Will That Be Cash or Charge?

Whenever you see words on my blog to the effect of See you in a few days or Nana’s Whimsies will be unavailable for a few days, rest assured that is code for I am once again in the hospital with the same damn problem I had the LAST time I was in the hospital and am quite crabby about it.

I’m so used to it by now that as Bill and I head to the Emergency Room, there is no doubt in my mind that the ER visit will end up as a hospital stay. This time, in fact, I packed my bag before ever leaving for the ER. Charged up my telephone and iPad. Put on clean socks and underwear. Said goodbye to my comfortable bed for a few days.

My siblings, kids, and grandkids were great, but they are getting understandably frustrated – not AT me, but FOR me. Are they ever going to tell you what you need to do to avoid it happening so often was what Court texted me when I told him I had been released. Nana, why does this keep happening to you were Maggie Faith’s words when I talked to her on the telephone. I wish I could answer both questions.

The hard truth is that, because of surgery in 2011, what inevitably transpires now is that on an inhumanely regular basis, part of my bowel gets caught up in the scar tissue, necessitating a trip to the hospital, a visit that unfortunately involves a nasal gastric tube.

Every doctor I’ve asked has told me that there is nothing dietary or otherwise that I can do to prevent this from happening. This time, I held the doctor’s feet to the fire. After she gave the party line that there have been no studies indicating a dietary solution and blah blah blah, I asked her what she would eat if she were me. I didn’t like her answer much.

Low fiber. Minimal fresh fruit and vegetables. Canned only. No beans or whole wheat bread. Frankly, and counter-intuitively, a diet of only brownies and ice cream would be quite acceptable. Bill, of course, thinks that sounds pretty darn good. The truth is, however, that I will do whatever I have to do to keep from going to the hospital and having 28 inches of plastic shoved down my nose and into my stomach three times a year.

I almost thought I dodged the gastric tube bullet this time. I had been originally told that a GN tube was imminent. I immediately and literally began begging them to not insert the tube. What about Ativan, they asked me. What about it, I said since I didn’t even know what it was. It turns out that Ativan is a sedative they prescribe to make nervous people calm. I accepted the Ativan, and from then on if I expressed the slightest nervousness or distress, someone would put Ativan into my IV. And apparently they aren’t concerned about mixing Ativan with Dilaudid, because I was cheerily being given both, with a side of morphine. I kid you not.

In the ER, after the CT scan confirmed the obstruction and after receiving my first dose of Ativan, the ER doctor told me he didn’t think I needed the tube since I hadn’t been sick to my stomach prior to coming in. I nearly kissed him. In hindsight, I think perhaps he wasn’t even a doctor. He might have been the maintenance guy coming by to empty my trash. Because once I was admitted, they could hardly wait to insert a nasal gastric tube. And let me just tell you that there is no amount of Ativan they could give me that would make me not hate that procedure.

But I learned something this time. In fact, I learn a bit more each time I go. A couple more visits and I will be able to insert it myself. What I learned is if the GN tube is imminent, get it done in the ER where they insert them regularly. Because the alternative was having a nurse do it up in my hospital room. And I kid you not that she was every bit as scared as I was. Yes, I’ve done it before said the woman who appeared no older than my eldest granddaughter Addie. And then she scrambled to get another nurse who might have been two years older. They then commenced trying to talk each other through the procedure. But after several attempts, a couple of x-rays to assure them that the tube had actually gone into my stomach and not into my liver, and tears literally running down all three of our faces, the tube was inserted.

And this time the persistent visiting pooch waited a while before he showed up at my bedside. But he did, indeed, show up. My visitor was a sheltie named Buttercup instead of the Boston Terrier named Rosebud who visited me last time I was in the same hospital. Apparently in order to be a hospital-visiting dog, both the name and the dog must be cute. I will admit I would be a bit disgruntled by getting visited by a snarling Rotweiller named Brutus.

imgresAt one point while still in the ER, they told me it would be an hour before they would be able to do the the CT scan. By this time I had been given morphine. It was around 6 in the evening, so I suggested Bill take the opportunity to grab some dinner, which he did. I was laying on the bed under the influence of several narcotics, and a woman pushing a computer on a rolling stand walked into my cubicle. She greeted me cheerily, confirmed who I was, punched some numbers on a calculator, and said, “Your total is _________. Will that be cash or credit?” What? Was I at Macy’s?

I stared at her in stunned silence for a bit. I finally said, “Is this something new this hospital is doing?”

“Oh no,” she assured me. “We always collect up front.”

No, you really don’t always collect up front. Because I’ve been here before and this didn’t happen. So I asked her how she could possibly know what my total should be since I hadn’t had a single test and no diagnosis. Her answer? It’s just an estimate. So I dug out my credit card, she ran it through, and gave me a receipt, which said Sale Approved. Seriously, Sale Approved. At least there wasn’t a spot for a tip.

Apparently, while under the influence of Dilaudid, I began texting people to tell them I was in the hospital. I only learned this when I got a text Saturday morning from a friend asking how I was doing. I wasn’t sure how she even knew I’d been sick. I checked my messages and sure enough, I had sent her a text. I’m not sure who else I texted, but it’s possible Donald Trump is trying to figure out who sent him a text about a hospital stay. I also apparently paid some bills while in a Dilaudid coma, so this week will be spent doing damage control. Kids, don’t use drugs.

Perhaps they could train the therapy dog to bite the payment collector. Now, for the time being, I’m happy to say I’m back in the saddle again.

6 thoughts on “Will That Be Cash or Charge?

  1. On the bright side Cole found the NG tube entertaining.
    I know there are going to be some answers. Keep digging and learning.

  2. I am so glad you are back in feisty, funny form. Cole doesn’t know you paid visa his “nana’s got money for treats” fund for that mask.

  3. Kris, what a harrowing experience, of which the moral of the story seems to be ‘don’t go to the ER or the hospital…..die young.’ You need to talk to a Patient Advocate in that hospital. Make some noise. Speak to the administrative head of Patient Care. Or, do you know a good attorney that could get information for you?? Love your sense of humor! Love you too!

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