Sunday, March 15, 2009

Hospital Highlights

Sarah and I recently spent a lot of time in the hospital. I was there to keep her company and make sure she was getting the best care possible. She was there because she couldn't stop throwing up and had to have a constant stream of fluids via IV.

While at the hospital, I kept a notebook documenting what medications she was receiving and when, as well as her vital signs and various other details. It came in handy on more than one occasion. I also used it to jot down bits of overheard conversation and funny anecdotes. Since she's been home for more than a week (keeping food down, hooray!), I decided to look back over my notes. Among them:

* If one more person says we need to let the virus run its course, I'm going to punch someone.

* From the next bed over, where fiftysomething children comfort their paper-frail mother: "Mom, we're going to put you down," said gently, kindly (referring to the position of the bed).

* son to nurse: "She has a flap of skin on her lip. Do you have any scissors?"

* the woman in the next bed is watching a cartoon: "They have to have monsters in everything these days."

* One nurse has scrubs with multi-ethnic angels flying everywhere: "Happiness is being an angel." Appropriate?

* It's emesis, like "nemesis," not emesis, like "the Jesus."

* Sarah explains about a hypnobirthing-friendly hospital to a nurse. Nurse's response: "Really? Damn!"

* nurse to Sarah: "I'm going to get you some pillows. We're going to make you so comfortable, you're never going to want to throw up!"

* I noticed the TV in Sarah's room is labeled "Type B Equipment."

* Sarah had a dream about a hotel clubhouse with jacuzzi toilets you sat in and went. Then they drained and refilled and you could relax in them.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Long February

It's the shortest month of the year, and yet ...

Every year since we've been married, Sarah and I have dealt with some disaster on or around Valentine's Day. Usually, it's a sickness. Our first Valentine's Day as husband and wife, I got gastroenteritis, a nasty stomach bug that violently hurries all food and liquid out of your system from the nearest available orifice. Repeatedly.

Subsequent Valentine's Days have been less ... explosive? expulsive? ... but still no fun.
Then came 2009. Neither of us was sick. Sarah's parents were visiting, and they watched Hattie while we had a leisurely breakfast and strolled around downtown SLO. It was wonderful. We reveled in it.

And we paid for it. Ah, hubris.

Toward the end of the month, Sarah developed a sore throat that looked, sounded, and felt like strep. But it wasn't. Two tests confirmed that. Fortunately, the mysterious symptoms went away after a couple of days. But they were replaced by ... can you guess? ... gastroenteritis.

As you may have gathered from my earlier description, this particular malady is horrible under the best of circumstances. But since Sarah was also 27 weeks pregnant, horrible took a turn for the worse. And scary.

After it became apparent that Sarah wasn't going to be able to keep anything--anything at all--in her system, we hurried to the ER at a nearby hospital. That was 10:30 on a Wednesday night.

Long story short, Sarah came home from the hospital on Thursday. The next Thursday, that is. She spent more than a week with an IV sticking out of one of four places on her arms, moving from the ER to Step-Down to Med-Surg to OB. She was poked and prodded while she puked. And every doctor (about half a dozen came through to tell her she was rather far along in her pregnancy to still be having morning sickness) had a different theory and line of treatment. One doctor, who actually made some helpful comments mid-way through Sarah's illness, later came in to tell her that her chakras were back in alignment. Nice.

I kept a notebook with me (I took a few days off work and slept at the hospital for four of the nights), and I'm glad I did. In more than one instance, I told a confused doctor or nurse Sarah's most recent blood pressure, the last time she kept food down, or some other detail about her care. Twice I suggested a different pharmaceutical than the doctor was suggesting. In both cases, my suggestion was safer for an unborn child and proved effective at helping Sarah's healing process.

To be fair, we encountered some amazing nurses and doctors, too. Once we landed in OB, where the staff could keep Sarah on the road to recovery and monitor the baby's health, we felt secure and listened to. People answered every question we could throw at them, and if they didn't know the answer, they helped us find it. We're very grateful to them.

Sarah is now home. She's tired and feeling weak, but the baby seems to be doing well (moving and kicking and dancing around, just like Hattie did) and Sarah's been eating meals and downing fluids.

February, however, had more in store. While Sarah's digestive issues were finally settling down, our property management company called to tell us the owners of our rental decided to see if the house will sell in this market. Realtors have been calling my recuperating wife to try to set up times to show the house to prospective buyers. I'm not thrilled with this.

Next year, we'd like to go back to the crummy Valentine's Day if it means a less-crazy rest of the month.

(Hattie, by the way, spent the week with grandparents. As she was preparing to leave for an as-yet-undetermined number of days, I loaded her into her carseat and tried to explain that I didn't know when I'd see her again. I kissed her goodbye and asked her if she wanted to sing a song with me. Her response: "No. Close the door.")