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Posts Tagged ‘Intensive care’

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2013 — Ever since I arrived back in California I had been feeling quite ill; headaches, fatigue, and pains in my left leg. The latter, I assumed, was caused by sitting for 10 hours in a center seat during my flight. About five days after my arrival, I had dropped Hayden off for school, had a coffee and bagel at my usual place and returned to the house feeling exceptionally tired. I went back to bed and did not wake up until almost three PM. It was nearly time to pick up Hayden at school and cart him to his Taekwondo lesson. I got up and blacked out. I fell back onto the bed for a moment. When I regained my senses, I discovered I was too fatigued to move further than to the living room sofa. I called Dick at work and told him about my condition, that I couldn’t get to the school and pick up Hayden and that I thought I needed to go to the hospital.

After picking up Hayden, Dick drove us to the local emergency hospital. I staggered into the emergency room and was immediately placed in a wheelchair. While Dick handled the preliminary admission formalities, I fussed over my feelings of helplessness, guilt over the burden I was placing on Dick, and concern about how it all must affect Hayden.

They wheeled me into a room with three people in it where my EKG was taken. A man in green scrubs sitting at a computer asked me questions about my symptoms. When I finished explaining them, he said it sounded to him like I had a pulmonary embolism.

I was then carted off to one of the emergency treatment rooms and put into a bed while a succession of various information scavengers and blood gatherers trooped through.

While I lay there I could see into the main area beyond intake and observe hospital life. It had always found it remarkable that no matter how white bread a neighborhood the hospital is located it, its staff inevitably appears like a branch of the United Nations. It is difficult for me now to identify an ethnic group that did not have a hand in my treatment somewhere along the line. Of course, the highest level of the medical staff, the doctors, is populated primarily by members of the high performing caucasian groups, Ashkenazi Jews, Middle Eastern refugees, and Indians.

The other noticeable physical feature of the hospital staff was obesity, and they mostly seemed quite happy and content about it. I was not so sure how I felt about that. It is a hospital after all.

The final information scavenger was a woman with serious determined eyes who collected at least some money against the final medical bill just in case I died so they will have recovered something on account. After she left, the ER doctor, Dr. Greenberg, came in, asked a bunch of questions, opined that it sounded as though I had a blood clot on my lung, and announced he was going to have a few more tests run before deciding what to do about me. He left.

Doctors, ask questions, give orders and render opinions. The rest of the hospital medical staff actually do things.

So, I was wheeled through a CAT scan, sonograms and a number of other tests after which I was deposited back in the room to await results.

While waiting, Hayden opined that he thought Dick was rich and Pookie was handsome.

Dr, Greenberg returned and without much in the way of preliminaries, in that deep serious voice doctors often use to announce the death of the patient, said that I had suffered a “very very serious’ pulmonary embolism” that had affected most of my lungs and that I was being admitted into the ICU unit immediately. He, once again, left before I had time to either digest the information or ask any questions, like ‘what did you just say?”

While waiting for the transportation to arrive and trying to understand the information I had just received that I interpreted to mean that I was effectively dead and they were now going to try to resuscitate me, two more doctors entered the room. They were surprisingly cheery and introduced themselves as the co-chief doctors of the ICU unit as though welcoming me into a five-star beach resort. One doctor a Syrian gentleman who maintained a slight smile as he explained to me how sudden death was inevitable in my case without immediate treatment. The Indian woman seemed very happy to visit with me and asked me many of the same questions the information scavengers had asked. I never saw her again.

They transported me to ICU and placed into bed by a number of suspiciously cheery hospital personnel who then vigorously and repeatedly punctured me to extract blood and other bodily fluids and inject me with clear liquids from several bags hung above my head. I was also attached to several monitors and the various blinking lights and beeping one associates with intensive care.

At some point, the smiling Syrian appeared at the side of my bed and explained again, how dead I was and what they were planning to do to correct that condition. He left and one of the cheery nurses injected me with morphine, explaining unnecessarily that it would make me feel better. They woke me up about every hour or two to have my blood taken or my body injected with something important. I counted over 30 puncture wounds to my body over the first 24 hours.

I did not sleep much or well that night. In the past, whenever I thought about death, my thoughts were often accompanied by fear – no more accurately terror. Strangely tonight, I felt only sadness; sadness about Jason, Jessica, and Hayden and my grandchildren, sadness that I might not be there to see how the next chapters of their life stories played out. (to be continued–perhaps)

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