Have you ever spent an extended period of time in an emergency room, specifically in an emergency room in a city hospital? I wouldn’t recommend it. In fact, I’d go so far as to say you should do your best to avoid it at all costs, especially if you’re going to be there around midnight on a Friday.
After the surgeon came in and poked and prodded me some more, he explained that I had a textbook case of cholecystitis — one inflamed and irritated and most likely infected gallbladder. My CT scan had shown the inflammation, and my labs showed markedly high liver enzymes and white blood cells. I would be immediately (remember that word) admitted to the hospital, started on a strong course of antibiotics to “cool off” my gallbladder, and I should plan on spending at least the weekend, if not longer. Wheeee! Surgery to remove the little bastard could happen as early as Monday.
This was around 6:30-7 in the evening. I originally got the ER around 12:30.
Shift change happened shortly thereafter, and I didn’t see my new nurse for an hour, when she came in to give me the antibiotics. All pain meds had worn off at this point and I had a really terrible headache. I asked if she knew anything about the availability of a bed, and she said she would check. It was around this point that the really interesting inhabitants of the ER started to show up. In the bed to my left was an elderly woman suffering from dementia. In the bed to my right was a young man with gastrointestinal distress who would swear when the pain got bad. Down the hall one way were two folks who had trouble NOT vomiting loudly every 15 minutes or so. And down the hall the other way was a woman who, as the night progressed, I learned was addicted to Vicodin. She would yell for Jesus, or the nurse or doctor — or all three — to deliver her from the horrible pain that she was experiencing. When she first came in I was sure she was dying. The staff would not give her what she wanted — narcotics — and so she wailed and she moaned and she cried.
Around 10 Fred had to leave since he would be driving his mother and Emma to the airport early the next morning and needed to get some sleep.
Around midnight, the nurse switched out my antibiotic for a stronger one. Still no pain meds. Still no anti-nausea meds. I was feeling worse than I did when I first got to the hospital, twelve hours earlier. I started shaking. Texting Fred. Wanting to go home. Wishing he would come and stay with me. Trying to call my nurse but she’d disappeared. Trying to block out the wailing lady and the puke sounds and the dinging and the beeps and the med students laughing and making inappropriate jokes within earshot.
When the nurse finally returned (holding chips and a lemonade; I hadn’t eaten since some toast at 8 in the morning — I was ravenous) I was able to get her attention, not steal her chips, and ask for pain meds. Which required a doctor’s order. Which took too long to acquire. I longed for the previous nurse, who would say, “Dr. So-and-So, I’m going to give 2 of morphine to 20.” And Dr. So-and-So would say, “Ok, I’m adding it now.” Eventually the pain meds came, but she spilled the anti-nausea meds all over my arm. So another wait for another order. I also learned that the request for a bed had never been put in a computer.
At 3:30 a man with a wheelchair showed up — my ride was here! He helped me into the chair, covered me with blankets, and told me he was taking me to my room. Where there would be a bed. With a pillow.
To be continued.