Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Saga of the Broken Leg - In the hospital

Part Two: Mass General Hospital

The nurses I had at Mass General were truly awesome. They thought I was a wonderful patient as well. Not demanding, patient, and friendly. They loved me. :) As Pasta would put it, it was a room. (He has this theory, it's a thing.)

I had friends come visit every day, which really helped keep my spirits up. Two came to visit every day. One day I had so many visitors that I began to get overwhelmed by the amount of people in my teeny little hospital room and suddenly ran out of cope. I had to tell the crowd, "too many people! Half of you leave." It was actually a really nice problem to have had.

My hospital room was as comfortable as we could make it. I had my iPad, my iPhone, my Kindle. Bouquets of flowers... though one friend sent me beautiful flowers and a cute little bear and then forgot to sign the card. I did find out who it was (Shazza!) and enjoy teasing her.  Pasta brought me a little bear from his apartment to keep me company. My friend Ron Newman brought me a really awesome teddy bear. Perfect in every way. I named it Paul Newman. (And no, it is not Paul. I refer to it always by its full name.)

So one evening when Bill shows up and gives me this great purple monkey, I look around my room at the three bears and immediately christen the monkey Goldilocks. To me it made perfect sense. And was totally hysterical. My friends didn't quite get it. One wanted to give the money a wig. That would have made it less funny! I'm still not sure if she agreed with me in the end because she finally did agree with me or if she just thought I was high. *Laughs* I did have great drugs. Even if they didn't make me goofy brained.

This was my first stay in a hospital. So there were things that sucked ass. First among them was being woken up every 2-3 hours at night to check vitals. (After a few days when I went off the IV drugs and onto the pill pain meds it was also to give me medication.) Also majorly sucktastic were the night orderlies you had to call to help with various things you can't do for yourself. They were usually loud, and sometimes lazy. I could definitely tell the ones who were annoyed that you'd pushed the call button.

Another thing that sucked was the afternoon I started having a major panic attack in my room. I frantically push the call button to ask the nurse for an Ativan. Ativan is the anti-anxiety medication that I take. Only the idiot who answered the call (not a nurse) just assumed I wanted my pain meds (despite the specification of me saying I needed an Ativan), and when she looked at my chart and saw it wasn't time for my pain meds yet she ignored my call. When my nurse did get to my room while making her rounds I was still in panic mode. Sobbing and agitated and very angry. She was furious with the person who had ignored my call. I wish I could have been there when she ripped that person a new one.

One thing that crossed my mind during my hospital stay was how glad it didn't happen while I was in another country. Another country where I don't speak the language. That incident above demonstrates that even when we're speaking the same language, misunderstandings happen. My imagination enjoyed forcing scenarios on my brain about what would have happened if this had happened last fall in India. Or the previous year, in Ecuador. Yes, there were medical professionals I dealt with in both countries who spoke perfect English. But only the doctors. Often, the nurses and staff only spoke the local language. And guess what? I only saw a doctor twice after my surgery. I dealt day in and day out with nurses and staff. I'm so fucking grateful this happened here. Even with the horrible situation of the American health insurance system and my lacking any.

At least until the hospital sent me someone from Patient Financial Services. 

Hospitals LIKE being paid. Astonishing, no? So they will actually help a person get health insurance if it is an option. Which, in Massachusetts, it is. In fact, it is technically required by law here. I was skating under that law the past two years because I have not made enough money to afford it, and because for much of that I was getting unemployment I didn't qualify for the State run programs. Turns out I qualify now. And the hospital person helped me with the forms and she sent it all in for me. I didn't know this, but apparently when you apply for Mass Health the insurance is retroactive ten days from the date you submit the application. I submitted on April 10. So as soon as my health insurance was approved, I gained coverage dating back to April 1. The entire broken leg was covered by insurance! Hallelujah! Enormous weight... suddenly off my shoulders.

Another thing the hospital provided was a physical therapist. It was her job to get me ready to leave the hospital safely. They provided me with a walker, and Evil Lena taught me how to use it. I refer to her as Evil Lena because this was just two days after major surgery and she was forcing my body to do things is really did not want to do! Like move. The slightest activity exhausted me. I think I went five feet once and was ready to collapse. I'd never felt so helpless in my entire life. I only had four sessions with Lena, but in those four sessions she taught me some exercises for my leg that would help with range of motion, and she taught me how to deal with stairs. I could handle down using crutches. But up was not possible. My upper body strength just couldn't do it. So I learned how to go up stairs bumping up sitting on my butt. And needing a chair or stool at the top of the stairs.

The final test before she signed off on my safety was (using the walker) to walk from my room at the end of the hall all the way to the nurses station and back. I only had to stop twice. :) I had the promise of two additional home PT visits for the following week when I finally got discharged. And by this point Friend 1 (ex-boyfriend Curt) had arrived to help by picking up my prescriptions from the pharmacy and packing up the stuff from my room. Then, when Friend 2 arrived (yay Persis!) with the car big enough for me to sit lengthwise across the back seat, I said goodbye to everyone and Curt wheeled me downstairs, myself and my wheelchair loaded down with a walker, a pair of crutches, bags of stuff, a grabber, and an extra brace for my leg. We forgot the flowers. :(

After manhandling me into the car, on the way to Pasta's place (where I'd would spend my first week of recuperation), I asked them if they wanted to see the spot of my accident. Curt took photos of the dastardly location for me. Then we went on to Pasta's place, where I promptly failed at stairs and lucked out that Curt is a guy who was able to hoist me up the steps so I didn't have to just camp out in the driveway.

That was April 13. 

To be continued...

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