Monday, October 03, 2005

get it started

Ah readers, I rather gypped you on my last hospital story. Now that I have had a few doses of antibiotics and have gotten tons of sleep thanks to our friend Codeine, I feel up to giving you the whole shebang.

I walked into the hospital emergency room Saturday night just after seven o'clock. I had discovered the weekend prior that on Saturdays and Sundays the lull period is between seven and ten. The day's injuries have been treated, and people have not gotten sufficiently liquored up enough to start seriously hurting themselves yet. As anticipated, the waiting room was fairly empty, save for the security guard, an orderly on break watching TV, an elder Hispanic man waiting for someone, and a rather giddy-acting couple waiting with what seemed all of their belongings in garbage bags. The Godfather was on the TV, and there was quite a bit of audience participation going on. The giddy couple was acting pretty strangely, which kind of had me on edge but I had faith in the security guard's presence.

I didn't have to wait long. I got admitted to triage within ten minutes, which is like lighting compared to other emergency room visits in my experience. Just like last week, they took my blood pressure (fine), my pulse (fine), and my temperature (fine). Then they put on the finger thingy for my blood oxygen and it started to beep. Funny, I don't remember it beeping last week. The triage nurse asks me to take a deep breath. I do, start coughing, as I can't take a deep breath without doing so. He checks off another part of the form and I go on to provide my health care info.

I was called in to see the doctor at the same time as the woman from the giddy couple. She took the bed next to me and started to get treated first.

"Why are you here today?"
"To detox" she mumbled
"From alcohol and heroin?"
"When did you have your last fix”?
No answer, the doctor repeats the question and she mumbles incoherently.
"Did you just shoot up, is that why you keep falling asleep?"

And from there it goes on. This woman has been living in a hotel and has been on heroin for years. She also drinks at least a six-pack a day, and when she doesn't drink she gets tremors and hallucinations. She had gone through detox once before, nine years ago, and it had worked for a while. She is ready to quit now because she is tired of being an addict. The doctor orders some tests and she falls asleep, snoring lightly. He then moves on to the patient in the bed to the other side of me. As he walks by I notice he's a bit older, balding but seems to be in pretty good shape.

On the other side of me there is a young man that looks like a gangbanger. The doctor explains that his heart palpitations were due to stress, and overall to depression. He discussed prescribing antidepressants, and setting up sessions with a psychiatrist. That depression was normal and often presented in physical forms. Also that the young man most likely would only be on meds for six to eight months until the depression past, up to the discretion of his follow up care.

Now it’s my turn. The doctor comes over, asks me about my symptoms. No, no no, I answer, I only have a cough. I've had it for two weeks and it won't go away. I notice he's not wearing a ring. He's kinda cute. He looks in my ears, my nose, down my throat. He listens to my chest, has me take off my shirt and put on a robe to listen better, un-hooks my bra to get an even better listen. I'm thinking he seems apologetic, almost uncomfortable while this is going on. I, of course, have no pride nor shame in hospitals, I have bared my ass so many times in those damn robes I don't even try anymore. Really, I have become a hospital nudist. It also helps that as most hospitals are filled with old people I always feel like the hottest girl in there and my confidence quotient skyrockets. But I digress.

He then says, "hmm, let's try something" and has me put on another blood oxygen monitor. We watch it together for what seems an eternity but really is a minute. I say "normal, right?" and he pauses, then replies with something funny like "unsystematically abnormal". "Oh!" I say, surprised. Crap, I start thinking, just when all this marathon training is going so good. All I need is some lung ailment or disorder. C'mon already! Let me get this marathon goal! Aarrgh!

Off I go to get a chest x-ray. I walk over, get scanned, and then they hand me the films and say, "give these to the doctor"

This, people, is all strange. Normally you wait hours between procedures, have to be wheeled back and forth, and they normally don't hand you x-ray films and then shoo you off. Not that any of this is bad, it’s just new.

So I walk back and hand the films to my waiting doctor. (Also new). I follow him to the lighted screen as he puts up the x-rays of my chest. My first thought? My boobs look good, nice an even. Then I can clearly see that my lower right lung is all cloudy. He then, without pause, says "yep, pneumonia."

"Pneumonia??" I scream. "What?? I've been resting, drinking OJ..." then of course I realize I am shouting at the kind doctor, so I apologize and explain that it's not him, its just shock. He seems uncomfortable with me looking over his shoulder, so I walk back over to my bed and sit down.

After a minute he comes back and explains the medications he is going to prescribe, and how I should use them. I get dressed, then go to the desk and wait for my forms to get released.

The doctor at this point has finished taking care of everyone to a point. He is waiting for the results of the detox woman's tests, the depression guy is gone. I'm thinking the doctor is hot, so try to chat him up a bit. I ask how you get pneumonia, if they are always this slow Saturdays, blah blah. He is responsive and conversational, but eventually the nurses come back and I start to feel silly being miss chatty, so I am left waiting for my paperwork in silence. Finally it comes, I sign by the X. As I leave, I wave and say "Thanks guys, have a good night!" and they wave back, looking rather surprised. I'm not really sure why, maybe it was my casualness and comfort while leaving. Maybe they are not used to that much cheer.

Since then, it has occurred to me that I could have made much more effective advances on the good doctor. I liked his bedside manner, I liked him. In lieu of wandering around the hospital pointlessly the next few weeks in hope of "bumping" into him, I have decided to send him a thank you note to his office. On this note I will mention if he were interested I'd love to meet him for drinks sometime, and give him my number. I'm thinking of sending him a fruit basket or something too, but that may be a bit too much. We’ll see.

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