Thank you all for your comments, suggestions, and concern after my last post! I promise I didn’t intend for it to be such a cliffhanger. The post was getting unwieldy, so that seemed like a good breaking point, especially since I knew the somewhat anti-climactic outcome already. Forgive me!
So … the ER. Are you ready for a long story??
I’ve lived 7 blocks away from NY Methodist Hospital for four years, though I’ve never actually had occasion to go inside. The hospital recently renovated the ER — I remember the endless construction outside — but I was definitely not prepared for what I saw when I entered!
This is a hospital??? It looks like the atrium of a Floridian resort!
The peaceful serenity of the lobby clearly impressed me. Even when I walked into the ER waiting room, things seemed quite orderly, not overly-crowded, and well-managed. I estimated a two-hour wait at most and checked in. Even though I was obviously still functional and not in the midst of anything resembling a life-and-death situation, I decided the wait would be worth it to get to the bottom of what was going on. I hadn’t slept since Friday night — before all of this began — and I knew I wouldn’t be sleeping Tuesday night anyway!
Ummm, my two-hour estimate was way off. Apparently, the good people of Brooklyn decided that Tuesday night would be the perfect night to partake in “real” emergencies. As ambulance after ambulance poured in, those of us who had walked into the ER with “fake” emergencies were forced to wait. And wait. And wait.
It was my lucky night, though, because a woman and her three-year-old sat next to me, and the little girl started yammering away in Spanish about how she didn’t want to sit down even though mom kept telling her to. I jumped in and started chatting with the little girl in Spanish and soon moved onto the mom … who told me she was from Peru!!! We spent some time reminiscing and Spanglishing … and I knew I was in trouble when she said she had been waiting since 6:30. (I got there at 9:30.) And she was actually in pain when she arrived — tears streaming down her face, body in a sweat! So, my planned two hours became five hours waiting in the emergency room.
I finally got called in at 2:30 am, at which point I was shown to a cot and left to wait some more for a doctor. I had my book with me since I had come straight from class, so I read until my eyes started to close. I was so excited to be falling asleep (finally!!!), that I put the book down and curled up on the cot and entered a lovely deep slumber for about two minutes … until tall, dark, and handsome student Dr. Joel appeared to make my acquaintance. Suddenly, I did not quite mind the wait!
Joel inspected my abnormally-expanded belly, tested me for pregnancy (ummm, everyone since triage had been trying to tell me I was pregnant! I was like, nooooooo, you don’t understand, it’s just not possible. Oh honey, it’s always possible. Except when it is not!!!) and confirmed that I was not pregnant, and brought in a real doctor to help him because my symptoms were abnormal. They decided to give me an anti-nausea pill, test my blood, hook me up to an IV for hydration, pepcid, and pain-killer, and do a CT scan to rule out appendicitis. All of this planning took place around 4:30 am, and Dr. Joel let me know that I’d be there for a while because, even if things were running smoothly and on schedule, I probably wouldn’t have the scan until 8:00. There went my dreams of making it into work on Wednesday. I called the office to leave some messages that I would have to take another sick day.
Shortly thereafter, I entered the segment of my ER stay that I will term the fluid vortex. My right arm was attached to the IV to provide me with more hydration than one body could ever need. At 5:30, Dr. Joel delivered 900mL of some substance that I also had to drink, in its entirety, to prepare for the CT scan.
Dr. Joel apologized for the wait, but I told him it was fine since I could use the forced relaxation. He looked at me like I had 12 heads and said, Ohhh man, you have trouble if you think this is relaxing! The first 19 or sips were manageable thanks to the Crystal Light fiesta in the bottle. As I explained to Dr. Joel, I could pretend I was drinking a mojito in my lounge chair on a tropical island. He replied, Suuuuuuure, minus the Baccardi. I half expected him to bring me a shot after that. No go.
Sips 20 through 8000 made me wish I were dead. The flavor of whatever chemicals were lurking in the background became wayyy too prominent, and my already stretched-to-the-limits belly was having trouble accommodating all of the IV drips plus the mojito. I requested permission to move and wheeled my IV tree with me down to the hall to the bathroom. I’ve always wanted to walk around with an IV stand. I felt like I was in a movie. So far, my ER experience had provided me with a Floridian hotel atrium, a Peruvian nostalgia session, a future husband an attentive doctor, mojitos on a tropical beach, and a movie star experience. Could it get any better?
It could. Every time I drifted off to sleep, I’d be gently awakened by the soft footsteps of Dr. Joel coming to check on me and make sure the nurse was keeping me supplied with the pain meds via drip. I told him that he had very reliable footsteps. I think he was not sure what to do with that comment.
I drifted off between 6:30 and 8 (score!). When I awoke, the staff had undergone a shift change (unscore!). The new crew was very pleasant — just not as attentive or as charming. Nurse Jason came to let me know that the CT scan tech was getting set up and would come retrieve me when it was time. He arrived around 9:30 (hey, my 12-houriversary since arriving!) and offered to wheel me in my cot to the scanner. I politely declined movie star opp #2 and decided to walk. After the scan, I was delivered back to my cot, where my phone was waiting full of well-wishing voicemails from my coworkers. Rosey even called to ask if I needed someone to come down from the office in East Harlem to keep me company and bring me food. Awwwwww, not to beat a dead horse, but I have the best coworkers ever. I assured them I was fine and being well-taken care of. Erin Gunn even called, in the midst of her work flight from SLC to NYC being delayed because it was struck by lightning, to let me know that she’d come keep me company when she got into the city if I wanted her to. I felt so lucky all around!
I was back in my cot after the scan by 9:45, but then no one came to check on me or update me for ages. Eventually, I saw Nurse Jason walking by outside my “tent” (no wonder I felt so at home!) and called out to him. Do you know what is happening to me next? Nurse Jason asked if I’d had the CT scan yet. Nearly two hours ago. He let me know that someone would share the results with me when they came in. Thanks.
Around 11:30, Dr. Eddie came in to introduce himself and apologize for his prolonged absence. Dr. Eddie let me know that he’d be back in five minutes with the results of my blood tests and the scan. I was a fan of his action-oriented timeline approach. Twenty minutes later, Dr. Eddie returned to tell me that my blood was perfect and that chances were slim to none that I had appendicitis. The scan results were still unavailable, but he’d let me know when they came through. Excellent. 12:00 … 12:30 … 1:00 … 1:30 … I started to get hungry because I had not eaten since my six servings of Stacy’s pita chips over 12 hours earlier. I went back to wandering the halls with my IV stand (hooked up to another bag of water) in search of Nurse Jason or Dr. Eddie to find out if I was allowed to eat. I couldn’t find them, so I begged a guy I found behind a desk to help me. He found Dr. Eddie:
Dr. Eddie: I bet you want to go home.
Me: Yes, please. But also, can I eat?
Dr. Eddie: Oooh, good question. Because if you have appendicitis, you can’t eat.
Me: Do I have appendicitis?
Dr. Eddie: Hmm, hold on a minute. Eddie makes phone calls. No one answers. Give me 15 minutes, and I’ll let you know.
The man behind the desk connected me with a tray of food and let me know I could keep it in my room in case I got the go-ahead because he didn’t want the food to run out before I got some. Hallelujah! My dream meal:
Errrrrr. Beggars ….
Eddie came in right when he said he would to let me know that I did not have appendicitis. Good, but I’ve been nauseous and in pain and unable to sleep for four nights! Eddie went on to explain that my troubles were due to intestinal issues and prescribed me a couple meds to take care of it. How glamorous.
And that is the story of how I spent 17 hours in the ER to be prescribed laxatives. OK, not laxatives. But colonoscopy-prep medication (which might be worse) and more chemo-inspired anti-nausea pills. I am also under strict orders to moderate the expansion. Uh oh! Expect to be seeing lots of broths for a while. I’m a sucker for fun, so I went straight to CVS to fill the scripts and pick up necessary supplies for a year’s worth of prune “mocktails” because I never want to go through this again!
This one does not so much remind me of a mojito. But it was still tasty!
And then I settled down for a peaceful night’s sleep … finally.
What has been your most embarrassing diagnosis?