Thursday, May 07, 2009

A Day at the Hospital

Please pardon the ick.

My wife, Eva, has been suffering for some time now from persistent, excessive menstrual bleeding. 
Since that comes with the usual array of symptoms, not to put too fine a point on it, but I've been suffering too. PMS is a real joy, particularly when the P stands for Permanent.
We've long suspected various hormonal imbalances a hysterectomy would correct, but it turns out there aren't any significant imbalances and a hysterectomy is horribly invasive, especially for women like Eva who have not had children. 

So today Eva had an endometrial ablation.

Her surgery was scheduled for 2:30. We were told it's a simple eight-minute procedure. So of course we were at the hospital from 10:30 until almost 5:00. 

There is so much about the world of health care I don't understand. I don't know why our health care system continues to swallow entire stimulus packages worth of money without any noticeable effect on wait times. I saw probably a dozen computer terminals sitting idle...and also couldn't help but notice patients still have "charts" written on dead tree that lack critical information, i.e. where the hell the patient is. Seriously, once Eva was wheeled out of the third waiting room, it was as if she'd fallen off the face of the earth. Two and a half hours passed--for those of you keeping score at home, that's nineteen eight minute procedures--before I got worried and frustrated enough to ask where she was. A deskbound nurse (who, in hindsight, was really quite nice to me) promised to find out. Fifteen minutes later (and let me tell you, that fifteen minutes felt like two hours), she came back to inform me "they were really backed up" in surgery. Really? I'd never have guessed.
"So...she hasn't gone in yet," I said. Thinking: I'm going to be here until midnight. I gotta get home soon and let Tux and Georgia out, but if I leave, sure as shit they'll let her out and I won't be here and THEN what?
(then you lose any and all husband points you've accumulated for the last decade)
"I don't know, I'm sorry. All I know is she's not back yet."
Really? I'd never have gu--oh, never mind.

By this time, totally irrational thoughts have begun to spin out of control. Eva had let it slip that she was concerned about the anaesthetic. For a girl her size, general anaesthetic can be dangerous. So of course that little nugget got stored away in my subconscious, only to start playing peek-a-boo as the minutes dragged on. Peek-a-boo, Eva's dead! Wonder which one of these old battleaxes is going to tell you?


I slapped that mutinous thought down and buried my head in my book again. Beach Music, by Pat Conroy, probably the fifth time through, but the first in five years at least. I was just getting to the part where the matriarch of the family passes away. Fuck, I thought, and slammed the book shut, reaching for my iPod.

Music wasn't even helping. No matter what the music was. The slow stuff sounded like a dirge and the funny stuff sounded fake and the heavy stuff was too loud and--

"She's back", a nurse popped her head in to say.
"She's back?" I repeated, dazedly. Turns out that's the effect when you've been holding your breath for over an hour.
"She's back," she said, smiling.

She was. Eva and her doctors had decided against the general anaesthetic, and as I found out later, the "eight minute procedure" doesn't count *any* prepwork or recovery time. 
Which is just stupid, in my book. Look at this souffle recipe and ask yourself: how long does it take to make a souffle? It says "bake for 30-35 minutes" near the end, but if you think that's how long it takes to make a souffle, you'll find yourself sadly mistaken. If they had only said okay, the eight minutes is for the chisel and blowtorch routine, but before we can use the chisel or the blowtorch, we have to yadda yadda yadda, and then afterwards blabbledy blah blah, then I would have contentedly passed the time without a care in the world.
Oh, how you kid. Ken, you're a damn worrywort, and you know it, and nothing's gonna change at this late date.

I was so relieved to see Eva safe and relatively happy that I actually thought I was going to be sick. Meanwhile, she'd gotten through the whole thing much easier than she'd expected to. The hospital robe actually fit her. She was only moderately hot (and if you've been around my wife for any length of time at all, you know that's a medical miracle...seriously, while we were still waiting together, nurses kept coming in and offering warm blankets. Eva thanked each one and waved them away, saying "see my portable fan?" To one, I cracked, "now if you have a cold blanket, that we'll take."

We're home now, and my wife is safe and sound, and I'm very glad.


Anonymous said...

I hope your problems are behind you. It's important for women to know that the alternatives to hysterectomy, including ablation, also present risks. There's a book called THE H WORD that discusses the diagnostic tests, the alternatives, and the consequences of hysterectomy. It's available on Amazon. All the best to you.

Rocketstar said...

Reading the definition of that procedure made me cringe, eecks.

I don’t think that you are a worry wart, I would have been/felt/thought the same things. The “time” it takes should be from leaving to returning, ridiculous to only give the “procedure time”.

I’m glad to hear it went well, I hope she feels better (and you too ;o) ). Seeing a loved one in possible danger is VERY tough as shit happens. My eldest had to have two surgery’s requiring anesthetic (one for her blocked eye duct at 2 years old and one to remove a large mole/birth mark at 3) it was horrible.

At least she can use the weekend to relax and be waited on by her loving Breadbin.

Peter Dodson said...

Hi Ken,

Give Eva my regards and I hope the recovery goes well.

There is nothing worse than seeing our loved one's in pain, doubly so when we are helpless to do anything about it.