First of all let me assure you that this is not meant to be a list of gripes or a whiny “poor me” post, but you just have to hear how truly strange yesterday was in comparison with the day Gary and I had both envisioned.
It was the first Monday of November and my schedule included our monthly assembly, a lesson about the election, a couple of errands after school and an evening with Gary. He was off yesterday and had a few home projects planned and then his favorite dinner and his favorite television show. Well….
At 4:30 I was in the middle of reading an email from one of my best friends. You have to understand that we have joked for years that we live “parallel lives”. Our birthdays are just days apart as are the birthdays of our children. We have had similar jobs, we even worked together for four years, we have had similar life experiences…the list is long. Her email yesterday was to inform me that her husband had a stroke and they were spending the day at the hospital. That’s when I first heard my own husband wheezing and gasping for breath in the bedroom. To say that I was startled is an understatement.
Gary has a long history of diverticulitis and has been hospitalized numerous times. I have driven him to ER and I have seen him in ICU. But he has never been as sick as he appeared yesterday morning, nor has he ever before had trouble breathing or standing up. So for the first time in our forty years together I called for an ambulance. And I waited…
If you have never waited for an ambulance I do not recommend it as one of life’s bucket list experiences. While they were prompt and the EMS crew efficient and caring, there is just something about the waiting part the can drive a person insane.
And when we got to the emergency room the “strange” part of the day began.
They brought Gary in through the back entrance and I went to the front, checked in with the receptionist and pushed the button for the door, just as I’d been told. Nothing. I assumed they were busy so I waited a few more minutes. Called school and left a message on the machine. Pushed the button. Nothing. Then someone else walked past me, pushed the same button and the doors magically swung open, so I slipped in behind her.
I won’t bore you with a minute-by-minute account of our day, but here are the highlights of the strange happenings:
Gary and I both have previous medical experience in a major hospital so let me just say that at least three “errors” were made in the first couple of hours that I’m not sure someone without training would have noticed. Not serious errors, but they certainly put us “on alert”.
The nurse scheduled for duty in Gary’s room had an emergency and was replaced by another nurse, and then another within ten minutes so his admission was like a comedy routine of “who asked what?” already. They even repeated a couple of assessments.
I made a couple of calls to friends and family and then tried to call school again, but by then the battery on my phone was completely dead. I have a new phone and I am NOT happy with how many times this has already happened! Anyway, I had the cord with me so I plugged it in to recharge.
There were no pillows in the room and it took three people about an hour to find a pillow. We were told that some have “disappeared” and that there has been a delay in ordering new ones. Amusing to hear them talking in the hall. “Have you seen any pillows?” “No, I couldn’t find any. Did you try putting a blanket in a pillow case?” Seriously....
The television/call button remote for Gary’s bed did not work so they pulled the one over from the other bed. Which also meant that later when he felt like watching television he had to watch the one across the room. They later fixed that problem for him. But the phones were also apparently switched because when friends and family called I had to walk across and answer the other phone.
Gary could not remember his two newest medications and the staff could not get a fax response from the clinic to find out what he was taking. Why they couldn’t just call the clinic, which shares a parking lot with them, is beyond my comprehension, but I guess that is not “the way things are done” in this age of technology. So when I took a lunch break I drove home, wrote down the medications, called the nurses’ desk and gave them the information, and then tucked the list into my purse just in case there were further glitches in communications.
I had only been back a short time when suddenly there was a loud alarm. Yep! Code Red on the second floor and someone closed our door. We could hear several other commands and a repeat of the alarm. In a few minutes they announced an “all clear”. I told Gary it was probably someone trying to sneak a smoke in the bathroom!
I took a break in the afternoon and went to Walmart to pick up some photos that I had planned to retrieve after school. As I pulled into the first row of the parking lot there was an accident just in front of me so I just pulled over and walked twice as far as I had planned to. I got my photos and was informed that the cash register in photo was broken so I had to go find someone in electronics to ring up my purchase. You would have been proud of how calm I remained.
A long, long evening of waiting, waiting, waiting…my least favorite activity. Finally at 8pm we were visited by his doctor and told that all of his tests were either borderline or inconclusive. Poor Gary had had nothing to eat all day and because there are more tests scheduled for today he will not be allowed to eat until sometime later. He was feeling just well enough last night to be annoyed, but not well enough to think he wanted to go home. So I went home to an empty house, another thing I don’t like, and will spend today waiting, waiting, waiting as he undergoes more tests.
And let me just say that I absolutely HATE missing school. I know…another strange thing.