Monday, June 4, 2012

I Used to Get Laid a Lot, part 3.

When I left off, I was hiding from the reality that I knew had to take place. I called Dr. Harvey and turned myself in like the hospital parolee that I was. As I figured, he wanted me to do an immediate blood test to show the level of creatinine in my blood, or in layman's terms, the percentage of impurities that should have been filtered by my kidneys. When I left the hospital I was at a base level of about 1.7, pretty high, but my normal. Suddenly I was recorded at 2.7, a full point higher and entering the danger zone. Dr. Harvey ordered me back to the hospital where dialysis was available at a moment's notice, if needed. I did my usual negotiation. I told him that I refused to go, that I had too many things going on right now with my move and he needed to figure out another plan. He agreed to let me stay out of the hospital if I agreed to get my blood tested everyday, which is no easy feat while moving and having to be available for the nurses visit everyday. The first day, my level dropped to 2.5 and the following day it skyrocketed to 3.6, then in the hospital 3.8. After just one full day at the new location, I had to turn myself in at Good Sam's again! Many of my belongings are still at the old location, even today.

I was told that I had to consider my priorities and staying alive was definitely a priority. I waited until after rush hour and drove to the hospital like a man that going back to prison. When I checked in, the same young girl was there and to my embarrassment, she knew my name and shocked to see me back again. She had all my information at her fingertips and I pretty much just sat there while she checked me in. As we walked to my new destination on the 9th floor, the kidney and liver floor, we passed one of her coworkers who asked what happened, why am I back?

I got there about 8 PM and after being diagnosed with dehydration and Vancomycin poisoning and somehow, I couldn't get a cup of water until about 2 AM. It turns out I wasn't in the computer and was not assigned a nurse. All I got were lies from the guy I'd keep catching in the hall, a male nurse that wanted nothing to do with me. Finally I said, "Hey man, this is the desert, get me some water"! That brought me a Styrofoam cup of water, all I wanted. I was never offered my medications that night, so I took my own that I'd had the good sense to pack.

By now you're probably wondering what Vancomycin poisoning is. Vancomycin is a very powerful antibiotic that they use for fighting off infections in the heart, or endocarditis. I take that along with a second regiment of drugs that I am able to inject myself. I had evidently taken way too much of this first drug, causing my kidneys to shut down. The thing that bothers me is, knowing that I'm in stage 4 kidney failure, why wasn't it monitored to begin with? After 8 more days in the hospital, my kidney began performing again and are now at a healthy level for me, however one of the duties of the visiting nurse is to check my blood levels daily and my dose has been reduced to less than half.

Lets talk about my new roommate. As I walked into room 904-2, a window view this time, I passed my new roommate laying in his bed. I nodded hello, but got no response. My roomie was an American Indian wearing a stocking cap over his entire head, swollen to indescribable size and of a nondescript age. I couldn't tell of this guy were 20 or 60, he was that swollen.

I've been told that I'm judgemental. I'm not so sure that being judgemental is a bad thing. It keeps us safe and is one of the reasons we don't go running out into traffic or in general avoid trouble. Knowing that my roommate is a full blooded American Indian, DID make me think of my credit cards and wondered how safe they'd be if I were in the shower, but my poor roomie was too ill to even speak, let alone get out of bed and perform a robbery. I also refused to think that he was a victim of the dreaded fire-water or alcohol abuse, although I immediately thought of it, because I'm judgemental, dammit!

I learned my roommate's name was Preston and he'd been here a long time. Everyday, several generations of family would come to visit Preston and would not say a word to me of any sort, in spite of my attempts at being cordial. They just look down and ignore me. One old woman and she must have been the grandmother, would full on peek at me and when she did, I'd yell BOO! That would keep her on her own side of the curtain for awhile. His family was from a small town called Page in Arizona, would only stay a short time and leave without any endearment, just slip away. I knew that Preston could speak, as he'd soil the bed every few hours by yelling to a nurse, "A little slipped out"! That became my warning to get up and take a walk...

Around day 4, Preston was feeling better and his therapist decided it was time for him to walk. He did 8 circles of the nurses desk area and wouldn't shut up once he started talking. Preston was feeling good. My first question was to ask him how old he was? Thirty three was his reply and of course, what are you in for? His reply kind of startled me. He said, "partying too much." Now what makes me think I'm judgemental?

The following day, Preston was moved to another room, his mother thought he'd do better if he had a window. I was in solitary bliss for about 4 hours when suddenly it was announced I was getting a new roommate. It was about 10 PM and suddenly Wally appeared. Wally was a 79 year old gay man suffering from dementia and a bladder issue. He was a nice enough guy, but would ramble stories of his life at a volume that was too low to hear. It became background noise. If he'd ask me a question, I'd yell, "what" and fill in the blank. It turned out that old Wally was HIV positive and was from a town called Lincolnwood, Illinois, just next door to Skokie, where I was from, but his family moved away in 1951. He told me of the Blue laws in our home towns. He told me that back then, Blacks and Jew were not allowed out after dark in Lincolnwood, kind of his way of letting me know he was anti-Semitic. Just for giggles, I Googled it and there was no such law. Sharing a bathroom with an HIV person bothered me, but since Wally never seemed to make it as far as the bathroom, it wasn't too much of a risk. When Wally wet the bed, he would cause a commotion of different sorts, like he lost his wallet and he thinks someone stole it. They'd show him his wallet and then they'd notice he was wet and needed a bed change.

Somehow, I became one of Wally servants. He's press the nurses button and no would respond in a timely way, because he was always the boy who cried wolf. So he'd yell, "Mel, get the nurse, quick"! So I would... It was a chance to get out of bed and away from Wally for a few minutes. The funniest one was when he called me over because they had stolen his glasses. He'd looked everywhere, in the drawer, on his table, all over his bed and they were nowhere to be found. I let him finish and casually told him he was wearing his glasses. He checked and decided I was right!

So between, "A Little Slipped Out" and "They stole My Glasses", my room smelled like the men's toilet at a retirement home, pretty much all the time... The best part about the incarceration in the hospital was the nurses and nurses assistants. Several of them hung out in my room to kill time and I appreciated the company. The worst part, sad to say were the staff doctors. They literally didn't know their asses from holes in the ground. after my blood levels would come in, someone or the other would inform me of their current standing. The 4 different doctors would visit me and give me 4 different reports. I used to argue, but learned to just smile and say thank you. The day that my creatinine level went from 3.6 to 2.1, Dr. Harvey called and was elated. Twenty minutes later an Asian Doctor came in telling me he was from Dr. Harvey's same office, he looked at a clip board for a few seconds, report there was no change in my levels and left. I said nothing. He clearly never got the latest report.

They day I was to be discharged, a nurse came in and asked why I thought I was going home today. Smiling, I said because all my doctor's have told me. She replied that Dr. Middle Eastern guy has me scheduled for surgery! Do you think I saw RED? What are the taking this time, an arm, a leg? The doctor, having seen I was scheduled for him drug infusion, ordered a PICC line installed in my arm. I asked the nurse what I should do with this PICC line I already have, sew it up? It turned out this little asshole was on the floor and when he came in, he was about 5' 5" tall and apologized for not checking first and assured me that it would not have ever taken place. Somehow, I couldn't even raise a smile for him. Turns out that after 8 days in the hospital, he found it necessary to get a stool sample from me so the medicare bill could go a little higher. I told him that i he needed a stool sample, get some scuba gear and go look for it! He left... I firmly believe that patients going to a hospital require some sort of patient advocate. It should be mandatory...

There's more, to be continued...

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