plastered up and bandaged.
The nurse in my room asks me if I want something to eat and brings me sandwitch andÂ a big jug of water. I also have a saline attached to my IV. I enjoy the food and fresh water. Feels good to be done and to be out. I watch some TV and try to navigate the table and papers with my left hand. The IV hurts and I ask the nurse to get it out, which she does after seeing the empty jug of water.
I call home and my family take me there about 3 hours later.
24 hours after my accident I was eating pizza on the floor of my living room with my most cherished people, thankful the worst was over and that I made it with minimal impact. Baby Blab finally feeds well for the first time in the day. I can breathe easier watching him fall asleep with a full tummy.
The antibiotics they discharged me with are still untouched, as my careful monitoring of my temperature over the next few days shows no signs of infection and the pain is not enough to warrant the pain medication they gave me at the same time. Two more drugs my body doesnt have to deal with – check. It can spend its energy on what is important, healing my wounds.
What an ordeal! Im so sorry!!! XOXO
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You are so strong and informed. I think that is awesome and amazingly cool! I’m glad it went well and you are healing now.
You are an amazingly strong woman! I had to laugh at the Hospital staff reactions to your questions, I can just picture their faces! LOL Glad it’s over and you were able to be drug free for the most part. :D
Wow, this is an amazing story! I was fortunate enough to stumble upon your blog last week and I’m SO glad that I did. I’ve been particularly interested in and inspired by your blogs (blabs!) about medical issues; I am a medical student in the US, and I was absolutely traumatized and horrified by my OB/Gyn rotation. Truly an awful environment in so many, many ways. I’ll have a midwife, definitely.
This story is a great example of how patients these days must (unfortunately) make rigorous and repeated demands of the medical establishment in order to ensure that their best interests are met. Keep fighting the good fight! Bravo!
Kelly, welcome. It is so true, patients cannot leave the care only to the establishment, which has a much bigger view of the issues and is not as concerned with individuals and their needs.
I had a dream of becoming a midwife at some point, but could not face the hospital obstetric reality without getting quite traumatized.