Well, that was interesting. In my last column, written Tuesday, I talked about all the fun I had getting blood and urine drawn for my lab tests in anticipation of a couple of different clinic appointments. No biggie – nothing unusual. Except…
At about 11am, I got a text to call the clinic, which had gotten the results of my tests. My first assumption was that they were contacting me to run yet another test about something, but when I called, the clinic nurse told me that I needed to go to the emergency room right away! I tried to clarify things: “You mean go over to Urgent Care?” “No! You need to get to the emergency room at the hospital as soon as possible…”
You don’t hear that very often from your medical providers, so I obediently got in the car and drove over to see what the big deal was. After a two-hour wait, which always thrills me to no end, I got in to see the doctor, and the whirlwind began. First off, of course, I went from being decently dressed to being given a hospital gown to put on, sans clothing, which had a tie at the top, thankfully, but nothing after that. Just to digress for a moment: I am very private person, especially when it comes to my own body. Moving into any part of the medical industry threatens that position in a big way. For the next couple of hours, the folks in emergency seemed to have found a chance to use all their toys, and I got stabbed, poked, squished, scanned, ultra-sounded, ekg’d and everything else you can imagine.
The doctor then came in and very nicely told me that they were going to admit me to the hospital so they could get to the bottom of why my blood seemed to be down a couple of quarts, and my kidneys were deciding to go on vacation. I won’t go into any more, since you don’t need to know, but that began the epic saga of “spending time in the hospital.”
They finally found a room, and so I took the equivalent of a taxi ride through the old city of Quebec, as the orderly apparently held the value of success in being able to create the equivalent of a wind tunnel as I flew through the corridors to my new temporary home. The next best thing was that I did contact Cheri, and asked her to bring me some pajama pants since it appeared the medical industry was only interested in my life above the waistline, fortunately. It’s amazing what a sense of confidence you feel once you put pants on in public.
The “room” they found for me was not one of the hospital’s finest, by any means. I was moved into what they call “overflow,” which means the room was pretty much a glorified closet, with no window, no bathroom – nothing. On top of that, while they were trying to figure out my condition, somebody came up with the great idea that I didn’t need to eat or drink anything – for about a day and a half. Oh, I got fluids from my friendly hanging bag of saline, which was only one apparatus that required stabbing my body. Such fun. They also took my “vitals” which consisted of checking my temperature (which stayed at a flat 98.4 degrees), and my blood oxygen (which stayed at a 98%), and my blood pressure (which held at just about 117/75). In many circles, that information would lead one to say things were perfectly normal.
There then began a string of folks coming in to say hi, and listening to my heart and lungs, and then pushing all around on my stomach and abdomen, asking if I had any pain. Now, given the fact that a few hours earlier I was blissfully at home with no pain whatsoever anywhere, I of course had no pain just because I was lying in a closet with a fancy tied up shirt and pj pants on. That didn’t matter – they pushed and squished, like a big brother sitting on top of you, slapping and pinching and asking, “Does THAT hurt? Does THAT hurt”
I can’t really describe the look of disappointment on face after face when, as they pushed and squished, I continued to tell them that nothing at all hurt, and that I felt fine. I think a few them thought I was faking, and so they would try a surprise attack – it tickled, but no pain. One doctor even told me I supposed to have pain, due to the particular condition they discovered with a CT scan. It’s like I wasn’t playing the game fair or something, by not moaning or crying. I just laid there, getting pushed on.
Of course, the next favorite thing they like to do in the hospital is to try to incrementally suck out all your blood through your arm. I went back and counted, and from noon on Tuesday until Thursday morning, I had 46 different blood tests run. I can’t wait to see the bill. I can tell you that today, my right inside elbow is a wee bit sore from the multiple stabs (ok – this may hurt – it will be a little stick….).
The other thing they like to do is to constantly ask you your name, and when you were born. I know it’s a security thing, so they know they are stabbing Randy Cross in the arm, in the same bed he has been in for 24 hours, instead of, say, accidentally taking blood from Marge Simpson or something… and don’t go joking around – they will just stand there, looking disgusted at you until you tell the truth. I am pleased to tell you, however, that I now know my name, and when I was born. An accomplishment for the week.
So, they found out that I needed blood for some reason, so I did get the chance to experience two blood transfusions. It’s kind of weird feeling to have something pumped into your veins that not too long before had been pumping through someone else’s veins. I thought maybe if I got lucky, it would have given me the ability to speak German or something, but I guess blood doesn’t transfer skills very well.
They finally moved me to another room on a different floor after another race through the halls, wind blowing through my hair. They also said I could actually have something to eat and drink, which given the state of the coffee that must have been made 12 hours earlier, and the interesting menu to order from for a meal, I might have been better just have a nice glass of water.
By the time Wednesday night rolled around, I began to think a nice night’s sleep would really help. I shut things off at 9pm, and closed my eyes. Unfortunately, I had not closed my door, and I discovered I was on the hard-of-hearing floor, and could easily enjoy two or three different television shows blaring at the same time. Finally about an hour later, I did get up and shut the door, and fell asleep.
What fun, then, it was to be awakened at 2am to the sound of constant beeping in my ear, and realize that the bag of stuff being pumped into my veins was almost empty. I laid there for a while, certain that someone would come and hear the beep. Apparently, the sound was only perceptible to my hearing, since it continue for another good ten minutes or so. I finally decided I would push the all important “nurse-call” button to get some action. To do that, I had to sit up and fumble around to find the apparatus with the call button that was buried under my left shoulder blade. I pushed it, and waited.
And waited, and waited. Fifteen more minutes later, the nurse came and asked what I needed. Over the sound of the beeping machine, I helped her figure out that I was out of juice and needed another quart. She manage to do that, and then of course decided she might as well take my vitals too, and so with all that done, I was able to drift back to sleep.
Imagine my surprise, then, when at 5:15, I heard a voice saying, “I need to take your vitals…” For some reason, I guess, this needed to happen when I was sound asleep instead of, oh, another hour later… It’s fun to then be awake at 5:30 – there is so much to do at that time of the morning…
Well, so it went, until finally late yesterday morning, the doctor’s gang (they all come in groups of four or more), told me they thought I could go home, with all sorts of pills and after I made the promise to submit myself to another set of outpatient tests in the next couple of weeks. Two and a half hours later, they finally let me go, and it’s been great to walk around on carpet and not have things stabbed in my hand and arm.
So, I end the week on a cautionary tale: like the scripture says, “Let the one who thinketh he stand take heed lest he fall.” I fell this week, I guess, and now I have a new hobby for the next number of weeks, of figuring out and getting healthy, because I didn’t know I wasn’t healthy already. Seriously, I guess it is important for each of us to approach our own lives with humility and with care, and not assume that simply because nothing hurts that nothing is hurting you somehow. It’s the self-awareness, and intentional living that helps us focus and find true health, and hopefully avoid what I went through this week. I can’t wait for the medical bills. Merry Christmas..
Take care, and may you be filled with health and wholeness as you live today.
Word for the day: cunctation. Pronounced kungk-TAY-shun. A rather interesting word, from our friends in Latin, of course. The earliest word is cunctare, which means, “to hesitate.” Cunctation is the state of lateness, or hesitation or delay. This is different than “procrastination,” another Latin word that carries the sense of intentionally delaying or putting something off until some future time. Cunctation carries some of that, but with the intention of better finding the best time or conditions to move forward. The Roman general Fabius Maximus was called the “Cunctator,” (granted, not a great title) because he was known for holding back on entering into battle until he had the upper hand. Cunctation is thoughtful – procrastination is rather more cowardly or lazy.
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.