Wednesday, January 18, 2012

How I Met the Good Samaritans

I've heard that God will whisper to you to make you pay attention.  If you don't listen, he'll tap you on the shoulder and if you still don't listen then perhaps a brick to the head!  I think I've just received the third, loud thud.  I love to eat SUGAR!!!!  I think dessert should be a food group or the bottom of the pyramid, depending on how old you are.  But, I have diabetes and now high blood pressure and the third whack is that my heart is in a really big hurry.  It is in such a hurry that it often runs away with me until I become sick at my stomach and vomit.

So, I have begun this round of tests.  First, I had to wear a Holter monitor for 2 long, unable to bathe, days.  Yuck!!  I felt pretty good while wearing it and thought, heck I aced that one.  But, apparently, my heart rate ranged from 140-160 beats per minute at rest., I had an ultrasound of my heart.  The young man who did it, sensed my concern and even though they aren't allowed to tell you much, made me feel as if there weren't any big blaring monsters on the screen (God bless him).

Then yesterday, I had the mother of all tests.  I was told that I would have a stress test.  I googled it and read about how you get on the treadmill and spend about 9 minutes at various speeds and inclines, while hooked up to blood pressure cuff and EKG.  Seemed like no problem, so when hubby offered to go I said," nah, I'll be in, I'll be out in 45 minutes to an hour, tops." 

Guess what, I was scheduled for a nuclear stress test.  This is a whole different ball game.  I was told no caffeine for 24 hrs.  This is a BIG, B-I-G, problem.  I love caffeine.  I love it hot, cold and in chocolate.  I take a big sip of Diet Pepsi in the morning and let the fizz burn down my throat and give a big ahhhh knowing that it will soon open my very sleepy eyes.  Can you say addict?  Well I know it, own it, accept it, but thus far have been unwilling to do a darn thing about it. 

Also, no drink after midnight and no food.  My appointment was scheduled for 11 am.  I have diabetes.  If you don't eat, you become very sick.  After waiting for almost an hour, they call me back.  I am beginning to get a very big caffeine withdraw headache.  They had me change into 2 gowns and put an iv in.  Then they pull out this very heavy metal tube of radioactive medicine that looks like something James Bond might carry around and inject me with it so that my heart will show up on a gamma camera.  Next, I must drink 3 cups of water on my empty, nauseated stomach and go to a separate radioactive waiting room and only use the radioactive bathroom.  No, I'm not kidding or exaggerating.

It is time to wait for the next camera.  There is an older gentleman in there who wants to talk.  My head is pounding, stomach churning but he is so sweet.  He tells me about running a feed store for 25 years after his father did it before him.  He tells me how 7 of his old employees passed away just last year and his voice begins to crack.  "Life is hard when you start to lose everyone " he said. 

After chatting for a while, I know that the inevitable is coming so I excuse myself to go to my "special" bathroom to hang with the porcelain goddess.  The 3 cups of water comes up first.  I cannot seem to stop retching.  And, all the while I hear my nurses and techs in the hallway, having a big time.  Finally, I get out and my old friend comes and gets them and tells them that they need to take care of "His girl".  How sweet is that?

The nurses get me wet towels and oj in case my sugar is low.  They put me on the bed with the camera and attempt to get this phase done.  Midway through, I yell for them to get me out and get me a trash can.  I am sick again.  They urge me to finish this portion and come back tomorrow for the next phase.  I make it through but am sick as soon as I get out. 

As I lay on this cold tiled bathroom floor in 2 hospital gowns and big baggy sweatpants, I listen to the tech laughing and having fun in the hallway.  I see all sorts of radioactive debris lying on the floor from those who have used this room before me but I no longer care.  I asked God to help me or take me, really I didn't care which. 

I had asked for phenagran.  That's all I need.  "No," they say.  A doctor would have to prescribe that.  I am in one of middle Tennessee's largest hospitals and I can't get phenegran or a doctor to give me some.  "The only option", they tell me "is to go to the ER".  Finally I decide that I cannot make it anywhere.  So, I stagger out into the hall and tell them to take the iv out and take me to the ER.

A nurse gets me in a plus sized wheel chair so that I can stuff all my belongings around me.  She wheels me through the bowels of this large hospital in order to get me and my radioactive vomit the heck out of Dodge.  She parks me in the ER waiting room, checks me in and leaves. 

I must look like some indigent person off the streets with my gowns on, puke bucket in my lap an wet towels all over me.  Then it happened.  What would normally be mortifying, no longer mattered.  I began retching again.  Right there in the middle of the waiting room.  I would have been embarrassed if I still wanted to live but I just wanted to die.  Two lovely strangers sprang into action.  One man ran to his bathroom and got wet paper towels for me while a woman picked up a magazine and fanned me until someone finally came to get me.

I got my phenagran...."Thank you Jesus" as a lot of little old southern women might say!  I finished my test today.  Everyone kept saying, "Oh my you look a lot better than yesterday."  You think? 

What is ironic to me about this story is that it was the strangers who showed the most caring and compassion.  Clearly, I'm not gonna die from vomiting, but I wanted too!!!  This only affirms what I said in my previous post.  Those other patients or families of patients cared what I was going through.  They tried to provide comfort.  Hubby was none too happy by the time he got there.  He was upset that we weren't totally prepared for what I was going through.  He was upset that they weren't really paying attention.  I think that after his questions, I became the squeaky wheel because today, I was first in and out!!  Have I said "Thanks be to God?"  Well, just in case I forgot, " Thanks be to God!"

Today I say a prayer of thanksgiving for phenegran, compassionate strangers and completed tests.  I pray for those who battle this "machine" that our hospitals have become.  I pray endlessly for our addicted loved ones, their families and Henry.

1 comment:

Lou said...

This is a hard one for me to comment on. I can't say this is isolated because it happens to patients every day.

When a patient is in lab, xray, PT, etc, no one can give them so much as an aspirin. The person's medical history is unknown, drug interactions are possible. It is standard policy to take them to the ER. It is standard policy to run a gamut of tests on them in the ER. In our culture of defensive medicine no remote possibly can be left uninvestigated.

I'm a supervisor in a radiology department. Everything you wrote is true. I see it everyday. It doesn't matter how many films or in services you put on, empathy cannot be mandated. People either love their career, or they are collecting a paycheck. That's not to say we should accept being treated that way. Write administration and make it clear you have choices on where to go for tests, and you won't return there.

This bothers me so much because I work with some who go above and beyond caring for patients. They love the work and they care.

I hope the test results are good. God bless that man, and good on hubby for advocating for his love!