Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Hospital room eti-ket

OK, I've calmed down somewhat from my hospital ordeal, but I still want to pass along my experiences in a semi-private hospital room as an illustration of how NOT to behave if you find yourself there.

I should say at the outset that I asked for a private room, having been through this before*. The step-down unit of the ICU didn't have anything but a semi-private, but they promised me a private room as soon as one became available (ho ho). My roommate, Mrs. G., seemed nice enough, asking me if her TV bothered me, and I said no, it was fine. Little did I know then that she would have it on 24 hours a day; it wasn't so much the sound of it, but the light from the screen flickering, flickering all night long, I felt like I was taking part in one of those WWII military tests to see if strobe lights could drive people crazy (they can). At one point, about 1 am, I heard Mrs. G snoring, so I siddled up to her TV and turned it off. But alas, she woke up 20 minutes later and turned it back on for the rest of the night. The second night there, I had the Hub bring me my sleep mask and earplugs, which helped immensely. Therefore Mrs. G is still alive.

Secondly, there is the matter of visitors. I have noticed in the past the tendency of families in this friendly place to treat hospitals like venues for family reunions, and Mrs. G. was no exception. She had visitors ALL THE TIME, even outside of visiting hours, at least 2 at any time and one time she had 5, including one four year old and one 7 week old. This despite the big sign right on the front of the nursing station, facing everyone as they get off the elevator that says "No children past this point. No more than two visitors at a time. Please be quiet, our patients need their rest" The nurses came in to see Mrs. G. several times when she had 5-with-two-kids and never said a word to her or to them. Worse yet, her husband used our bathroom, how icky is that??? Instead of the public RR near the elevators. And do you know how hard it is to modestly get through such a crowd to get to the bathroom, all the while clutching your gown together in the back so as not to flash the entire room? And there was only one visitor chair in the room, need I explain who got to use it, when my family came they had to perch on the edge of my bed.

(*The last time I was in the hospital, they put me in a room with a senile old lady who was on her way the next day to the nursing home. She was OK, fairly lucid, while her (enormous) family was visiting, but after they left, she kept trying to get out of the restraints, the nurses had arguments about how to fasten them so as to keep her in bed and yet not strangle her if she still climbed over the side rail. Once they had her somewhat secure they left, and then she realized I was in the room, and she kept saying "Who's there? I'm gonna to get my gun" and "You better git or I'm gonna blow your damned head off". One can only hope the nurses checked her bag when she came in. Finally I'd had it, and told the nurse if they didn't find me another room I was leaving, AMA. I told them I wouldn't be held responsible if the crazy woman got out of bed and put her hands on me while I was asleep. They said, oh, no, there aren't any rooms, and I said, fine, I'll just call my husband to come get me. It was about 11 pm, I called him and he came right over, bless him. And lo, it seems there WAS another bed, a private, actually an isolation room with a little antechamber, so it was the most quiet hospital room I've ever been in. I'm not one to make waves or be confrontational, but that night I really went over the edge.)

Anyway, back to Mrs. G. She (apparently) had trouble getting to the bathroom in a timely manner, and so she had a beside commode. This gave me the singular blessing of eating my lunch while on the other side of the curtain by my elbow, Mrs. G was, ah well, you can guess. Loverly. In the entire 3 days I was there, she never washed her hands, bathed, changed her gown, or brushed her teeth. What ever happened to the draconian nurses who used to bully patients into all of these, plus walking in the halls? They all seem to be wusses now.

I might not have been so vexed if my own doctor hadn't been such a prick, but I've gone to his office to pay for a copy of my records, to take to another doctor next month, so that's the end of him.

Come to think of it, maybe that's why they call us "patient"? And have you ever noticed, that doctors only "practice" medicine? Do you suppose they ever do it for real?

Ah well, pass me another Xanax, thanks.

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