A Stint, A Strip and Veronica


I’m a people watcher (nosy).  It’s just the way I am.  I had the perfect opportunity in the last 24 hours.  Best seat in the house even though I did change seats a few times.

I watched a group of people who came and went, sat and stared, stood and suffered.  The elderly woman with her arm in a homemade sling and bruises on her chin with her son by her side.  There were three then four toddlers at different phases of crankiness, one with a weeping cut on her head that made my own head ache.  There was the young woman who was so sunburnt I thought I could see melanoma appear before my eyes.  Then there was a young woman who came out of the emergency room to the waiting room where I sat.  She was crying with so much anguish, so openly and with everything she had, all the while searching for someone.  A staff person quickly found her and led her to the family room connected to this waiting room.  She was soon joined by at least 10 others, all young like herself, women and men  crying so hard, the staff member had to lead them by the hand into the room.  In groups of threes they were led back through the emergency department doors where they, mysteriously, did not come out again.

I watched this tragic drama unfold from my seat directly under the plasma TV blaring a Max and Ruby cartoon. I was so overwhelmed by this family’s anguish.  Eventually the cartoon turned into a simple melody with words that were so suited to these moments I was choked up.  I sat there and wept for all the hurt in this place and tried to convince myself I was just wasting everyone’s time.

“Not a chance Momma” says my first-born.  He came with me to make sure I went this time.  And that I stayed too.  My kids are great.

He eventually had to go and I was trusted to stay there and get checked out.  Soon it was my turn to go through the big bad door, get blood work done, have my painfully swollen legs poked and my feet prodded, my heart hooked to monitors that not only reported every beat it took but every move I made as well.

I never knew anyone as brazen as the nurses who attached my heart monitor.  Nor have I ever had my clothes ripped off me quite like this.  As ordered, I undid the top string of my gown and lay back on the bed waiting for the expected discreet maneuverings under my gown.  They each grabbed a side of the gown and literally whipped it off me and, before I could protest or attempt to cover myself, they began sticking their own kind of sticker things all over my upper body.  One lifted a boob while the other shoved the other one out of the way.  Then the electrodes were attached, both nurses working at lightning speed.  I was laughing so hard at how it must look.  It got even better when they started ripping the sticker-things off me.  ow ow ow ow ow ow ow!  I think I said it 14 times and laughing the whole time.  Oh it was funny but I guess you had to be there.  I’m glad you weren’t though.  When the one nurse came back later I asked her if she was going to rip my clothes off again.  She smiled and did just that.

She gave me more stickers which stayed on for a while. Have I mentioned before I’m a fidgety person?  The monitor would scream every time I moved and even when I tried not to move which convinced me I was going to die. It was drama if I had to go to the bathroom; I would tell one nurse, she would yell out to “Lance” that #6 had to pee. 

Nurses, doctors and residents and even some guy with a broom just passing by cubicle #6, oohed and ahhed over the size, shape and the glorious shade of red that were my legs and feet.  The visit would usually end with a quick poke and some with downright ferocity.  I don’t think the guy with the broom poked, he did look though.  I wished I had shaved my legs before getting there.

After months of swelling legs and now heart palpitations I had finally relented about getting it checked.  After 5 hours with my feet up and actually resting, my symptoms were easing a lot.  I kept telling people how much better it was now but no one said anything about sending me home. 

No, I had to stay the night.  Without my cPAP.  Crap. Can’t sleep without it and I will for sure snore in an “unholy” manner (quote from my friend Corrie who has lived though a few nights of my snoring).  My best son had gone home and had a couple too many beers so couldn’t bring it to me.  I organized my daughter’s immediate life for her by secretly texting then called my fella to tell him the latest.

He’d had a couple of beers too and had no idea what I was talking about; insisting I told him I was just going to the doctor.  I know I had told him earlier in the day I couldn’t get into the doctor and was going to the hospital. So he was shocked to learn I was in the hospital. Great, here I was thinking he was worried about me.  That would be a FAIL I guess.  Good thing he’s so cute.  I keep telling him that.

I was put in the observation room and told I would have a real bed, my own light to turn on or off and peace and quiet for the night.

The bed was nice with a thicker mattress than the gurney and heated blankets to further relax my still thumping heart.  I was put on a portable monitor so I could get up whenever I liked and sleep better.  I prepared myself for the embarrassment that will come when my snoring wakes everyone, including me.

I did fall asleep for a while, waking up with a snort or two echoing in my ears.  At one point I woke to someone saying, from the very next cubicle, “Veronica” over and over and very fast.  This went on for about 10 minutes.  I could hear the other person breathing but not waking up.

Then I heard “Code Blue Observation 6.  Code Blue Obv 6”.  Now wait a minute.  I think I am cubicle 6.  Oh boy, this is too much to think about at 3:30 in the morning.  Soon the formerly peaceful area that was the Observation room was in chaos.  Well to me it looked like chaos.  My curtains/walls that looked so solid in the gloom of my room now billowed everywhere.  Lights came on with a glare, carts of all kinds were being transported at the speed of light.  All the while I heard the patient breathing and the nurse repeating “Veronica” over and over.

I was in cubicle 5.

I had to go to the bathroom and couldn’t help glancing that way.  There was Veronica, eyes wide open and still breathing that snore-like breath.  When I came back I eavesdropped of course and found out the medical term for what Veronica was going through was “unresponsive”.  She eventually woke up with absolutely no memory but had the best sleep in a long time, she told me later.

There was another Code Blue an hour later.  This time I heard the all to familiar “CLEAR”.  After awhile everyone clapped and the patient talked.  Seeing both of these patients later, I was kind of creeped out how one can be dead then not be dead or, like Veronica, go somewhere else completely.  These people should have badges.  Not just the staff but the patients.  They worked hard to get back too.

My tests eventually cleared the way for me to go home by lunchtime.  All major things were ruled out and I left with a prescription for a diuretic.  In less than 8 hours of taking that, my feet are looking good.

Not the way I planned the day.  You know? I’ve started a few of posts with that line.  I guess I should stop planning my day.

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2 responses to “A Stint, A Strip and Veronica

  1. I’m glad your feet are looking good and glad you’re out of the hospital. I’m a big people watcher, too, but I sure don’t like to watch them at the yucky ol’ hospital! I hate to see anyone in pain or upset and the emergency room always makes me super anxious. I hope you continue to feel well and have a nice weekend.

  2. I love your concluding thought. How often I think on this!

    The good news is, most days plans don’t stray too far from plans. Most days . . .

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