Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Lawdog recounts a couple of medical visits

he had recently, which reminded me of last year, 3rd of July to be precise. No ambulance ride, but…

You might recall that last year was real hot and dry. That afternoon I was trying to get some stuff I’d pruned and mowed(I think the second time that summer I’d had to cut the grass) chopped up and in the compost heap. Dumped what little there was in, then got the pitchfork to stir things up a bit. I’ll note that even with watering it every couple of days, it dried out so fast nothing was breaking down, just kind of packing, so couldn’t just push the fork in, oh no, had to drive it in.

The heap is a three-foot circle of plastic fencing with steel rods woven in to close the ends together and hold it upright(yes, you do know what’s coming). And on one of those drives, things shifted and I drove my right forearm onto the end of one of the rods.

Yeah, it hurt a bit, but I just thought it’d banged on the bone and torn the skin a bit. So I, having yanked back in reaction, gave it a quick look- not much blood- and finished what I was doing. Damn, it hurt! But, finish the job, and why am I getting woozy from a nasty scrape? Finished up and wobbled to the house, and the bathroom to wash it off. Where I discovered the reason it wasn’t bleeding externally was the blood was pooling under the skin. Crap. I still figured just a nasty scrape and some bruising, and the faint feeling that almost put me on my knees had passed while I was washing it, so I worked it a bit and out came the blood; not an alarming amount. Then dry it, and put some toilet paper on it to catch any drips while it dried. Then sat down with some tea and waited for it to ease off.

No, it didn’t.

I finally looked at the clock and realized
It’d been almost two hours,
It hurt worse than before, and had a nasty ache inside the forearm, and
I probably ought to get this looked at.
Daughter lives not too far away, so called her; now early evening:
“Hi, Papa.”
Are you busy?
“Just cooking dinner.”
Ok, can I ask a favor?
“Sure, what?”
When you’re done with dinner, can you give me a ride to the emergency room?
Barely-perceptible pause. “What happened?”
I got a piece of steel rod stuck in my arm.
“I’ll be right over.”
“No, finish dinner. It’s stopped bleeding, and I don’t need an ambulance, so-
And she was.

First time I’d been to an er in a long time, and this was a holiday weekend Saturday. Not that busy at Baptist when we got in, but since I wasn’t passing out or hemorrhaging all over, guess what priority I got? And then some actual accidents came in. So about an hour or so after we got there a nurse finally took me to a room to look at it. Just a little hole, but it had started bleeding again. Her answer to which was to put a pad over the bandaid I’d stuck on and then wrap it DAMNED TIGHT.
Can you say ‘painful’? VERY painful?
So I sat there sweating and a bit woozy while paperwork was filled out, and a correct emergency number was given(which involved “Crap, my phone’s in my right pocket and I can’t get my left hand there, can you get it out?” Thank Deity I was wearing loose shorts with big pockets). And then I got to sit in the damned waiting room again. For more than two hours, almost three.

At last, I was granted the privilege of having my ouchy looked at by an actual doctor, to whom I repeated the story, and it was decided
Yes, it had penetrated.
It might have damaged the bone.
Need an x-ray.
You had a tetanus shot two years ago? Ok. It was in the garden? A compost heap? I think we’ll start some antibiotics.
Which involved an IV, so now I’ve got my right forearm wrapped back up to absorb the blood that kept trickling out, my left immobilized by the IV, and I haven’t felt that worn and sweaty in a loooong time.

The x-ray tech came in with his machine and took a couple of pictures and then went away. Little later a nurse came in, “We’ll give you something for the pain now.”
What’re you using?
That may not work, didn’t after my knee surgery.
“Oh, this will take care of it,” and put it in the IV.
No, it didn’t. I don’t seem to react to morphine, at least not in those doses. No fuzzy, no sleepy and no pain relief.

So I laid there for an hour or so, alone, and they finally brought daughter back and inquired as to how much better did I feel now?
None, actually.
“It still hurts?”
It does indeed.
“We’ll give you another dose.”
I repeated the knee-surgery tale, which was ignored; I don’t know if she didn’t believe me or thought I was fishing for something in particular, but they gave me the same dose again- ¼ grain, as I recall- which did the same amount of good.

Then she left, and a while after that a girl came in with what looked like a credit card reader. “Mr. Firehand?” I allowed I was. “Could you take care of your copay now?” Well, since my right arm is not in using condition and my left is kind of busy right now, no. “Oh.” Pause. “I’ll come back by later.”
Bleep bleep bleep.

The doc finally came back and decided I wasn’t going to bleed out, and gave me a prescription for oxycodone and an oral antibiotic, “See your doctor this next week” and so forth and kicked us out.

It now being about 0300, I told daughter not to worry about the prescription, I’d get it in the morning. She got me in the house, and after making me promise to call her in the morning to get the meds, went home. And bandages and whatnot notwithstanding I stripped down and took a cold shower, then got into bed(I’d had the presence of mind to turn the a/c on before leaving) and finally got to sleep.

In the morning, having slept a whole five hours, I decided not to wake daughter and drove myself to a drug store(it’s a manual tranny on the truck, but this time I had both legs working; remind me to tell you that story sometime), then went to IHOP and managed to eat left-handed.

Oh, the oxycodone worked just as well as the morphine; I tossed the stuff.

My followup with my doctor was pretty straightforward, except for my leg. See, I’d done something nasty to my left leg(another story) and had a bruise from the bottom of my ass to the back of my knee, and the nurse and doc both went “Yeah yeah, puncture to the arm; what happened to your leg?” so I had to go through that before they decided my semi-impaled arm needed some attention.

That was my 4th of July last year. Capstick once quoted a guy who got torn up by a hippo as saying, of the initial injury, “Unfortunately it’s a small scar, and hardly worth showing.” That’s what I had: a ‘v’-shaped scar maybe ¼” long. Took about two weeks before it really stopped hurting, though.

No comments: