Sunday, February 28, 2010

The heart wing reprobates

Friday night I stayed up as long as I could to watch the Canada-Slovakia hockey game, I managed the first two periods. I hear the third period was quite exciting and I missed it.

Our MC or DJ or whatever you want to call him, the guy who decided he was in control of the TV, kept everyone on track for appropriate Olympics viewing and the occasional old movie when the Olympics weren't up to his standard. He seemed to be a guy who brooked no intervention so the rest of us ambulatory heart patients just let him do his thing. He did have a certain expertise in all things TV, but maybe a tad heavy-handed.

Late at night a battered rock musician (think Jimi Hendrix) joined us, he had a mobile pole of medical paraphernalia and had apparently suffered some kind of dramatic collapse not related to drugs. He added a certain colour to our motley crew, with dreads hanging down to his rear end, a goatee, and coloured glasses perched on his nose. Not to mention his very complicated portable life support system.

Friday afternoon I met Emmanual and his wife in the TV lounge. He seems to be a slightly more advanced case of whatever I am, we are both waiting for angios on Monday. We kind of connected and throughout the day and evening would exchange glances about our strange companions, the DJ and "Jimi".

Saturday morning the DJ was discharged, sort of a relief even though he did add a certain je ne sais quoi to the place. They gave him a prescription for seven different drugs he now has to take all the time! Good luck with that one, he doesn't seem the type to stick to that kind of drug diet. Definitely one of those characters that fill a room whether you like it or not, and not shy about sharing his
observations and opinions on human nature.

Emmanual went on a hunt for the Saturday newspaper. There are several newspaper boxes located around but not in the hospital, you have to find one and make a dash through the snow in your hospital gown with the correct change to get one. Emmanual was OK with that, the trouble was that apparently all the boxes were empty today. He had asked around from some of the hospital staff if they knew where he could get a paper, and one of them told him that the box at Emergency might still have papers.

Isaac came by with a new infusion of books and clothes for me, I took him down to the lounge to see our view and TV. Emmanual was there, reading yesterday's newspaper in frustration. He told us his story so far and said that he didn't know how to get to Emergency without leaving the hospital and walking around the outside, which he didn't want to do in his gown. It was still snowing out.

I told him that actually he wasn't even supposed to leave our floor with his wireless heart monitor, because the signal doesn't extend past this floor and the nurses don't like it when the monitor goes dead.

Or so they say, one of my leads came loose and I was dragging it around unknowingly for a couple of hours the day before and no one told me. I don't think they ever actually checked the monitors! Anyway, that was news to Emmanual, he had been off-floor a couple of times and no one said anything to him either.

Isaac volunteered that he knew how to get to Emerge without going outside, he did it all the time when he parked on that side of the hospital. Emmanual looks at him brightly, Really? Then he looks at me and says, Wanna go off-floor?

Hoo-wee! An adventure!

Isaac all of a sudden realizes he is being co-opted into leading an illicit activity but he's cool, so the three of us, Isaac fully dressed and Emmanual and I in our hospital gowns and heart monitors set out for the elevator. No one stops us. We go down to the main floor and start following "Emergency ->" signs through a maze of corridors. We walk purposefully, as if we belong there, and no one stops us.

Sure enough, we end up in the Emerge waiting room, the only people not bundled up in overcoats. Emmanual and I march through the waiting room looking for newspapers. I am pretending my gown is really a doctor's white coat and I am here on business, inspecting the clients. We scour the room, but no newspapers. But through the window we see, across the road, a row of newspaper boxes!

Since Emmanual and I are in gowns Isaac offers to go out to the boxes, we start pooling our coins to pay for the paper, then Emmanual says, No look, it's free during the Olympics. And sure enough, there is a big "Free" sign on one of the boxes. So Isaac dashes out across the snowy road and retrieves two thick Saturday papers for us.

We march smugly back to our ward, almost swaggering with our newspapers under our arms. As we head down the hall to the lounge Emmanual says, Let's check our monitors. We stop at the board where all the heart rates are displayed, mine seems to be normal but Emmanual's is flatlined, with the words "Not Detected" flashing red at the top. Oops.

But nobody said anything to us so apparently they don't check, the monitors are just for show. And Emmanual is flatlined.

Isaac said he might come back on Sunday to watch the final hockey game between Canada and the USA for the gold medal. He could watch at home but he likes our TV and thought it would be more fun to watch with a bunch of people than to watch alone. Emmanual said, Great, bring popcorn! So Sunday night should be fun. I am sure everyone halfway conscious will be there, hopefully there will be wheelchairs or something for folks who can't walk.

Just before supper Emmanual and I went for another walk, but we didn't go on the elevator, we behaved and stayed on our floor. We decided we would try to find "Jimi", just for something to do. We thought his problem had to do with his kidneys, so we went down the Nephrology wing. Sure enough we found him there with his girlfriend and he was glad to see us, told her we were his bro's. Hmmm...

Saturday evening there was a good crowd in the lounge for Olympic curling, standing room only. Earlier Isaac had explained some of the finer points of curling to me so I understood a bit better what was going on than I did the day before with the women's curling. Canada's women's team narrowly missed the gold on Friday, but on Saturday the men's team scored gold against the Norwegians. The Norwegians wore funny pants, kind of clownish harlequin pants, but they were all very good looking. It was exquisite watching the Canadian team play, they hardly made any mistakes at all. You could see the frustration mounting in the Norwegian skip's face. But it is interesting watching a game that requires as much strategizing as skill, you could see them working out their next moves and hear them talking amongst themselves about it.

One fellow came in and tried to change the TV channel. He just walked right up to the TV, ignoring all the people watching it and started fiddling with the buttons. Emmanual and I looked at each other, another DJ?

Finally the fellow turned around and said, How do you change the channel, I want to watch the curling!

I said, Yes, that is what we were watching.

I got up and changed it back to the Olympics channel. He sat down and left the TV buttons alone after that. He said later he didn't sleep so good the night before so I guess it was getting to him.

Emmanual's roommate is dying and he is not too comfortable with that. At suppertime he started flirting like crazy with his nurse, cajoling her to put him in another room. Halfway through the curling game she came through for him, he has another room. His wife and kids arrived and he took them down to see his new digs. Emmanual's wife brought chocolate which she shared with everyone in the lounge. She asked if we were allowed to eat chocolate and of course everyone nodded Yes. She gave the last of the chocolate to Emmanual's nurse.

I hope our neighbour passes peacefully.


Wisewebwoman said...

Gee Annie, I sure don't like the flatlining and no one there to see....h'mmm. I won't be so braggie about the health care in future!
I'm enjoying your adventures in teh hospital but I'm sure you'd rather be set free. Let me know how your tests go, I'm now back in NL.

Barbara Anne said...

Hi Annie! You are a storyteller par excellance!!!!!! I love that even though they have you, you're still up for adventure! Honey bunch, you've got HEART!

Wishing you well and wishing you back at home. SOON! Oh, course, Jimi won't be there ...!