If you know anything about me, you know I've had a lot of experience being a patient. Too much.
As I've gotten older, I've also become more verbal ~ and less hesitant ~ about asking questions and speaking up when I feel I need to. In short, being my own best advocate. Or, a pain in the ass, depending on your point of view.
Such was the case earlier this week when I found myself sitting on a "bed" in the local ER, awaiting test results.
I had called my internist's office to see if I could be seen for some chest pain I'd been experiencing. The nurse told me to go the emergency room.
"I don't have the time or the money to go to the emergency room!"
Yeah, I really said.
After a brief silence, the nurse informed me that the ER was the place to go. There, the staff could draw blood to determine the presence of cardiac enzymes and determine if I had actually suffered an "event" ~ and then treat me as needed.
Sensing I was still hesitant, she closed the deal:
"If you come here and tell us you are having chest pain, we will call 9-1-1."
So, off to the ER I went.
The triage nurse told me I could expect to be there for about six hours,which turned out to be pretty accurate. She started taking my vitals around 2:40PM and I finally left shortly after 9PM.
Then, there was a shift change at 7PM, and my new nurse entered my curtained "room," IV kit in hand.
"Is that an IV?" I asked her.
"Yes," she answered, somewhat cautiously. "You've been marked for admission."
I told her, none too gently, that all my tests had been negative and I was waiting for a cardiology consult. She thought I'd already seen someone from cardiology. No, I told her. I had not.
After she left, I went to the main desk. The PA who'd been taking care of me was engrossed in conversation with other staff.
"Yes, ma'am. How can I help you?" another nurse asked me.
"I. Need. To. Speak. To. Him.," I said, pointing at the PA.
"Okay, I will let him know."
Moments later, my nurse returned and apologized. I was not being admitted. The PA had had to mark that on my chart to initiate the cardiology consult. One more blood test was needed. If that was also negative, I would probably be discharged. And she would page cardiology to inquire about the delay.
And, as noted above, I was discharged a few hours later with a cardiologist referral and a possible stress test in my near-future.
My Father, My Advocate
This incident reminded me of my spondylolisthesis surgery. More specifically, what happened during my recovery.
My surgeon, Hugo Keim, ordered 24-hour, private nurse care for the first week or so, post-op, but that first night, my nurse was "sharing" patients ~ meaning she was splitting her time between me and another patient who was also in need of 24-hour care.
I was still fuzzy from the anesthesia and floating in a morphine haze, but I did realize that each time she turned me ~ from one side to other ~ she left the call button where I couldn't reach it. And then seemed to disappear for long stretches of time.
The next day when my parents came to visit (back then, parents didn't stay with their hospitalized children), although I have no memory of it, I recounted the previous night's ordeal in graphic detail.
Without a word, my father left the room.
"Where is Dad going?"
"To the nurses' station," my mother said.
I don't know what my father said (although I can imagine it!), but I never saw that nurse again. And that night, I met "Paul," whose kind care I still remember fondly.
So, be a pain in the ass! Speak up! And take good care.
3 hours ago