Sunday, December 9, 2012

My Birthday Trip to the Emergency Room

I've had better days...and way better birthdays...but all has ended well, and I am thankful for that!

A gut-wrenching pain on the left side of my abdomen had me feeling pretty queasy as I laid around the house on the Friday afternoon after Thanksgiving. Later that evening my mind finally opened the email that my body had been sending all day long: "Go to the hospital!"

Please allow me to share some observations I made during this experience.

1. ER personnel don't give you much respect when you show up with a tummy ache on the day after Thanksgiving.

2. Apparently the medical staff uses a tag-team approach to weed out bogus stories from patients who may be "faking it" to get pain medications.

3. If you can successfully give a consistent detailed account of your symptoms, and circumstances, to at least five different inquisitors, eventually someone will start to believe you might be legit and order some kind of test.

4. I'm not sure how all the staff at the ER gets to work every night, since few of them appeared old enough to hold a driver's license.

5. I do not understand how the stuff they make you drink for a CAT scan does any good since I truly believe I peed it out as fast as I drank it.

6. ALWAYS make sure you know where the bathroom is when they move you to a new location.

7. I wish everything in my life was as easy as getting a CAT scan.

8. After the doctor gets test results showing that your gall bladder is a hideous, oozing, swollen, infected time-bomb, you get a lot more street cred with the ER crowd. AND you finally get your pain meds!

9. Once you get your pain meds, life is beautiful.

10. You sure have to sign a lot of papers in the hospital.

11. My wife is going to have to jump through a lot of hoops at home to continue giving me the same level of TLC I received from the nursing staff. The challenge will be good for her.

12. I started to get concerned as I was being prepped for surgery, because every time they moved me to a new location nobody knew what was going on. They all kept asking me who I was and what I was there for. Shouldn't they know? 60 Minutes should investigate this.

13. Everybody wanted to know when my birthday was, but nobody bothered to get me a present or a piece of cake.
14. I could have enjoyed my nap after surgery more if nurses had stopped waking me up all the time.

15. Hospital food is a lot better these days, at least at St. Francis.

16. I want a set of those leg-squeezing massage things to take home.

17. I don't care how many cable channels there are, there is still nothing to watch at 3 a.m.

18. It is a lot more fun getting ready to go home if the doctor isn't telling you about something else that showed up on your CAT scan.

19. I suppose it really is good news that they happened to see a teeny spot in my bladder, since whatever it may be is small and easy to deal with.

20. When the doctor says, "They'll just slip a scope up your urinary tract and take care of that little problem," with a calm reassuring smile, it still makes me pucker up.

21. The colonoscopy they've been nagging me about for 8 years seems a lot less intimidating now.

22. The only way to truly keep yourself from lifting more than 15 pounds after surgery is to have your arms strapped to your side and walk around like a mummy for 14 days. You cannot make yourself remember not to pick things up. It is just too automatic.

23. While recuperating at home after gall bladder surgery, avoid watching old re-runs of "Everybody Loves Raymond" - especially if it is an episode you haven't seen before.