Wednesday, January 25, 2006
So, I reckon you must have got the idea now about how this system works, with little sticky labels of all colours, depending on what you’ve got/haven’t got are/are not!
Not being rich, I didn’t have a private room, and in any case, in my limited experience of such things, I never stay much in the room anyway, just for the necessary things, I’m always wandering around! This meant, of course, that I could expect one other person in the same room, and this is where the principle of lottery comes into the game! Very important (particularly for a longer stay) your “room-mate” mustn’t snore, screech,scream, fart, burp, must comport himself in a reasonable manner all the time, must be interesting to talk to, and must know what to do in hospital, without imposing the long stories of his illnesses. You, yourself, can ignore all of these requirements for yourself, after all, it’s only your “room-mate”.
In any case, I couldn’t have chosen worse, even if they had asked me to choose personally!
This guy, whose photo you can see elsewhere in the story, was out of this world!
I thought that things may be difficult, when he arrived after me, tried to take my bed, and had it pointed out to him that each bed had a number, and that unless he wanted to change names, illnesses,treatments etc., he may be better off in his own numbered and reserved bed ! I (being polite) held my hand out to him, and introduced myself by name. The hand was ignored, and the voice said, “Yes, but it’s not that at all”. There followed a question as to whether I knew anything about the Intern who was waiting to examine and question him. Not replying at all (something which arrived often in the next 3 days) I left the room, having already been examined and questioned, needled-up and all the rest, and not wanting to hear all about my “room-mate’s” problems or personal life, I thought a little discretion would be correct!
I was wrong, since I heard, non-stop, from the guy himself, ALL about his history from cradle, to what he was convinced was going to be the grave, for 3 days!
As I left, I heard the plaintiff voice which was going to haunt me for the days to come asking, no, demanding information about his antecedents from the Intern, who was not the type of guy to support that for a long time.
When the Intern had left, I re-entered the room, and immediately was told that the “Intern had hurt me, and in my view wasn’t properly qualified!”
This was followed by the 1st episodes in his life, stopped only by his wishing to switch on the TV (which he insisted was his, because he had paid for it) to watch a quiz programme.
The idea suited me fine, because talk and watch don’t go together, I thought!
As a heart patient, one must avoid stress, and SHOCK! Imagine, therefore, my feelings, when a sudden shout was emitted! A real shout, loud and penetrating! This was a reply to a question asked of the candidates on the quiz show, and (as I subsequently found out) was the wrong answer, as usual!
Between shouting out the wrong answers, he informed me that “he knew a lot of things too-sometimes!”
I said nothing for the moment, and bent my head over the book I wasn’t reading - after all I didn’t want to be accused of watching his telly for free!
The Nurses – having been married to one for 25 years, I knew they were no different from other people, good days, bad days, and in general I must say that they were more than efficient, professional, capable, friendly and polite, helpful, prompt to answer a bell, at least for me!
So far as my “room-mate” was concerned, this all changed after 3 or 4 hours, and 3 or 4 hundred bell-ringing demands! The history of each one had to be gone through – where they had studied etc etc. Finally he was told to “shut it” (in a politer form), to which he replied that he would complain to the Doctor, to which THEY said that the Doctor had already complained to THEM about HIM, and life went cheerfully on!
To finish the story of room-mate, suffice to say that he was 56 or 58 years old, and was the YOUNGEST of 9 children, all still alive, the oldest being a sister of 88 years! I think that says just about everything over him.
Having been told that this stay would probably last around 4 days, I wasn’t prepared for the activity that night. I had arrived at 1600hrs, expecting tests to start the following day. Not at all! They started immediately, and my “operation” would be the following day, and I should be able to go home the day after! In view of “room-mate” this was good news to me, but wasn’t for him! As I found out, he was covered at 100% globally (for everything) by the National Health System, and spent regularly his holidays in Hospital! In the end, he actually refused to leave when the time arrived, stating that extreme pain on the operation site stopped him from moving!
I was very happy to have the possibility to return to my home a day at least earlier than I had hoped, so I applied myself that all would go well!
In hospitals, like prisons I suppose, one spends an awful lot of time “hanging around”, with emergencies pushing the programme back, so that I was actually on the table at 1500hrs and not as previewed at 1200hrs! Still, I thought, that was why I had preferred to come into hospital for all these tests, to avoid cancellations etc.
As I lay there, a beautifully almond eyed theatre assistant, of Arab origin, I think, bent over me, and whispered sweet things in my ear. How she was just going to stick a bloody great needle into one of my most important arteries, then follow it up with a catheter, attached with a camera and a blow-up balloon!
“Party time”, I whispered back, and she smiled (At least I think she did, under her mask).
So off we went, and the TV show commenced. I hoped that my room-mate didn’t think he had paid for this TV as well, when suddenly almond eyes started pulling and shoving on my bare thigh. I found out later that this was to change the flow of the blood through the artery, so that they could follow the flow better on the screen. She whispered, in English, “hope this doesn’t hurt” – to which I whispered back, in English, “You’re pulling my leg!”
She laughed again, but I wasn’t too sure she had understood...
Afterwards, when we were in the ante-theatre, she putting the pressure compress on my artery injection point, she started again, pulling and shoving, so I said again “You pulling my leg?” I saw immediately she hadn’t understood, so I explained the meaning and this brought a broad smile and beam, showing the most perfect set of at least 32 teeth I have ever seen. I think I fell in love with her, but we all fall in love with our nurses, don’t we!
Having been told in advance, that the procedure of putting a heavy weight sack onto the point of penetration (as I had experienced it in Germany some 15 years before) to keep pressure on it to close correctly, had now been stopped, I was surprised to see my nurse taking one such “sandbag” and I asked why?
She explained, and I said “so you were pulling my leg again – huh?” This time I received a huge smile which reassured me that she had now understood the phrase! Didn’t help, I still had the bloody sand-bag on for 8 hours. That is probably the worst thing of the whole operation, because they give you something to make you urinate, to get rid of the iod (yod), I believe, and just try peeing into a bottle, lying down, and with a concrete sand-bag on your groin! It isn’t easy!
Anyway – all finished, back to my cheery room-mate, my bed, and a “don’t move or bend your leg for the next 6 hours!!” I ask you!!
Room-mate was lying there groaning, and saying this was no way to die, so I took his TV remote control box, switched it on, and put it at FULL volume.
B L I S S!
It took only 3 or 4 hours, and I had the pleasure of a visit from the Doctor who had carried out the operation, to inform me that neither balloon or stant treatment could be carried out, due to the actual position of possible blockages. The arteries concerned were blocked to a degree of around 70%, and the left coronary artery was blocked and had been since the problems in Germany, 15 years before.
The only possibility was by-pass surgery, 2 or 3 by-passes being necessary.
He explained that this could not be done at CHU Nimes, but would have to be done at Montpellier. A waiting period of anything from 15 days to 3 weeks was to be expected, if I decided to go ahead.
It so happened that the Professor from Montpellier would be in Nimes the following day, and it was proposed that he came to see me, just before I left for home. This was agreed to.
Having spent a relatively uncomfortable night, with room-mate’s groans, a sandbag on my groin, a few things to think about, it didn’t surprise me that I was dozing at around 10am when the door opened, and a gentleman announcing himself as Professor ALBAT from Montpellier, entered.
Before room-mate could start asking him for his references, I introduced myself as Mr le Marquis, and we had a longish “conference”, only interrupted occasionally by room-mate!
Professor ALBAT from the Hospital “Arneau de Villeneuve” at Montpellier is the leader of the thoracic surgical unit at this hospital, and he would arrange for his Secretary to contact me by phone to give me my appointment dates.
This was agreed upon, and the Professor left, forgetting to say goodbye to roommate, who took umbrage and stated quite clearly that he didn’t consider the man to be capable.
Roommate had gone too far for me, so I had a good go at this pathetic lump of human misery, lying on his bed. It all ended by him ringing (again) his bell, and when the Nurse came, insisting upon seeing the Doctor/Intern, since he had no intention of going anywhere, much less out of this Hospital, he had too much pain etc., etc…..
I calmly and quietly packed my bags, since I was due to be released at 1400hrs anyway, and when the nurses asked me where I was going, I said that I felt it was only right to leave the grievously ill and dying patient alone to wait for the Doctor. I could eat my lunch out in the communal area of the ward anyway, before getting my discharge papers and going home. Apart from that, I told them – I COULDN’T TAKE ANY MORE OF THAT TWIT OVER THERE!
That was the end of my contact with this roommate, although I did hear raised voices coming from the room, whilst eating my lunch outside.
Doctor: “There’s nothing wrong with you or your groin, and your transport is waiting. Please get dressed, go home, and you’ll feel better later on. If you don’t, then telephone an ambulance!”
Patient:” But Doctor, I can’t move, I have such pain!”
My transport had arrived, and I said goodbye to the Nursing Staff.
Roommate had nobody waiting at home for him, not even (as he said) his ungrateful cleaning lady. I had noblesse awaiting me – “Granite de l’Oasis” and I couldn’t wait to see her again!