Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Sunday fun, part 4, wherein the tale concludes like a comedy of errors

Probably about 3.15 am Monday morning
Finally we are called and led through to a curtained area by an Asian doctor man (Asian as in Indian or Pakistani, rather than Chinese or Japanese), and he goes through all the same questions yet again. He tells me that he'd like to take my blood pressure, draw blood for testing, get a urine sample, and do an ECG on me. This all sounds like it's going to take a loooong time.

I don't know what order he did things, but I do remember a big fuck-off needle going into my arm and drawing out a syringeful of thick black blood. The missus watches the whole thing; I decline. I'm not a big fan of watching needles entering my flesh. I ask whether it is supposed to look so dark, my blood, and he replies that it is perfectly normal. Okay... Within a few minutes of having half an armful of blood drained from me, I am feeling lightheaded again, so I have a lie down on the bed.

We wait quite a long time then for a nurse to come and do the ECG. When she arrives -- she put me in mind of a Greek, quite stocky but pleasant, and very chatty -- she asks me to lift my shirt and proceeds to cover me with sticky pads. She comments that the tattoos are well positioned to help her with the applications. One is stuck on the right side of my chest; three on the left; another one on each of my sides; one on each upper arm; and one just above each ankle. I think that's all. Then she attaches some cables to me. The cables are connected to a central interface that then feeds into the ECG machine. She turns on the machine.

"Oh...," she says, and checks all the connections again. Back to the machine. "Hmmm... According to this, you're flatlining!"

"I think I'm alive," I say, though to be honest I feel like death.

"Let me go and get another machine." And off she goes.

It must be at least five long minutes later that she returns with a new, snazzier machine. But as flash as it is, it doesn't have a screen, so she can't tell if it's working until actually printing off the results. So I get all hooked up again, and she presses a button. Nothing. Still flatline. I'm beginning to think I am dead and this is my hell. She tweaks my sticky pads and leads and puts sticky tape on some to hold them in place. Try again. Zip. She is staying pleasant, but I'm fast losing my patience and energy.

She decides to get someone to help, and in comes the triage nurse. I am asked to remove my shirt. This seems sensible, and I wonder why I wasn't asked earlier. All the leads and connections are gone over and another attempt is made. Still nothing. So off they go in search of another machine. When they reappear I think they have the old machine again, but I couldn't swear to it... We go through the same rigmarole once more, with the same results, before yet another nurse is called, this time the matron, if memory serves.

I've lost track of the time, 'kay?
Now there are three of them milling around my torso. One of them asks: "Could it be the tattoos affecting it?" A reply comes: "No, it shouldn't be... Are they new, these tattoos?" I say: "This one is, the others no." Of course it's not the tattoos. It's amazing how little people in the medical profession know about tattoos and piercings... Anyway, sometime over the course of the next ten minutes, I stop flatlining, and the nurses flee. Yay!

The doctor comes back with the results of half of my blood work. He'd estimated this would take one and a half to 2 hours, so that gives me some indication of how long I have been there waiting for the ECG. The results show high white-cell count. I'm also showing low blood pressure (which I knew from earlier in the evening). The ECG is fine. I go off to do my urine sample. The results of this come back quickly: slight infection. (This is weird since I've felt totally fine "down there"!) Also, I've got a mild case of gastritis, which could be from food poisoning. I know it's from the pastie I reheated for dinner Sunday night. Urgh! I'm given some antibiotics and am told to drink plenty of fluids and to drink a hydrating solution available from the chemist. We can go, at last.

4.45 am Monday morning
We make our way to the freephone to call for a taxi. I'm asked if I can ring back in half an hour and then they'll be able to tell me if a cab is available. Yeah, right. I dig around in my wallet for details of a cab firm close to where we live. We go outside to call on the mobile. It's daylight; where did the night go? The cab will come out right away; it'll take about 20 minutes and cost £25; and can I pay over the phone with a debit or credit card, please? Sure. I guess they don't want to make such a long journey to find we're gone when they get here.

Taxi man arrives after yet another tediously long-seeming wait. He drives like a motherfucking bat out of hell. I'm clasping, as I have been all evening, a little cardboard sick tray and a plastic sickbag that the ambulance crew gave me, feeling certain that I am going to need them any minute. In the event, miraculously, I don't.

5.30 am Monday morning
We arrive home. It's been five and a half hours since I collapsed. Cat is awaiting our arrival, deeply confused by the whole affair. He wasn't at home when we left with the ambulance, so he came in to an empty house. We go to bed, desperately hoping to get some sleep.

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13 Comments:

Blogger martinobhoy said...

Just catching up on all these posts now. I was in and out of hospital quite a lot as a kid and basically owe my life to the NHS but it does sound like not a lot has changed in 25-30 years. The staff doing the best they can to prop up a creaking service.

01 August, 2007 19:07  
Blogger My Reflecting Pool said...

wow. Service sounds the same as the ERs here. Sorry you had to make the trip and the hassle just to be told to take fluids. This is why I am very particular when it comes to leftovers.

01 August, 2007 19:13  
Blogger Milla said...

You didn't say whether these new nurses commented on your Simpsons p'jama shirt.

01 August, 2007 20:01  
Blogger tweetey30 said...

Hi I am new to your blog and I have seen your around at a few places I visit. Sorry to hear you had such a hard time. That must be terrible. I went down and read through all of them and just commenting here on one of them. That is the pits when you have to wait for drs after nurses and so forth. I hate waiting. Once when my youngest daughter was two month old my oldest tried feeding her baby tylenol and I had to them both in for the poision control and boy was that a mess. Thankfully my oldest never got any in either of them. Now they are 3 years and 6. Stop by anytime and check my blog out. Have a good day.

01 August, 2007 22:40  
Blogger Glamourpuss said...

Blimey. Glad you're ok. I know it's crappy, but at least you weren't presented with a bill for several thousand dollars afterwards.

Puss

01 August, 2007 22:48  
Blogger Candy Minx said...

I love your account of the staff...it's lie an international tour de force...you were cracking me up with your descriptions.

What a night...I bet you've had some strange sleeps since then. I am so sorry you were so sick...barfing like that is hell and the other "releases" too.

02 August, 2007 00:40  
Blogger Wandering Coyote said...

Quelle farce! I laughed out loud when you said you were flatlining on the 1st ECG! I hope you're feeling better. 'Ware the pasties, eh?

02 August, 2007 02:37  
Blogger Martha Elaine Belden said...

i fucking (*gasp! i WROTE the F WORD!!) hate ERs... S O M U C H !!!

i'm sorry you had to go through this. i'm exhausted just reading through it. but i'm glad to hear you're feeling better :)

02 August, 2007 06:58  
Blogger Pie said...

Glad it's nowt too serious. 5-odd hours is about right for A+E at the moment. I can't stand hospitals, I feel sick as soon as I look at the place.

So did you save any pastie? I have an iron stomach and I love pasties.

02 August, 2007 12:32  
Blogger d34dpuppy said...

n tha idiots in tha us wanna do a nhs fukin morons
glad ur alive n hope u r well

02 August, 2007 20:43  
Blogger cappy said...

but more importantly, how are you now?

03 August, 2007 09:05  
Blogger Cynnie said...

aww..poor you..
and poor red!..

ER's suck..
It's so cool ya'll talk in italian while ya'll talk about people!!..

hope you're feeling a lot better

03 August, 2007 14:26  
Blogger Avid Andy said...

that's quite an experience. i've never understood why in er's you have to wait so long when you are feeling your worst. in medical environments i always feel like i am just an annoyance to the staff...the reason they are having to work harder that day. glad it all worked out.

05 August, 2007 16:05  

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