All is OK in the End, but the Middle Sucked

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“You can stay here for three hours, or you can stay here overnight,” said the nurse standing in the doorway of my room in the surgery recovery area. “Those are your choices.”

“But I’m fine!” I replied.

“Your LIPS,” said my friend — also a nurse — who had accompanied me, “were BLUE! You’ll be staying the three hours.”

They were conspiring against me. All I wanted was to get out of there and get something to eat. So I’d had a little problem with my oxygen saturation rate during my second colonoscopy in less than one year. Was that a reason to keep me there?

Apparently so, although I did manage to get sprung before the three hours were up: a combination of breathing really, really well…and the fact that I did, after all, have an RN driving me home.

Have I told you how much I dislike hospitals? In the past three years, thanks to a ruptured Achilles tendon and a subsequent bone infection leading to an amputation, followed by a giant kidney stone and infected kidney, plus a case of what an emergency room doctor believed was pneumonia (it was a bad cold), I’ve been in way too many, both as an inpatient and as an outpatient. I even spent one Hanukkah in a rehabilitation unit.

The “pneumonia” wasn’t even the only misdiagnosis: My ruptured Achilles tendon originally was diagnosed as a strained muscle.

In the process, I’ve also picked up MRSA, klebsiella, and C. diff. I’ve gone in for an outpatient procedure and landed in the intensive care unit with sepsis. The less time spent in those germ-ridden places, the better.

Diabetes care? Gimme a break! The hospitalist who is in charge of my care while I was in ICU ran my blood glucose levels in the 200s while I was unconscious (I checked my continuous glucose monitor), then had the nerve to tell me he knew how to take care of my diabetes. “But you didn’t even ask me what my ratios or correction factor are,” I told him. (In fact, those are always written down on the same paper I list my medications on and then given to any doctor I see. I keep the information in a file on my computer, update it, and print it out to take with me every time I see a doctor or go to a hospital.)

Admittedly, I get defensive. My feeling is that medical folks see “Type 2 diabetes” and assume I’m a noncompliant idiot who doesn’t know anything about the condition. They then proceed to apply their own outdated methods to try and control my diabetes. In my ideal world, they would first learn what I know and then go from there. The advent of hospitalists doesn’t help. My primary-care doctor is aware of my knowledge and skill levels, but the hospital apparently doesn’t want him there.

Dietitians are sent to see me and, after doing so, determine that I’m competent to make my own decisions about food to the extent that I can order off the regular menu. However, that assessment either doesn’t make it to the doctor or the doctor chooses to ignore it. Either way, I’m left gritting my teeth at the unfairness of it all.

One time, years ago, I called the nurse when my blood glucose levels slipped way too low and asked for a regular soft drink, only to be told I couldn’t have one “because you’re a diabetic,” even after I explained that I was low. A regular soft drink, with both sugar and caffeine was what my CDE had told me to drink in those events. Luckily, I knew the CDE at that hospital and paged her. She brought me a regular soda. Then had a little in-service with the nurses.

At any rate, last week’s colonoscopy is now over. Polyps were found and removed. Unfortunately, because of my oxygen saturation levels, the anesthesiologist kept lightening up on the anesthesia and I kept waking up. While the procedure wasn’t painful, it was quite uncomfortable, and I was not a happy camper.

Also, the prep I was assigned to in the study I’m in didn’t work all that well and people kept asking me what I had taken. “Study prep,” I would answer. And they’d keep asking. I would finally say, “study prep and, I’m sorry, but that’s all I’m allowed to tell you.” And then they’d kind of grumble off.

As I said, it’s over. But only for a year. At this rate, it seems that I’ll be celebrating Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month every March into the future.

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