Posts Tagged ‘hospitals’

On November 8th my wife had arthroscopic surgery on her right knee. She tore her meniscus and the surgeon had to remove a third of it, there was some damage done to the ligament so he tweaked that and cleaned up some bone spurs.
The morning of the 8th we set our alarm clock to wake us at the unruly hour of 4:30am as we had to be at the surgical centre by 6:30. Yes it takes that long to get ready. The dog needs to go out, the cats need fed and each one needs watched so they don’t steal the food from another.
We got to the surgical centre on time we checked in sat down and just as we were seated our name was called and we were ushered through the doors where only authorized personnel are allowed to enter. After negotiating a maze of hallways we were brought to Denyce’s prep room. She was settled into the bed as they handed me her purse, her walker and showed me a little wooden chair in a corner where I was too sit.
At one point I counted 7 people in the room not including Denyce and myself. And by room I mean cubicle. There was the surgeon who autographed  Denyce’s knee to make sure he got the correct one, there was the anesthesiologist and his assistant, three nurses and some guy just standing at the ‘doorway’ and by doorway I mean curtain. They asked all sorts of questions to Denyce and to each other. Nobody waited for an answer, a nurse asked Denyce a question and at the same time the anesthesiologist told her to open her mouth, so he could take a look inside. It was a whirlwind of chaos. Then I heard the magic words, “Denyce I ‘m going to give you a shot that will allow you to relax.”
Oh how I remember those words from my own surgeries. Immediately I was off my little chair and beside the bed, I took my wife’s hand and told her, “Now comes the easy part, all you have to do is sleep and I’ll see you in about 10 minutes your time.” And with that they wheeled her down the corridor. A nurse showed me the way to the waiting room and told me somebody would be out to keep me up to date in about 40 minutes to an hour, I figured it would be more like two hours.
I took note of the time and sat down on the group W bench. The group W bench is the bench where you wait, and you wait. And. You. Wait…
At the ripe old age of 47 I was the youngest person in that waiting room. I found out it was really cataract surgery day. Really old people would scooch their way in bumping and grinding into things as they pushed the walkers along with the entire weight of their frail bodies bearing down on the handles. Walking behind them, trying to reach around to open doors and clear the isles an elderly child (mid 50’s minimum) would try to be of some assistance but usually only making matters worse. After watching several such episodes I realized the waiting room was designed to torture these poor people. They would be forced to amble up to one of the check in desks and have a seat. The old people would drop their bags move the walker out of the way, grab the chair and slowly, painfully take a seat. They would be asked their name, date of birth and then asked to sign a waiver they could not possibly see. Three minutes later they would be asked to move to the waiting area. The walker would have to be set up just so. They would gather their belongings and with the aid of a walker, ‘child’and chair combo they would stand. An exercise that took longer than the check in process itself. They would shuffle over to the waiting area, find a free group W bench and drop their bags, coats and other items of necessity, slowly and painfully they would lower themselves onto the bench.  They would let out a sigh lean back and in a minute a nurse would appear at the door that only authorized people are allowed to pass and call their name. The looks on some of the faces were priceless, others were just plain scary. They would start the process of gathering all their worldly possessions and haul themselves back into a standing position while the ‘child’ would do what they could to help. They would step towards the door and the nurse would say to the child, “oh for now we are just putting drops in the eyes we will send your mom/dad right back out you can wait here with all the stuff”. They did this each time! A few minutes later out from behind the door that only authorized personnel are allowed to pass would come an old and now blind(er) person who would have to maneuver back to their group W bench where their loved one could only hopelessly watch. We would all watch in horror as the process played itself out over and over again. Eventually the name would be called again, and once again we would watch as they made their way through the doors only this time we would not see them again. In time a nurse would come back and find the waiting ‘child’ and let them know the surgery went well and the nurse would bring the ‘child’ back behind the doors that only authorized personnel were allowed to pass and I knew they were done. I would not be seeing them again. I must have watched a thousand years of experience hobble through that door. I watched as the waiting room kept changing, I alone waited and waited as others came and went. At the hour and a half point I started to watch the door waiting for the nurse to call my name and tell me all was well and I could go see my wife.
Two hours later the surgeon come through a different set of doors. Through these doors not only are only authorize people allowed to pass. But phones are not allowed nor recording devices. He beckons me over I gather the walker and my wife’s purse. He tells me to leave them he just needs me for a moment. I admit to a little panic. Nobody else had the surgeon come out. Nobody else was told to leave their stuff. Nobody else went through THAT door! He told me everything went well and Denyce was fine. She was in recovery. He started talking very fast, telling me what he did, what he expected, and all the aftercare instructions. He did this all in a very static rapid fire style. No way could I hope to retain any of it, I didn’t even try. I knew my wife was fine and that was all that mattered. I was sent back to my group W bench and I waited another 40 minutes before a nurse came through the normal doors that only authorized personnel are allowed to pass. She told me to bring my stuff, so I gathered my purse and walker and was brought to my groggy and slightly cranky wife. We sat, we talked, we listened to the nurse as she told us what to do and how to do it and what to expect. Eventually Denyce asked me the time. I told her it was noon. We had been there almost five hours. Denyce looked at me like I was insane and told me the last thing she remembered was a nurse telling her she was being given a shot so she could relax.

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During my stay in the hospital I shared a room with MR. B. who happened to be the grandfather of one of my brother’s childhood friends.  Despite the difference in our age (about 40 years) we ended up having a great deal of fun.  We were both hospitalized for stomach issues, (although he had a few other things going on at the time) and we would cheer each other on every time one of us would pass gas because that is a sure sign that things were on the mend.  The passing gas that is, the cheering had nothing to do with getting better.

There was a period of two days that we had a burned out light bulb in our bathroom.  Why did it take two days?  That’s exactly what we wanted to know.  Turns out that the nurses were not allowed to change a light bulb so they referred the issue to maintenance who claimed that because it was a regular light bulb and not an incandescent bulb that it was an orderly’s responsibility, of course the orderly’s didn’t think that was correct and would refer it back to maintenance.  Mr. B and I wanted to see how long it would actually take so we were not about to change it ourselves, besides who needs a stinkin’ bathroom when you have a bedpan?  Mr. B’s grandson couldn’t let it go and stole a light bulb from somewhere and put it in our bathroom.  Otherwise I am sure 30 plus years later that bathroom would still be dark.  This is ironic when you understand that it was Mr. B’s grandson who used to steal street signs and decorate his room with them. 

Seeing the opportunity for something to amuse himself Mr. B would throw a ball of tissue on the floor to see how long it would stay there till somebody picked it up.  I couldn’t understand why he would always make sure and throw it directly across from his bed.  To be fair the tissue would only be on the floor a few hours before somebody picked it up, once it took three days because it was a long weekend.  Finally I had to ask:

 “Mr. B. why do you always throw the tissue to that particular spot?”

“Because I like to watch the nurse bend over and pick it up. I’m old, not dead”

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Yes, I have Crohn’s disease, and yes it sucks and some days it really sucks. But that is not what I’m here to talk about.

I vividly remember some key points during my first stay in the hospital due to Crohn’s.  They were kind of funny then and in my mind at least, even more funny now, the following are one or two such moments.  

 I was in the hospital because of a perforated intestine. The surgeon could not justify operating on somebody who was steadily getting better on their own, especially with Crohn’s because it is viewed as a ‘hands off disease’ even though surgery was the common way to go in this particular instance.  But my pain was lessening and I was eating so I vacationed in the hospital for a few weeks while they made sure everything was working the way it should and the broken things were fixing themselves. Finally they let me go home. 

 The next day I was back in the hospital.  I swear I didn’t do anything, but my intestine perforated again.  The surgeon that was supposed to operate was not in that day so I got the fill in guy, Dr Spanier. The first thing I noticed was that he was a large man weighing in at about 350 to 400 pounds.  I was trying to work out exactly how he was going to see me on the table, technically that was his problem, but in my way of thinking I was going to be the result.  He quickly put my mind at ease.

 “Brian, I know this is awkward because we have never met, I am now your surgeon and you will just have to trust me when I tell you that I am the type of person who you can put your life in my hands.  Any questions?”

 “Yes, am I going to survive?”

“Yes, anything else?”


“Okay my team will be in to introduce themselves.” It turned out that Dr. Spanier was a well known and respected surgeon who not only had his own select team for the OR, I understand hospital type people from around the country vied to be on his team.

Of the team, I remember the anesthesiologist.  He also asked me if I had any questions.

“I can’t do math, I can barely count forward, don’t make me count backwards from 100” (I was a teenager and this was/is a legitimate fear of mine)

“You won’t have to count you will just go to sleep and wake up again in about 6 hours or so”

“What if I have a nightmare?”

“You won’t be dreaming about anything.”  


The surgeon came back in to ask me a favour.

 “Brian” he said, “Your mother is in the hall waiting to see you, and she is very fragile so I need you to be strong.  Let her know everything is going to be fine, the last thing I need is for your mother to pass out and then I have two of you to deal with”

 “No problem”

 A little while later the orderly comes in and asks if I need the bathroom, I didn’t.  “Okay Bri, here we go.”

Naturally, despite the doctors warning the first thing I did when I saw my mother was start crying.  The orderly put on the gas and I was on my way down the hall.  I remember looking up at the lights as they passed by overhead and I thought, this is all so familiar.  We stopped at the big double doors and waited.  I told the orderly I had to pee.  He laughed and told me it was too late, they will take care of everything in the OR.

In the OR everybody was nice and friendly,  they stretch out my arms so I was like Jesus on the cross, I felt them taping things too me, but looking up at the bright light all I could think of was “They have the technology, they can rebuild him” was this how the Six Million Dollar Man felt? 

The anesthesiologist kept telling me things but I was not paying that much attention until I heard the following statement. “Dr. Spanier is just washing up so we can get started.” I remember thinking, no, lets wait for the doctor.

My first vivid memory after the surgery was waking up and seeing my father sitting next to the bed.  (Seeing as I was on a steady diet of Demerol he may clear a few things up in his comments, we will have to see).  I told him that I was a little concerned because every now and again my entire body would jump about a foot off the bed.  Shortly after I had one of those dreams where you catch yourself falling down and I jerked myself awake.  “Is that what you are talking about?”  He asked.  “No, you will know”. Sometime later I had one of my little spasms.  I opened one eye to let my father know, but he was already out of his chair running down the hall calling for a nurse, yeah he knew.

 I also found out that Dr. Spanier’s operating team was not that happy with me as I didn’t think no, lets wait for the doctor, I actually said it.  I make no apologies.

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