Thursday, November 5, 2009

The elevator incident

During the ten hours it took for the doctors in the emergency room to decide to admit me for an acute appendicitis, there we many, shall we say... unpleasant tests they decided I needed before the CT scan (which is the clearest way to diagnose it). Each of these tests took on average two hours until: 1. I got to the test area in the hospital, 2. waited in the hallway until my name was called, 3. made my way back to the ER to await the results. My theory is that they did all these tests before the CT to save money and rule out other things; CT scans are expensive for them. First was the X-ray, then was the ultrasound, then for good measure they sent me all the way to the opposite side of the hospital, to Gyn, to make doubly sure that it is not something regarding female parts. After all that they sent me to do the CT, to confirm the diagnosis of appendicitis.

I got to the ER at 11:00 AM, and finally got a quiet(er) bed in the surgical ward at 10:30 PM. Surgery was 2:30AM.

For some of these trips to various tests I had to walk, and sometimes I got an orderly to wheel me there. A few times I was stuck in radiology and decided to walk back, after waiting for over a half hour to get picked up in a wheelchair which didn't come. Walking was slow and painful. My very recent hip surgery, the fever discomfort, and knife pains in my side from the appendicitis made that walk back feel like it was 5 kilometers each time.

But, the episode I really have to write about is the one when I was being sent to the CT. This was the last of the battery of tests, after a very hard day, with no food at all since the wedding I had attended the evening before.

They did have an orderly take me from the ER to radiology (third visit to radiology that day). When we got to the elevator, we got in, and he pressed the floor we needed. Instead of up, it went down. It stopped with a thud. The doors didn't open. He started pressing many buttons, like all of them, and nothing happened. He pressed the emergency button, it made lots of noise, and nobody came. Under regular circumstances, I'd have started to panic. Alone in the broken elevator with a hospital orderly of questionable virtue. But this was not regular circumstances- I was a dish rag. I had nothing to give to fuel panic. I had a fever, and I didn't really care what would happen next, honestly. Knowing, also, that he had a walky-talky, and that someone was answering him on the other end, I knew we'd get out of there at some point.

I started texting Robert with the cell phone. I told him I am in a broken elevator with the orderly. Then he sent back a message "oh, no! Do you need me to call anyone!?" Then I told him the orderly has a walky-talky and will hopefully get us out.

Sweet jesus, I love this hospital.

Someone finally came to force the door open. We weren't quite centered with the floor, so we had to exit by taking a big step out, without the wheelchair. The orderly said "we can take the stairs, it's not so far". I really wanted to be wheeled there, but I wasn't thinking straight. I should have asked him to get the wheelchair out of the elevator and wheel me to the next [working] elevator. But, I down-troddenly schlepped up the three flights of stairs. I know, unbelievable.

At each flight I stopped to get my bearings; I was dizzy. When we finally made it up, there was a chair at the top of the flight, and I collapsed into it. The sensitive and well-trained orderly asked me if I minded if he had a smoke while we were still outside, since I was resting anyway. (No, I didn't ask him to use the time to secure another wheelchair for me for the rest of the walk to radiology). He enjoyed his cigarette break. When he was finished, he asked me if I can go on. I pulled myself up, and walked the rest of the way down through the hallways to CT.

After the scan was finished, I didn't even bother asking for an orderly to be called. I walked myself back to the ER, via the other elevator.

Silver lining: thank Gd I did have the strength and ability to walk. We can accomplish more than we think, even if we don't necessarily decide at the outset to do it. Even though it's not optimal. I will try to "bank" that strength and draw on it when I need it most. I tell that to my ladies after birth; that they have so much strength, even when they were yelling "I can't!!" during birth. They could, and they did. They have power they don't know, and they can put that in the bank to draw upon when mothering is so hard.

So, when hard things happen to me, you guys, please tell me to save 10% of "getting through it" to put in the bank. It puts a different meaning to the words "my life's savings".

1 comment :

  1. Oh my gosh. I cannot believe that you had to go through all that with appendicitis. Sheesh! It all makes it even nicer to be home, huh?