Friday, August 18, 2006

Adventures in Health Care

Last night Doreen and I went with a couple of friends to a new place quite near the house for dinner called Indika. It is modern Indian food that recently moved closer to town from outside the loop. We had eaten there the first week it had opened, and were unimpressed. But that is never a good indication of a restaruant’s worth.

We walked over and met Warren and Steve at 7:00. We started off with some funny drinks and then ordered appetizers and one bottle of wine.

Doreen started with Crab Somosas and had the Vegetarian Plate. I had Spinach and Paneer for my appetizer and braised short ribs. The wine was a California Zinfandel that matched with the spicy food.

The evening was quite fun with good conversation. It was winding down and we got the check and started to leave. Doreen went to the ladies room and the boys and I waited in the reception area. Doreen took a bit of time (which is unusual) and then met us as we walked outside. It was about 9:30.

Warren asked for his car, and then asked us if we wanted a ride home. Doreen, surprisingly said yes. She then started leaning against me. I took her hand and leaned into her.

Then, very quickly, she put more and more weight on me. I looked at her as asked if she was OK. She looked up at me, but her eyes were completely blank. She then fainted away. Steve was on her other side and I asked him to help me carry her.

I started to go inside, but there was a bench right by the parking lot so we sat there. Doreen was pale white and her skin was pale and clammy. She could not stand up on her own.

As we were carrying her over to the bench I asked someone to call 911. Warren did, and then had to give the dispatcher direction to the restaurant. (Indika is on Westheimer. This is one of the main streets in all of Houston. He had to spell it for the dispatcher. Not awe-inspiring)

A fire-truck showed up first, much to the consternation of the restaurant folks. The ambulance was there shortly thereafter. The crew was good and very professional. (This is the sort of time when it is good for married people to have the same last names)

One of the EMTs looked just like Keanu Reeves (much to the delight of our dining companions) and seemed to be the one in charge. He asked questions about what she ate, how she felt, her name, and if she knew what the date was. The took her blood pressure while she was sitting down and it came to 68 over 32! Wow.

They bundled her into the ambulance, stated a saline IV drip and put an oxygen mask on her. I was able to sit with her in the back until we started moving. They put on a portable EKG and that is when they started talking about inverted T wave.

We decided to go to Methodist Hospital (Doreen’s docs of choice) so I went out and gave Warren and Steve my keys to go by the house and grab a couple of things for us.

(Warren had been to the house before and had met Blaze, our dog. Steve never had. I was just a big worried about how she would react, but it she was fine. They got the stuff and headed to the hospital)

I, meanwhile, got in the front of the ambulance. The driver (They prefer to be called chauffeurs) said “So, what’s the quickest way to get to Methodist from here?” That was a bit disconcerting, but then he told me that The Montrose is not his usual route – that he drives the Third Ward. I gave him directions, he checked the status of Methodist (open) and off we sent. Sirens blazing only when we passed through stop signs or stop lights. A nice ride.

Doreen in the back, meanwhile, heard Keanu Reeves saying that she had “Inverted T-Waves” and a problem with the left ventricle. While not true, this was not all bad. Because when we showed up in Methodist’s ER to a crew ready and waiting. The ER staff was not worried about her heart after looking at the charts.

They kept her on a drip (A total of about two liters. It seems that flows through your system pretty quickly) and the nurses and techs we all very nice and friendly. A doofus looking doctor came in while Warren and Steve were generously driving me home, and arranged for a CT scan of her head and a chest x-ray.

I told the ER nurse that my brother was a tech in an ER in Milwaukee. She said, “Oh, so you are one of us, then”. It was sort of fun. We overheard them talking about “frequent flyers” and a psychotic woman who was living in an SRO hotel and claimed that she was chloroformed and raped. The doc refused to do a rape kit. She had been there before.

After a while we were assigned a doctor named Ron Ralph. Or maybe Ralph Ron. No, I am pretty sure it was Ron Ralph. He came in and said he wanted to keep her in overnight for observation. He is the one to diagnosed this as a “vasovagal episode” He said it was very common in people our age, especially women. He said they would probably never know why it happened, especially if all the tests came back negative. He made a joke about making sure she didn’t have a massive stroke (poor choice of joking material) and went home. He said that we would be his first stop in the morning, and he would see us about 8:00 AM.

So we waited and waited while the gears of the hospital system ground away slowly.

We finally got our tests and waited another half hour or so until they were about to take us up the room. I asked if we could just go home (Doreen was feeling fine by this time) and was told that we could, but it would be a “Discharge against Medical Advice” and that sounded pretty scary. SO we stayed.

We got up the room and settled about 3:00 AM. I drove home to let the dog out and to get a toothbrush. Doreen never knew I was gone.

I slept a bit on the chair in the room (we had a suite. The other bed was empty) and time eventually passed. Breakfast was ordered (breakfast tacos) and Dr Ralph finally came by and gave us the boot.

Doreen has a slight infection and some Cipro to take care of that.

No work for her today. I may have to slip into the office for a short time.


Blogger ehsmanager said...

Yikes! Give Doreen my best.

I must say I felt guilt as it was a little entertaining to hear the story from your perspective…

Glad to hear everything turned out O.K.

3:38 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Scary indeed, especially since it started out as a comment on Indika!

Take care of Doreen!

11:55 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home