Diabetes Self-Management Blog

One of the two hospitals in town opened this whole giant addition in December and, last Wednesday, I finally got to see what it looked like inside. I got to see admitting. I got to see radiology. I got to see a room in the surgical suite…

Oh, joy.

Oh. And I got to see a handicapped-accessible ladies room. More about that later.

I still have an infection in my leg I haven’t been able to shake. It’s from skin flora that got — well, under my skin — and I’m left with a red, warm, hard spot on my calf right next to the incision from surgery to repair my ruptured Achilles tendon. I’ve probably swallowed every super-strength antibiotic available in pill form, to no avail. It’s now time to go back on IV antibiotics for a while. The infusion will be through a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) line, which was inserted into a vein in my upper arm and threaded through until the thin catheter ended in a large vein near my heart.

It went well, by the way. Except that I was told not to eat — but not told that only applied to the four hours before the procedure. That, along with my tendency to go hypoglycemic when I’m stressed and that I’m still working on adjusting my basal rates, contributed to low blood glucose. At least it provided me with a fasting basal test.

My problems with blood glucose weren’t helped by the fact that the hospital peeps kept giving me juice, which would raise my glucose for a little while before it went plunging back down. There was no milk available to add some protein and fat to the mix (plus, of course, the lactose, which is the sugar in milk). I frequently drink 2% milk to help keep my glucose steady after an initial jolt of pure sugar.

I did have glucose tablets with me, but they had the same effect as the juice. After the PICC line was placed, I was given some peanut butter and crackers to nibble on while the nurse and I went through my discharge instructions.

The last time I had a PICC line placed, I was in the hospital. A nurse who worked for a company that specialized in PICC line placement came to my room to do her thing while I relaxed in my bed. A portable x-ray machine was brought in to ensure proper placement.

This time, I was in an operating room — a cold operating room — with (I think) four other people, an x-ray machine, an ultrasound, and stuff like that there. The people were kind of fun, actually. I was asked what kind of music I wanted them to play, a heated blanket was tucked around me, and the procedure began. At one point, I felt something wet and warm on my arm.

“Is that a warm cloth or blood?” I asked, rather sleepily (warm blanket, music…)

“Blood,” one person answered.

“No, no!” said another. “Warm cloth! Warm cloth!”

At least I didn’t have to clean myself up. Also, it was their gown and not my clothes. But I neglected to use the “free blood” to check my glucose. Rats! Had to stick my finger again! (Wouldn’t you know the sensor on my continuous glucose monitor — CGM — picked the night before to reach the end of its useful life? Seems that always happens when I could most use it! Mechanical objects hate me.)

For about the first day, my arm kind of hurt. And one of the cats, who had been ignoring me for the last couple of weeks, decided to pick that evening to be my friend by curling up in the crook of my (sore) arm for a nap.

My antibiotics come in a newfangled set-up I’ve never used. Instead of a bag and a pole, I have a bottle with a balloon inside. It’s called an elastomeric pump and somehow infuses the liquid over a period of one hour. I kind of like it: I just put the bottle into a pocket and go about my business instead of being tied to one spot.

It should come in especially handy when I take my grandson to New York City for a couple of days the first week of March. I’ve run IV in a car. I’ve hung the bag from a curtain rod. I’ve even thumbtacked a bag to a bulletin board over my desk in an office and run IV while I sat in the middle of a newsroom and worked. Maybe this time I will be running IV while watching a Broadway show.

OK. I said I would tell you about the handicapped-accessible ladies room in the new hospital that opened just two months ago.

It isn’t really all that accessible. The aide who was wheeling me out couldn’t get the wheelchair through the door that easily, so I got up and hobbled in. The handicapped stall was at the far end of the row (they always do that), so I took the first stall, which did not have bars to hang onto. In the meantime, the aide got the wheelchair in, but it was difficult for her to get me out because there were a couple of turns to get from the hallway into the business part of the bathroom. And vice-versa.

I’m sure it meets ADA (that would be the Americans with Disabilities Act) standards, but it sure doesn’t meet the standards of anybody who is mobility impaired. Or, for that matter, anybody who is helping said mobility-impaired person. I think the people who make up those laws use rulers and computer models. Perhaps they should try them out in real life before imposing them on the rest of us.

Hoo, boy! Please let me know when that happens! It sure would be fun to watch.

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Comments
  1. And in some medical buildings the handicap stall is too narrow to get a wheelchair in. When one cannot even hobble in, what are we supposed to do. Medical building no less. Seems odd. Before the restroom stalls are even drawn on paper, the architects should try out the space given, while using walkers, wheelchairs etc. What kind of nummies are these people? I wonder too why the toliet tissue is usually placed down under the grab bar.

    Posted by Patricia |
  2. I had a PICC line put in while an outpatient in our local hospital. so I can sympathize with you. I had the typical IV bags for infusion at home which does tend to leave you stuck in one spot for a while. What I thought would just be a few weeks ended up being 3-1/2 months. Best wishes in your healing process.

    Posted by Kathy |
  3. Yes! Another of my pet peeves - toilet paper placed where you have to practically hang upside-down to reach it!

    And, yes, IV bags are sucky. What I have is called an elastomeric pump. Not all IV meds are available that way, unfortunately. I’m grateful to be on one that is. Next week, it will allow me to travel.

    Jan

    Posted by Jan Chait |
  4. Thanks for the perspective on mobility-handicap accessibility. Some years ago I read several UN-produced documents on specs for wheelchair-access mobility. Thinking back to that, I think the specs are based on one of those old-style thin base-level wheelchairs, rather than the ones with handrails, movable leg rests, or (heavens forbid!) motors.

    I suspect the reasons for the handicapped stall being furthest from the door are (1) if in a hurry, most people go to the first stall (and that would make the handicap stall inaccessible to those who need it) and (2) the wheelchair (the facility is usually designed for the wheelchair to be left just outside the stall) would likely block access to the other stalls.

    This is not to say that there could not be other ways of designing the facility.

    And while on the subject of pet peeves, how about putting the sharps-disposal unit in the ladies’ room out of reach of anyone under 5′ 6″?

    Posted by tmana |

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