Sometimes traveling means different things. This week was a rather rough and tumble 60 mile trip to the emergency room in Alpena because my gallbladder had departed ways for its own rebellious travels, it went from passing bile to not being able to pass gravel and a mass of gall stones. My pain level had escalated beyond a little shaker, it was now a relentless 7.0 on the Richter Scale.
An eight hour stay in the emergency room included a CT Scan, blood tests, urine tests, ultrasound and 4 different excursions into different pain medications. I had already been fasting with no food or water for 16 hours prior to going to the ER, in the ER I was required to continue that fast indefinitely.
My short travel stints for the day were bed rides to all the different test machines required. I had to get the full tour so that they could reach that very diagnosis I had surmised and told them of when I had arrived; that I was going to need my gallbladder taken out. My old family doctor would have made that same conclusion and diagnoses with a few palpitations and a cursory inspection of my eyes. He would have patted me on the shoulder and sent me to hospital admittance while he prepped for surgery. The whole process would have been completed in less than 3 hours. Those days are over.
Finally after being admitted to the hospital, I met the surgeon who was assigned to perform my surgery and I was allowed a drink of water and a liquid meal order. The non narcotic pain medication was wonderful as was the bowl of tomato soup.
The ensuing wait for surgery was filled with a parade in which I was the main attraction and not the spectator. About every ten minutes someone wanted to take my vitals or ask me why I was there or whether I had traveled outside the country recently. If I got up from the bed an alarm screamed at me and kept screaming until a nurse came running for fear of a disaster. I had been classified as a fall risk traveler without a security clearance, it was outlawed to travel to the bathroom or get up just for the sake of an exercise excursion around the room on my own volition. When night arrived, all of my dream travels were interrupted by hourly bells and whistles– the Saline drip needed to be replaced, the antibiotics needed to be renewed or a battery needed to be charged, and each time someone showed up to perform these tasks I needed the bar code on my wrist exposed and scanned. Of course I was guilty of setting off the bed alarm at least five times. As for my much needed sleep? I kept imagining I was hearing thunder but it was just my stomach rumbling.
When I was a kid I had spent more than my share of time in that same facility. Then it was called Alpena General Hospital. I had had appendicitis, a diverse array of broken bones, burns and a skin graft, wounds from a couple of baseball bat throws and a rifle scope between the eyes. The hospital back then was a single cement complex, now it consumes acres and acres with a mass of new buildings filled with specialists and complex machinery. It is now called Mid Michigan Health.
Back then I had one doctor, Dr. Spenz (God rest his soul) but this visit I had a parade of nurses, counselors and specialists. Most things have changed for the better, some things have changed for the worse. Back then I was put under with the brutalness of ether, now it is more like flying away on a butterfly. The machines can penetrate just about anything the naked eye can’t. But, on the other hand, I had great admiration for the skill and wisdom of my old family doctor, now I was at the mercy of having not the slightest clue as to whom my doctor would be. Back then the technology was human, now it is a conglomerate of sophisticated machinery with many way stops with strange faces. Sometimes I was listened to, sometimes not. Sometimes I was consulted, often times not. I wish they would have kept the friendly family doctors with their wisdom and their friendly ways by putting all the good technology at there wise and discretionary disposal.
As for the way things are, I am thankful that everyone was competent. My Specialist turned out to be a warm fellow aptly skilled by time and experience. They were a very professional bunch at Mid Michigan Health with the best of all intentions. I am home now, minus a gallbladder, eating a bowl of ice cream, sipping a decaf coffee and writing this. Life is good.
As an afterward I just want to reference my deep concerns for the opioid medications that are produced and administered to patients. I found them to be much inferior to the non narcotic pain killer Toradol I received in the ER prior to being admitted to the hospital. It was the most effective for the pain, lasted the longest and caused the least effects outside of the pain killing purpose. The opioid crisis can and should be curtailed through the promotion and use of such superior pain killers.
My upcoming book “THE GOLDEN STALLION” is a middle school and young adult fiction book about the tribulations of Jeepers Creepers, a young fellow faced with the opioid temptations and allures of Doofus, The Rat. It is presented simply as a young persons story to illustrate the misconceptions and addictive choices surrounding these drugs. If you care about helping solve the opioid problem, please order an advanced copy of this book. You can do so by contacting me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org. I think you will be very grateful to receive and have this book for your children and grandchildren.
Richard Rensberry, Author at QuickTurtle Books®