Saturday, November 13, 2010

Hendersonville ER

The important stuff: Lara is now fine, and not yellow.  A few weeks ago, we were visiting friends in Asheville.  It was great to see friends who now live several hours away.  It was relaxed.  Lara took an afternoon nap.  She woke up jaundiced.  She looked like she had a bad spray tan - $50 of spray with 50 cents of training for the operator.

These are some observations take while waiting on her to get a diagnosis and get well.

We have been trained to call the insurance nurses' line, then go to the urgent care doctor, and then lastly the ER.  The urgent care people (literally) looked at her and said, "You need to go to the ER." So we ended up in Pardee Hospital in Hendersonville, where the urgent care center was open later in the day, instead of Asheville, where all of our friends were.  The eventual diagnosis was medication induced liver damage.  It was temporary damage and started clearing up when she stopped taking liver-metabolized medicines.  It's rare, but we are lucky that way.

Hendersonville, NC is the not the same as Henderson, NC.  -Ville is near TN and -- is near VA.  Lara says it is the Durham of Asheville. I don't know for sure if that is a complement to either.

Upon entry to the ER, we are asked if we have a pocket-knife or weapon on us.  Our version of this question at Durham Regional is a metal detector.  When I point this out to the nurse, she says that would be a good idea, but she is required to ask the question even though she acknowledges the silliness of it.  This sounds like the product of a special sub-committee on regional hospital security coming up with a 5-part plan to improve safety while using no resources (excepting the considerables costs of the committee itself).  However, she said it actually prompted one woman to turn over a gun, peacefully.  Security retrieved it. I don't know if you would get in trouble if you turned the weapon over when asked for it.

Lara gets her IV successfully inserted on the third try while the background music is playing "Stayin' Alive." This seems like a good sign for health.

Many of the people in the ER waiting room know each other. This includes the janitor, who has a long conversation with a patient.

At 1 AM, 10 hours after my last meal, that 24-hour Krispy Kreme by the interstate is calling my name. It's only five or ten minutes away, but the essence of ER waiting is not knowing if the next fifteen minutes will be mind numbingly boring and a good time for chores

It's was supposed to an acceptable wait time when we checked, but 3 or 4 ambulances came in, including a car accident.  A girl whose Mom was in a wreck was sobbing in the waiting room.  The last time we passed by, she seemed to be doing better, so I hope her Mom is okay.  It looked like she came from a play, so it was hard to do that ignore her pain to give some level of privacy in a full waiting room.  Lara said the dress of the very white girl looked Indian (Mumbai Indian not Oklahoma Indian - is there a good way to more easily clarify that?), not a sarhi but still Indian.  She watches the Bollywood movies while I can't stand to be in the room while they are playing, so I'll have to trust her.

When it seems like we might be here longer than we expected and our carpool buddy needs to go home, I started looking up rental cars. What else to do? is down for maintenance.  It's midnight, but who goes down at midnight Eastern Time?  That not really wise for all of the Californians who are awake then.  Switching to a California-routed Internet connection didn't help, so I guess people don't book cars on a Saturday night.  The next day I am able to contribute my knowledge of car rental rates to friends who start researching them again to figure out how to get home.

I figured out how to watch the OU game in the waiting room. It wasn't online, but my computer in Durham picks up the antenna signals of ABC there, and it sent the broadcast to my laptop in Hendersonville.  It was my first real outside of the home use of the streaming capability from, which lets you take videos and broadcasts from your TV card on your home computer and watch them somewhere else.  Our Internet connection does not have the fastest upload speed, so it was blurry, but it worked!  A victory for the evening.  After we got to a room, I continued watching on the laptop for a while before noticing the small TV up in the corner.  It got better reception, but the game got worse.  We lost, but losing is a distraction.

We first get taken up to the third floor.  Lara gets in the bed, and the nurse looks at her and says, "You're not an 80 year old named Edna."  We move down to the second floor where we are really supposed to be.  Earlier in the night, someone came to the admissions desk looking for part of another's patient's chart.  The nurse handed her Lara's chart because "this one looks pretty thick."  The missing information was located and removed to the proper chart.  Problem averted (did the missing sheet ask for 16 rabies shots to be administered?).  And a doctor asked about her prior gall bladder removal.  She still has a gall bladder.  It turns out doing some imaging tests differently fails to pick it out on the scan.  Medicine's not perfect.

The nurse and nurse's aide on the floor are very friendly.  The doctor on the floor is the nurse's family doctor.  Again, everybody knows everybody.  The nurse's aide very much wants to give everybody a hot blanket.  They are nice and warm, like those hot towels they give you at nice restaurants (or at least I see them giving to people in nice restaurants on TV).  Lara refused the towel.  I eventually felt obliged to take it after he switched out my chair for a recliner.

It's a little warm in the room.  They bring us a small fan.  The nurse's aide is very happy that it is complimentary and that we get to keep it.  It makes me happy too, at 4:30 am.  Apparently, once they open the fan box, it's not sanitary to use it on another patient.  This is a little strange since toilet seats are constantly reused. I guess toilets bleach clean while fans do not. I'm not complaining. The insurance company is buying thousands of dollars for this, so I'm glad to have a souvenir.

There's a nurse on the second shift called the vampire.  I thought this was insulting, but it turns out that she is really good at putting in an IV needle.  This part of the experience can be quick  and easy or long, miserable, and memorable if it takes multiple sticks.

The place is flooded with senior volunteers.  They serve at the nice cafe, take you in a wheelchair to your card, and provide free valet parking (nice but not  perfect- overheard: "This is you car, right? Sometimes we get the wrong one.")  Our friends also volunteered heavily with lots of visits and a lot of driving to help us keep a car while Sarah returned to Durham (thank you Brett!).

Lara emerged with her lab tests going in the right direction and looking better.  But when we stop at the CVS, the pharmacist asked, "Are you having liver trouble?"

I summed up our three day adventure in an e-mail to friends:
We've been a little bored although it's part marriage retreat, spending almost all of the day in a small room two feet next to each other.  It's a good marriage, so it's a good retreat:)