Monday, April 07, 2008

Manda's Sick - Chapter 1: The ER

Saturday afternoon, shortly after 2pm, we strolled in to the ER. Amanda wasn't thrilled about the prospect of being there, of having to leave Alastair, of the potential for being sent home with no real progress or resolution. Her vision was terrible, her color non-existent.

We went through triage fairly quickly. When you come complaining of heart problems and loss of vision, they try to get to you quickly. Nobody wants a dead body in the lobby.

We were called frequently during the first 30 minutes, but then we sat. And waited. And got frustrated. For 3 hours. The ER was so busy they had been closed to ambulances.

The only interruption to our wait was one final call back to the triage area where a nurse drew blood in anticipation of a lengthy set of procedures.

Finally, at 5:20pm, we were called back into the "Major ER". Here we were immediately informed of Amanda's low hemoglobin count, and a doctor came and asked curious questions like, "Do you have Scandanavian in you?" (Seriously: evidently Amanda's got large red blood cells, which is common in the Nordic folks).

This nice doctor informed us that her hemoglobin count was almost certainly the cause of all her other symptoms. He ordered a blood transfusion, told us that he needed to consult with Amanda's PCP before admitting her, and vanished.

Some time around 8pm, a very nice doctor named Iraj Mishrahi came and asked the same battery of questions we'd now heard a few times, expressed the same shock over the lack of prior blood-work, ran her through all her symptoms, poked and prodded her, and informed us that she was being admitted to the Progressive Telemetry Unit.

At 9, we got our first visitors (and dinner!) while still in the ER. By 10 (or maybe earlier, it's getting a bit fuzzy after a couple of days), Amanda was getting her first bag of blood.

We were told that it would take a long time for the admissions process: supervisors had to be notified, departments had to look for empty beds, rooms had to be cleaned, more supervisors notified, and transporters located. It's almost as complicated as some of the procedures, but by 11:30pm (9 hours after arriving at the hospital), she was in the PTU, Room 419.

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