Fun in the ER

Posted by barb on Jun 14, 2004 in Random Thoughts |

Once I was in the ER, the paramedics transferred me to a bed, and the nurses took over hooking me up to a heart, blood pressure and pulse-ox monitor.

Much of the details are fading now, but eventually the ER doctor came to see me, and explained that they would be doing a few tests to see if they could determine if it was a heart thing, a blood clot, or just my acid reflux. The first two they would care about, the last not, since it’s not life-threatening. The tests included drawing blood, of course, a CT scan of my lungs with contrast injected into me (whoa! fortunately I’m not allergic to this like my brother is), and chest X-rays (actually, the doctor didn’t mention these, but I was just wheeled across the hall to X-ray after my CT scan).

Again, not sure how long later, but the doctor came back and said that the blood work indicated a possibility of a blood clot, so even though the CT scan results weren’t back yet, they were going to start treating me for just in case. They started me on heparin, an anticoagulant (i.e. “blood thinner”). It was beginning to look like I would be there all night, and likely be admitted at some point. I asked Andrew to head home and put together an overnight bag for me, and grab some dinner somewhere (the ER had box lunches, but they were just ham sandwiches…not good for a vegetarian).

After Andrew got back and we ate (I had to wait for about an hour for the doctor’s approval and the nurse to clean off the tray in the room), the doctor came back, and told us that the CT scan was negative, but that they wanted to keep me around and do Doppler ultrasound scans of my legs in the morning. This was about 2AM, and I decided to send Andrew home. He was already very tired, and is still a fairly new driver (less than a year), plus the roads were unfamiliar to him, so I wanted him to get home.

It took another 2 hours before I actually got a room upstairs.

A few notes:

  • Being in an ER is like riding on a spaceship at close to the speed of light relative to the rest of the world — you age much more slowly than anyone else. Every minute feels like 20, and there is no way to get any sleep, what with the noise in the hall and in the next bed, with people constantly coming in to take blood and the updates from the doctor.
  • Girls are not designed to give urine samples. This is especially true when a girl is doing this while connected to an IV, wearing a untied hospital gown and shorts.
  • It’s no fun getting blood taken for an arterial blood gas test. This requires blood from an artery, and they tend to run deeper than veins. Plus, they like to continue bleeding for a while, which means I have a bruise on my wrist.
  • Having blood taken from the back of the hand might be even worse than the arterial blood. At least when you’ve got someone who keeps poking around and trying to get more blood when there doesn’t seem to be any to be had (despite having been on the heparin for several hours already).
  • The gurney/bed I had was not long enough, and my feet were dangling off. In addition, the IV pole that I had had a bad wheel, so it didn’t push very well. Ugh. I must have pissed someone off somewhere.

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