Midlife Chronicles

Navigating midlife with wine, laughter and a twist of wry. And wine. Did I mention wine?!?

Hospital, Part 3 . . .


This is an actual pic of the hospital ER I was in.

This is an actual pic of the hospital ER I was in.

So, let’s see… I left off where they had given me some meds in the ER. The nurse said that they’d do a second EKG and then the doctor would be in to tell me what was going on. The first EKG they did, the doctor had told me showed that I was “throwing some PVCs.” My mental image was some plastic pipe flying through the air, but I also knew the term, as my mother has that as well. PVC is premature ventricular contraction. Somehow that sounds like something a thirteen-year-old boy might do… but I digress! :)

The second EKG came back and the hospital’s internist came to see me. This was a different doctor than the ER doc. The internist was a gentle East Indian man, with a calm demeanor and a lilting accent. He told me that I was still throwing PVCs and that they wanted to admit me to the hospital for observation, and to run some more tests. My blood pressure had come way down but was still occasionally spiking. I pleaded with him to go home, and he said no, not unless I had a couple doctors down the hall at home!

I was glad that I’d gone ahead and packed a few things, and tried to be positive. I knew it was best for me, but I have a high deductible health plan, and I could see the dollars flying out the door! The nurse said they would be coming to admit me and take me to my room. I got out my iPad and started writing emails to cancel appointments I had at work, notifying my boss and my two staff that I would not be in, and giving some instructions to my staff. I was really glad I’d brought my iPad with me.

After that was done, I texted my roommate, my friend Linda and my boss.

I checked email on my iPad. Checked Facebook, but decided not to post about my hospitalization because I didn’t want to worry anyone until I knew what was going on. I didn’t want my parents or my kids finding out about it on Facebook.

I played a few games on my iPad.

Got out my book and read.

Started to get restless. Twiddled my thumbs. Sighed. Looked around. Got up to use the bathroom. Came back. Sat down. Sighed again. Picked up my iPad and played some more games.

Two hours later… yes TWO HOURS later….the nurse came in and said that the floating nurse would be right in to take me to my room. Finally! I thought to myself. The admitting clerk came into my room and took some information. About 10 or 15 minutes later (that’s “right away???”) the floating nurse came to push the gurney down to my room.

Naturally, the floating nurse was my roommate’s girlfriend, whom I don’t particularly care for. It’s a long story, but she’s a very loud talker, and the more she drinks the louder she gets. I find her to be rude, bossy and obnoxious, but let me tell you how I really feel! :)

There is no love lost between us and I thought great…now she’s going to exact her revenge! I was just glad she wasn’t my floor nurse.

My bedside table.

My bedside table.

I got into my room, transferred to the bed. There was another patient already in the other bed next to the window. By then it was 11:00 p.m. Fortunately, I’d already had dinner before I came in and wasn’t hungry, although they offered me a sandwich. They settled me into the bed, and between 11:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m. there was a constant flow of nurses and aids in an out of my room. First they hooked up an IV. Then they hooked me up to a wireless heart monitor. Then they rolled in their portable computer workstation and asked me a billion questions about my health history and my family health history back 17 generations. Okay, well I exaggerate. A little.

Every time they came into my room they asked my name and birth date. They put a hospital bracelet on me that had a bar code, and they bar coded me every time. Their attention to security is amazing. They went over my current meds in excruciating detail. I told them I brought my own meds, and they wouldn’t let me take them. They took my list of current meds and got them from the hospital pharmacy and gave them to me. After asking me my name and birth date and scanning my bracelet. I thought to myself, “I wonder how much those meds are going to cost me, when I have my own perfectly good ones right in my purse?!?”

I have over the counter eye drops I use for my extreme dry eyes. They wouldn’t even let me use those! I told them I needed preservative-free eye drops, and they said they’d get some for me. (Don’t tell anyone, but I sneaked the ones that were in my purse and put some drops in my eyes while they were out of the room. My eyes were gritty by then, and I couldn’t take it anymore. It took them an HOUR to bring me the ones I’d asked for!)

My feet. It was 1am. I was bored. What else do you want?!? LOL

My feet. It was 1am. I was bored. What else do you want?!? LOL

They have to measure everything that goes into and comes out of my body. When I heard that, I prayed that I would be out of there before I had to poop! That meant every time I had to pee, they had to come and unplug my IV stand from the wall, and put a “hat” on the toilet that would catch my urine. You have no idea how difficult it is to pee with one of those on the toilet! Fortunately, they didn’t have to stand and watch me. I have such a shy bladder, I’d never be able to do that! You’re not allowed to flush the toilet, so I washed my hands and exited the bathroom. Then they have to come and plug the IV back into the wall and measure the pee and note it in the chart. Like I said, no dignity in a hospital!

Everyone at the hospital was really nice. But truly the hospital is not somewhere you can get some rest. I asked for a sleeping pill, and the nurse said she would contact the doctor and ask him. Meanwhile, I tried to get comfortable. The bed has one of those air mattresses that inflates and deflates, which is supposed to be good for preventing bedsores. Every time that thing would start up, it sounded like an engine revving, then going down. My roommate’s bed did the same thing, so between my bed and hers, it was not a quiet room! The door to our room was open to the hallway. I was in a cardiac observation unit, and while I was hooked up to a cardiac monitor (which transmits wirelessly, which is awesome — one less thing to be tethered to) the door had to be open in case of emergency. The nurse’s station was outside our room, so there was lots of activity, lights from the hallway spilled into the room. I tried to keep myself entertained with my iPad and my book, but I was getting tired. The nurse came in with my sleeping pill, and (after asking my name and birth date and scanning my bracelet) gave it to me to take. Then she asked me hinty-billion more questions. Finally, at last, I was free to sleep. It was nearly 1:30 am by then.

I closed my eyes and tried to sleep. I laid there for awhile, listening to the hustle and bustle, but finally the sleeping pill must have done it’s magic. I slept hard and woke up suddenly. I glanced at the clock and saw it was only 4:30 a.m. I’d only slept three hours! Someone came in about then and drew some blood. That woke me up more, and I never really did get back to sleep. I dozed on and off, but finally about 7:00 I could no longer sleep. A few minutes after I woke up, a technician came in to do another EKG. Then another technician came in to do an echocardiogram of my heart. This is what would tell them if there is any problem with my heart and the way it’s pumping blood.

Then breakfast came. Cardiac diet. Oh joy. Egg whites, wheat toast, some disgusting oatmeal that tasted like wet cardboard (how do people eat that stuff anyway??) and some fruit.

I kept emphasizing to the staff that I hoped to go home today. They said that the doctor would be in with the results of my tests, and that we would know more then. I waited impatiently and nervously, hoping there was nothing organically wrong with my heart. I felt fine, no pressure in my chest anymore, and no pain in my arm.

Meanwhile my roommate had awakened. She was a nice lady, probably in her late 70s, and quite the chatty cathy. Apparently she was recovering from cardiac surgery. She was still weak, and did her business in a potty chair by the side of her bed, which was fine until she had to do a #2. This was a much celebrated poo, because apparently she’d been constipated. Oh, the things you get to know about people in a hospital! Fortunately, breakfast was done by the time she did her poo in the chair because it was quite fragrant. I think we must have waited 15 minutes before a nurse came in to take care of it. Good Lord.

Feather River Hospital ExterniorFinally, just about Noon, the on-call cardiologist came to see me with the results of my tests. I don’t remember his name, but I will call him Dr. McDreamy!! He was young (probably mid-30s), had a rather heavy accent of some kind, I couldn’t quite place it. He was very tall, trim and athletic looking. He had gorgeous brown eyes and was handsome enough to make you swoon! He told me that the results of my echo showed no signs of heart disease, that everything looked to be fine. One side of my heart was slightly enlarged, but that could be due, he said, to my sleep apnea. He said he didn’t see anything at all to be concerned about, my EKG was fine and I could go home!! He called it “non-cardiac chest pain” that might be due to anxiety, or possibly acid reflux. I always thought acid reflux was a burning sensation, but I really don’t know. I know that indigestion can sometimes mimic a heart attack. He prescribed an acid reflux med and wants me to take baby aspirin every day, and follow up with my primary care doctor.

I was so relieved! Obviously I need to eat better and get more exercise. Two very difficult things for me to do, and something my primary care doc has been hounding me to do. I know she’s going to say “I told you so!”

After another hour or so, I finally was discharged from the hospital. Nothing is done quickly in a hospital! I was home by 2pm and I was so relieved to be here. I took a shower, ate some lunch and took a two hour nap. I feel just fine and can go back to work tomorrow. I am just so very happy there is nothing organically wrong with my heart. But it certainly was a wake up call that I really need to take better care of myself.

Now, it is nearly dinner time and I have nothing healthy in the house to eat, so I am going to have to make do with what I have for now. My roommate is going to be gone until Saturday or Sunday, and I have Thursday and Friday off work. I’m looking forward to some peace and quiet, with the house all to myself.

Hope everyone has a wonderful Fourth of July holiday!

Ta ta for now!


Author: Karen H.

I am a woman in my mid-50s with two grown children. I am divorced and living on my own for the first time in my life. I am learning to navigate midlife and is subsequent ups and downs with humor and grace . . . most of the time! :)

2 thoughts on “Hospital, Part 3 . . .

  1. It all sounds horribly scary :( glad to hear that there’s nothing seriously wrong, we all face the horrid diet and excise nightmare. :) try and get some rest as well x

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