Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

How Not to Start Labor Day Weekend

When you’re having chest pains and have trouble taking deep breaths, don’t call your family doctor.

If you have disregarded the previous suggestion: When you call the doctor during regular business hours and get an answering machine, don’t try calling back later.

If you have disregarded the previous suggestion: When you finally connect and the nurse says she will page the doctor, don’t say, “Thank you.” Say, “Don’t bother.”

If you have disregarded the previous suggestion: When the doctor finally calls and says you ought to call the rescue squad, and you explain that it will take the rescue a half hour to reach you so you’ll get there faster if someone drives you, and the doctor tells you to go on to the emergency room anyway, consider just staying home.

If you have disregarded the previous suggestion: When you have arrived at the emergency room and have been given oxygen which makes you feel so much better and your blood pressure has dropped fifty points and your pulse has come way down, and the emergency room doctor says the hospitals want to keep you overnight for observation, just say, “No.”

If you have disregarded the previous suggestion, here’s what you can expect:
  • (1) No sleep. You will be visited at two-hour intervals by someone who either wants to take blood or check your blood pressure. These two activities will never occur at the same time.
  • (2) Discomfort. The hospital bed will sag in the middle. The electronic doo-hickey that is plugged into all the little gummy things stuck over your torso will be incredibly awkward and the little plastic pocked clipped to your hospital gown will flop around.
  • (3) Pain. Minor pain (see #1) or major pain, which involves a shot of blood thinner into your abdominal area. The shot will not hurt. The intense fiery pain that happens about two minutes after the shot will cause you to scream. Several times. The tube sticking into the arm that they don’t use for drawing blood or checking blood pressure will become increasingly uncomfortable. The fact that the tube will not be used after you’ve been admitted is beside the point. It’s “hospital policy” (as is the shot for blood thinner).
  • (4) General discomfort. The towel-wrapped bag of ice cubes you were given to help the abdominal pain after the shot (It didn’t help!) will come unwrapped and you’ll have a cold, wet cover. Fortunately, a nurse will come in to check you (not to get blood or readings; probably just to see if you’re still alive) within an hour and will get you a dry cover.
  • (5) Entertainment. The TV has over a hundred channels. Unfortunately, you have to go through all of them to get the one you want. You can also try to decipher what the woman down the hall is screaming (“She’s psychotic,” the nurse told me.) If you have a room with a window over-looking the funeral home across the street, you can look out periodically to see if anyone is being wheeled over from the hospital (I didn’t see anyone; I did notice how convenient the hospital is to two funeral homes.) or you can watch the spectacular lightning displays during the two-hour storm in the wee hours of the morning (I was awake anyway).
  • (6) Food. It will be bland. Even though you tell them, you’re diabetic and potatoes have a high glycemic index, the majority of the food on your plate will be potatoes. The beverage will be iced tea. (I don’t drink iced tea. I only drink hot tea.)
  • (7) Companionship. You will meet lots of nice hospital employees at frequent intervals. They will be very polite and comforting when they explain that whatever stupid and/or painful thing they have to do is “hospital policy.” That about covers it.

Things you need to know before you’re admitted to a hospital.
  • (1) Personal hygiene. You’d be amazed how many strangers will see your unshaven legs.
  • (2) Your complete medical history. Commit it to memory because you will have to recite all if it at least three times to different medical personnel who will jot it down on different charts. (Don’t they ever compare notes?)
  • (3) Husband’s short-comings. (A) You tell him that when he gets home, he is to put the wash in the drier and remake your bed. When you return home early the following morning, the mattress cover will still be in the drier and your bed will have the bedspread directly on top of the bottom sheet. The top sheet will be wadded in a corner of the bed. (B) You emphasize how important it is to get the outside cats in the garage so they will be safe from predators and can be fed. You arrive home, to discover the garage door open about a foot at the bottom so the cats could come in when they wanted to (he couldn’t catch them), but he points out that he indeed fed them and they “ate all their food.” He points to the licked-clean dishes. (The cats never eat all their food. I always give their leftovers to the dogs. One of the neighborhood possums has probably gained several pounds, though.) You are, however, thankful that you can call him at 5:45 a.m. and say, “Come get me right NOW!” and he will do so.

The nice thing about starting off Labor Day Weekend so badly is that other irritations seem better by comparison. For example, my heel spur doesn’t hurt nearly as much in comparison to the other pains. And the “Official Redneck Dove Season Opener” wasn’t as bad as previous years. For the last few years, we were under heavy artillery shelling as rednecks tried to prove their manhood by continuously shooting into the sky on the off chance that they’d kill some harmless little birds. This year, we just had sporadic bursts of sniper-type fire for several hours. The fact that the nice policeman I called last week said he make regular patrols probably helped. (We saw him go past at dusk, but the crowd had dispersed by then.)

This isn’t our first Labor Day Weekend trip to the emergency room. In fact, it marks the tenth anniversary of my husband’s getting bucked off Melody and breaking both collarbone and hip (opposite sides). That’s why I know how long it takes for a rescue squad to arrive (and how, when they do arrive, they won’t have a four-wheel drive vehicle to cross a couple of creeks, etc.). All the stuff I had to do for John after that labor Day was a lot more complicated than rounding up cats and making a bed.

We’ve really got to find better ways to start Labor Day Weekend.


Blogger Amy Hanek said...

Well I am glad to see you lived to blog about it. I bet that is what kept you breathing!

I hope you are feeling better and recovering from you PTHS (post traumatic hospital stay).

My kids are still young. I remember how horrible any hospital stay is. To be there and NOT go home with a bundle of joy must be so much worse. I am sorry to hear about your horrible start this holiday weekend.

Put your feet up and flip the TV to the channel you want!

8:15 AM  
Blogger Marion said...

NOT fun...try the beach option for Labor Day weekend next time! And I agree w/hubby driving you to ER, as that was my choice, too. Only 6 miles for me, but I knew it was faster than their getting lost trying to find us.
Gosh! didn't have a bear enter the hospital just minutes after you'd been checked out. When my son saw it on CNN, I informed him that the open doorway behind the bear WAS MY ROOM!
Glad it wasn't a real heart attack. Hint: keep a copy of your meds list, medical condition, diet needs in your purse. Hand it to whomever is asking for the info. Yes, it goes into their computer. But I still carry it with me along with my insurance cards.

8:37 AM  
Blogger CountryDew said...

I had this happen last year at this same time. I wouldn't stay in the hospital though. They wanted to keep me but I told them I was going home, and did. And have lived another year.

5:23 PM  
Blogger Becky Mushko said...

Well, Country Dew, now you know what you missed. Aren't you glad?

Marion, going to the beach is NOT my idea of fun: sand, crowds, and sunburn. did that too much when I lived in SC.

Amy, I watched more TV in the hospital than I watch in the average week.

9:04 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Oh my goodness Becky! I sure hope your feeling better. Was it just a fluke? I take it you went to Franklin Memorial. I've heard that is an unpleasant experience. Now get your sweet hubby to make you dinner on the couch and take it easy!!!!!

4:41 PM  
Blogger Ibby said...

Geeeeeez--I just added your blog to my blog and then I read that you had been at the hospital down the street! I hope you do well in recovery. I think all men make beds the same way. We have a natural order over here--deer, hawks, rabbits, squirrels, groundhogs, possums, and snakes, in that order of visibility.

6:04 PM  

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