Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Mimi - Mona: He Doesn't Have Toes


OR...

Why I Was In The Hospital Yesterday And Didn't Get Home Until After Nine P.M.



He Doesn’t Have Toes

The dental tech wanted to take an x-ray of the bottom right quadrant of my swollen mouth.

“My mouth’s small as it is, and being swollen has made it smaller. You won’t be able to get that 10x10 cardboard past my lips.”

“It’s my job, so I’ll get ‘er done,” said the young and determined Mexican tech.

“Let me put this another way. My mouth hurts. I don’t want you to ‘get ‘er done’.” Larry the Cable Guy she might be but she wasn’t humorous.

Here’s how it all started. I was home, minding my own business, playing with the dog, writing, and whining about Sjogren’s and what it was doing to my teeth and the pain that had driven me to pain drugs—and I don’t like or do well on drugs; they make me think/say all sorts of stupid, funny things. I took one about an hour before going to urgent care. Plus, I’d begun using a heating pad on the spot where the pain hurt so much it made me whine and cry.

It wasn’t the drugs, I knew that...the swelling was swelling. Plus, there was some invisible munchkin stabbing pins into my chin where the tooth roots were located.

Anyway, that’s how I ended up at the Urgent Dental Care.

It was the determined technician that brought out MONSTER PAIN BITCH. I’m really not bitchy...never have been. I’m so nice, people wanna puke.

“I have a super sensitive gag reflex and my mouth will reject it. Can you think of something else?”

She was already covering my upper body with that protective shield, but that didn’t stop her from doing one of those deep throat sighs, just to let me know she was irritated. “Fine. I’ll go talk to the doctor.”

Fifteen minutes later, a handsome man walks into the room and takes my hand. I think he was introducing himself, but I was lost in my pain and in the deep blue of his eyes to know anything more existed at the moment.

When my hand was released, the loss of that hunky warmth released my lungs so I could begin breathing once again.

“Yes, take her back for a panoramic and then call me when it’s ready,” he ordered before he swooped out of my room quicker than Superman, who we all know is faster than a speeding bullet. DANG!

This time when he came into the room, his demeanor was all business. He tried to stick his finger in my mouth...my mouth wasn’t having any of that...well, it opened a little wider. “You said your throat hurt, too?”

I nodded. “And the side of my cheek up to my ear and my lips on this side are numb.”

“Yes, it looks like you have about 50 cotton balls on this side of your mouth. There’s no doubt you’re suffering. But, I’m not going to do anything today.”

Like some cartoon character, my head sprang forward and up about two feet to meet his with a BOINGGG and a ‘WHAT?’ in my eyes.

“The swelling is in your lymph glands and that means the infection is now systemic and could result in you not being able to breathe. So, I’m going to give you a script for antibiotics that I want you to get and then I want you to go to the emergency room.”

I’m a pretty animated person...whether speaking or not. He got my silent message.

“It’s not life threatening right know, but it will be. So, when you get there, tell them I want them to give you an IV with antibiotics. They’ll balk, but explain that the infection is systemic.”

Balk? What were they? mad artist whose brushes were taken away?


After a trip to a useless triage, where I explained my dentist had sent me here because the infection would cause life-threatening breathing problems and being ignored, I was escorted to ER Room Number 40 forty minutes later... I know, weird; right? Number 40, 40 minutes.

“I see they tagged you.”

I opened my eyes to a stranger standing inside the curtain. Was she part of the hospital staff?

I looked at my armband and nodded.


She tsked a couple times and said, “You shoulda never given ‘em your name ‘cause now they got it and you don’t.”

Were the drugs I took before going to the dentist still acting on my mind? I tried to tell her that wasn’t true and tell her my name. I couldn’t. I couldn’t remember my name. Did they really take it?

“Mom, what are you talking about?”

It was my daughter and she was shoving on my shoulder with her fingers.

“What?”

“You weren’t making any sense. I think your pain med is working. Do you feel okay?”

“No. I’m in the ER and I might stop breathing because of an infection caused by my losing a tooth which happened because I have Sjogren’s. No; I’m not okay. And that guy in the room across from us doesn’t have any toes.”

She shook her head, rolled her eyes, and returned to her chair to keep watch.

Forty minutes later, I announced, “I’m going to the bathroom.”

I went into the hall and the nurses and techs were standing around laughing and ignoring patients. One tech was at his computer and asked, “Is there something you need?”


Yeah; I need my name back and the guy across from me doesn’t have any toes. “Where’s the bathroom?”

There was a loud thump and then buzzers started buzzing and beeping and nurses and techs and a doctor ran to the other room across from Number 40. A older man had fallen out of his bed. “Why’s it so high?” one of the techs yelled. “So he wouldn’t get out of bed,” another answered. 

I went to the bathroom; they could handle it. All was quiet but I still couldn’t remember my name.

When I returned to the room, I asked my daughter what my name was. “Mom.” She closed her eyelids and shook her head.

Mom. Yes, now I remember. My name is ‘Mom.’

Suddenly, my 4-foot by 7-foot room was invaded by ten people. “Hi, Im Kim, your nurse.” “I’m Mike, the tech.” The others didn’t bother to give me there names; I looked at their wrists to see if the hospital had taken their names and tagged them like they had me.

“What’s your name, dear?” It was the nurse.

“Mom.” 

There! See? Oh, I was proud of her! I still had a name. This hospital wasn’t going to take it.

Kim laughed. “What’s the name you were given when you were born?”

Aha! Trick questions! I held up my arm and showed her I’d been tagged.

“She’s in the computer,” Mike said to Kim before informing me of his intentions. “Hon, I’m going to take some of your blood.”

What the hell! You guys already took my name; now you want my blood, too. What’s next?

“I think I have a fever; don’t you want to take my temperature?” See? I’m actually volunteering something I’m willing to give you. Don’t you want it?

They didn’t. They didn’t take it.

“I’m going to give you some meds and have you transported to imaging. I’ll be back in about five minutes.” Kim tapped Mike’s shoulder and waved for him to follow her. And, as quickly as ten strangers crowded my room, they left.

“I’m going to the bathroom,” I said forty minutes later. Are you seeing a “40” pattern here? I was beginning to, too. I said something to my daughter about the 40 pattern before I left. 

“Well, it is a full moon,” was her answer and she shrugged her shoulders.

When I returned, the techs and a nurse were in the room across from Number 40 and they were massaging the feet of the man with no toes and hooking him up to IVs and doing other techy stuff.

“When we get home, I’m writing a letter to the head of the hospital and complaining. I can’t believe we’ve been here for three hours and all they’ve done is come in and take blood?”

Hey! I thought. It’s MY blood. They’re taking everything away from me. If I leave the room again, they might even come and take you. God! I couldn’t say that. How paranoid was that?

“Three hours? Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

I got up and went back into the hall in search of help. My tooth was killing me; the pain was making me dizzy.

“Do you need something, hon?”

Yeah. I need my name, my blood, and you better not take my daughter because I need her too. “Yes, do you think I could be sent for the imaging while we’re all waiting around for something to happen? And, could I puh-leeze get something for the pain?”

The guy at the computer came from behind his stand and led me back to my room. “I’ll talk to your team’s lead.”

Thank G-d my daughter was still there.

Five minutes later, Kim (nurse Ratchet in disguise) entered. “I’m sorry, sweety. I forgot. I’m going to hook your IV up to some morphine and also some liquid to hydrate you.”


Good grief. Don’t hydrate me... I can’t stop going to the bathroom every 40 minutes as it is. “Thank you.”

The transport guy entered after Kim left. “I’m going to take you for a CT scan. Have you ever had a CT before?”

“Yes.”

“I’ll also be injecting a pharmaceutical contrast agent made of iodine into your IV. Have you ever had that before?”

“Yes; it heats the body and makes you think you’re peeing your panties, right?”

“Yes,” the imaging transporter said. “keep your hands inside the rails.”

I didn’t pee, but it did feel like it. Good thing I went to the bathroom... Wait, how long had it been since I was in the bathroom? Maybe I did pee my pants and the transporter was just too embarrassed to tell me. I decided Id go the bathroom once I was back in good ol’ ER Number 40.

“I found your Call button, Mom.”

“What Call button?”

“Exactly! It was UNDER your bed and I only saw it when that guy wheeled you out of here with you still on your bed. I think someone threw it under there when they all descended on you like opportunistic, starving jackals on prey.”

I chuckled. “Let’s test it and see if it works.”

She pressed the CALL button.

A few minutes later, an older woman holding a tablet opened the curtain and just walked in like she owned the hospital. “You forgot to leave your insurance card with me. I’ll need to take that now.”

Across the hall, the room where the old, heavy man had fallen out of his bed, we could hear a woman in his room: “You have a deductible of $200. Would you like to give that to me now so we can get you on your way to the room that is being prepared for you?” They wanted money BEFORE he would be permitted to get needed treatment?

I gulped. I needed my insurance card; they didn’t. I’m the one who paid each month for emergencies like the one I was experiencing this very minute. “The man across the hall doesn’t have any toes,” I whispered.


“Is she on some sort of strong pain medication?” the old lady demanded of my daughter.

L shrugged her shoulders. I always hated when she did that to me when I asked a question. Now, I was really happy to see she wasn’t prejudice. She would offer that shrug to anyone. Good Girl!

“They’ve already tagged me.” I held up my arm with the tag.

“I still need to take your insurance card, Ms. Wolske.”

“I could die, you know. I’m not sure how contagious I am, but I do know the infection is systemic.”

The old lady looked down at her clipboard and mumbled and stomped from ER Number 40. Phew! I managed to keep the hospital from taking that at least. And my daughter.

Did you know that in hospital ER rooms, there’s a magic marker board that is all about you? It has your nurse’s name on it and your tech’s name. It has a list of meds you're on and what they have done to you and where they have sent you. It DOES NOT have what they have taken from you... like your name and your blood. There would never be any evidence they took it if you should happen to be given a RED tag (which means you died). They did have these cartoon faces at the bottom of the board that were smiling all the way to crying. Smiling was a 1; crying was a 10. I was almost back to a 10.

Kim, my nurse, came in. “Whatcha need, hon?”

“Could I get hooked back up to my morphine drip?”

Twenty minutes later there was no longer “crying” pain; in fact, I woke up convinced I was Cyndi Lauper and began singing Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. I felt like getting out of bed and performing a ballet like a prima donna and I cannot even do more than three ballet steps. “I think we should eat some steak tartare and express who we really are and what we really want.”

My daughter rolled her eyes. “I hate that stuff! How can you eat raw meat like that?”

“I think hospitals should offer quality appetizers like steak tartare and shrimp cocktail. I mean, good lord, we patients pay enough they should treat us like royalty. Or a famous artist. Right? And, I certainly should not have to share a toilet with every other patient and the guests in their rooms.”

( kahlo painting her cast)

“Sure, Mom. Whatever.”

“Hi. I’m Dr....”

OMG! Was I hallucinating or was that Chris Hemsworth, the sexiest man in the world, standing there talking to me?

“...and what concerns me, in addition to your Sjogren’s and the infection in your lymph glands, is that it may have moved into the bone beneath the infected teeth.”

I gave him a dumb what-the-hell-does-that-mean look and he frowned. “Do you understand what I’m saying?”

“Yes. You’re concerned the infection is really bad and has moved to the bone. What does that mean and can something be done to remove it...the infection, I mean, not the bone. Or, do I have to give you some of the bone, too?”

Have you ever noticed that when you go into a hospital, you’re always “giving” them something? Blood? Your gall bladder? The tip of a finger? And, then to add insult to injury, they Charge You for the gift? How Rude!

“I’m waiting for the results of your CT scan. We’ll discuss that when I get them. I just wanted you to be prepared.”

Prepared? For what? How much worse could it get than having breathing problems, losing your teeth, and giving the hospital some of your bone. “Okay.” I mean, what else could I say? I was willing to give them anything as long as they’d let me live.

Two bags of pain med drips and one of some liquid to hydrate me, and one hour later, a third doctor opens the curtain.

“Well, I’ve got some good news. You white cell count is really good and you can go home.”

“Wait. What about my breathing problem? What about the infected bone? What about all this swelling and my pain?”

“I'll write you scripts for antibiotics, a pretty strong pain medication, and an anti-vomiting medication.”

“That’s it?”

“Yes; you will not have to stay. You can leave.” He left.

L and I exchanged looks. “Whatever happened to the heavy man across from us?”

“Oh, I guess he paid them the 200 bucks because they rolled him out while you were asleep.”

“And the guy with no toes?”

“Actually, you were right about him. I thought your drugs were playing mind games. He really was missing all but one toe. But, they helped him into some sort of special shoes and he walked out of here.”

A tech walked in and handed me my release papers and three scripts. I felt like skipping out of the hospital, but that sort of fun always embarrasses my daughter.

I still have my tag. I think I’ve replaced all the blood they took. And, as soon as I cut off this tag, I’ll have my name back.

Ahhh, It’s Good To Be Mimi :)


(Mimi in Seoul, South Korea)

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