As my conspicuous absence may have indicated, I’ve been a bit under the weather lately. And by under the weather I mean in the hospital for three days followed by three days of nausea, sleeping 16 hours, a Chief’s loss, and suffering the effects of prescription pain meds (and I do mean suffering – pain pills aren’t nearly as fun as they’re made out to be).
I don’t just run this blog for kicks. I don’t spend hours each day poring over news, commentary, and Health Affairs articles for class or work. It’s never been an assignment, and it’s never been about entertainment. I do this because I’m all too intimately acquainted with the health system. If you added up all the time I’ve spent in doctor’s offices or waiting rooms, it would equal at least one year, and possibly more. I know its inimitable role in improving our lives, as well as the complete insecurity accompanying the uninsured.
One thing was different about this time around: for the first time in my life, the memories of my hospital stay will be more than distant spots of cognizance (granted, they won’t be the sharpest memories in the drawer). This was my first hospital stay as an adult. From this side of 18, things couldn’t be more different.
I want to make an essential distinction: receiving treatment through an overnight stay in the hospital is a fundamentally different way of experiencing care. You know that saying “It takes a village...”? That holds true in the hospital -- considering the virtual parade of people who needed something from me, it’s no wonder staying in the hospital is so expensive. I had seven different nurses and 4 nurse techs, food delivering people, a team of orthopedic docs who would come at separate times (6 am and 6:45 am, respectively), the brace guy, the lab people, physical therapy....
For your easy reading pleasure, I’m going to make my main assessments from the recent infirmary stay in bullet form:
• Do not expect to rest in the hospital, especially post-surgery. Invariably someone will declare their presence five minutes after you nod off. This includes the physical therapy person who gleefully announces, the day after they cut open your leg and put a huge plate in, that it’s time to learn crutches and practice stairs!
• Do not expect to get any real information out of your doctor, as you will only see him/her for three minutes at 6:30 a.m. By the time they’re done, you will still be rubbing your eyes trying to figure out which health practitioner is bugging you this time.
• Morphine isn’t nearly as fun as you remember and its main effect seems to be making it impossible to pee. It is also not any stronger than oral pain meds, according to the anesthesiologist (strangely reminiscent of Alan Alda, but it could have been the morphine). This was news to me! I would have demanded to be off it ASAP if I knew that!
• Expect to remember one more thing you needed right after you send the nurse out for something else. You will then feel guilty for making her run around so much, but not as guilty when she returns and hour later with the other item.
• Plan ahead! The second you need to use the bathroom, do it! Invariably someone will come to take you to some test if you wait, and you will get stuck on the x-ray table for 45 minutes while they find someone to transport you back to your room. That also goes for your pain meds – order your next one an hour early. It will take an hour to get it, and it will feel like the longest hour ever.
More to come. I’m still healing, folks, and it will take a few days to get back to my normal blogging output. Now don’t run off and get any unnecessary treatment while I’m gone...