Thursday, September 27, 2007

In Which Your Faithful Narrator Talks About the Emergency Room at 0530

The Emergecy Room at 0530 is quiet. Its not like the frantic, kinectic place one got used to seeing on NBC's shock-drama ER. It is, to quote a Hemingway title "A Clean, Well-lit Place." Yesterday morning when we took my father to the ER because of chest pains it was very quiet, almost lonely.

The waiting room was empty save for a tv blaring the early morning news and a nurse sitting at the reception desk. They took my father quickly, chest pains equal immediate reaction. They took him, we followed, to room 9, I think. And suddenly four or five nurses just kind appeared, I haven't the foggiest where they came from. I looked for a stage-trap door in the floor, but I saw none. They start asking questions like: how are you feeling? on a scale from one to ten, how is your pain? How old are you? When were you born? What happened? You took how many nitro pills tonight? When? Did they make you feel better? If I had put a bassbeat to it, those questions might sounded like a fast rap. My father and we answered the questions the best we could, it was verbal tennis match.

As they ask the questions, they hook him up to monitors, and IV's. I've done this whole ER thing enough times to know when the numbers on his heart monitor are good. They looked good yesterday morning. And I know that the nice peak and valley of the heart monitor is a good thing. The more the steady and same it is the better it is. Once the uber-activity subsides we sit there. He in bed, my mom and I on chairs that were not designed for long term sitting. The minutes tick by and I wrap my arms around myself for warmth (the ER tends to be chilly) and the silence continues. About 0630, or 0700 it starts to get a bit louder: night shift leaves, morning shift/day shift starts to arrive. A new nurse comes in, this time his name is Greg. He checks my father's blood pressure and checks his heart monitor and all that, takes some readings, prints them out, attaches them to his chart and leaves.

When we got there last night there was or two other people in the ER. There was a woman in the room to the left. She was asleep in a darkened room. Eventually another patient came in. He was probably in early-20's. I was able to learn about him and the woman next door through simple act of inadvertent eavesdroopping. The woman to the left had a migraine, a real bad one, I could and can relate, I've had migraines since I was a kid and I had one so bad that it sent me to the doctor. I felt sorry for her. The guy to the right was something else. He may or may not have tried to commit suicide. He certainly had too much of something. I wasn't sure if it was drugs or alcohol or both. I did hear the word Xanax at one point. The conversations were one-sided in that I could only hear what the doctor and the nurses were asking. I couldn't hear that patient. I felt a bit guilty about listening, I'm pretty sure I was breaching the whole doctor/patient priviledge thing.

Eventually, my mom and I left. There's only so much we can do in the ER, sit and wait. My dad was comfortable and sleeping off and on. He was going to be admitted so we left to take care of somethings, i.e. feed cats and other mundane daily activities, I went and got a haircut, you stuff.

We got a call from dad that he had been moved up a room on third floor, the "progressive care unit." The rooms are very nice, nicer in fact than many hotel rooms I've been in: single occupancy room, big window looks outside (in this case to trees and a parking lot), flatscreen tv attached to the wall, subtle brown hues throughout the room and floor. In fact, it the color scheme does wonders to relax the patient, but also the family. Its not that cold, hard, institutional hospital color of blue and white. If I was into Feng Shui I'd say that the Feng Shui was acheived, but I'm not, so I really can't.

The tests they ran were nothing special. Its not like the tests are going to reveal anything new: bad heart. But to be on the safe side and maybe for shits and giggles, the doctors shoved a camera down my father's throat to check to see if his stomach was okay and that his chest pains were in fact chest pains and not some really bad indigestion. It wasn't indegestion. On happy note we won't have to get to know a stomach doctor on a personal basis-- my father has enough doctors: eye doctor, kidney doctor, heart doctor, general practiction doctor, foot doctor, diabetes doctor...

Right now, they want to do a catherization. They've been wanting to do that for a while, but my father won't let them and its driving the doctors nuts. He had one three or four years ago. That time he passed out in church (actually during Sunday School) was taken to the hospital and was found to have a heart rate of less than 20 beats a minute. That was scary for me. That was also when he got his defribulator in his chest.

The doctors did a cath and then came out, a bit white faced and apologized for doing it. It didn't go well and they almost lost him on the table, so they said, or maybe that's the way I remember it. Either way, it was a scary time. Last night, a nurse came with some forms and asked my father to sign them for the "procedure" and he asked what procedure that might be and she said "a catherization" he said "I'm not going to have that done" and sent her on her way. This morning they didn't give him breakfast because they thought he was going to have it, but he again reiterated the fact that he wasn't going to do it. So they gave him breakfast. It would be almost funny, if it wasn't so serious.

I saved this entry in the "draft" stage for a while. I went and visited my dad in the interim. He was sitting in a chair by the window reading a book in his hospital johnny. His heart monitor (wireless) was stuffed into the big pocket on front of his johnny, his hair was a bit mussed and he watned his razor so he could shave, but other than that he looked like he was feeling better.

I'm not sure when the man is going to come home. Hopefully this evening, but probably tomorrow. Who knows. So long as I don't have to go to the ER at 0530 for a long time, I'll be happy.

1 comment:

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

I'm so sorry he's not well at the moment -- hope he does get to come home soon.

In any event, this is extremely well written. Love the angle, and the matter-of-fact tone.

One thing I wasn't sure about: did he have the cath done, or not? Sounded like he did, but then that he refused.