Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Tale of Two Hospitals

I checked into one of my city's large urban hospitals on January 26 for a scheduled hiatal hernia surgery. This larger hernia had been giving me problems, lots of problems for some time so my doctor and I decided it needed to be repaired. She recommend a surgeon and while I have had previous surgery with another I went with her suggestion because she seemed so adamant and well quite frankly I do trust her opinion.

Unfortunately the surgery did not go as I had planned it was open vs. laparoscopic which means a MUCH larger scar and unfortunately more time in the hospital. This is actually where my nightmare began. I was moved to my room about 10 p.m. and spent the rest of the night in a post anesthesia confusion. At times I had scripture verses running through my head providing me comfort and other times I saw strange pictures on the walls and then when I would finally feel the ability to drift to sleep I would be awaken by the nursing staff, they needed blood, or to check my blood pressure and temperature

At 4:00 am the next morning I sensed a strange presence in the room. Turns out it was not an employee of the hospital but the daughter of the 78 year old patient in the bed next to me. Did you see that I said 4:00 am? Turns out this woman is a Nurse Practitioner who had worked at said hospital for 28 years and considered herself a VIP. For the next 4 days she turned into the cruise director and our semi private room was the place to be. Problem is I was in extreme pain, tired and just wanted peace and quiet. The 78 year old patient, her husband, and their 40 something year old son insisted on watching Jerry Springer and Judge Judy every afternoon. Since she and her husband are both in their 70's volume was an issue. I did my best to put my ear phones on and the nursing staff were also kind enough to provide me with a pair of ear plugs. The last straw for me happened on Friday night which apparently was their 60th wedding anniversary, when the whole anniversary party came to visit. At one point in our semi-private room she had 8 visitors at one time. Thankfully at this point two of my dearest friends Kathy and George came by to hold my hand and wipe away my tears of frustration.

I insisted on being discharged the next day, I wanted nothing more than to be in my own home in peace and quiet. This was a mistake. From the moment I arrive home I could not stop dry heaving, from Saturday through Monday afternoon I ate 2 spoonfuls of jello, a bowl of lemon ice and few glasses of cranberry juice. On Monday afternoon when the pain in my stomach and back was so back and the heaving continued I called a good friend with several years of nursing experience. She suggested she meet my mom and I at small community hospital just a few minutes away from me. Turns out all my pain, inability to eat was because of a bowel obstruction. The nurse in the Emergency department quickly conducted what I can only say is the most uncomfortable procedure I have ever experienced the NG tube. The horrible tube is shoved down one of your nostrils to your throat and then eventually empties all the "crap" that has been sitting in your stomach unable to leave your body. I had the NG tube for 3 days and pray that I never have to experience that again. 6 days later after a much for quiet experience at small community hospital I am home resting in bed. Turns out my original surgeon of choice is now practicing at small community hospital as is the father of one of my co-workers. My Physician's Assistant who visited me throughout the week happens to be the best friend of my dear friend Kathy. I am praying that in the future I have no more need for surgery, however if I do, I certainly know where I am going.

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