Sunday, October 27, 2013

'The Hospital Comedy of Errors', a true story of a Crohon's patient who found humor in her ordeal

A true story
By Ellen Jackson

It wasn't as though I hadn't been to the hospital before. In my 8th battle with Crohn's disease, an incurable inflammation of my small intestine, nothing in my life had been routine on my last trip to the hospital for surgery to close a tear in my colon. Three weeks turned into three and a half months. The first patchwork didn't hold, and I subsequently developed appendicitis. So when I had another flare-up of my old problem, I didn't expect routine tests, but neither was I prepared for the comedy of errors that ensued.

Starting with the first day they give me a background of what's to come. Joan, my sister-in-law, took me to Rubin Hospital at 8 A.M., on a Friday morning. To say we got off on the wrong foot would be an understatement! And the direction signs at the hospital weren't much help. The corridor we took led to the security guards. With them were the local police, and  handcuffed prisoners who were being admitted to, or released from the hospital. Because we were in such a hurry we only gave them a quick glance. 

The next arrow led to X-ray. Now that was a wrong turn if there ever was one! So we turned around and went back to where the prisoners were, and started our search again. This time we ended up past the reception room for indigents and emergency patients. And then, behold! The information desk--you know the little ladies dressed in pink strips. We asked for directions to admissions. She smiled and said, "Just around the corner, dear."

Once in admission we had another problem. No help was available. Since I was the only patient waiting to be admitted, I wondered what the problem was. God help us if it had been an emergency. And then, in strolled a dude, calling  "Jackson."

"Yes, that's me," I replied.

"Come this way, please."

We turned and went through a door to his office. He sat, steadily trying to talk to Joan while completing the paperwork. I thought we would never finish.

"That's all the information we need. Will you wait in admissions until someone comes for you?" he asked, flashing a I'm-just-the-man-for-you smile. So once again we were waiting. And then along came the orderly. Youngster would be a better word. He set forth through another maze of corridors I don't have the strength to describe. At least we rode the elevator. Getting off on the sixth floor I was immediately shown my room. Once established, I waited another hour before a nurse came by.

Meanwhile, the TV lady, Mrs. Stewart, installed a set for me.  I was able to pass the time until the nurse came. Mrs. Stewart remembered me from my last visit. During that visit I paid enough to buy a television set! A color one at that!

Dr. Cain and the nurse breezed in about 10:30 A.M., This being a Friday morning; they decided the tests wouldn't take place until Monday. I was to have a diet of clear liquids to give my colon a rest, but by Saturday morning I developed diarrhea. So regular food was the order of the day. With the help of "sneaky relatives" I feasted on tacos, an Arby burger and a drink. What would one do without relatives!

During my previous marathon stay I made many friends among the nurses, aides, and housekeepers who popped in, often to help lift me from fits of depression. So now I enjoyed catching up with all the hospital gossip--who had gotten married, which nurses had had babies, and where everyone had been shifted around to. By Monday of all my old nurses knew I was back. My old nurses requested that I be moved back to the fourth floor in the old wing. Dr. Cain agreed.

But before I could get moved disaster struck in the name of Dr. Luke. In an attempt to put an I.V. into my left shoulder, somehow he punctured my lung. This information wasn't relayed to me until Dr. Benton, my physician of six years, showed up to relieve my pain. Needless to say, I never saw Dr. Luke again, not even down the hospital corridors.

Tuesday morning, Dr. Wood (Dr. Benton's associate) came in to put the I.V. into my neck. Having a collapsed lung it seemed the best place put it. I was given a shot to put me out, and one to awaken me. But they didn't reckon with my queasy stomach. Revenge was mine! I vomited on the doctor, nurses and myself. Housekeeping had one hell of a time cleaning up the mess.

That night I was moved to the fourth floor, and once again I was with my old nurses. Unfortunately, I had a student nurse, who, with her supervisor and my permission, changed the tubing on my I.V. now hooked up to my neck. It seemed she had done a good job until I reached up for the mirror. Out popped the I.V. and did I ever have a time getting a nurse! It seemed everyone was on a coffee break.

The first reaction when the nurse arrived was, "What have you done?"

"Me? Nothing. I can't help it if it fell out."

Then came my favorite nurse, Belle, to put the I.V. in my hand until they could get a doctor. Once again, I got a different doctor.  A cutie for a change. His name was Dr. Fork, another associate of Dr. Benton. Dr. Fork either knows his business, or was having a very lucky day. He put the I.V. in my shoulder as it should have in the first place.

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