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Guest column| Darcy Maness

This trip to the hospital was a real pain

I went to the hospital last month. I had the nasty flu. I learned, however, that there are greater risks than influenza. Other than the fact that hospitals spawn tons of germs, the staff can be a formidable force to consider when walking through those electronic emergency room doors.

First formidable force: The registration nurse who takes all your vitals and gets you to an emergency room. You can't skip this step. Upon arriving at the hospital, I collapsed from dehydration and this big guy in scrubs lifted me off the floor and into the wheelchair and whisked me away to the registration desk to process me.

(Future note: Collapsing in the emergency room gets you seen immediately.)

The registration nurse strapped the electronic blood pressure cuff onto my right arm while he began his barrage of questions: Name, insurance, date of birth, etc. Now, we all know that if there is any movement while this device is running, it will continue to inflate and if this happens, the nurse removes it and straps it to the other arm for an accurate reading.

You guessed it, I moved. The thing just kept pumping and my fingers were about to explode. I got anxious about this and my heart rate began to increase. The registration nurse asked if I had any anxiety issues.

"Well, I did just pass out and this thing on my arm is so tight." At this point the pain had me sliding down on the wheelchair's seat. I finally uttered a blasphemy and said, "You've got to take this thing off!"

The registration nurse leaned forward, put his right elbow on his knee and said, "That's one thing I won't put up with, the patients being mean to the staff.''

He continued to tell me that we all have our own problems, that his children all had the flu, the youngest one just having surgery and that he wasn't going to put up with anyone using God's name in any way he didn't seem fit.

He eventually removed the cuff and said my blood pressure was normal. I kept thinking, though, whose agenda was it, anyway? This was definitely not the place nor the time for a stern preaching.

Second formidable force: The newbie, nervous nurse. I got a new, nervous male nurse who seemed to be out of his element in the emergency room. He asked if I needed anything and I asked for a drink of water. He left, returned 20 minutes later and asked me if I needed anything. I said I would love some water and asked if he had any feminine napkins. He looked at me like I'd asked him to turn his head 360 degrees.

He walked over to the supply cabinet and offered me a bed pan. A bed pan! Then he offered me a table pad. I explained that I needed a feminine pad, soon.

"I don't think so."

I replied with shock. "What do you mean, 'I don't think so?' ''

He said he just didn't have what I needed. I looked at my husband in disbelief. And I would have killed for some water.

The nurse returned, sans water, to start an IV to begin fluids. He drew the supply cart closer and began to gather what he needed.

He reached into his pocket and, one-by-one, dropped the tape, the needle, then the IV port itself and even his cigarette lighter.

He retrieved each item — right off the floor — and placed them on my bed without washing his hands afterward. With shaky hands, he got the IV started, mopped up my blood and shoved the bloody gauze under my elbow to keep it from falling to the floor. I never did get that water.

I then was assigned nurse Kelly, who was a godsend. Not only did she get me some water, but the female supplies as well. I then got to see my doctor, who ordered IV medications and chest X-rays. He then disappeared and the comedic sitcom continued.

Third formidable force: The harried X-ray technician. She came in and began to wheel me out, but my observant husband stopped her before she left my IV behind with my arm attached to it.

Inside the X-ray room, I had to remain in my bed and she had to really put her skills to work. Sadly, she wasn't that skilled.

She got my IV tube stuck twice, ripped it partially out, rammed my toes into the wall and accidentally pushed my hair so violently, my head whipped back forcefully. She dropped my pillow onto the floor and then offered it back to me. I refused it until she replaced the pillow case.

The reason why she was so rushed? The nurse behind the protective lead wall kept telling her to hurry up so she could go to lunch. She must have reminded her five times while I was in there.

Once again, whose agenda was this visit anyway?

I left the hospital a little more hydrated and less nauseated and the pain medication definitely helped. I gathered my weakened self and my husband, and we lit out of there so quickly that we forgot to pay the co-pay.

Fret not, they did bill us.

So, my lesson is that unless you're sick enough to pass out at the entrance, stay away from hospital emergency rooms.

Darcy Maness lives in Spring Hill.

This trip to the hospital was a real pain 04/08/08 [Last modified: Friday, April 11, 2008 1:45pm]
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