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Guest column| Darcy Maness

Visit to hospital enough to make anyone sicker

I went to the hospital last month. I had the nasty flu. I learned, however, 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 a wheelchair and whisked me away to the registration desk to process me.

(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. His children all had the flu. The youngest one just had surgery and he wasn't going to put up with anyone using God's name in any way he didn't see fit.

He eventually removed the cuff and said my blood pressure was normal.

I kept thinking, "Whose agenda is it, anyway?'' This was definitely not the place or 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, he dropped the tape, the needle, then the IV port itself and even his cigarette lighter.

He retrieved each item, placed them on my bed — right off the floor — 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 water.

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

Third formidable force: the harried X-ray technician.

The tech came in and began to wheel me out, but my observant husband stopped her before she wheeled me away and 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. 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. She dropped my pillow onto the floor and then offered it back to me. I refused it until she replaced the pillowcase.

The reason 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, less nauseated and the pain medication definitely helped. I gathered my weakened self and my husband and we lit out of there so quickly we forgot to render the copayment.

Fret not; they billed us.

Darcy Maness lives in Spring Hill. Guest columnists write their own views on subjects they choose, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.

Visit to hospital enough to make anyone sicker 04/16/08 [Last modified: Thursday, April 17, 2008 11:31am]
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