Monday, November 22, 2004

Hospital 101

Usually when I spend time with my nieces we'll eventually get around to playing some card game...invariably they'll have to teach it to me all over again. I seem to forget the rules because I never play unless I'm with them.

I haven't forgotten the rules to the hospital game though.

We got Amy admitted to the hospital via the emergency room last night, by the "direct admit" shortcut that meant no one in the emergency room actually looked at her, they simply signed off on the admitting doctor's orders and we zipped past the 20 people wheezing, bleeding, and looking helpless in the waiting area and up to her room.

Maybe I was imagining it, but it seemed like some of them gave us looks like, "How'd they do that? Is that someone famous getting special treatment?" I know were I feeling sick and miserable it would irritate me to see someone "cut in line." Hopefully those folks won't ever have to learn the secrets to direct only get such knowledge with practice, and the knowledge isn't worth the price.

Luckily Amy's sister, Lisa, was with me because we also played the "on call physician" game. On call doctors don't really know anything about Amy's case and they are, by nature and I would think as a matter of self preservation, inclined to jump to the "standardized" conclusions about patients and treatment.

Amy has a central intravenous line. It's used to administer medications, food, and take blood. It's a semi permanent line and can stay in place for a couple of years if need be. She's had this one since February with no problems. However now she's been having fevers. The standard conclusion if you're an on call doc and not familiar with a patient's case could be that the central line is infected. The standard approach would then be to remove it.

I was in the parking lot getting Amy's bags out of the car when a nurse came in to her room and announced that's what they were going to do. They were going to remove Amy's central line last night as per the "on call" doctor's orders. Luckily Lisa is a nurse and stopped them dead in their tracks. Amy has had numerous blood tests in the past week to determine if that line is infected and they've all come back negative. It may turn out the line is infected, but I doubt it. In any case, we're not going to allow it to be removed simply because that's what "on call doctoring for dummies" says to do in chapter one.

We prayed and cried over Amy last night and left specific instructions that no "invasive" procedures be done without contacting her regular doctor. The one who reads her chart...the one who wrote her chart. Preferably I will be contacted too. I'm fairly certain that doctor is out of town for a few days so today she's having X-rays and CT scans....things we expected and which can't "undo" anything we have had done. I pray they'll show us the source of this fever causing infection, but if nothing else the tests will keep the on call doctor busy, so he can't tinker....maybe he'll have time to read ahead in the "Doctoring 101" book.

Flooding rains have been pounding the area, which has delayed my trip to the hospital today, but that's okay because every 10 minutes or so Amy thinks of something else she wants me to bring her. This is also down to a science. Crochet stuff, crosswords...the usual drill.

Lord, we've gotten too good at this...the hospital game is boring. We'd be perfectly happy to forget how to play. It's time we were dealt a different hand.