February 1 through 7, 2015 at Northwestern Lakeforest Hospital, IL.
Sunday night February 1, I had pizza for
dinner and it wasn't digesting. I started to get severe abdominal
pains and finally vomited three times in the next few hours as my
body tried to rid itself of the offending stuff. I also had a few
bowel movements in the course of the night, but nothing relieved my
When I finally woke up with the same
pain, I fasted for the whole day, only drinking water. I had no
appetite and was in continuous pain. Toward late afternoon I decided
I better check into the ER. Since I didn't feel well enough to drive
and a driver wasn't readily available, I had a friend in the building
call an ambulance.
They took me to the Grayslake medical
offices of NW Lakeforest Hospital. They have an ER here but if they
are going to hospitalize you, they send you to their main facility in
Lake Forest, which is what happened to me. The diagnosis is likely
Gall stones. I am put in another ambulance and just to make the
evening even more interesting, it gets stuck in a snowbank in the on
ramp to Interstate 94. We were traveling in a heavy blizzard.
The driver calls another ambulance and
a tow truck. Fortunately the tow truck arrives first and is able to
pull us out so I didn't have to be transferred to another ambulance.
Thank goodness for small favors. The roads were bumpy because of the
snow and every bump was painful.
We finally got to the hospital and I
was admitted. I was told I couldn't eat or drink anything because
there were procedures to be done and I had to have an empty stomach.
Not eating was not a problem but I really wanted to slake my thirst.
This is where I reminded my self that I was now a patient, and the
term was never more appropriate.
Of course this whole event took place
while Mercury was retrograde, which is always good for mucking up the
works, slowing things down, and increasing the frustration level.
Knowing this did help though.
I had a bunch of Cat scans and they did
indeed find Gall Stones, although when they finally went in with a
scope they did not find one on the surface. They put in a stent to
But I got ahead of my self. They
detected a heart Arrhythmia that I was aware of . This needed to be
corrected before they could safely proceed so they anesthetized me
and shocked my heart to reset it and it worked.
By this time it is Wednesday and I have
not eaten or had water, other than a few sips from sucking on ice
All this time I was hooked up to IVs
which were administering antibiotics and saline solution to keep me
hydrated while I couldn't drink. Not only that, they had me hooked up
to this infernal heart monitor with four attachments stuck on my
chest and this huge gadget that connected all the wires. This I was
supposed to keep in a pocket on my gown. Between it and the IVs and
the constant visits to check vitals and take yet another blood
sample, getting decent sleep was almost impossible.
To add insult to injury, they put me in
intensive care after this series of procedures. This involved even
more frequent checks of vitals. But the thing that was over the top
was every time I started to drift off to sleep, lights would flash
and a loud buzzer would sound.
I finally asked about this, and the
nurse told me I had symptoms of sleep apnea and the buzzer and lights
were to wake me when my oxygen levels got too low according to their
guidelines. This was insane! I begged the nurse to turn off the
signals so I could get some rest; I didn't have sleep apnea.
They complied and surprise, I didn't
die in my sleep. So whose ass were they protecting? Unfortunately
this kind of approach was a factor in virtually every decision they
made about my care. Of course I appreciate a cautious safe approach,
but one has to question how often liability issues were the main
factor in their decisions.
Let me just pause here to give an
overview. On the positive side, The staff were universally without
exception exemplary in their service. I experienced lots of kindness,
lots of caring, lots of good professional help which I appreciated.
At one point when I was feeling sorry
for myself and wanting to go home, I had a bit of an epiphany: I had
a red button to push where someone would come and tend to my every
need. Beautiful women were touching me in a wholesome way. It made me
realize how touch deprived I was, and how deficient I was in the
social interaction dept. generally. And finally, after they let me
start eating again, I could order meals off a varied interesting menu
which were promptly delivered. So what did I really have to complain
The facility was clean and well
maintained. There was a thermostat on the wall where I could regulate
the room temperature. Although I had room changes, I was always in a
double except when I was in Intensive Care and except for the last
day, always had a roommate. The quality of my roommate did effect the
peace and quiet a lot. I was so grateful for my final roommate who
was quiet as a mouse. He had a good marriage too and that helped the
The food was palatable to good. They
had an efficient menu ordering system which worked well. Of course
the food wasn't organic or gourmet, but I appreciated ordering my
meals off a menu, a nice treat.
It did bother me a lot that the
standard drinking water was tap, all full of fluorides, etc. Fluoride
has been proven to be a neurotoxin; what is it doing in hospital
Don't even get me started on nutrients!
I was constipated from Wednesday on, and I kept asking for a
laxative. I don't know why they were so unresponsive on this issue.
They gave me narcotic pain killers without blinking an eye. They
gave me stool softeners which did nothing. All those antibiotics had
pretty much shut down my digestive system.
Finally I got a prescription laxative.
Lucky I didn't look at the ingredients before I took it the first
time. It did work, I was able to move my bowels about three hours
after taking it. Now at home I normally took my Swiss Kriss at
bedtime, so I would be ready to go the following morning. This
rhythm never got established in the hospital.
Especially after I read the ingredients
on my laxative: Polyethylene Glycol. What insanity! Plastic bags &
anti freeze? Why couldn't they use some of the well proven herbal
solutions like the Sennoids in Swiss Kriss? Oy vey..
The doctors were frustrating in what
they said about going home. On the one hand they said perhaps just
another day. But when it came right down to it, they always wanted to
keep me another day. They said they need to see a significant drop in
what sounded like my Billy Reuben numbers. I found out when I got
home and googled it that they were referring to my bilirubin levels.
So the weekend came and I was still not
released, even after my urine changed from almost brown to a more
normal color which indicated my liver was working better.
The plan that my primary Doctor
proposed was that I would be sent home when the bilirubin levels were
ok, and then I could come back and have my gall bladder removed
electively at some near future date.
In consulting with a hospital social
worker, I was reminded that I had been accepted as an emergency
patient, even though this hospital was outside of my insurance
network. If I chose to come back for elective surgery, I would very
likely have to go to another hospital that was part of the Cygna
On Sunday afternoon the attending
Physician suggested I just stay hospitalized and just get the surgery
done here. I didn't want to do this because I wanted to do some
research on alternatives on my home computer so I could get a clearer
picture of my alternatives. Also I needed to go home to just take
care of business, pay bills, etc. So I asked to be discharged.
This was done, and late Sunday
afternoon my daughter came and brought me home. I had some
prescriptions to fill but that would wait until the following day.
This hospital visit reminded me why I
avoided conventional medicine. The bottom line was that it was a
major wake up call for me, I had been neglecting my health and now I
was paying the consequences. My religion ECKANKAR was celebrating the
year of Spiritual Healing, so I also knew there was a more profound
component to what was going on. And it spite of all its deficiencies,
I was grateful and appreciative for the decent care that was
available to me through Uncle Sam's health care system.