What are all of the good things about being in a hospital? Take a peek at my list…
No, wait! Just kidding! I was going to have a long list of items in two columns, Good and Bad, but since I’m too stubborn to learn how to set up columns in this blog format, you’re getting an illustrated prose layout instead. Hope you don’t mind.
This will explain why I’ve been out of commission for the past month. See the gallbladder in this picture? I used to have one just like it! Now I don’t!
Come along for the ride. Hey, if I had to, you have to. The whole shebang will only take eleven days! Let’s go! 😃
First came the pain. Smack in my solar plexus. I felt like a bear was leaning on me with his elbow right in the centre of my chest. (Do bears have elbows? I insist they do!) I endured this pain until the next day, thinking (hoping!) it was indigestion.
John was at the hairdresser, so now (May 19) I called 811 – Quebec’s Info Santé telephone line. (The idea of 811 was that fewer people would clog hospital ERs, since they’d get their questions answered by a nurse at this help line.) Ha! Guess what? No one ever answered. All I kept hearing was the recording, “Your call is important to us. Blah blah blah…” Finally I hung up. After gnashing my teeth for another fifteen minutes, I gave in and called 911. I phoned John and told him he could meet me at the hospital ER.
At this point I didn’t know what was happening to me. Heart attack, maybe?
The EMTs said it didn’t look like it.
I was then treated to the bumpiest ambulance ride in history. “Ow! Ow! Ow!” – every dang pothole and mini-mountain in the road. You’d think I lived in some rural area deep in the bush, not a busy suburb.
It took that night and all the next day, May 20, for the powers that be to figure out (via CT scan and X-ray and ultrasound) that I had large gallstones, and that they needed to remove my gallbladder.
By the way, I must show you this, it’s adorable. They didn’t want me to drink (or eat) anything, but I was allowed to suck on this little sponge, dipped in water. It was so cute, cut out in a star shape, on a stick like a lollipop! It was a lot better than nothing.
Now we had to wait for an open OR slot. By Friday night, still no slot, so I drifted off to sleep with the help of their MORPHINE… or maybe it was just super-acetaminophen.
BAM! A blazing klieg light raked my eyes, and a drill sergeant (ok, an apparently battle-scarred nurse) yelled into my half-asleep ears, “OK! Get up! You have to have your shot now!” Seriously, I thought I was about to be shot! Well I was, but with syringe and needle and sedative. I was going to have the operation – at 1:30 a.m.!
Saturday, May 21. I am now minus a gallbladder! Yippee! What no one told me to expect, though, that my stomach would be blown up like a balloon and would stay there for a few days. Ay yi!
I must tell you about my fabulous daughter, my intrepid photographer and helpmate, Kathryn, seen here. Well, partially seen here, in this selfie. 😁 She was such an amazing friend, taking such great care of me!
The other things I remember from being in that wing, K9 (no dogs though, lol), were:
- …being forced to walk several times a day, around the floor, with nurse in tow, and my wonderful husband (not feeling up to scratch himself) following us close behind with a wheelchair, in case I ran out of steam!
- …losing one of my two hearing aids! We all looked everywhere! But it just disappeared, probably among the linens and detritus, who knows. The thing cost $1600! But my insurance will cover all but $500. Better than nothing. (My favourite expression, it seems!)
- …diarrhea. Another thing I didn’t expect. Without going into too much detail (I’m sure you’re all familiar with it), it was just funny how every nurse during her shift would ask me, “Diarrhea?” I’d say “Yes,” figuring that would be the end of it. But then they’d inevitably say, “How many?” “Huh??” I’d wonder. “How many times?” They’d ask. Err…. I hadn’t studied for this ‘exam’ question, so I just made up an answer. “Um, two?” 😜
Anyway, by Monday (May 23), I felt I’d had enough of the hospital, and was ready to go home. The doctor wasn’t too thrilled though, saying I should really stay at least another day, my numbers (O2, BP) weren’t optimal, but I was determined. So home we went.
CUT TO: Wednesday afternoon (May 25), back in the ER, embarrassed to be sure. I had a fever around 100.5° and was feeling awful. So after triage, I was taken up to a room – an ugly room in one of the older sections of the hospital. (My punishment for leaving too soon, I thought.)
So now they tried to find out what was wrong. Did I have an infection? C diff? E coli? (“Diarrhea? How many times?”) Did I have Covid?? (By now I’d had two negative PCR Covid tests – plus they also ruled out influenza and RSV.)
Acting on the side of caution, they put signs up over my door calling for anyone entering to wear full PPE. Here’s Kathryn, such a trouper, on one of those days:
Well, time and more tests showed that I did NOT have any serious infection (so I was taken off vancomycin after two days); it was probably just a mild bug/virus that was now going, going, gone! My hospital saga ended the night of May 29, when I was told I could go home! Yay! I felt like the woman hugging the nurse/doctor in this mural outside the hospital:
Before going, I will leave you with a searing personal portrait of hospital life. (Not for the squeamish!)
Okay, never mind that! Here’s another side of hospital life: at this particular hospital, at least, the FOOD was pretty darn good. Although I’m still not taken with those little purple cubes. Take a look:
That last one! Mmmm! Chicken soup. Sweet-and-sour meatballs. Mashed potatoes. Veggies. They were really big on veggies. Also canned fruit! Every dessert was canned fruit! Sugarless for sure, since I’m diabetic (controlled with medication).
And the best thing of all? I lost ten pounds. 😅😅😅
P.S. – Next time I’ll tell you about the mystery behind this locked room, right next to mine.
Credit: Most photos by Kathryn Presner.