The Pickle (Lover) Has Landed

Pickles. Yum. Sweet pickles. Dill pickles. Bread and butter pickles. Half sours. Pickled eggs, pickled garlic, and pickled okra (not all at the same time).

Yep. I’m home. Got back last Friday afternoon. My refrigerator already had pickles in it — although not all of the above. It will, by the end of the week, have pickled eggs in it, however.


One of my nurses told me he’d never seen a pickle on a patient’s tray at the hospital I was in. Then why do they put pickles on the menu?

Why do hospitals do a lot of things? I had to request a chair so I could stop lounging around in bed and sit like a grown-up. Some complete strangers changed medications my docs and I had spent a lot of time choosing to get just the right drugs and dosages. The basal rates, insulin-to-carbohydrate ratio, and correction factors on my pump were changed. I was in a very tiny room with a half-bath I couldn’t get into, so I requested a potty chair. It came up seven hours later. Can anybody out there hold it for seven hours? I can’t. The chair didn’t have anything on it to “go” into, anyway.

My husband asked why, if I was having respiratory problems, wasn’t a pulmonologist called in. “Oh, I feel confident I can handle that,” the doc said. I was then told to have my CPAP machine overnighted, and then take it to this place out of our way to have the CPAP converted to a BiPAP. You can’t do that. So much for he knew what to do.

They didn’t want me to drive home (actually, my husband drove) without having a BiPAP. After finding out you can’t convert one type of machine to another, did I go back to the hospital and confess? Heck, no! We came home sans BiPAP. I lived through it.

Have I told you I was in the teaching hospital for a prestigious medical school? Well, I learned a few things, all right.

This whole saga began with my taking two medicines that shouldn’t have been taken together. One I take only when I fly and one I had just begun taking, and that had been prescribed with its generic name. Had I been told the brand name, I would have known not to take it.

Lesson learned? Look up the names of all of your drugs. I know the ones I’ve been taking for a while, but I need to familiarize myself with any new ones. That’s easy on a computer. Or, perhaps that information, along with other helpful details, had been given to me along with the medicine. But I didn’t read that. Usually, the pharmacist will say, “you shouldn’t take this with that,” but he didn’t this time. Ask if a new med will interfere with any you already take.

Darned if I know how they found my husband, except that my last name isn’t exactly Smith or Jones so, knowing where I lived, they could have just called information for this area. I need to add an ICE (in case of emergency) number to my cell phone.

My husband knew where to look on my computer for the names of my medications — plus he knew where I kept all of the bottles (in a giant Baggie), so he could tell them that. However, I hadn’t changed the name of an old med to the new one — and they were both in the bag — so they thought I was taking both. I knew what I was doing, but didn’t think about being in a situation when I couldn’t speak for myself.

There have been times I’ve advocated keeping your medical records on a USB flash drive. Just kind of writing it up yourself.

As it turns out, there are companies that sell USB drives specifically for medical records. Do a search for USB medical records and see what you come up with. They come in the form of necklaces, bracelets, key chains, and more, and they have medical symbols on them. Ask your insurance company or HMO if they have any available. An article from April 2009 on noted that Kaiser Permanente had read-only USB drives available for $5 each for some customers.

What would you do if…? Think about it. Then let us in on your solution.

  • Sheri

    My husband takes a slew of medicines too. I keep an updated record on half an index-card in his wallet of all his medicines. I know where to look for his medicines if I’d have to. But it still is a worrisome thing- what if he’d have trouble somewhere and I couldn’t be reached?
    Thanks for this article Jan, I always look forward to the ones you write. I got a lot of thought-provoking ideas out of your (unfortunate) situation.
    Maybe we should try to attach the task of updating our medicine list on the days we change the time- that’s also the day I try to remember to change the batteries in our smoke alarms and turn the mattress on our bed. haha.

  • Deb

    I keep my list of medications, allergies, and medical history in a file on my computer. Every time I go to a doctor’s appointment I update everything and print out a copy for the front of my planner as well as a copy for the doctor’s records. Most of them appreciate that.
    When I’ve gone to the emergency room I’ve been compos mentis enough to give them the lists from my notebook – though I was really fuzzy last time when I was suffering from pancreatitis and acute kidney failure. Even then I got on them about my meds, especially since they weren’t giving me most of them. (I didn’t know I was in acute kidney failure and they were trying to save me; I just thought they weren’t paying any attention.)
    My husband knows where the lists are in my notebook, so I think if I were really out of it he would give them to the ER. Guess I’d better remind him of that just in case. You never know….