Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Home Again, Home Again

I returned home yesterday after an unexpected 3 ½ day stay in the hospital. A little more than two weeks ago, I noticed a small swollen spot on my chest. I wasn’t overly concerned about it because I’ve noticed the same thing in the past in the same spot and it always went away after a week or so. This time it didn’t go away. As the days passed, it gradually got bigger and more uncomfortable. I had a regularly scheduled appointment with my family doctor coming up, so I waited until then to talk with him about it. By the time I saw him, it had grown to about the size of a small egg in my opinion. He thought it was closer to a baseball…I think his estimate was somewhat exaggerated, but I won’t argue about it. I expected him to send me to urgent care or the ER to have it lanced and drained or maybe even get ‘r done in his office. Nope, no such luck. Go to the hospital immediately. Do not pass Go. Do not collect any of your belongings to pass the time while you are incarcerated. Luckily, I did have a book with me to read, so I wasn’t forced to consider watching daytime TV.

I was given a choice of three different surgeons to perform the procedure. I didn’t recognize any of the names, so I just went with whoever was available. I was admitted, stripped to my skivvies, and provided with the requisite backless gown. After a few hours, the surgeon’s assistant showed up and drained the lump right there in the room. They kept me for another 3 days. I never did see the surgeon who will undoubtedly bill my insurance provider for an enormous amount.

I am now required to make a few comments about hospital food. I think there’s an unwritten law that says you can’t stay more than 24 hours in a hospital without complaining about the food. Forty years ago you got whatever the hospital kitchen wanted to send you. Occasionally you got a choice between two or three items which usually included meatloaf or macaroni and cheese, but the choice was always quite limited. I must admit that things have changed over the last few decades. Today you get a three page brochure of “Seasonal Selections” to order your meal from a wide variety of choices. They still have meatloaf and macaroni and cheese, but there are other appetizing main dishes and side orders, all of which are preceded by adjectives like “savory” and “succulent.” And, of course, there’s the prerequisite Jello in orange or lime. Just make your selection from the menu at the time of your choosing, call the kitchen on your bedside phone, and in 45 minutes you get whatever the hospital kitchen wants to send you. Perhaps I do exaggerate just a bit, the food that arrived usually matched what I ordered except for the “savory” and “succulent” descriptions. I did, however, determine that “green tea” actually means “apple juice” and that both chocolate and strawberry ice cream devolve into vanilla by the time they reach your room.

Since my stay was unexpected, I didn’t have a list of my current medications with me when I registered. The hospital called my pharmacy to get a list of medications. As I have mentioned in previous posts, the doctors have been tinkering with my meds over the last few months, so they got everything wrong and I had to keep telling them “I don’t take that now.” I received the medications on a random schedule which I never did figure out, but the middle of the night seemed to be at the top of the bell curve. I was also visited by folks from  the hospital lab quite frequently. They didn’t sparkle, but I’m pretty sure they owed their allegiance to Team Edward.

The day for my discharge arrived and my family doctor made his rounds at around 7 a.m.. I told him that the surgeon’s assistant had said he would probably let me go that day. My family doctor said if the surgeon said okay, he’d sign me out. The surgeon’s assistant showed up at about 11 a.m. and released me, but my family doctor still needed to be contacted to sign off on it. That’s where the chain of communication broke down. Repeated pages to my family doctor and calls to his office went unanswered. They finally contacted his partner around 5 p.m. who let me come home.

Upon getting home, I reviewed the release papers the hospital gave me and discovered half of them were for a different patient. Why was I not surprised?

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