liveonearth (liveonearth) wrote,

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An Evening at Flagstaff Medical Center

I had just walked in the door, said hi to the kitten. I put down my bike bag gently so as not to disturb the dozen fresh eggs. I was slipping off my shoes when the phone rang. A girlfriend on the other end, voice shaky, said "I'm bleeding heavily. I need a ride to the hospital." Before I hung up my shoes were back on, wallet in pocket, keys in hand. My neighbors were in the parking lot, hanging out with bikes and dogs, and I shouted to them that I had to run and sped away in the beater truck.

She was at a walkin clinic, where they'd said there was nothing they could do for her. We went to the ER, and were admitted quickly. First interview was with the triage nurse. Then another nurse. Then the nurse who took her blood samples and got the IV started. Then the first doctor, who assessed and decided to call the on-call specialist. The ultrasound crew took her away for a half an hour, and I practiced yoga in her ER room until she returned. Then the specialist arrived. After her interview and exam we were relocated to pre-op. The specialist ran off saying she needed to line up a surgical crew, and the IV-starting nurse came back to do the anesthesia interview. Just before I left the anesthesiologist interviewed her one more time, the surgical crew introduced themselves, and they started to drug her to sleep.

I was stunned at the redundancy of the interviews. Anyone who could design a system by which everyone in a hospital could access a report on a patient pulling exactly the data they needed from what had already been collected would really streamline the process. But on the other hand, if I were the doc and it was my responsibility to make the decision on whether or when to operate, and if the patient were alert and coherent as my friend, I would want to interview her for sure. No one else's impressions or results would substitute for my own.

Many of the people I saw in the hospital I also see in the yoga studio. A couple of nurses. A few orderlies and techs. The anesthesiologist. It was almost creepy. I think I recognized about a quarter of the people in the hospital at 10pm on a Tuesday night. FAR OUT.

The specialist was my favorite doc. She did the most thorough and sensitive interview and exam by far. She had the best manner, the most honest description, and the easiest smile. I suspect that she is adept in the operating room. She was at ease, and in her element.

My friend was ready to be sedated when her husband made it back to town, and they waited to anesthetize her until he could come up and give her a kiss. Then when she went to sleep he and I went out for a drink and a bite. He was rattled after a long drive and frightened that his tough wife could be in such poor shape. But he's OK, and I predict that she'll be OK too.

My plan for the night had been to pay bills and study biochemistry. This experience was far more educational, and I am especially grateful that I was able to be there for my friends.
Tags: friends, medicine, yoga

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