Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The DD News Blog: Live blogging from the bowels of an emergency room!

My dear son Ian landed in the Emergency Department of a world-famous hospital and medical school today with seizures and a high fever. If you are contemplating a visit to your local ED (formerly known as the ER or Emergency Room), try having seizures. Other than profuse bleeding, it seems to be the surest way to be seen quickly by the ED staff.

It seems fairly certain that Ian has a urinary tract infection, but the specific culprit causing it will not be known until tomorrow or later. To make things interesting, a doctor, who is low in the pecking order, stopped by to practice some medicine this afternoon. He started prodding Ian's belly. Ian can't talk, but I could tell it really hurt by the faces that he was making.  So the doctor speculated that maybe he has appendicitis, a condition that can masquerade as a urinary tract infection. He thought further tests were in order, but when the attending physician came by to repeat the prodding, she wasn't so sure about the appendicitis. Ian did not look like he was in pain and, after all, we already had a pretty good explanation for all his symptoms.

To complicate matters, further tests were not officially ordered, but the doctor was not clear as to whether it was OK for Ian to eat and drink. He has had nothing to eat all day and he takes his seizure medication with food. I made a small stink about him not getting his seizure medication, seeing as how WE DON'T WANT HIM TO HAVE MORE SEIZURES!  Finally, the nurse got the medication and said it would be alright to give him small bites of yogurt with his pills. At this point, I took over and Ian began wolfing down the yogurt with his pills and I couldn't help myself - I gave him the whole carton of yogurt plus a glass of water to wash it down. He and I are both happier except that he would prefer more than a carton of yogurt for dinner.

To continue with this comedy of errors, I happened to read a document with Ian's name on it summarizing his hospitalizations and surgeries over the last decade or so. It said he had a cardiac surgery procedure in 2001 which is news to me. Don't you think they would have told his mother about this? It also mentioned NEC that I discovered means necrotizing enterocolitis, a serious gastrointestinal emergency occurring in newborns, another thing Ian never had. Ian has enough wrong with him that his medical history needs no embellishment. I have no idea where this stuff came from.

It reminds me of one of Ian's past hospitalizations in an intensive care unit when my confidence was shaken by a hospital technician who swooped into the room and asked if he (referring to Ian) went by the name of Richard or did he like to be called Dick? I said, he really prefers Ian. He swooped out of the room again looking for someone named Dick on whom he could perform a medical procedure.

We are now in a wing of the ED filled with people who will be admitted to the hospital when and if there are ever empty hospital beds. The long wait has begun with no end in sight as another shift of workers comes on the job chatting so loudly that the inmates are waking up again after finally settling down. Every five seconds a bell or alarm goes off and as far as I can tell there is no urgency to respond. It will be a long night ahead for Ian and I, but at least we can look forward to a laugh a minute.

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