Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The hospital visit

Saturday October 8

I had a hard time sleeping because of the knee pain and at around 6am I decided to go downstairs to get a cup of coffee. But I could barely move. I laid on the hallway carpet in pain after slowly going down the stairs on my bum like Jillian does. Bev came down and I asked her to call a cab so I could get to the hospital. I grabbed a couple of magazines, a banana, and a water bottle. The cab driver came and by then I could barely get into a car seat. He got a wheelchair for me and wheeled me into the registration area. A receptionist checked me in and sent me to another desk for more information. Then I waited for about half an hour. There were a variety of people in the emergency waiting room, old folks, guys who’d been in fights, drunk homeless people.

I got put into a non-acute ward where they lifted me onto a bed after I put on a hospital gown. This was very difficult. The ward wasn’t quite full yet. I put my clothes on a chair beside my bed. Then some nurses came by and helped me onto the bed. The shut the large privacy curtain around my bed, but my clothes were on the other side of it. At the same time a guy who’d been kicked in the head that night came into the ward and set up in the bed next to me. I’d accidentally put my stuff on the cahir that was in his section. But I didn’t dare reach over and grab my stuff. He was arguing with the nurses and a security guard eventually came and kicked him out. His wife was understandably very upset. As soon as he left I grabbed my stuff and put it on my proper chair. By this time, my knee had swollen up quite a bit. I waited around quite a while in the bed.

Then an emergency doctor, Dr. Yoon, came around and did some tests on my knee. He thought I had bursitis. I went for x-rays. The x-ray tech was a nice young woman and she told me she knew what was wrong with my knee, since she had the same injury when she was a kid, but she couldn’t tell me the diagnosis. I had my banana and a sip of water. When I saw Dr. Yoon again he told me I had broken my kneecap and that I’d have to have surgery. The nurses told me I couldn’t have any food or drink in anticipation of surgery but that surgery that day was a longshot since it was a busy Thanksgiving weekend for the orthopedic surgeons. I tried keeping Bev up to date with the hospital cordless phone but the phone was in high demand a lot of the time. I used my cell phone to send an email. I was hoping she’d get me a Globe and Mail.

I got to know other patients’ cases pretty well since there wasn’t much privacy. The guy next to me had a really bad migraine, so bad that the doctors thought he might have a stroke. He spent the whole day in bed. He even got a cat scan but it turned out negative. Nevertheless, the ER doctor got a neurologist to come in and double check the stroke diagnosis. The neurologist was European and seemed very intelligent. He spent a lot of time with the guy but couldn’t help the patient much aside from re-assuring hime that he had a mini-stroke at the very most. There were two or three native homeless guys in the ER too. They all got the same treatment – getting an appointment with a social worker, getting into “detox”, whatever that entails, and setting up residence in a men’s shelter.

Another guy came in after cutting his eyebrow while playing basketball. A resident gave him stitches. He wasn’t in the ER for too long. The last guy who came in was in bad shape. He had got his finger caught in his truck tailgate. He came in, screaming that his finger was just a bunch of ruined tendons and bones and blood. The resident who examined him didn’t know what a tailgate was. The guy was understandably frustrated. His wife and two young kids came in but they were shooed away. From what it sounded like, he was probably going to get an amputation.

A resident, Jon, came by to check up on me and I recognized him from Ultimate. I had met him before at a teammate’s party for medical residents. I remember when I met him at the party I thought he was a good guy because he wasn’t getting drunk and incomprehensible like all the other residents! Unfortunately there was not much he could do for me, as I just had to wait.

Bev came by and brought Jillian, who was sleeping, and she also brought the newspaper. By that time, it was fairly late in the day. The nurses asked if I had anything to eat or drink and I mentioned the banana. The nurses sent me home as there was no chance of surgery. They told me to call the next day about a surgical appointment. Karen the nurse gave me a prescription for Tylenol 3’s and another nurse put my leg in a Zimmer brace and gave me a quick lesson in crutches. We got a taxi and went home. Colin and Jenia were there already. They got some takeout from Doan’s and we ate, but I was so hungry from not eating all day that I ended up going to bed hungry. Plus Colin got beers and I had one, and it knocked me out pretty fast. We played crib and Bev won. Jenia went to bed early since she is a couple of months pregnant.

Sunday October 9

I called the OR administration at 9 and they said they’d call back after half an hour, otherwise I should call them if I hadn’t heard from them. I called them back after forty minutes. The woman on the phone said I should come to the hospital at my convenience.

I got Bev to pack some stuff up for me but then the hospital called again and said I should come quickly. I asked Bev to drop me off, since she was going to be busy with Thanksgiving dinner. I had to walk a long way with my crutches to the administration desk. They gave me my x-rays to take up to the third floor operating rooms. I carried the x-rays and all the paper work in my hand while trying to operate the crutches, and it was very difficult.

I had trouble finding the orthopedic ward. I had to ask a passing nurse for some help - I was worried about tiring myself out from the long walk with the crutches. When I made it into the ward, they had me undress quickly and rushed through some more of my case history. I was portered over to the OR and it was a nice ride, looking at the sunny hospital atrium through the hallways on my back. At the OR, I talked to the anesthetist about the choice of anesthetic, spinal or general. We also talked about eyeglasses. She opted for general anasthetic. The surgeon that was going to do the surgery was Dr. Sharfenburger, who had sold me her old Honda civic a long time ago, but instead, a Dr. Bury was to do the surgery.

I was put under and woke up in the recovery room an hour and a half later. Everything was blurry at first. I was put into a hospital room with a guy, Roy, who had broken 9 ribs while trying to stop a car from rolling into a wall. Bev came by on her own and I signed out a phone from a lady who takes care of such things. I received morphine shots every 4 hours. Later that evening, I was moved to a different room. Colin and Jenia came by and dropped off a movie (The Life Aquatic). I must have had a different nurse check on me every couple of hours. My sleep wasn’t that great and I woke up at 6am when a hospital worker started to unpack a large cartful of stuff wrapped up in crinkly plastic. Plus the guy in the next bed was throwing up all night. He didn’t sound too good.


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