I made it to the waiting room of Hospital Fun 3 (my third hospital) about 4:00 am Wednesday and about an hour later, got admitted into the emergency room. It was busy, but they got the IV set up and even gave me a drug to slow down my heart rate. I thought that maybe they were going to shoot me into the Operating Room right away, but that didn't happen. Eventually, I was sent to the operating ward where I would again wait in line!
The difference here was immediately apparent. (It was quiet in Hospital Fun 3, for one thing!) They also took the time to regularly update me on my chances of getting surgery each day by actually checking with the OR and getting their take on the situation. Then, at the end of the day, if nothing opened up, they actually had a brown bag with real food in it for each person that was waiting. (It wasn't scrounged as an afterthought like at Hospital Fun 2.)
Thursday (one week after the accident) a doctor dropped by and told me that it may be the weekend before some time opens up in OR but he'd do his best to get me in there. I wondered if I'd ever see him again based on my previous doctor experience. I did. He's the Hospital Fun 3 doctor who operated on me!
Friday, nothing happened, but on Saturday the nurses told me I was "on" and sure enough, by mid-morning I was on the operating table again. They also had trouble getting my heart rate down. (Maybe it's a trait with all high pain threshold patients?) Anyway, they just immediately decided to go to a spinal anesthetic (after checking with me first). That meant that I would be awake during the whole procedure. I would feel some touch, but no pain. I thought that would be interesting and it was! I heard all the OR conversation and people even talked to me while the operation was in progress.
At one point, the doctor came over and said, "Do you remember when I told you that I saw what could be a break on the other side of your ankle from the major break?" I said, "Yes." He said, "Well I can't see any problem so we're just going to leave it." I said, "Good idea. Carry on doc." Amazing.
The next day, Sunday, I got a real breakfast (although part of it consisted of Cream Of Wheat which again reminded me of that elementary school flour paste). The nurse said that he thought I'd be in Hospital Number 3 for another day but the doc came by and said I could leave if I wanted to, so I was dressed and waiting for a ride about 15 minutes later! I'd had enough fun.
So, my hospital experience wasn't the best. I do want to point out one thing however. The people who work in our hospitals are fabulous! I don't think I could do any of their jobs with as much compassion and enthusiasm as they have. It's the system that's flawed, not the people.
My personal feeling is that we should have private hospitals and clinics for people who want to pay to have their operations done sooner. That would free up more time in the public system for the rest. It works in other countries, why not here? What do you think? (You can comment below.)
I am going to talk about one one nurse who was the lone exception to the rest of the fabulous people I interacted with. I was going to leave this out, but what the heck. It happened. I think it was Hospital Fun 3.
When you're hooked up to the IV drip, you're actually hooked up to a machine now, not just a bag on a stand. The machine beeps when the drip gets low in the bag, so the nurses know when to add a new bag. It also beeps, I discovered when an air bubble gets in the line. (Apparently, introducing air into your veins is not a good thing.) One afternoon, my machine started beeping and eventually a new nurse came in to take a look. (My regular nurse for that day must have been busy elsewhere.) She tried 2 or 3 times to get it to stop beeping because of the bubble in the system and then declared that she had better things to do and turned the machine off, stating that "It was somebody else's problem!" Then she left.
Fortunately, my regular nurse came in soon after that, noticed the machine off and replaced the bag and turned it back on again. I felt better after that. (Remember, nurse Cratchet was the lone exception to fantastic attention given by all the other people in my 10 days playing hospital hopscotch.) Maybe she'll retire from Hospital Number 3 soon!
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