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Hospital Vacation

John W. Pinkerton


I know you're thrilled that I'm going to tell you about my latest health event…get over it.

I was just sitting around one morning minding my own business when I noticed my oxygen level was a bit low.  I did various things to get it to increase, but it still was reluctant.  Crap.  Linda, being the type of person who panics when she thinks I may be dying, called the home health nurse, nice young woman with serious skills and she is a courteous listener---a quality I adore.

The nurse showed up and told me that my finger tips and lips were purple.  Well, okay. Linda drove to the emergency room at Scott & White in College Station (25 miles)…been there a couple of times…not overcrowded, and I like the people.  After a bunch of tests, a doctor, nice fellow, came in and we chatted.  He said he was going to admit me.

I didn't feel like arguing.

After a brief layover with a bunch of sick people making a lot of noise, they took me off to the fifth floor which they have turned into an extension of the emergency room.

I want to say up front that in my eight day stay that I only know of two people I pissed off…not bad for me.  I've always had a policy of getting along with the nurses and other personnel because if they choose to they could kill a patient and merrily go on their way for a cup of coffee.

During those eight days, we chatted a lot about pee and poop and blood sugar and gave me shots and stuck me about a thousand times for various reasons: I have so many bruises that I look like the carnival's tattooed man.  Oh well.

By the way, the food is good at Scott & White…much better than the first time I was in there.  I could order via telephone or through my television and they make good biscuits and the coffee is decent.

Anyway, I had a lot of people show up in my room: food service, the mask lady, nurses and aids.  If you know me, you know I like to talk and tell stories.  I had a big enough audience…now I didn't say they enjoyed my stories but they were polite.

One day I got to wondering if patients ever resist leaving a hospital.  I asked a couple of nurses.  They didn't use these words but what they meant was, “Hell, yes.”

I got to thinking about that and I can see that if someone comes out of a nursing home that they might resist returning.  In addition, I have long contended that the world is full of lonely folks who have no one to talk to.  Of course I have Linda to talk to; she's probably heard my stories about a million times, but…she probably doesn't actually listen the first time.

But I digress.  Oh, wait.  One more digression: I spent a lot of time making notes in the author’s  copy of my next book, Old Guy Does Fiction and Poems and a Few Essays.  It’s gonna be gooood.

The first doctor I met on floor five was a fellow from El Salvador.  Except for the language problem, he seemed quite intelligent and attentive and could take a joke and I tried to talk him into living in Burleson County.

Around the fifth day another doctor showed up.  I think he was in charge of the ER.  He seemed even more intelligent than the El Salvador guy.  Doctors by the basketful are pretty damned dumb.  These two were exceptions.

He had some kind of a connection to Lafayette and Beau Bridge in Louisiana, so I asked if he was familiar with George Rodrigue, Louisiana artist from Lafayette.  No.  I chastised him.

Anyway, he said he thought he had a plan for me which included no salt (really?), frozen lung, scar tissue, plural fluid, and probably some other stuff.

That night I woke up in my room and thought, “I don't think my medication is correct.”  I even said to a nurse who came along about then.  I apologized for my pronouncement and indicated that it was probably just a dream.  The next day, one of the docs came by and said they got my medication wrong.  Aha.  No big deal. 

The last time I saw “I've-never-heard-of-George-Rodrigue,” he was explaining a shift in my medications.

After listening carefully, I responded, “So, I'm screwed.”  He, of course, protested, but…not very vehemently.

I got pretty good care at Scott & White.  I had plenty of pleasant servants, good food, and polite listeners.

Oh yeah.  The first person I offended was on day one.  I apologized.  The other person wandered into my room late in my stay and wanted to change the oxygen monitor on my finger for the thousandth time.  After the first few times they nurses changed it, I snapped: it ain't the connection to me, it's the connection to the monitor.   A male nurse came along one day: we discussed the issue; he check it out; there was a bent tong in the machine;  of course, he couldn't fix it.

After that, I actually had a nurse confess that she had to hook my finger up to the machine to cover her ass.  I understood that and was cooperative.

Okay, back to the other nurse I offended.  She comes into my room in  the middle of the night and wants to change my finger monitor because it was not registering.  I had never seen this woman before in my life and my response was simple and to the point, “You don't know shit.”  She departed mumbling never to be seen again.  Some things end well.

One footnote: I was escorted from my room to the ground level to meet Linda and our vehicle for our trip home by a shiny penny, a cute and pleasant young woman.  She helped me into a wheelchair, put an oxygen mask on my old visage and pushed me and the oxygen tank downstairs.

About a mile from the hospital, I detected a glitch in matrix:  I didn't seem to be getting enough oxygen; my oxygen tubing was not attached to the oxygen tank…and the oxygen tank was not turned on.

Of course, I corrected the problems and arrived home still conscious.

My point is that just because someone appears to be a shiny penny doesn't mean that his or her IQ rises above that of a rock.