Warning: Long Post. Mostly consists of a rant.
I’ve had variants of a cold for about the past week, ranging from the sore throat, to the cough, to the runny nose, and back again. When I woke up yesterday morning, I discovered that my throat was so swollen that it made me whimper involuntarily every time I swallowed involuntarily. Couldn’t eat anything. Could only drink anything if I whimpered in between. Felt my throat; it had swollen to about 2″ in diameter. Couldn’t speak.
Called in sick to work. Tried to go back to sleep for a few hours. Had Ted drive me to the hospital around 11:30am. Looked at Kaiser’s website before leaving to determine which branch had an Urgent Care facility I could go to, since I couldn’t make an appointment for next week and wait until then to eat, and I wasn’t dying (yet) and thus didn’t need to go to the ER. Went to the Medical Center on Lawrence, where it said the Urgent Care facility was.
Got to the hospital around noon. Wandered around trying to find Urgent Care. Finally asked a passing nurse, who called someone else, who said it was located in the same place as the ER. Went to the ER. Ted acted as my spokesman, since I couldn’t speak. Told the receptionist what was wrong with me, took a seat and waited.
Got called back by an intake nurse. Gave her a more detailed description of my symptoms. Waited awhile while she typed it all into the computer. Got taken to another receptionist and asked to pay $50. Wasn’t sure what I was paying for, since I hadn’t received any treatment or even met with a doctor yet, but ok. Paid the bill. Got a bracelet wrapped around my wrist. Asked if there was an Urgent Care, was told no, it was at a different hospital, and it wasn’t worth going to because I’d just get sent to the ER anyway. Got sent back out to the waiting room. It’s now around 1pm.
Got called back by a different nurse. Was shown to a cubicle behind a curtain, and instructed to remove all my clothes and put on a hospital gown, and then to lie on the bed. Was told the TV worked if I got bored. Nurse left.
Ok… so I wasn’t expecting to actually get checked into the hospital. I sorta just wanted to see a physician and get a prescription for my throat to reduce the swelling. I was afraid I might have strept throat or something, so I wanted to know that too. I didn’t need a bed; I needed breakfast. After sitting in this room for about 15 minutes, I got really frustrated. No one would tell me what was going on, what was happening next, what I was waiting for, what they were or were not going to do for me, or when I got to eat breakfast.
While waiting in there, we got to listen to things like, “gotta put the catheter in the baby’s penis. You hold the legs, mom, and I’ll hold the arms.” Baby cries. Or, “ok, let’s get this kid drugged up.” More babies cry. By this point, I’m screaming, “ohdeargodgetmeoutofhere”. Scary, dude. Never heard of such impersonal medical treatment.
After sitting in the tiny room for an hour, Ted finally asked someone outside for something to drink, and got some water and juice. Around 2:30, 2 different nurses came in, said I looked dehydrated and needed to drink, made me lie down on the bed and put a railing up as if I were about to fall out, and hooked me up to a blood pressure and pulse reader. They said there was only 1 doctor, he’d see me soon, but the heart attack patients got priority, as they were sure I understood. Of course I understand… that’s why I was looking for Urgent Care, not the ER. Spent some time posting “Help, I’m being held prisoner by Kaiser” to Twitter and dozing off and on on the bed I was now lying on in my hospital gown with my bracelet. Ted played a game on his phone while I dozed.
So I’m in the ER, in a hospital gown, hooked up to machines to ensure I stay alive… for a sore throat. I experimented with the blood pressure reader and pulse reader… a couple times I removed them, and the machine freaked out and started beeping that it couldn’t get a reading, thinking I’d died. No one came.
Around 3:30, a doctor finally came in. He idly stopped the beeping machine since Ted gave it a funny look, and once again asked me what all my symptoms were. I guess the essay the first person put in the computer wasn’t long enough. He looked at my throat again, told me I had a viral infection based on the fact that there was whiteness around my swollen uvula, and said he was going to give me an IV to get me some nutrients and another IV to give me a steroid which would reduce the swelling. I asked if I could force myself to swallow more juice instead of getting an IV; I’d rather deal with the pain in my throat than get something stabbed into my arm and be stuck in the hospital until they saw fit to remove it. He relented, hooked the blood pressure reader back up to me, and left again.
Shortly thereafter, a different nurse came in with a cart. He had me squirt something in my throat and swallow it, supposedly to numb my throat so I could swallow whatever else he was about to give me. He then mixed the steroid into some juice and had me drink it. Then he left again.
A little while later, Ted asked someone outside for more juice, and I managed to drink 3 juice boxes. Trying to be good patient…
Around 4:30 or 5, the doctor came back in. Asked if my throat felt any better. I said no. Left again, maybe to give the drug more time…
Ted overheard him saying to someone outside something along the lines of “the next step is an IV, but she doesn’t want an IV”.
Nurse came in around 5:30 with some box, saying the doctor wanted to spray my throat with it. Nurse left. Doctor finally came back in and sprayed my throat with whatever was in the box. Made me choke. Doc left again, saying he was going to write me a prescription for something. By this time, I could feel that my throat was a bit less swollen. Spray helped a little, too.
I finally gave up and asked the nurse outside if I could just go home. I’d been in the hospital for 5.5 hours. She looked relieved, and said “oh, of course!” and went into a back room and called out “Behnken’s ready to go!” Told me the doctor was printing out my papers and writing the prescription and I could get dressed again. Came back a little while later with a sheet on “how to take care of your sore throat at home” from the doctor, told me my prescription had been sent to the pharmacy, and showed me out.
Went to the pharmacy around 5:45 or 6. They pulled up my prescription, told me to have a seat while they filled it and my name would appear on a board overhead when it was ready. By now, Ted is ready to pass out from no meal yet today, and even I was starting to get hungry for the first time all day. Seats were full, so I had a seat on the floor in the corner. Started to feel pretty woozy from lack of food, and had a lie on the floor instead. 15 min later, Ted asked how much longer. Guy went in back, returned, and said “oh, she’s just filling it now; it’ll be about 10 minutes”. 15 min later, I went up to the counter and just stood there looking grumpy. Guy said “Pamela? Yeah she’s almost done”. Sign on the board for names says “don’t wait more than 15 minutes! Ask the pharmacist!” Yeah.
Finally got the prescription, paid $20 for it, got sent to consultation so that the pharmacist could read me the directions written on the side of the bottle (and answer Ted’s question of “how long till it kicks in?”), and left.
At 6:30pm, I finally left Kaiser with the prescription I’d been hoping to get at noon. Throat felt slightly better–pain had got from a 9 to an 8, on a scale from 1 to 10. Could speak single words sometimes. Ted took me to pho, and I drank so much broth from my noodle soup that I had to ask for more broth just to have any left to put with the noodles.
Kaiser, I am not impressed.
Oh, got a response to one of Ted’s posts: “Kaiser is teh suck. I once got left lying on a stretcher in the middle of a hallway for an hour.” Sounds like I had a jolly good time; I was at least in a room…
Oh, and I learned something: Ted is really bad at interpreting my grunts and points. =)