hospital story

Friday morning: My wife woke up at 6:30AM with excruciating pain in her lower abdomen. She was in too much pain to walk or even get carried by me, so the ambulance took us our nearby hospital. She undergoes tests and treatments in the ER. A catscan found a kidney stone - a very painful condition which triggered nausea, vomiting and her migraines. They tried to send us home at 2PM with a few prescriptions but the continuing pain, nausea and vomiting made that impossible. So, we were admitted to the hospital. However, there were no beds available and we had to make room for other patients entering the ER. So, they rolled my wife's ER bed to the hallway. She was knocked out on pain meds with a steady stream of fluids via IV.

So for the next 8 hours in the hallway, I looked over her and tried to entertain myself with some people watching. Watching nurses and doctors going about their job and watching patients going about their suffering. The population of an ER gives you an idea about its surrounding neighborhood. Here, the patients were 98% white. I would estimate 60% of the patients were elderly with chest and plumbing ailments. Occasionally, you'll see a schoolkid suffering a sports injury. The long wait in the hallway was torturous but at least we weren't in Philly. Years ago, I went to Temple University's ER with a dislocated kneecap from bball and I left without any treatment because I was a non-priority on a waiting list filled with gunshot and stabbing victims.

I had a nice conversation with Sigfreud, a Filipino nurse from the Visayas region of the Philippines. He explained that Visayans have certain types of family names and guessed correctly that my parents are not from his 'hood. He is fairly new and unfamiliar with the regions of South Jersey - mainly because his life consists of late night shifts at the hospital and occasional naps at home. He was genuinely grateful to speak to a fellow Pinoy and I was grateful to talk to someone while I waited in the hallway. Plus he finally hooked us up with a room in the hospital at 11pm.

I leave the hospital at midnight with my wife sharing a room with Judy, a middle aged lady who just had spine surgery. She's good natured but incredibly loud. Lots of moaning and groaning when she's in pain and a boisterously chatty personality when feeling well. Unfortunately, Judy is up all Friday night and her noise triggers my wife's migraines. On top of that, she has 6 equally loud family members visiting on Saturday. My wife's migraines intensify, worsening the nausea that renders her unable to eat anything. So, I negotiate with the nurses to move my wife to another room. Luckily by end of day Saturday, we land a private room. The peace and quiet helps my wife's condition and I take her home Sunday morning.

Its too easy to take good health for granted. Especially if you're like me and you haven't had any major medical problems in your life. But visiting a hospital over the weekend reminded me to appreciate...or rather celebrate the simple joys of life and the ability to carry out basic bodily functions such as eating a normal diet and using the bathroom without any problems. I am living the pain-free and healthy life (at least according to my last check up) that these patients are desperate for.


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