Actually, I’m not IN the hospital any more – I’ve been home for about an hour or so now.  But these are thoughts and reflections about being in the hospital.  I went via ambulance to Baylor Garland last night because of chest pain and heart palpitations.  I thought that perhaps I was having a heart attack, but I wasn’t sure.  I don’t think that’s what it was, but I don’t really know what it could have been.  I do know that it was scary. 

First, I want to talk about the EMTs that came to my house.  What wonderful young men.  They were courteous, considerate, friendly, professional, helpful, and understanding.  I couldn’t believe how fast they arrived at my house after my daughter Erin called 911.  They made me feel so much better, and they were very willing to offer as much or as little assistance as I needed.  At first I didn’t really want to go to the hospital at all, but of course they were right to insist that I should.  But then we discussed whether I should go in the ambulance or just let Erin drive me over there.  They were not pushy about anything, but let me make up my mind.  I really would have preferred going by car, but then I started feeling weird again, so we decided that the ambulance might be a safer choice.  I just can’t say enough about how responsive and helpful they were.  Erin was also quick to point out how good-looking they were!  But of course, they’re all way too young for me!  🙂

Almost everyone I met at Baylor Garland was also very helpful, professional, and pleasant.  Some were even kind and considerate – although not all.  I suppose the patients just become problems to be solved, rather than people who are scared or feeling bad or uncomfortable.  The hardest part about being in a hospital, especially in an emergency situation, is the waiting.  When I first arrived, there were lots of people there to help me, get IVs established, obtain information, etc.  But then they disappeared.  And we waited.  It’s strange sometimes because a nurse or attendant will come in and tell you that something is going to happen, so you assume that it’s going to happen soon.  But then an hour goes by, and you’re still waiting, without a single word from anyone about what’s going on.  So if you need to go to the bathroom, or make a phone call, or anything, you don’t know whether it’s going to be OK to do that or not.  I’ve found that just about the time that I give up and start to do something else is the exact time when the nurse, tech, or doctor walks in the door.  It’s almost like they have little cameras or sensors or something that tells them when you’re ready to give up!  That happened to me several times last night and today. 

I think most of the people working at the hospital have very good intentions, even if things don’t always turn out to be very helpful.  For example, I started out with a wonderful male nurse named Richard, who was kind and solicitous and funny and friendly.  He made a big point of telling me that if I needed anything, I should just buzz and he would be right there.  But when I did try to buzz, nothing happened.  I found out the next morning that the buzzer button on the side of the bed didn’t work.  The little hand-held buzzer was behind the bed on a shelf, and no one had thought to attach it to the bed.  It’s a good thing that I didn’t have a real emergency.  The reason I was trying to buzz was that one of the techs had come in to take my vitals, and when she left she forgot to close the door behind her.  It was 3:00 in the morning, and I wanted to sleep!  But the light and noise from the hall outside my door was way too bright and loud.  Eventually I just unhooked all my leads and tubes and got up and shut the door myself, then reattached everything.  Nobody knew the difference…  That wasn’t the only example.  This morning an attendant brought my breakfast in and sat it down on the rolling table – you know the kind, the tables that are designed to roll under the bed and extend over the patient’s body in the bed.  She said a kind word, set the tray down, and left.  But when I tried to pull the table over the bed, I realized that either the bed was set too high or the table was set too low.  I tried and tried to adjust the table, but it just wouldn’t budge.  So I used the buzzer (which they finally had given me at 5:00 in the morning) and I called the nurse’s station to tell them what was wrong.  It was about 7:30 and I was really hungry.  But it was 8:15 (at least) before anyone came in to help me fix the table, and by then the coffee and all the food was cold.  The grits were solid.  (not that I really care for grits anyway)  That’s just two examples.  There were many more, but some involve bodily functions, so I think I’ll keep those to myself.

Today I began to realize that I didn’t really need to be there.  The bed was too short – I couldn’t stretch my legs out all the way, so I was very uncomfortable.  The reading light didn’t work, so it was either sit in the dark and watch TV, or read with really bright lights shining right in my eyes, or sleep.  So I slept, but not comfortably.  Early in the morning, a very sweet young doctor told me that she would communicate with the cardiologist on call, and that he would come to see me and make a recommendation.  That was probably around 8:30 or 9:00 in the morning.  At 3:00, the doctor still hadn’t come.  I told Erin that if the doctor hadn’t shown up by 4:00, I was just going to leave.  They might protest, but they couldn’t force me to stay there against my will, waiting for a doctor who was most likely out on the golf course.  He arrived at about 3:40.  After talking with me about my symptoms and history, he told me that, in his opinion, I needed to have a stress test.  But unfortunately, there were no facilities available at the hospital for conducting a stress test.  Therefore, and in view of the holiday weekend, he wanted me to stay in the hospital until Tuesday!!!!! I was probably rude (although I didn’t mean to be), but I just started saying no, no, no, no.  I told him I have to go to church tomorrow, and I have to go to school on Tuesday, and I was so uncomfortable there, and so miserable.  So he finally relented, as long as I promised to call my cardiologist first thing Tuesday morning, which I will do, I promise.  Thank you Lord!  I could not have faced spending the entire weekend in the hospital, especially since there’s nothing really wrong with me.  But the fact is that spending time in the hospital makes you feel bad. 

So I’m home, I’m happy, and I’m grateful.  And I hope to goodness I don’t have to visit that hospital (or any hospital) for a long, long time.

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