Sunday, November 7, 2010

Tenacious G at the Hospital

 Tenacious G makes friends. This is not another patient, just a Halloween decoration.

Hospitals are not fun. One could even say that they are no place for sick people. This past week my mother was a bit dizzy and walked like she had had one too many at the neighborhood bar. The nurse at the assisted living facility was concerned and suggested Mom be taken to the ER for an evaluation.

So off we drove to the local hospital. It took the staff there about three hours to determine that she should be admitted for more tests. It took another two hours for them to find a room—not just for Mom but for several other people in the ER. In the meantime, gurneys of other patients were piling up in the hallways. Apparently, there was a shift change and no one could be admitted until the new shift had made the rounds of existing patients. During our entire five-hour odyssey in Room A of the ER, Mom complained quite loudly that this was no way to run a hospital. Oddly enough, she was right.

When I visited her the next day, she had a nonfunctional phone. Granted, this is not as serious as a nonfunctional heart monitor, but being able to talk to loved ones is a morale booster. The nurse immediately replaced the defective phone with one that worked. Quickly, I texted everyone in the family with her new phone number, encouraging them all to call. I stepped out of the room for a moment and when I returned, the same nurse was grabbing the phone back. When she turned and realized I was still there, she started mumbling about how the phone had frayed wires and had to be replaced. This resulted in an unintended practical joke. Family members dutifully called Mom/Grandma, but no one could get through because there was no longer a phone.

During my visit on Day Three, Mom told me that “they” would not allow her to get out of bed by herself to go to the bathroom—reasonable considering her wobbly gait. Apparently, she had been asking for a while if she could go and was very uncomfortable. I went out to the nurse’s station to ask if someone could help her. “Of course!” said the nice lady there. Fifteen minutes later, I returned to the nice lady to ask why no one had yet come to assist Mom—and would it be all right if I did since Mom was on the verge of uremic poisoning? They preferred we wait, and five minutes later, a nurse came in and asked my mother if she wanted “to go potty.” I suggested to the nurse that since my mother was an adult, she need not speak to her that way. The nurse proceeded to lecture me on how she talked that way to everyone. One can only assume that she showed no particular bias when condescending to her public.

Another nurse came by to ask Mom questions that would assess her mental functioning. Mom was not pleased to be in the hospital and her way of expressing that was to answer the questions sarcastically, which was interpreted by the nurse as senility.

Next, a physical therapist came by with a walker to suggest to Mom that she might need a little help. Mom smiled, but was quietly seething. “I DON’T need a walker,” she insisted. Walkers, after all, were for old people. (Mom is only 84.) To prove how unnecessary the walker was, Mom raised it a few inches above the floor and shuffled quickly along without it. Unfortunately, her balance was a bit off and so she looked like a race car in a hospital gown careening out of control.

Finally on Day Four, Nurse Roberta called me in the afternoon to inform me that several days of tests had not found any evidence of a stroke, but it was determined that Mom would be discharged to a rehab facility in a nearby town. This, hopefully, would rid her of her drunken walk.

While Nurse Roberta was talking to me, the doctor was telling my mother that she was being discharged. Before we hung up the phone, my mother was already dressed, packed and ready to go. The nurse discovered this when she rushed to my mother’s room because Mom had disengaged all the heart monitor equipment, sending a flat-line reading to her desk
I arrived shortly after all the excitement. When Mom saw me, she hopped off the bed, ready to make a mad dash for the door. She had to be held back until the obligatory wheelchair was fetched for her departure.

As the sun set on St Clare’s Hospital, a weary staff watched us depart. “I’m glad to be out of THAT place,” Mom said. I’m sure the feeling was mutual.

1 comment:

  1. This is all sorts of awesome. I only met your mom a couple times, but she amused doing things like pointing out to you that my face was pierced.