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Tag Archives: Random Thoughts

Under the Knife – Part 4

After actually spending almost a week as a patient in the hospital, I can’t figure out why people want to be patients in the hospital. Some people come to the emergency department with their suitcases in tow and are actually disappointed — if not downright mad — if the emergency physician has the audacity to discharge them. I just don’t get it. Maybe there’s some good feeling about someone taking care of you. But try to get sleep. Just ain’t happening. I may have missed a couple of visits, but as best I can remember, my first night in the hospital went something like this: 11:30 PM. Nurse comes in and introduces herself. Makes sure I don’t need anything. We talk a little bit. I’m one of four patients she is taking care of that evening. I promise to try not to cause her any problems. 12:10 AM. Tech comes in the room to take my vital signs. Puts the pulse oximeter on my index finger and then takes the blood pressure on my same arm. When the blood pressure cuff pumps up high enough to cut off the blood flow to my arm, the pulse oximeter isn’t going to get a reading. So I switched the pulse oximeter to the other hand. Tech gives me a funny look. I just said “thanks” when he was done. 1:45 AM. Call light goes off in room next door. I can hear the entire conversation between patient and person at the nurse’s station through the wall. I have enough bowel troubles of my own, I don’t need to hear about someone else’s bowel trouble. Wait. Am I dreaming? Nope. Not dreaming. The patient then starts asking for more pain medication and the nurse is telling her it is 15 minutes too early. Wait. Maybe I really am dreaming. Then I start wondering if the other patient can hear me yelling when I start laughing. I must sound like a kook. Can only imagine what she’d write in a blog about me. 2:30 AM. My IV starts beeping. Time to change the bag of IV fluid. 5:00 AM. Lab tech comes in to draw blood. Blood needs to be drawn at 5:00 AM because the results need to be ready for the doctors who are getting ready to round. 6:30 AM. Surgical team comes in to examine me. They lay the bed flat. Still look like I have a beer belly which is ticking me off. Wounds are healing up just fine from 18 hours ago. Wait. Look at my body. My stomach has the shape of Homer Simpson. The hair is shaved from my pubes up to about 4 inches below my nipple line. I have a patch shaved on my leg where the grounding pad for the bovie was attached. I have a patch shaved on my other leg where the evil Foley catheter is still anchored. How the heck am I going to go swimming looking like this? I look like I passed out in some college frat house and they punished me with a razor. “Are you using your incentive spirometer?” “Trying my best.” “Um … you aren’t taking very much pain medication. You have to hit the button if you’re having pain. You know that, right?” “Affirmative.” “Let us know when you begin to pass gas. Then you can start with a liquid diet.” “Check.” I was having a moral debate about whether I should tell them that I pass gas before I really do pass gas. The sooner I pass gas, the sooner I get out of ...

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New Flavor of Dog Biscuit

All you dog food manufacturers listen up. Based upon extensive testing in the WhiteCoat household, I have come up with a new flavor of dog biscuit that dogs will absolutely love. It’s called “Bloody Human Wound Dressings.” One of our dogs actively digs through the garbage in our bathroom to find the damn dressings from my incision site. Even though I wrap them up, she rips the bandages off of them and chews them like bubble gum until all the flavor is gone, then leaves them on our bedroom floor for us to retch over when we find them. I’d post pictures, but have a feeling that I have already grossed people out enough with this post. OK, maybe they can be called “Congealed Granulation Tissue?” Now I think I’ve grossed people out enough.

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Under the Knife – Part 3

People began talking. I heard someone say something about a room number. I could feel the cart that I was laying in being rolled on the floor. Bump-bump. I heard doors open. I opened my eyes to see the bed being pushed through automatic doors. The hallway lights flitted by my eyes like road signs flitting by a car window. I tilted my head backward to look above me. At the head of the bed was someone in a mask and long blue gown pushing the cart. My stomach hurt. Was I done already? I began feeling my stomach. I felt a bandage, then someone grabbed my hand and pulled it away from my stomach. I lifted my head and started feeling my stomach again with my other hand. The IV tubing tugged at my arm. “Will someone grab his hand before he pulls off the bandage?” “No bag?” I asked. The masked man in the blue gown asked “What did he say?” Mrs. WhiteCoat was walking next to the bed. She held my hand and said “No bag, honey. No bag.” I put my head down and went back to sleep. “You have to help us move you over onto the bed,” said the masked man. This time his mask was pulled down around his neck and I could see his goatee. It seemed like he had a Jamaican accent, but I couldn’t tell for sure. “Come on, now. Move your butt over a little.” I was still a little confused, but I lifted my butt up and tried to move in the direction I was being pushed and pulled, but something began pulling on my thigh and on my, er, um … appendage. “His Foley is caught. Hold on.” Yeah. Hold on is right. That damn that thing hurts when it’s pulling down there. Like a cross between someone holding a Bic lighter under the tip of said appendage and feeling like you have to urgently urinate. I felt like telling them I had to go to the bathroom, but remembered all the drunk guys sleeping it off in the emergency departments yelling about how they had to go to the bathroom. Then the staff holds up the Foley bag and says “you ARE going to the bathroom.” Nope. Wasn’t going there. Then I got a quick lesson in the law of physics: Water flows downhill. Did you know that if there is air in the Foley catheter tubing and you lift the bag above the level of your bladder, a combination of urine and air flows backward into your bladder and causes pain? If you didn’t, you know now. Trust me, it’s true. One of the surgical people did it while I was moving from one bed to the other and the pain caught me by surprise. “Aaaaaahhh!” I yelled. “What? What?” asked the nurse. I hesitated. “Ummm. Nothing.” I was too embarrassed to say anything about it. I just scooted the rest of the way onto the bed, holding the edge of the catheter with one hand to avoid any further pulling and pinching the catheter with two fingers to prevent further backflow of urinated air. I could just see her giving report to the next shift. “In Bed 27 is the wacko doctor that yells and scares the hell out of you for no reason.” I’ll blame it on the medicine – whatever it was that they gave me. They hooked the Foley catheter bag below the bed and I could feel the urine and air pass back out of my bladder. Best description I ...

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Update #2

Thanks for sticking with me and for all the good wishes. I’m clinging to life. Not back to fighting weight, but getting there. Lost 10 pounds, but don’t recommend this as a weight loss method. My surgical wound popped open and is slowly leaching essential fluids from my body. In other words, the wound won’t stop draining. Now I have the choice between putting a bulky dressing over the wound to absorb the fluid – and looking like I have a muffintop in the process – or putting on a smaller dressing that gets saturated and makes me look like I wet my pants. I’ve been opting for the latter approach. Then …. daughter WhiteCoat wakes up in the middle of the night two days ago complaining of severe abdominal pain. We took her to the hospital and she had a ruptured ovarian cyst – we think. Then the pain came back at 3AM today. Sleep – it’s overrated. I am writing out a little story about my experiences in the hospital. Probably get 4-5 good posts out of it. Will try to do the first one tonight as long as our house doesn’t explode and my pants stay dry. What should I call it? “The Cutting of a WhiteCoat”? “Sissyboy gets his first dose of Dilaudid?”

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My Rules of the ER

A guest post by Hueydoc After almost 30 years in the ER, I have found that many of the Rules from “The House of God” are oh so accurate. But let me add a few new ones, based on my own experiences: 1)  The correct answer to any problem is “Whatever screws the ER the most”. All policies and procedures end up leaving the patient as the ER’s problem. Period. 2) The staff in the ER are the only people in the county who are responsible for anything. Not the nursing home. Not the police. Not EMS. 3)  Yes, it is true that if you say “Boy, it sure is quiet tonight,” you will immediately experience the worst night in the history of the hospital. This is also a felony — punishable by death in certain states. 4)  The quickest cure for severe diarrhea is to ask the patient for a stool sample. 5)  No hospital policy ever changes until an administrator is a patient and is adversely affected by the policy. 6)  Administrators will never back you up. Ever. Get used to the view of the underside of the bus. 7)  When you are firmly convinced that the patient with the bizarre complaint is a crock, you’ll be wrong.  When you are firmly convinced the narcotic seeker is finally legit, you’ll be wrong. 8 )  If you page two different doctors, both will call back at the same time, no matter how far apart you paged them. 9)  The more demanding a patient is, the less likely it is that they need medical care. 10)  I have never, EVER seen a patient who told me “I can’t afford this medicine – you have to give it to me” who wasn’t smoking 2 packs a day. When you point out to them that they are spending over $200 a month to kill themselves but can’t afford their $4 prescription, they either get very upset or sit there with their mouth open like a stunned fish. 11)  NEVER ever go to work sick. Not only will it be an incredibly busy day, but you will be sicker than most of the patients you see. 12)  All ER physician schedulers are either hopelessly clueless, or evil and insane. I suspect the latter in most cases. 13)  The more difficult the stick, the more likely the lab is to lose your patient’s blood sample. 14)  There is a sensor on the bottom of the doctor’s bed that, when the doctor actually lays down, activates a Batman like beacon into the sky advertising “Free Vicodin” to the entire community, resulting in numerous patients suddenly checking in to the ER. 15)  No extra shift that you reluctantly volunteer to work will ever be an easy shift. 16)  You are more likely to see Elvis in the ER than a staff pediatrician. 17)  No specialty will complain about the treatment their patient received in the ER more than the pediatricians – yet pediatricians are most likely to dump their patients in the ER. 18)  The nicer the patient and family, the worse the outcome will be. 19)  I can not tell the difference between very rich patients and very poor patients – they both act the same. “When it comes to my health, money is no object!” Feel free to add your own!

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Open Mic Weekend

I’m going to be away at a wrestling tournament with the family for the weekend. Hopefully Junior WhiteCoat will do well and we won’t be back until Sunday evening. So this weekend will be devoted to your questions, comments, rants about anything medically-related that interests you. Just leave a post in the comments section. Other readers feel free to chime in and answer, comment more or rant more. Only rules are that comments have to be medically-related and that there are no personal attacks. Hopefully I will be back Sunday to respond to all the questions/comments.

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