Day Two: No breakfast after all. No room at the Crowley hospital, either.
Dad stayed in the ER until nearly 5 a.m. In that time, most of the others around us were released to leave or were admitted. Others came and went, too. Next to us: a mother and her two young daughters, one still a toddler; they were all sick, apparently. The baby cried on and off. The older daughter whined about a shot hurting. One of the nurses instructed the mother on how to properly care for diaper rash so that it wouldn’t get infected; the baby had a shot of antibiotics, and then apparently decided to drop a full load just as the nurse was checking her. I could smell the result even in our little cubicle. I could also hear the nurse make gagging sounds.
The ER doctor tried to tell us that maybe Dad had an infection. Clearly, he hadn’t read anything on the chart. I filled him in. He really didn’t listen to me much. Instead, the ER doctor decided that Dad was having a heart attack — elevated cardiac enzymes. Absolutely no chest pain, or indeed any other discomfort at all. After a long long night in the Crowley hospital ER, we were transported to Lafayette, to the ER at Lafayette General Hospital.
Arriving at 5:30 a.m. or so, we were immediately put into yet another small cubicle. The ER doctor here had more blood drawn and yet more cardiac enzyme tests — and decided that no, in fact, Dad was not having a heart attack. This doctor was much more concerned about the abscessed area of the dialysis graft and about sepsis. He decided to admit Dad and call in a nephrologist.
At 7:30 a.m., a nurse came around for perhaps the fourth time and asked whether transportation had come for us yet. I had to refrain from saying “DUH, I guess not.” Instead, I simply said “no, not yet.”
The electronic monitor (no longer connected to anything) alarmed every 2 minutes, alerting someone — anyone — to check the electronic leads that were no longer connected. Maybe no one else heard the alarm, but somehow I doubt that. I simply got up and punched the “silent” button more times than I can remember. By the end, I was muttering four-letter obscenities every time I hoisted my weary body out of the chair and punched the damned button one more time. I contemplated hitting the machine. I considered unplugging it to see whether anyone would even notice. I did neither. I just resigned myself to a Twilight-Zone existence that consisted of sitting down, trying to nap, being awakened by the alarm, hitting the “silent” button, sitting down, trying to nap. . . .
It is now 8:15 a.m., and only 10 minutes ago were we finally transferred to a room. Actually, we are in a room other than the one we were initially assigned to – – there was no bed in the first room. So here we are, and I have just given Dad’s medical history for yet another time. Asked if I had Dad’s medicine, I just looked at the nurse and told her no, but that there should be a medical history since one had come with him. She asked if he had a living will and a DNR and a power of attorney; I answered yes to all and told her that there were copies made of those documents while we were down in ER.
Now here we are 30 miles away from Dad’s primary physicians and waiting once more.
Dad is sleeping in a bed. I am in a chair. Not one that pulls out, either — or at least not one that pulls out any more (if it ever did).
There’s a contractor at the house (I think our neighbor let him in again today). At some point he’s expecting a check for materials, so at some point I’ve got to get a check to him. Of course, since I came in the ambulance with Dad, I have no vehicle. The truck is still in the parking lot at the hospital in Crowley.
Most of the people we’ve dealt with have been very nice, though at times I felt no one was paying attention.
Small towns are wonderful. I can trust that neighbors (who have a key to the house) will open the house for the contractor. I can trust that the contractor will just work on what we’d agreed on, and that the plumber he has today will leave us with no galvanized pipes from 1946 and lots of lovely new PVC connections. I trust that the sheetrock will be taped and mudded and floated. I trust that showers will be completed, that lighting will be installed, that flooring will go down on new plywood.
And in the ER here, it turned out that the ER doctor is from Lake Charles, and I recognized his last name. The nurse, it turns out, actually lives in Egan, not far from us.
Thirty miles really isn’t that far after all, in some ways. In others, it’s lightyears away.