Saturday, August 11, 2007

ER - India Style!

For those of you who don't know me well I must preface this post with a little information. In 2002 while I was pregnant with twins, I developed a couple of fairly serious heart problems. As a result I take a lot of medication and have a low energy level, not that I was ever considered hyper active. I am generally a decent heart patient, not great, but not the worst. However, since we moved to India I have been a textbook rebellious heart patient. I haven't been taking medication or seeing a cardiologist. So, on Tuesday when I was taking clothes out of the dryer and had some pretty severe chest pains, I shouldn't have been surprised, but I was.

In the interest of getting to the important part I will summarize the next two hours. I took a dose of medication for the first time in a long time (dumb), I took a low dose aspirin (smart), I laid down and hoped it would go away by its self (dumb), I called my husband for a ride to the hospital (smart) and I decided that if I was going to the hospital I had better shower (dumb). Despite the New Delhi rush hour traffic, and my own stupidity, I made it to the hospital alive.

One of the interesting things about Indian medicine is that your medical records really are yours. You take them home with you. They leave them next to you while you are in the hospital and no one blinks if you pick them up and flip through them. So during the down time that comes in every trip to the hospital, Mr. Smith and I amused ourselves by looking at what the staff had written about me. It was all pretty normal until we got to a line that said "State of Mind of Patient: Psychotic Violent Combative" and the nurse had circled "Combative". Combative?! Me?! I am so not combative. The worst you could call me is stubborn, or even passive aggressive. Honestly though, that is only to my husband. To everyone else I am nice to the point of being a pushover. Luckily this gave me something besides the current situation to obsess about. Since I am all about ignoring a problem until it goes away, that worked for me. So here are the three possible explanations that I came up with for my being erroneously labeled combative.

1. My Fault. Upon arriving at the hospital the diuretic (a medication that helps my body get rid of the fluid my heart can no longer pump off) I took kicked in and I suddenly had to go to the bathroom very badly. Now, everyone knows about the paperwork that must be filled out when you check into a hospital, and normally I have no problem answering all the questions about myself, my parents, my habits, my religion, my choice of shampoo, whatever. But, have I mentioned that I had to go? So as the sweet nurse, then the doctor, then some guy with a stethoscope, all took their turn asking me seven hundred and thirteen questions in broken English, I might have mentioned a couple of times that I really had to go. All right it was more than a couple of times and I eventually became a bit insistent, extremely polite, but insistent. Truly, I was only looking out for them. Did they want to change the sheets and mop the floor? I don't think so. Finally the paperwork was complete and a wheelchair was found and I was wheeled to the bathroom about 50 feet away. After that, I didn't ask. I just got up and walked to the bathroom. Perhaps my initial insistence, or the fact that I wouldn't wait for the wheelchair after that, came across as combative.

2. Mr. Smith's Fault. Mr. Smith is on the large side. He is tall and wide and has the ability to look a little scary and when someone he loves is in danger he becomes all business. On my second trip to the bathroom (and all subsequent trips) he walked beside me and stood outside the door with his arms folded over his chest and a scowl on his face. People in the ER waiting room must have wondered who I was that I needed a bodyguard just to go to the bathroom. Then he got in a little tiff with a guy at the desk. First, the guy showed him a list of room types that he could choose from for me. Suite, deluxe private, private, shared, etc. Mr. Smith chose one, only to have the guy inform him that only shared were available. To his credit, Mr. Smith made no comment at this point. Then the guy told him that there were no beds ready at all, and that it would take "some time" to get one for me. Mr. Smith asked if "some time" meant that they were preparing one and it would be half an hour, or if it meant that we had to wait for someone to checkout in the morning or die to get a bed. The guy said that it was best if he didn't commit to a time frame, in case he was wrong. This is where the tiff came in. There was no yelling and no cursing, which in my book means that Mr. Smith behaved himself, but nobody at the desk was under the impression that he was pleased. Finally the nurse took pity on Mr. Smith and told us that it would be morning at the earliest, at which point I sent him home.

3. The Nurse's Fault. This one is my favorite for obvious reasons. I think her lack of English skills played a part in this. Perhaps she thought that this line had to be filled in, so she chose one at random, or, if she knew what the words meant, picked the lessor of three evils. I like this explanation the best and choose to believe it. It fits in nicely with the image I have of myself.

As for everything else, I am home and doing just fine. I have been scared straight and promise to follow all the rules in the heart patient handbook.


Hunnydu72 said...

So, first, could you please take your meds and stay alive? Pretty please? The alternative, not taking the meds and not staying alive, well, suck. They don't just suck for you, who wouldn't be alive but they suck for those of us who really like you and appreciate your aliveness.

Second, were those the only three choices? Psychotic, Violent and Combative?? There wasn't anything in the line of Docile, Amiable and/or Sweetness Itself? With the three choices she had, I guess Combative seemed like the least of the evils, but you'd think they would have given her better options, thus I submit it was entirely the hospital and form-maker's fault.

Toni said...

Hmmmm, very enlightening. I think I will reserve my comments for a private e-mail!

Aunt Carol said...

I say you should have made a puddle but then they might have put "baby" on there. IF you ever have to go to the hospital, look at your charts and scratch off combative and add SWEET!!

PLEASE take your meds on a regular basis so I can come over there and you can take me shopping, or is that being selfish on my part. Tell me the time of year best to come visit. I don't do "HOT" and I don't do "RAINY" (real rainy)
Love to you, Mr Smith and the Smith kids.

shauna said...

Of course it's the nurse's fault!

I hope you're feeling much better. Take care.