Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Are you drawing on my face with a Sharpie?

The Duke ER has valet parking.  Fancy.

The Duke ER also has a metal detector.  Not so fancy.

"I'm here!" I announce to nobody in particular realizing I don't totally know why I'm here.  

 They give me a hospital bracelet with a bar code and QR code.  Fancy.


I get my own cubicle in the ER.  And yellow hospital socks.  Dana and I are entertained by the bits and pieces of conversation we overhear in the ER.

Random people stop by to take my vitals and my blood and my money (the ER visit isn't free).  Most insurance policies don't charge you for your ER visit if you're admitted so I wonder if this means they'll be sending me home soon.


Dr. H, the emergency care physician arrives and I explain what I can.  He asks if I have the MRI scans from four years ago.

I proudly present him with a giant folder I diligently put together after my hospital stay.  I have to admit I'm a little disappointed when he just takes the CD with my scan.

Dr. H also asks for a sample of my flora.  Or something like that.  I realize he just needs me to pee in a cup and wonder why he didn't just say so in the first place.

Flora?  Pfffft.  


Still waiting.  Dana notes that you don't want to be the priority in the ER.  

Good point. 


I'm thinking about possible outcomes.  Let's say my brain is bleeding.  My understanding based on what the doctors said in 2009 was that if my brain bled again I would just have to manage the symptoms.  They wouldn't consider anything like surgery unless I was drooling and pooping myself.  The symptoms are not so bad.  I kind of feel like I'm just a little bit drunk all the time.


Dr. H returns.  My brain is bleeding.  OK.  Now what?  

Dr. H isn't really sure what they're going to do about it.  He mentions surgery and I assure him that's not an option.


Dana is eating a sandwich. 

"Can I have that?" I ask her.  I know, quite brazen especially considering she can't really say no.

Dana hands me her sandwich.  I tell her that she's going to feel really good about giving it to me because it's possible it's the last thing I will be able to eat for a few days.


The ER has gone silent.  Dana and I briefly consider the possibility that the rest of the world has been taken out by a deadly disease and somehow our ER cubicle was spared.  We take our picture.


Dr. H returns with Dr. A  
(So much for the end of the world).

Dr A:  We've taken a look at your scans.  Your cavernoma has grown significantly in size.  We're very worried about pressure that's creating on your brain. 

Jamie:  My brain is too big for my head?  I knew it.

Dr A:  Somebody from neurosurgery is looking at your scans right now.

Dr H:  In order to alleviate the pressure they might have to put in a shunt for the cerebrospinal fluids.

Jamie:  Like a blow-hole? 


Jamie:  I need to use the restroom.

Jamie thinks:  Time to make a run for it.

When I come back to the ER cubicle the floor is wet.  During my voyage to the bathroom an IV bag inadvertently exploded.  

Dana:  Like champagne on New Years!


Dr H:  You're not going to like this.

Jamie:  There's a problem with my flora?

Dr H:  They need to do surgery.




Jamie:  Hang on.  I'll wake up in a just a second because this can't be happening and must be a bad dream.

Awkward Pause.

Jamie:  I don't understand.  Is having surgery a decision I need to make?

They don't need to say anything for me to know this probably isn't a decision.  

Jamie:  Well, what now?

Dr H:  We've ordered a contrast enhanced CAT scan and then we'll admit you to the hospital and get you up to ICU.

Jamie:  Okay.

And with that a swarm of people enter the cubicle and are on my like vultures.  

Dr. H is making a mess of my left arm with two IV's and an arterial line.  Not sure what they're doing to my right arm.  There's a lot of blood and Dana, thinking she might faint, steps out.

Dr A has a razor in hand.

Jamie:  You're kidding me.

Dr A:  I just need to shave off five small patches of hair to attach these nodes to your head that you need for the CAT.

She's already stuck one of these nodes on my head and then I think she's drawing on my face with a Sharpie.

Jamie:  Are you drawing on my face with a Sharpie?

Dr A:  Yes.  I'm outlining where I've placed the nodes in case they fall off.

And then I hear the scrape of the hand razor on the back of my head

Scrape, scrape. 

Dr A:  We need you to sign this consent form.  

She has a pen ready to place in my right hand.  My left hand is indisposed.

Jamie:  I'm left handed.

Dr. H:  Really?

Jamie: Diane.  I need Diane.  

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