Passing Time in the ER

Rocky Road helps make the wait easierRobert came into the hospital last Tuesday.

I am pretty sure today is Monday and, yep, we’re still here.

Anyone who has spent any time at all in the hospital or visiting anyone in the hospital or knows anything about hospitals knows there is one constant: waiting.

We are waiting for an MRI with sedation (because Robert has back pain when he is lying flat so can’t stay still during the test).

We are waiting to find out what is causing his rapid decline (why he can’t walk; why he is sleeping all the time; why he can barely circle his words on his Word Search puzzles).

We are waiting for doctors and blood work results and theories.

We are waiting for physical therapists, occupational therapists, answers and a plan.

On Tuesday we waited for eight hours in the Emergency Room before being admitted and getting wheeled to his current room. We have had longer waits in the Emergency Room so eight hours seems long but not unheard of.

What kind of crazy world do we live in that an eight hour stay in the Emergency Room doesn’t seem too bad?

I think the problem was we came into the ER on a Saturday night.  Oh, wait, no – we came in on a Tuesday afternoon.  A Tuesday afternoon and Robert was first put in a hallway and eventually a room.

Where we waited and the doctors ignored my insistence they call the neurology team which is what his neurologist wanted.  She specifically told me the team would be notified before I even brought him to the ER!  Call them, please!

It took four hours for the doctors to finally decide to call the neurology team and this was after me asking them to do so; telling them to call them; calling them myself and finally unloading on a medical student (who had repeatedly told me she was a fourth year med student).

Congratulations!  You’re in your fourth year of medical school! Let me just ask you to please, please listen to the caregivers when they give you information.  Caregivers know their caree.  Caregivers will give you all sorts of information about what is baseline for this person you’ve never seen before.  Since you’re a student, it is a good thing to learn early on that caregivers can be a huge help and resource to you!  Now, Please. Call. Neurology.

I felt better after giving my little speech.

And neurology showed up soon after.

While Robert and I waited in the ER, Richard arrived with new energy and a smile.

What a welcome sight!

Richard went to get us food which turned out to be the best grilled cheese sandwich I’ve ever had.  (Although it could have been the starvation influencing my judgment.)  Regardless, I was beyond grateful for Richard getting us the food so I wouldn’t miss the opportunity to talk to the doctors.

Robert tried to pass the time working on his puzzle book but had trouble circling the words.  He slept during part of the wait and I stepped into various hallways on a search for internet access.  I finally was able to text by creating the text then holding my phone up in the air in a particular hallway and sending.

Whatever works.

Waiting allows me time to find these creative solutions.

Waiting also gave me time to talk to Robert to ask him silly questions.  He had a purple band on his wrist which the hospital had put on him upon arrival.

I like the color purple, Robert!

“I do too.”

What is your favorite color?

“Blue. I like yellow too. And purple.”

I knew he loved blue but didn’t realize he liked yellow and purple.

What is your favorite food?  (Of course, I expected to hear “cheeseburger” or “combination pizza.”)

“Steak and Lobster.”

Wow! Someone likes to live high on the hog!

What is your favorite drink?  (This is an easy one – he’ll say chocolate shake for sure!)

“Sprite.”

What?  Anything else?

“7-Up.”

Well, okay, but I still think chocolate shake is his favorite drink!

What is your favorite dessert?  (Everyone knows this answer!)

“Chocolate candy.”

Oh goodness.  Robert must be really sick if he doesn’t even rank Rocky Road ice cream as his favorite dessert!

What about ice cream?

“I love ice cream.”

What kind?

“Chocolate.”

The long wait is obviously turning his brain to mush.

What about Rocky Road?

Robert’s eyes lit up.

“I LOVE Rocky Road ice cream.  It is deeee-LISH-us.”

We eventually made it out of the ER and into a room.

Where we wait for an MRI with sedation and answers and theories and plans.

And where I sneak in a little bit of Rocky Road to help with the wait.

[Reprinted from RobertsSister.com]

Profile photo of Trish

About Trish

I am Robert’s older sister and a freelance writer and am also a full-time Legal Administrator for a wonderful law firm (no, that is not an oxymoron). I am the caregiver for my youngest brother, Robert, who has suffered from uncontrolled epilepsy his entire life. In his late-40s now, he lives with me and my husband. I have somehow managed to navigate the maze of social services and government programs available to help Robert and continue to be amazed at the amount of time and persistence that is needed to do so. Robert finds happiness in simple pleasures like doing word search puzzles and watching his favorite shows (Family Feud and Jeopardy, of course!)

9 thoughts on “Passing Time in the ER

  1. Cathy Mitchell

    Oh Rish, even I. Your awful setting you shine through with your love, good humor and endurance. Hope the MRI comes through soon.

    Reply
  2. Profile photo of rosierosie

    Hi Trish, I hope everything works out well and you’re able to leave soon. It sure is a mystery why medical staff don’t listen to the caregivers and frustrating too but it sounds like you’re weathering this storm with grace. Wishing the best and a good night’s sleep too.

    Reply
    • Profile photo of TrishTrish Post author

      @Rosie, It amazes me too why it isn’t automatic to listen to caregivers. I just don’t understand why caregivers wouldn’t be the first go-to place for information. I find that most do listen but have found (in my experience) the ER staff to be the worst at it (not just this time – there have been other times as well). Thank you for your warm thoughts!

      Reply
  3. Profile photo of KimberlyKimberly

    My mom is in the hospital again, as of an er visit and admission last night. The er went ok, but her nurse tonight initiated the bandage change by asking me if I wanted to wait outside. That was a warning sign. I told him that I’m fine seeing it since I take care of all of it at home. Then he unfolded the gauze pad so it was 10×10 inches to cover a 3 inch wound. I told him it needs to stay folded so it won’t cause another because it will be keeping moisture up against too much skin that’s still healthy. His response was to tell me that he has been doing this for 8 years. My response to him was, “don’t play that card with me, I’ve been doing this for 12 years.” I just had to tell myself that in less than 12 hours the nurse will be someone else and hopefully that one will have enough respect to listen to my experience concerning my mom.

    I hope your brother’s current hospital stay is productive with answers.

    —Kimberly

    Reply
    • Profile photo of TrishTrish Post author

      Oh, Kimberly! How frustrating! Good for you for advocating for your mom. That nurse sounds like a nightmare so I hope you don’t get him again. Thankfully, Robert has had only one sub-par nurse and she is no longer assigned to him. She was nice enough but was not paying attention, not keeping him clean and basically “dialing it in.” It’s too bad we have to deal with not only the worry about our caree but also varying levels of care. I hope things go smoothly for your mom during this hospital stay. Take care!

      Reply
  4. Profile photo of JaneJane

    Trish:

    My thoughts and prayers are with you, Richard, and Robert. I hope that the MRI is forthcoming quickly. I hope that you get the answers, theories and plans quickly. I hope you will be leaving the hospital soon. You are so amazing and a inspiration to all of us.

    Hugs:o)
    Jane

    Reply
    • Profile photo of TrishTrish Post author

      Thank you so much, Jane. It helps to know so many people are thinking of Robert and sending well-wishes and prayers. I hope we get out of here soon too! Hugs!

      Reply
  5. Profile photo of EllysGdaughterEllysGdaughter

    Dear Trish, I was wondering how your world was going and am so sad to hear about Robert! I can’t believe he didn’t say Rocky Road Ice Cream, he’s my RR buddy!!! I am praying for you guys as you negotiate this very long wait for tests. I am very worried about Robert, just knowing his story and all he’s been through. . . Hurray for Richard and food :) Recently, I had a 1.5 hour layover in Sacramento at the AMTRAK station and waved to you all :) Keep us posted,, ((HUGS))!

    Reply

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