22 hours in the er

A bed finally opened up for Stanley today—he spent 22 hours in the emergency room. Not just any ER, but the ER of a regional trauma center for an urban population on a Saturday night. Stanley said all the commotion and the pain and psychotic breaks of the other patients mixed in with his already drug bizarre dreams to create a surreal night he’s not likely to forget.

It seemed to take so long to get a room. There was one point where S was writhing in pain and it was taking forever to get his pain meds, the sound of the blood pressure cuff kicking on every 15 minutes was the only thing that told me time was passing. The pressure cuff was how S kept time last night.

But he made it up to Room 729, just a few doors down from the room he was in the last time, at long last. And had a wonderful nurse, Donna M., Sunday from admit until 11. We were lucky, because she normally doesn’t work that shift, but was covering for someone. His ER night nurse, Rowena, was also great. She managed to secure him a real bed so he didn’t have to endure those awful ER cots all night.

I had a list of questions and, well, insistences this time. I wish I’d known more about what to expect and what I had to push for the first time he was in. I wish I didn’t have to use this hard-won knowledge. I got most of the questions answered—rest will wait for the surgeon tomorrow. I will insist on meeting the case manager first thing tomorrow instead of not meeting her until the last day. I insisted that S NOT be awakened and put in a chair at 4:00 am like he was last time and was promised this would not happen. I insisted that his pain be better managed this time—we’ll see how that goes. And I want to know what his tests say, his treatment plan, and all that stuff. He’s going to get much better care this time—even if I need to call nurse managers and hospital administrators and ombudsmen and Oxford for help. And this time, there is going to be adequate medical followup when he is discharged—no more of this tag-the-doctor crap.

I guess I’m still pretty pissed off. My sister cautions me to be very assertive, but not rude. I have no problem with the assertive part (yes, I know that’s an understatement), but I have to watch it with the sarcastic comments I tend to make when I’m really angry and frustrated since that won’t help matters at all.

Thank you for the phone calls and messages—they are appreciated so much. If you want to send email directly to S, you can send CheerGrams from the Bridgeport Hospital website, which the patient relations department prints out and delivers. He was really happy about getting them the last time he was in. His full name is Stanley Thompson.

To bed, perchance to sleep ...

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