Three nights and days away from your normal routine can be a wonderful adventure. Perhaps a planned or even unplanned visit to a new city or an event might find you camping out in a different bed, eating at new places and meeting new people. But, when you find yourselves camping three nights and days in the hospital the adventure is not always as exciting or pleasant as a Holiday Inn Express might be. Unfortunately, at some point in our lives we will all become a guest or visitor to the hospital.
This past Sunday night we checked MacGyver (hubby) into our local hospital which I call “The City of Medicine,” because from the minute you step through the doors you are in a world all it‘s own. MacGyver’s gallbladder suddenly decided to jump ship and he was in terrible pain. The staff, who now sported black and red outfits which disingenuous them as part of the E.R., quickly inserted an I.V. line in his arm allowing them to deliver a quick blast of pain medication. Within minutes, he appeared to be more relaxed and able to answer questions.
The Doctor on duty peeked around the corner and explained that he had ordered a sonogram, and within minutes MacGyver was whisked away. The little girl who now was in command of Mac, explained that it would be about thirty minutes before this test would be completed. She assured us there was a radiologist available to decipher the report, which would decide our next course of action.
They registered him as a guest about 10:45 p.m., and we began our journey through the second most important deparment of this establishment, the E.R.— the main hub — The check in desk for all those unplanned adventures in the City of Medicine. All signs pointed to a trip to the most important part of the hospital, the O.R.
While it had been five years, since he has had one of these adventures to the E.R. or O.R., we were struck by the numerous cosmetic changes, as well as internal changes that have occurred in the City of Medicine. With the threat of H1N1 now looming over the country, the waiting room was bustling. Some wore masks while they anxiously awaited their name to be bellowed out for the next room vacancy. Other held small children whose faces told the story of their discomfort by their lifelessness or sudden outbursts of tears and cries of discomfort. Signs were displayed everywhere you looked, reminding you of the need to wash your hands and cover your mouths. All in hopes of keeping those germs from spreading. Hundreds and hundreds of bottles of hand sanitizer dotted every doorway and vacant spot along the corridors of the City of Medicine.
While short trips for radiations and chemo, planned or unplanned surgeries in 2000 through 2005, had sent us to the City of Medicine countless times after MacGyver was first diagnoses with colon cancer. We felt like pro’s but, it had been a long time since our last adventure.
I pulled up the checklist in my head after MacGyver had gone to radiology. Who will we need to contact? Family, friends, work…. What personal items will be needed since our trip was unexpected? Hairbrush, slippers, reading material….. What needs to be taken care of at home? Dogs, mail, bills….Wow, I had forgotten all the preparations when a visit to the hospital occurs.
Billy Bob, our son, had joined me in E.R. just minutes after they rolled Mac to radiology, and we began to discuss a plan of action as we awaited news. Shortly after his arrival, they wheeled Mac back in the room. His face again showed his lame attempt to conceal the pain. I popped my head out of the cornor of the curtain and asked for a second shot, which was quickly delivered along with a bag of fluids they hung above him.
“The blood work and sonogram had come back.” explained the Doctor on duty. “You have gallstones and it appears that some have been displaced. You will need surgery, perhaps even tonight. I will contact the surgeon on duty.”
We asked that he also contact our primary Doctor and within minutes he was back and told us that he had spoken with our Doctor as well as the surgeon on duty, who was in surgery. He explained that a member of the surgical staff would be in to see us. Our Doctor had given him admitting orders, and if the pain gets worse let him know. He can increase the dose of pain medications, and with that we waited. It was close to 2:30 a.m.
The nurse appeared and informed us that a room had been secured. He would be going to the cancer unit. This completely took us by surprise and warranted more information. I’m sure by the look on my face she knew something was wrong. She quickly explained that this was a good thing. He would be in a private room, and have a little more care as we started our new journey through the City of Medicine.
Any sentence with the word CANCER provokes a mind set called survival, in us. We spent a year undergoing chemo and radiation treatments, recovering from two major surgeries, yearly MRI’s, visits to the oncologist, primary, and colon Doctor’s. We had successfully hit the five year mark and Mac had been clean from any trace of that word…. CANCER! Her apology, through sincere, left a lingering nasty taste as Billy Bob and I followed behind the gurney which was on it’s way to the second floor wing marked ONCOLOGY UNIT.
It was now 3:30 a.m.