My first stay in a hospital

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

I finally got to the room at about 4:30 AM. Yay, I thought, I’ll finally get some sleep. Foolish mortal.

One of the nurse’s stations was directly outside my door, so whenever someone pushed their button, I could hear the little alarm go off. It seemed ot be going off constantly. Just as I was about to drift off, the charge nurse came back in (at 5:30 AM) to get my history. After she finally left, I tried again to get some sleep, but then at 6:30 AM some guy came in to draw more blood. That is not a pleasant way to come out of a fog. After he left, I tried again, but the alarm was still constantly going off, and there was lots of activity outside my door. I finally gave up at about 8 AM, with maybe a combined total of 20 minutes of sleep (about 2 minutes at a time). Ugh.

I ordered breakfast, and it came just as the nurse came to get me ready to go for my ultrasound scan of my legs. Getting there was an ordeal — I had to hold my IV pole between my legs, and the wheels on the pole were not cooperating (like a grocery cart, there was one wheel not moving with the rest). The scan was kind of cool, though no one mentioned that it would tickle.

When I got back to my room, the nurse took my breakfast and reheated it for me. As I was eating, the phone started ringing — it was my brother, Dave. He just wanted to see what was up. Oddly enough, for the number of times he’s been in the ER, he’s never gotten there by ambulance. Hee hee hee. I’m one up on him there.

Shortly after that, Dad called, even though Dave had told him to hold off for a bit because I was exhausted. I wasn’t sleeping anyway, so it was okay that he called. Plus I knew that he was worried, so I glad that I could allieviate some of that with just the power of the sound of my voice.

At some point the nurse poked her head in to tell me that the ultrasound scans were negative for blood clots. And Andrew arrived sometime after my Dad called. There wasn’t much he could do other than sit in the recliner and read, but just having him in the room made me feel much, much better.

Around noon, the nurse came in to draw more blood and then I was taken away for another cool test. This one was a ventilation-profusion scan. In this test, I started by breathing in air with a radioactive tracer gas. I thought the tech said that it was an isotope of molybdenum and radiated at about 140 keV, but I don’t see any such isotopes. I was going on 20 minutes of sleep, so I may have been mistaken.

Anyway, once the concentration of radiation was high enough in my lungs, the detectors took pictures of my lungs as I breathed it out. This is apparently a much more accurate test to look for blood clots than the CT scan. In addition, she took some pictures after using my IV to put the tracer gas in my blood stream. By far this was the coolest test.

Shortly after I got back to the room, the nurse came in to tell me that my latest test came up negative for blood clots, and the results of the blood work were also normal (except for one enzyme being just one point over normal). So, it was looking like I’d be going home soon.

Of course, my doctor wanted a pulmonologist, who was supposed to be at the hospital for a couple other patients, to come by and check me out quickly. The nurse suggested that I order lunch, since it might be a while.

Then we waited. And waited. And waited. And waited.

Meanwhile, the bag of heparin was getting low, so the nurse called my doctor to see what to do. She wanted to get me out of there as much as I wanted to get out. I liked her — she seemed like someone who could get things done, and was really good to and with the patients. After some prodding from the nurse, the doctor decided that it was silly to hang a new bag of heparin, and authorized a change to plain saline until the pulmonologist came by.

So then we waited some more.

The shift changed for the nurses, and the new one said that we’d give it another half-hour before calling the doctor again and seeing if I could go home. It was looking very unlikely that the pulmonologist was going to come by.

Finally, at about 4:45 PM, we got word that I could go home. The nurse removed my IV, I changed, Andrew packed up my stuff, and I was finally out. Yay!

Now I just need to be careful not to make myself bleed or bruise for the next week or so. The nurse said that I’d been on a pretty good dose of the heparin, so I could get enormous bruise from just a small-seeming bump. I also shouldn’t use a new razor for the week (better yet, I just won’t shave).

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