FRIDAY, MAY 7, 2010 10:04 AM, CDT
Right Choice #6
The roommate who was checked-in to my ward room mid-morning was terrified of hospitals. Scheduled for a short out-patient procedure later in the afternoon, she was set up in the bed, kissed goodbye by her husband and left to worry. She didn’t like the smell, she told me through the drape, she didn’t understand why she had to lay in bed doing nothing since her surgery wouldn’t be until 5:30. There was nothing to do and she was hungry. She hadn’t eaten since half-past seven that morning.
As my roommate’s nerves caused her mouth to run, I got busy on my plan to leave. I had a cell phone now and called Jeff right away. Poor Jeff must have been worried out of his skin over the last days. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much to tell him. He wanted to know if he should fly over to be with me, and I had not a clue. I didn’t know how sick I was, nor how long it would take me to heal. I didn’t know when the doctor planned to release me from the hospital or when I would be able to travel home. I wasn’t even sure what exactly the doctor had done inside me when he cut me open. And so I did the best I could, putting up a brave face, telling him how modern the facilities were and that the doctors were all trained abroad.
The truth was I continued to focus on my great escape. Three things were essential to being discharged, I figured. My intestines needed to work, I needed to hold down water and I needed to take all of my medicines orally. Then I figured they could take out my IV and I could leave with Phil and my colleagues when they came to visit tonight. My intestines were working. Check. I had juice and yogurt for breakfast. Check. Now I just needed to get the nurses to change my medicines over to oral pills and I would be set. Help came in the most unlikely of forms. I got violently ill to my stomach.
Gross, I know. And yet the intensity of my physical response brought the head nurse to my room. As she reviewed my chart and listened to the explanation that this was the second time today I had been so ill, she explained to me that I was most likely allergic to the IV medicine I had been given. I didn’t bother to explain that the nurses had failed to provide my medicine last night or that I had taken the medicine successfully in the ICU, I asked her if there was an oral alternative to the IV medicine that she thought was making me so sick. There was. With a change in my orders to oral medication, and an injection of anti-nausea medicine I began the long wait for the students to return to Pretoria from their Safari adventure.
I called Lewis, our tour group leader, and let him know that he should plan on springing me from the hospital when they came to visit that night. Hours later, when the evening visit turned hospital escape, and I had been safely ensconced in the Protea Hotel, my student Sara told me about the dismay my hospital escape plan caused. The nurses were clearly upset by the quick change in plans when I announced that it was necessary for me to leave with the group of visitors. I had no other way to get from the hospital to the hotel, I explained. Even before the nurses expressed their frustration, some students had voiced their concern. Later I was told that Phil let them know, “If my Mom has made up her mind to leave the hospital, she is going to leave the hospital. You won’t be able to stop her.”
And they didn’t. The Protea Hotel was a much more comfortable, much safer place for me to recover. The on-call-doctors would make regular visits, and Phil slept on the floor in my room to make sure I was safe.