Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Visit to the Hospital

A visit to the Hospital

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 abdominal pain.

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 encourage flow.

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 cubes.

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 about?

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 harmony.

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 drinking water?

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. Funny.

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 system.

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.

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