Little Scenes from the Hospital
Observations from my appendectomy!
I had appendicitis recently (I am 100% fine! I had surgery in time and now I just have to hang out for a while to heal!) Hospitals have a lot of waiting around, especially when they’re understaffed due to COVID, so I started passing the time by making notes in my phone about little details I found surprising, or amusing, or frustrating.
(Small disclosure that I have been pretty much continuously on pain medication from when I arrived until now, so it’s fully possible that none of these stories are interesting in the slightest to anybody else)
- As soon as I enter the ER the nurse draws three large vials of blood. Nobody ever tells me what they did with them.
- What do a book-burning and I have in common? INFLAMED APPENDICES. Morphine-filled Colin thought this was the funniest joke ever.
- There’s a family here with a young kid. An unrelated older man wanders over and asks if he can do riddles with the boy. After a few minutes, he and the boy both look much less anxious.
- The nurse hooks me up to an IV. It won’t start. “Error: bubbles in the tube.” She flicks the tube a few times. Error: bubbles in the tube. “I’m over it”, she shrugs, detaches the IV, and walks out of the room.
- Somehow I have lived my entire life thinking that CT scans and “cat scans” were two completely separate sorts of scans. I am also disappointed by the lack of feline friends.
- A man walks by and leans his head into my room - “yup, you’ve got it!” This is all I hear about my diagnosis for a couple of hours.
- “Sir, I need you to stop yelling,” she calms explains. He continues to shout. “Please help me God, it hurts. It hurts” The whispers in the hallway call him “noncompliant”
- I just want to sleep but the nurse has to tell me the name and backstory of every other person on duty in the wing right now. At no point in my stay do I meet any of them.
- The internet: appendicitis must be treated immediately. My operation begins 18 hours after I get to the ER.
- A knock startles me awake after about half an hour of sleep. “Come in!” A man enters, writes “pending” under “expected discharge date” on my whiteboard, and leaves.
- I read my book as I wait and wait and wait. Post-surgery, I have dreams about reading my book. It’s not at all clear which facts are things I read and which ones my anesthesia-riddled brain invented.
- One nurse apologizes for being “unprofessional” after telling me she’s taking time off next week. Another nurse’s marriage is falling apart and it’s all Kyle’s fault. Just apologize, Kyle.
- My main nurse’s quitting time has been pushed back from 3 am to 11 am. Somehow she remains chipper and kind throughout. I feel a bit guilty about running out of steam after teaching a single office hour.
- The OR nurse asks me to confirm what surgery I think they’re about to do. “MY APPENDIX IS INSIDE ME BUT I NEED IT TO BE ON THE OUTSIDE”, replies my medication-addled brain.
- Right as I’m about to go under for surgery, a nurse asks if I’ve signed the consent form. I have not.
- Physicists are unable to explain how the doctor clears me to have fly back to Chicago on Monday, and also asks that I make an appointment to meet with him next week.
- After I get home, my mom runs my soup through a blender so I can eat dinner, and my dad prepared to make a smoothie. I feel loved and cared for, and I’m glad to be home.