Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Every time I think I'm out....

My two-day career as a personal nurse took a rather serious turn yesterday when my father said he was having trouble breathing. After I foolishly let my dad convince me to wait until we heard from my uncle (who used to be a real nurse) and the doctor's office, I called an ambulance and he was taken to a hospital.

Hours later (and you know I'm not exaggerating), the diagnosis finally came down: my dad had a pulmonary embolism. When I looked at the doctor like he was speaking Chinese, he dumbed it down for me - my dad had a blood clot in each of his lungs, and the lower lobe of his left lung had collapsed.

I've spent most of the last 36 hours at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, a place which has become all too familiar to me. I've been there way too #@$%ing often, checking in on various members of my family. Heart surgeries, strokes, depression, cancer, drug overdoses, and even a brain operation have all brought me to St. Joe's over the past ten years. I've watched two people die in that building.

But my dad is getting great care and his condition is stable. Of course, I'm beyond grateful to the medical staff at St. Joe's, but I've really grown to resent that place.

How do you know you've visited a hospital too often?

▪ You look around the ER and think, "Wow, they've done a lot of work on this place. It looks nice in here."

▪ The woman at the front desk says your father has been moved to the medical intensive care unit and you say, "Oh, I know exactly where that is. Thanks."

▪ You can navigate your way from the ER to the cafeteria to the radiology wing to the medical intensive care unit all without looking at a single sign or arrow.

▪ You see that the main hospital entrance now closes at 10:30 pm and say to yourself, "It used to be open 24 hours a day! When the #@$% did this $#!+ start?"

▪ You remember the hospital cable system doesn't carry Comedy Central. (No 'Daily Show' for me last night. I did, however, get to see some of Pistons-Pacers on TNT.)

▪ You know that Wednesday is "Italian Food Day" in the hospital cafeteria.

▪ You hear the sentence "Mr. Casselberry, I'm sorry that your father's back here" ten #@$%ing times from ten different doctors or nurses in an six-hour span.

▪ On your way to buy a magazine from the hospital gift shop, you remember that you don't like the magazine selection in the hospital gift shop.

▪ You know that the waiting lounge in the critical care wing has more comfortable chairs and sofas to sleep on than the other lounges.

▪ Somebody asks where's a good place to eat near the hospital and you can rattle off at least six or seven restaurants.

▪ A nurse says to you, "Oh, I thought you looked familiar. How's Iowa?"