The factory is silent. Its assembly line stands motionless. Somewhere off in the darkness, a buzzer sounds. One by one, lights begin to flicker and illuminate on long-unmanned diagnostic panels, giving a sense of enormity and complexity and scale to the machinery. The low hum of power supplies warming up comes next, followed by the higher and louder whine of turbines and electric motors. A whistle sounds, and one by one, employees begin to file in and take their places at the controls. Purposed for a single task, whose time has now come, the factory slowly comes to life...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Hospitals: Still a Downer

Well, in my last post you heard that I was prescribed amoxicilin.

So Thursday night I came down with a pretty horrible case of diarrhea. I was concerned about it enough (it kept me up all night, and my abdomen was painful) that I called the gyn/ob on Friday to talk to one of the nurses, because I didn't want to do anything that would harm the baby. The nurse called, and told me not to worry about it too much because sometimes that happens with antibiotics. (Which I knew, because cephalosporins have done a number on me in the past!) I was thinking it might have been some kind of food poisoning because it came on about 4 hours after I ate dinner. She then asked what I ate, and when I told her I had some bagged salad for dinner, she said that sometimes the preservatives in that will cause a bad reaction in some people. She said that Immodium was perfectly safe to take, and to make sure I stay really, really hydrated, and to eat soft foods, including yogurt, and I should be okay soon after that. Well, later in the day is when things got bad and weird...




I took some Immodium, but it didn't seem to be helping. I took the maximum dose (no more than 4 in 24 hours) but it didn't work. The next time I was in the bathroom, there was blood! For real, red blood, mixed in with everything. At first I panicked that it was coming from the front, but then I confirmed that wasn't it at all. Then I was worried because the Immodium specifically says on the box DO NOT TAKE if there is blood and/or mucous in your stool. By the end of the day I had both, and I felt like pieces of my colon must be falling out with every bathroom visit. Plus, I had a pretty severe case of abdominal cramping. I decided that if it was still bad in the morning, I would go get help...

In the morning, I was still peeing blood out of my backside, so we decided to head to the emergency room.



We decided I should go to the emergency room on Saturday because the gyn/ob was closed, and I know the urgent care doesn't have the diagnostic equipment should something be really wrong. Plus, we have good insurance. (Thank God!)

So we get in the car and...the car starts acting funny. Belt squealing, power steering is not working well. We could hear the belt squeal occasionally, so I figured it wasn't *broken* per se. Craig was driving and he was in a panic. As we got a couple of miles down the road, the battery light started flashing. The whole way we were praying at every stop light that we wouldn't break down, and that we would just make it to the hospital! Luckily, we did! We decided to deal with the car thing after we got me taken care of...

I'm happy to say that, really in reality, the hospital experience we had this time was nearly just as good as the one we had with the D&E in July. Almost everyone was courteous and helpful, and asked lots of good questions, which is welcome and expected. Unfortunately, the wait time was crazy was Saturday in the ER! The desk clerk apologized for the wait though, which was nice because he totally didn't have to.

The up side is that you get to watch all the interesting injured people come in. There was an older man who did something to his ankle, and a teenager who hurt his foot, and a little kid who hurt his knee at a game, and some guy who came in just holding his hand in a towel (yike! We were wondering how he was going to use the palm scanner that they use to sign you in!)

We got called into triage where I was asked a bunch of questions. They too apologized for the wait, but said I had priority over some of the others so I shouldn't have to wait too much longer.

Finally, Nurse Surly called us back to a room. I call her that because she was the only person I met the whole day who was devoid of niceness and personality. Maybe she was having a bad day, or maybe she was just a bitch. Who knows? All I know is that she acted somewhat annoyed the whole time. She gave me a cup for a urine sample and a gown and told me to put it on with the opening to the back. I asked if I needed to strip down all the way, and she said, "You can do it when you come back from the bathroom," which completely didn't answer my question...

We waited for a while, and met the friendly young girl volunteer on the floor who told us she would be happy to help if we needed anything. Finally Dr. Meek came in. (Again, not his real name, just my impression.) He was soft-spoken, but had a kind face, and asked probing questions. He told me also my illness was quite possibly a reaction to the antibiotics; I just may be very sensitive. He asked about the pregnancy, and he said he was also going to get an OB consult from the doctor from my clinic on duty today, which made me feel good. He then told me I was also going to have to provide a stool sample so they could test it to be sure... And then he went off to get his consult.

Nurse Surly came back and gave me a cup for a stool sample. She said she would come back later, I didn't have to do it right now, but to let her know when I was done.

Boy, talk about pressure. Ever try to poop on demand? It's exactly as difficult as it sounds. Especially when you haven't eaten ANYTHING in roughly 18 hours and your body was busy cleaning that out all morning.

I tried one time. A half an hour went by, but nothing. Nurse came back and gave me a bottle of Gatorade (which will probably cost about $65 when we get the bill.)

I tried again and still nothing. More time went by.

Craig got bored with his video game and had resigned himself to staring at me.

I tried walking around, sitting, lying down. We listened to the goings on in the next curtain -- an elderly woman had passed out in the dollar store after eating some catfish at a restaurant earlier, and they thought maybe she had an allergic reaction to it. The thought of catfish made me a little nauseous, but I was at that fine line where I was so starving, I was sick. I also know Craig hadn't eaten anything all day, and he had to be starving by now too, but he refused to step out to get something to eat.

We called the nurse back over, and when she poked her head into the curtain I asked her what if I can't produce a sample? And she said, sorry, that's the only way we can test to see what you have. She said I could take my time though. And I said, really? That's the only test, like there's no blood test or something else we could do? And she said, "Nope, sorry," and left.

I laid down on my left side. At my wits end of all the frustration and feeling crappy and bored starving husband and no eating and nausea and broken down car and blood and pregnancy and stress, I started to cry.

At this moment, Craig sprang into action. He came over and comforted me, and asked me what he could do for me. He asked me if I wanted him to see if he could get me some food or something, and I sobbed, "Ok." He used the call button and when the nurse desk answered he said, "Can you see if my wife can have something to eat?" and they said they would check.

Suddenly, people were attentive again!

The volunteer doing rounds came in and asked me what she could do to help. She said they had all kinds of crackers, and peanut butter, and some things to drink if I wanted, so I asked for some saltines and water.

Nurse came back in and said it was okay for me to have some crackers, and took my blood pressure and pulse. (134/84! Yikes!) She asked how far along my pregnancy was, and I told her, and she said maybe some of my sickness was from that. I said none of this happened last time I was pregnant, and she asked me if I had had a boy or a girl.


The volunteer came back, and I tried to stuff a few crackers down my gullet. I was amazed at how absolutely nauseated I could be by Zesty crackers. I made Craig eat a few too so he didn't pass out. The doctor came back in and said that it was okay if I didn't think I could give them a sample now; they could send me home and let me bring one back! They weren't going to keep me hostage, he joked.

He said he was going to write me a prescription for a new antibiotic, and he had talked to the OB doctor on duty and they both agreed it would be okay for me to take, but not to start it until they got the sample, because otherwise it could affect the results. He said he would send someone in to do my discharge paperwork, and I could get dressed.

I felt somewhat relieved, except then I was thinking about how in the world we were going to get a sample back with a broken car. And then I felt something else...

I trotted off to the restroom, and then I proudly marched back down the hall in my sexy open-back hospital gown with my sample! Hooray for crackers!

When they came to discharge me, they told me to ignore the directions to wait for the sample to start my prescription, and just start it right away. They signed me out, and we left to deal with my car.

True to my suspicions, the serpentine belt was loose. I was afraid we wouldn't be able to drive it farther, so we called AAA, and ran across the street while we waited to get my prescription filled and get Craig some Wendy's. When we got back, the AAA guy called, and we happened to get the nicest tow truck driver I've ever had tow me somewhere! He towed our car to the shop we trust a few miles down the road, and agreed to take us home even though he's not really supposed to drive people more than a mile outside of towing. (It was only 5 miles home for us, anyway.) He was funny and kind, and when we said something about getting the prescription I needed without a car, he was all set to drive us there too! (But then we told him we had already picked it up.) When we got home, I found the tow company's website and wrote a really nice review about him...

So all things considered the end of the day summed up much better than the beginning. Later that night, I had a scare when I had the tiniest bit of pinkish spotting when I went to the bathroom, but nothing since. I followed up with the gyn/ob this morning (per my ER discharge instructions) and they told me it was okay to wait until my ultrasound next Monday to come in.

And so begins the waiting and healing game. I'm completely sick of clear fluids and soup and rice, so last night I ate a slice of pizza! I have not yet regretted it, so the new antibiotics must be working.

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