Friday, October 12, 2007

Lessons In Frustration

Early this morning I received a call from the hospital. At first my heart went about three times it's normal speed, but I shouldn't have worried. Donny woke up today and he wanted to know when I'd be there to visit. One of the best calls I've ever gotten. I let the nurse know that I'd be there around 8:30 and we hung up.

I arrived at the hospital when I said I would, parked, and went in. I walked in to his (private) room, only to see some stranger in his bed. So that's when I found a nurse to tell me where my husband was hiding. Apparently he'd been moved and nobody had thought to let me know. Not a big deal, just a minor frustration.

I managed to get there before the doctor did rounds, so I got to talk to her. She said that Donny's ammonia levels were fine, but that she wanted to keep him for another day for observation. We talked a little more, then she left.

A little later I noticed that Donny was spacing out. A previous hospital had said that these were absent seizures brought on by high ammonia levels. But his levels were normal, so I started asking questions. The nurse let me know that the doctor overseeing the resident who was caring for Donny was about to do rounds and that we should ask him.

Dr. B came in and I started discussing a few issues with him. I asked him about the seizures and he said that there were still some after-effects going on in Donny's body. He advised me that once we had kept Donny's ammonia levels normal for three months, if it was still happening, to ask our regular doctor about it. That's when I looked down and noticed that Donny was in the middle of one right then. I pointed it out to Dr. B. After seeing what I was talking about for himself he advised me that Donny should see a neurologist in a couple of weeks. He also let me know that he would call and speak to our regular doctor personally to let him know what was going on. He then said that he'd be discharging Donny that day.

About 20 minutes later we were told that an EEG had been ordered and we had to wait for it before Donny could be discharged. I'm not sure how it happened, but we went from being told to wait a few months to being told let's deal with this today. It has me wondering what my doctor said. He doesn't pussy foot around about stuff though. That's one reason that I love him so much.

Donny's EEG was completed around 1:30. According to what the doctor and the nurse told us, that meant Donny was ready to be discharged. Somewhere around 3:00 the respiratory therapist came in to check his breathing, by this time the resident and another doctor had been by(at different times) to see him. We were telling her that we were expecting him to be discharged any time now. A few minutes later the therapist came back and let us know that there wasn't anything in his chart about discharge, and so we might not need to be packing up yet.

This was when I went in search of his nurse. I found her sitting at one of the computers used for charting near the nurse's station. Dr. B just happened to be sitting right there too. I walked over and asked whether or not Donny was being discharged. Once I let them know what I had been told, Dr. B got up and made sure that his part of things was done.

We waited and we waited, still, no discharge. We asked the nurse, and she didn't really answer us, and then she left the room. Call lights started getting ignored. It really felt like we were getting the brush-off.

At a little after 5:00 a new patient was brought in for the other bed in Donny's room. The nurse told us that she had to get him admitted and then she would do Donny's discharge. At 6:00 the nurse was headed over to the other bed and told us in passing that she wouldn't be able to Donny's discharge, and we would have to wait for the night shift.

The new patient's wife is a retired nurse. She worked for Catholic Care West in Ventura County for 30 years before she retired. She commented that the wait was unreasonable. But we couldn't get anything done. This lady was rather upset at the lack of care that was given by the nurses. It makes me feel better knowing that I'm not the only one that finds them lacking.

Fortunately I have all of Donny's meds here at home, because the only pharmacy that we're covered for closed at 6:00, and you couldn't drop off prescriptions after 5:00. They're closed for the weekend.

At 8:45 p.m. Donny was discharged from the hospital. I believe that the very first thing that his night nurse did was discharge him. I've never been so glad to get home in my life.

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