Saturday, November 10, 2012

How I Spent My “Fall” Vacation Episodes 8 & 9

...oh excuse me...must have drifted off...back to our story...
Episode 8 – November 7 –I was woken up from a half decent sleep by the loud beep of the intercom announcing “Code Red - Food Service Elevator – All staff remain in their work areas”. Oh no, they’ve burned the oatmeal!
A new day nurse arrived to check my vital signs, Felly, short for Felicidad. Felly told me that the Code Red was a flood on the third floor that poured into the elevator shaft and temporarily disabled the elevators. Then I was told that breakfast was going to be late; oh well, every cloud has a silver lining.
The next question that Felly asked was “When was the last time you had a shower?” The answer was obvious. Felly was not telling me something I didn’t know already. She brought me a basin of warm soapy water, some cloths and towels and I began a wipe down process. She wiped down my back and then brought another basin of hot water so I could scrape the three days growth off my face.
Unfortunately, late or not breakfast did arrive. And there was no special surprises in fact in came in as worst breakfast to date; on the tray were Cream of Wheat soup and a banana. Knowing that I had to get some fuel into my system, I took a bite of the banana and almost gagged. I was resigned to the fact that a soggy piece of whole wheat toast with peanut butter and 120 ml of 2% milk would have to carry me over until lunch.
Okay, you are wondering about me and bananas. I have really cared for bananas. I’m not fussy on the taste or smell and especially the texture. I have not eaten a whole fresh banana since I was in grade 12 which was at least 5 or 6 years ago. There was a pep rally and part of it was a banana eating contest. I was recruited along with four other football and basketball players as contestants. We were brought on stage and seated with me in the middle. We then blindfolded and the object was to eat as many bananas as we could in five minutes. We each were assigned a cheerleader to peel and hand us the fruits. The whistle blew and the fun began. At the end of the five minutes the blindfold came off and I was declared the winner having eaten twelve bananas. I didn’t find out until about twenty minutes later that the other contestants had left the stage once the first whistle blew and only came back for the final whistle.
After breakfast, one of my favourite Night Owls, Christine (Yes, the one with the teenage daughter) dropped in. I thought she was very kind to bring me a crossword puzzle book until I later read the cover and saw “Easy” and “Large Print”. I am not sure what she was implying. ;-)
Lunch arrived and the main course was a chickenish burger with a side of Cole slaw. I don’t mind cabbage and I like carrots (except those mini ones that come in a bag. They’re just weird.)but when you shred them and add a sweet dressing something happens that turns me off. I ate most of it because it was edible unlike that scoop that appears on every plate at White Spot and returns to the kitchen on every plate as well.
It was time for my physical therapy. Today they brought my wheelchair complete with a legrest set up. Instead of doing a regular solo side transfer they decided it might be easier to use a transfer board. The board is designed to bridge the gap between the bed and the chair. I actually found I felt more in control when I was jumping the gap on my own yesterday. After getting settled in and my legs properly supported, the physio used that phrase no longs to hear in a hospital “We’ll be back in a minute”. I was now officially one of those old guys you see in every hospital, strapped into a wheelchair, wearing only a gown, nodding off and drooling in the corner.
After about 15 minutes, I rang the call button and had the nurses use the electric lift to put me back in the bed so I could take a nap.
Dinner arrived and it was apparently beef tips. Tips of what I don’t know but that had a chewy gelatinous consistency to them.
It was time for shift change and my night nurse was the angel, Tara. While checking my vitals and breathing she said “You have great lungs!” I had to bite my teeth in order not to return the compliment. ;-)
My sleep that night was horrible thanks to Art next door calling out all night and the fact the room is always too hot. It faces south and even with the windows open there is no air movement. It’s not just me the nurses are always complaining about the heat in this room.
Episode 9 – November 8 – So after a horrible sleep, the day went downhill from there. As usual breakfast was horrible so that was no help.
At 8:30, Dr. McConkey dropped by to check that all was okay and after a quick chat he left saying that his job was pretty much done here and he was off on a long weekend but if need be the on-call surgeon  was around.
A half hour later, a blonde nurse with a very authoritative Eastern European accent , walks up to my bed and says “Mr. Donnelly, you are going home today.” I was in shock and my response was “How am I supposed to go home.” Nurse Ilsa of the SS calmly stated “We help you into a wheelchair, roll you outside to a car, you get in and you go home.” After trying explain that I can’t walk and I’m supposed to go down to rehab for six weeks. She said “Only the orthopaedic surgeon has discharged you and only he can authorize rehab. I will talk to physio about this.”
I was shaking like a leaf, about to burst into tears and on the verge of another anxiety attack. I grabbed my phone and tried unsuccessfully to call Dr. Haaf.
Felly came in to help me with a wash down and she was able to settle me down a bit and I was able to take a short nap.
After lunch, the physio team came back and their goal today just to get me sitting for a spell in the chair so they were just going to use the electric lift and not have me do anything really physical. Once I was sitting well, they moved my table with my laptop in front of me and I started hacking away.
While in the chair, I received a delightful surprise. A friend from school, Janice, popped her head around the corner. Working in the hospital industry herself, she was able to help out to make my life here a little more comfortable. Also knowing how the system works she was able to reassure me that today’s incident was common and a huge but typical example of poor communication between caregivers and number crunchers.
While Janice was still there, Dr. Haaf came by so I gave a hug and told to take advantage of the rest of her day off.
Obviously, the main thrust of the conversation with the doc was about this morning’s events. He basically repeated what Janice had to me about hospital administrators. The misunderstanding was initially cause by Dr. McConkey writing on my chart that he was discharging himself from the case because his job was done. The moronic management team took this to mean I was to be discharged. I have always said that the biggest problem with our hospital system is way  too many suits. “IF YOU ARE NOT WEARING SCRUBS, GET THE FUCK OUT!!!”
Dana went on to explain that the incident dig trigger some meetings about my treatment and disposition. It appears that rather than being moved down to rehab, I would be receiving most of my initial rehab here on the sixth floor until I am able to reduce the amount of assistance I need for transferring.
This had all worn me out so I asked Felly to get the team together so I could be lifted back to bed. I thought this might be a good time to attempt to relief some physical discomfort derived from codeine side effects so Felly slipped the bed pan underneath me in attempt to achieve my goal. It was not the easiest thing I ever did and in fact it was a struggle that I nearly gave up on. It did not help that Art, next door kept pulling the curtains open. I ripped curtain from his hand a couple of times and I was so angry and frustrated I nearly decked the old guy.
I was finally able to painfully accomplish my goal and left all the fun work to Felly and her colleague, David. From now on my mantra will be “I never want to be a nurse, I never want to be a nurse”.
Just as everything had settled down, Sandi arrived. Again, she is friendly, concerned and helpful but she buzzes around the room and incessantly talks baby talk to her dad and just raises the stress and chaos levels in the room. Actually, either she is settling down or worse I’m getting used to her.
Sergio was now my night nurse which isn’t as bad as being my day nurse because the only concern is he checks my vitals and delivers my meds .
Just before I was about to retire, Jennifer phoned to gloat about spending the next five days in Palm Springs while I comiserated. ;-) Truthfully, she called to make sure her Uncle D was doing okay. She earned her little respite and deserved some “me” time while visiting her Mommy and soaking up mega doses of Vitamin D.
After eight days I feel my body is so coated with grungy crud the hoses at firehall across the street sound like a plan.
And so to bed.
To be continued...


  1. Dennis, are you able to eat ordinary food (smuggled in) from the real world?

  2. Oh man, it just keeps getting worse. So far it sounds like visits from friends and sleep are the only stronghold you have with your sanity.

    See you soon!

  3. Dear Goddess, Dennis....... You seriously need food smuggled in!