con’t from Hell at the Hospital
Time was advancing like a snail on the pavement in front of me, leaving a sticky wobbly line of unshakable memories.
Seven more hours to go…
Seven more hours?
A nurse passing by spotted that my sheets were off of my stretcher. Through all of my pain I had created one large rumpled ball by my feet. I was still wearing the shoes I’d worn to the hospital. My feet had swollen from all of the fluids they had been pumping through the IV and were bursting out the sides of my shoes like water balloons.
I had been laying on the plastic of the stretcher in the same position for over 12 hours, damp and sticky with sweat. The hospital (obviously trying to save on costs) hadn’t put on their air conditioning and it was around 30 Celsius in the ER.
I was so grateful for her kindness when she asked if I wanted my sheets fixed and changed that I almost cried.
She rolled me into one of the triage rooms. I knew that I’d had my dressings on for far too long now. I could feel how wet my stomach was. My whole body was wet. I asked if she would mind changing those too.
She helped me to put on socks Robert bought me and take off my shoes so my feet wouldn’t be sore.
She told me that later, she would try to sneak me into the large triage room next door, where the lights were dimmed so I might try to sleep a bit.
She got me a new cold compress for my head.
I was so grateful.
In the grand scheme of things this little effort to make me more comfortable made me begin to believe I had a chance at making it through the rest of the night.
I wanted to give her a medal for taking the time to notice me and taking action on her own initiative.
My pain wasn’t getting worse.
Maybe I could sleep a bit.
About 20 minutes later someone pushed me into the dimly lit large triage room with three other women.
A sigh of relief.
No overhead lights.
No people buzzing around me.
I had a chance.
Maybe sleep would come and rescue me.
I was physically and emotionally exhausted.
Almost five full days I’d been going through this pain nausea hell without sleep, food or respite.
I was empty.
Sleep had to come.
I closed my eyes…
Right beside me a stranger appeared at my bedside. Talking to me. Touching me.
I opened my eyes…
I was still in the room.
A soft pug snore coming from one of the women sleeping in the corner.
Freaking out. What was that? Who was that?
I tried again and closed my eyes…
Members of my family appeared. As if on a slide show, coming up close to my face and then receeding. Then more people I didn’t know. Discussing, pointing, talking to me, talking about me, standing right beside me.
It was real.
I could see it.
It was real.
I could hear it.
It was real.
I could feel it.
It was real.
I could smell it.
They were right beside me…whispering in my ears. I don’t know what they were saying. My head was spinning.
I was scared. Really scared.
I opened my eyes…
I was in the darkened room. I heard the annoying beep of the ER machines. I could see the yellow light from the hallway at the foot of my stretcher. A shadow of a nurse passed by. The other lady in the room had started snoring as well.
There would be no witnesses to the ghosts that were tormenting me.
In my brain I understood I was having hallucinations, or waking dreams, most likely brought on by the five days of narcotic use, but in that room they were real. And they wouldn’t leave me alone.
I couldn’t close my eyes anymore.
My body tightened.
I started sweating.
My heart raced.
I didn’t dare close my eyes.
This is the first time I started to fall apart.
Really fall apart.
I felt myself give in.
I relaxed into the pain and fear.
I let it swallow me whole.
The tears started to come.
Someone rustled a plastic bag on the other side of the room. Was it one of the ghosts that had been tormenting me?
No, it was the daughter of one of the women in the room. She had been sitting on a chair by her bed all night long.
Get a grip Suzanne!
I decided right then and there that my crying wouldn’t help. Breaking down wasn’t going to help. I had to keep it together. It was up to me. Take some control Suzanne.
I refused anymore pain meds other than extra strength Tylenol. The drugs were making me crazy. Literally making me crazy.
I kept my eyes open the whole time.
I promised myself to be positive and grateful for the smallest act of kindness.
A bag of ice one nurse brought me to help with the overheating and sweating. Turning on the air conditioning might have been an idea. I was grateful that she listened to and fulfilled my request.
My body urged me, begged me to close my eyes. All my muscles, stiff, hurting, exhausted, implored me to close my eyes.
I fought it.
I fought it with everything I had.
I didn’t give into the ghosts.
I didn’t give into the mounting depression.
I didn’t succumb to the crazies that clawed at the corners of my brain.
I looked at my watch but I couldn’t read it.
I laid on the stretcher like that until almost 9 am.
Continued here…” The Body Will Just Give Out”
I’ve grown curious about something. Is this typical of hospital experiences in Canada or is it that specific hospital? I mean no offense, but you were so very sick and I’m just totally freaked out that they left you in the hallway like that and there are no actual hospital rooms available for you. I can’t imagine how utterly terrified you must have been…
That is a good question.
I certainly had no idea that is what happened here since this was the first time since I was 5 years old that I have stayed in a hospital.
I had another reader write in and she is from the US. Her husband is a nurse at a hospital and she asked if this was common practise… It is.
This is what she wrote:
“After reading this I asked Angel in shock, “You keep patients in the hallways when you run out of rooms?” And he said, “Yes, because we must admit everyone who comes and needs to be admitted, whether we have space or not.” I was shocked! I didn’t even know that this type of situation happened in hospitals! That sounds so utterly miserable.”
I have also read online where it is so common everywhere that there is a name for it…staging.
I do believe that I had the bad luck of having to go to what is probably the smallest hospital in my area, which I’m sure didn’t help matters.
Thank God for the kind nurse!!! This is like a never ending horror story!
Thank goodness for that kind nurse, though I’m absolutely confused that a nurse didn’t attend to you earlier- if nothing else to check bandages and such. Also, here you are pretty much required to change into a hospital gown if you are admitted to the ER. Is that not done in Canada? Keeping your shoes on with all that fluid in you must have been awful!
What a horrid night, Suzanne. So glad you made it through though.
Oh yeah, if you read my first post http://suzannecarillo.com/2013/08/it-went-fineup-until-the-surgery/ you will see that normally you change into the gowns and socks right away but I didn’t have socks when I went so I left my shoes on. It’s for health safety. The irony, I know.
Ah. That makes sense. I think I forgot that part, but did read that post.
Kristina C says
This whole experience is horrid beyond my imagination. I literally couldn’t breath reading some parts, it was freaking me out that much. I never liked hospitals but I was never terrified of them. That was until I went to the ER with my husband after his bike accident. This was a totally different kind of environment then some super sanitized doctors offices that usually go to. Just the smell alone was making me all queasy. It didn’t smell like chemicals. It was more like a mixture of bodily fluids. It changed my opinion about hospitals forever. So reading about all you had to experience blows my mind. I’m so sorry you had to go through this. What’s amazing about you though, Suzanne, is that you manage to find humor in all of this. That nurse might deserve a medal, but no one deserves it more than you.
Ugh–that makes everything so much worse when the drugs were giving you such crazy side effects!! For your sake, I hope there wasn’t too much more medically-related drama to come!
Wow…I had no idea. I was telling my husband about your ordeal and he pointed out that we live in a very small town kind of area not a city. That doesn’t typically happen around here because it’s a relatively small area and we have 3 hospitals all close by. I didn’t realize how lucky we are. I like to think I’m not a redneck hick, but I guess in some ways I am! Ha!
Oh my dear Suzanne!!! What an unbelievable ordeal!!! I am thoroughly shocked at what you have gone through!!! This is horrible!!! I’ve been away (as you know) so when I started reading the first few paragraphs, I realized this was continued from a previous post–Hell at the Hospital–so I went back and back and back till I found the beginning, so that I could read from the start.
I am thankful you are well enough to write and surprised that you have even added some humour here and there. Of course, you are an excellent writer and I admire you for having the strength and taking the time to share this with us. I will be checking every day for updates and praying for a complete recovery.
Peace be to your heart!! <3
Oh my dear Suzanne!! What an unbelievable ordeal!! I am shocked at the horror you have gone through!!!
When I started reading the first few paragraphs, I realized this was a continuation of–Hell at the Hospital–so I went back and back and back so that I could read from the start.
I am thankful that you are well enough to write and surprised that you even have some humour here and there. Of course, you are an excellent writer and I admire you for your strength and taking the time to write and share with us.
I am praying for a complete recovery!!
Peace be to your heart!! <3
Tamera Beardsley says
So glad you survived this horrible tordeal… to write about it.
Happiness at Mid Life says
Holy cow Suzanne, I can’t believe the horror continues. I am glad there was kind nurse to try and help you along the way.
I am on a blogger break but I cannot help but comment here…
WTF?!! I know Canadian health care is teetering on the edge but this?! I am outraged. And I am thankful for the small kindnesses you DID receive and cheer for your heart’s ability to keep on beating. What does she mean, whoops, I ruptured your bladder?! And then to make you wait in these horrid conditions for corrective action? (Sorry, I just read all your posts in one go and the impact is still raw.) The fact that you are posting means that you were somehow able to maintain your sanity and use of your faculties. Where do all our taxes go?!!
Gabriala @StyleHigher.com says
Suzanne, my mind is racing with so many thoughts now. One in particular is how the small acts of kindness that nurse did for you meant so much. It really is the little things in life that matter. Another is that you are so smart for stopping those meds. They are killing our society slowly and legally. I am so glad you are posting all of this, as painful as it is to read. xo
Thanks Kristina. I think if I didn’t have my humour I would have sunk.
I know now that basically I can’t get sick because narcotics and me don’t mix. I can’t believe that people take them for “recreation”.
Thanks for your kind thoughts Carmen : )
I felt that people needed to know what happens in some ERs.
You and me both…there were some moments where I thought I wouldn’t.
I still think about that nurse daily.
I couldn’t agree more.
That is part of the reason I wanted to make sure to share my personal experience online. I wanted people to be outraged and realize that Health Care needs reform and Dr.’s need to be held accountable for their errors.
Also I wanted to never forget how alone, vulnerable and terrified I felt so that I could learn to appreciate more what I have taken for granted on a daily basis for 47 years.
It really was the small acts of kindness that kept me going.
I must admit that writing this was hard. I’ve never shared so much intimate personal information. I also found it hard just reliving the whole nightmare. Several times when writing I started to cry. I’m glad I did it though. I never want to forget how bad it was so I remember to appreciate and look after the body I have.
I’m hopeful now that I am on the way to mending so I can move forward.
Jamie "ChatterBlossom" says
Bless that nurse