First, is ER really short for Emergency Room? Now I don’t know. I thought I did, but looking at it written up there in the title, it doesn’t look right.
So, Panda is fine. She’s a bit sore and definitely tired, but she’s fine. And a content warning: if blood, CT scans and enemas make you queasy, don’t bother reading any further.
If you’re interested, then read on to hear the comedy of errors that was our day.
A little tidbit before I get started: Keno and I spent an hour at the Urgent Care last Friday where they removed a piece of glass from his knee.
Now, it’s a little over a week later, and we’re headed back. This time to the Emergency Room proper and it’s Panda.
Here’s how it starts. It’s noon and Mark is quietly asking me to come downstairs. He won’t say why, just says that he needs me. So, I quit a round of Word Twist (did I mention that I’m addicted to Word Twist on Facebook?) and head down. Turns out Panda is throwing up in the downstairs bathroom and saying that her uterus hurts. No fever, but extreme pain and weakness. But she doesn’t want to go to ER until her boyfriend gets here, so we wait about 15 minutes. While we’re waiting I head upstairs to do a little research on the internet to find out whether I’m being an over-anxious mother or if this is the right thing to be doing on a lovely, sunny Sunday afternoon.
She’d been quite perky when she woke up at 10:30, so this seemed completely out of the ordinary. Well, the vomiting by itself was out of the ordinary.
Anyway, her boyfriend’s mother drops him off. I let her know where we were heading and we hop in the car. Panda’s doing better than she was, hasn’t thrown up since 12:30 and feeling a little bit better, but we forge on, because this is all very odd.
We end up waiting about an hour to be seen by a doctor, which in this area really isn’t bad. Panda’s already announced that if they have to do a pelvic exam that I am to leave the room, so when we get to that portion, I leave and a few minutes later the doc comes out of the room and I hear screaming and then whimpering from the room. Turns out they haven’t been able to do anything. The doc tried to palpate, but Panda was too sensitive so they told her they’d have to hook up an IV and take some blood.
She freaked. She’s always hated needles and really didn’t think that she’d have to deal with them on this trip, figuring that the pelvic exam (something she’s not had the pleasure of experiencing before) was the worse thing, so she freaked, and the nurse freaked at her freaking. She snapped at Panda, “Pull yourself together!” I stepped in with my usual brand of humor and got Panda laughing, which turns out to have not necessarily been a good thing, because laughing makes her abdomen hurt more.
But, she did calm down enough for the nurse to get the needle in for the blood draw. Apparently we had unnerved the nurse enough that she forgot to have the collection unit at the ready, so with the needle in, but no little bottle, there was blood spurting and then running down Panda’s arm. Panda was still concentrating on reading the Spanish sign on the wall, so she missed all this.
The nurse gets the blood collected and the IV set up and then gives her a shot of morphine. Telling us this as she does it. Now, I have no idea why they’re giving her an IV or morphine, because it was explained to Panda while I was out of the room.
Panda feels the morphine almost immediately and starts to talk about some of the physical sensations. It hit the back of her head first, kind of swirled around and then headed up to the tip of her nose.
It’s a little disconcerting to see your daughter get high almost instantaneously.
About this time she asks if her boyfriend can join us in the room and we get approval, so I go retrieve him from the lobby.
As we get back to the room, they’re wheeling her out to get an ultrasound. It seems they think she might be having an appendicitis attack.
Oh, I’ve forgotten that we figure out that the Doc who’s working on her case is the son of her 8th grade English teacher. That is surreal and serendipitous, but happily so because Panda really liked this teacher and so has complete trust in this doctor now (something she doesn’t ordinarily extend to people quite so quickly and certainly not to doctors, because she doesn’t like hospitals in the least).
Okay, back to the exam room. Panda’s headed off for the ultrasound and her boyfriend and I have half an hour to entertain ourselves in the room. It’s a room that’s mainly set up for gynecological emergencies, so there are drawers that say: miscarriage tray (which we both find very sad), gynecological instruments (which as a musician, I had trouble reading properly), etc. We laughed a fair bit.
Panda is wheeled back and we wait some more. This time the nurse comes and sets up the automatic blood pressure cuff and then leaves the room. The cuff fills with air, Panda winces and then it takes her blood pressure. It should stop at this point, but it doesn’t. It waits about 15 seconds and then starts again. After the fourth cycle through, I press the call button. The nurse answers over the intercom, I explain what’s going on and she says: “That sounds uncomfortable.” And then comes in to turn off the machine. This is a procedure, that while not as traumatic as a needle stick, is definitely high on Panda’s “Please don’t do this to me” list. Now she’s had 5 in a row, because of a machine malfunction.
The doc comes back in to explain that while they found a cyst on her right ovary, they couldn’t find the appendix and so they’ll need to do a CT scan, oh, and would she please go pee in this cup. “Three wipes with the wipey in the room, start to pee into the toilet and then put the cup in the stream. This is what we call a clean catch.”
Uh, there’s no “wipey” in the bathroom. Panda locks herself in and then the nurse comes to have me sign a waiver (that I think is for the CT scan, so I don’t read it – don’t ask – I won’t be doing that again soon), I mention that there’s no “wipey”, she says yes there is, I say no there’s not and she tries to open the bathroom door. Gets mad that it’s locked and says to me: “What if she faints in there? It will take me much longer to get the key to get in there. . .”
I explain this to Panda when she unlocks the door; the nurse discovers that I really do know what a “wipey” looks like and there aren’t any in that bathroom. . .
Anyway, Panda gets a “clean catch” and we head back to the room. Then the CT scan tech comes with the paper I’ve signed and says, “So, you know that you’re getting a CT scan and an enema, right?”
Huh? Nobody said anything about an enema.
“You know that you signed a release for a contrasting injection CAT scan right? Didn’t anyone explain what that was?”
Nope. So I take the waiver and start to read it (something I should have done before, but we were standing in the hallway waiting for Panda to pee in a cup and I wasn’t thinking clearly and it seems like the nurse ought to have said a little something about it).
Panda, understandably, wants to know what’s going on, grabs the paper from me and tries to read. The morphine has made her vision blurry and she can’t read, so I end up reading it out loud while the tech sits quietly next to me muttering about how someone should have explained this to us already.
Oh yeah, that brings up another little anomaly. When Panda got into the room for the ultrasound, a new nurse came into draw blood. “But I already had a blood draw.”
“Oh, well, it’s lost; we’ll have to draw blood again and set up an IV.”
“But, I’ve already got an IV set up, see?”
“Oh, well, we still need to draw blood again.”
This time the blood draw goes much more smoothly, thank goodness. But, they LOST the blood?
Meanwhile, back in the exam room, the three of us are now bored and singing the Oscar Meyer Weiner song for no apparent reason.
Eventually the tech guy comes back and tells us that the CAT scan will take half and hour to an hour.
It’s late afternoon, now; nobody has eaten and we’re all hungry. So, Panda heads off on a gurney to her adventure and the boyfriend and I head off to Erik’s Deli for sandwiches and sodas.
We stop in the car to call Panda’s dad and the boyfriend’s mom for an update and then head to the sandwich place.
When we get back, we’re standing outside the “Personnel Only” “Card Access Only” signs on the doors that we need to go through waiting and speculating that we’ll be waiting 10 minutes and that then the next person to come to those doors will be Panda. At this point, I hear a soft giggle. It’s Panda, just rounding the corner on her gurney. She’d heard her boyfriend’s accurate prediction and started laughing.
Okay, it’s after 5:30 now, we’ve been there since 2:00. But we head back to the exam room, asking the nurse if Panda can eat the Marrakesh Express that we’ve brought her.
“No! If the CT scan comes back with a positive on the appendicitis, she’ll be heading into surgery and she can’t eat for that, so NO!”
Okay, no food. We wait. This time the wait is short. And I’m glad. It’s only about 10 minutes.
The doc comes in and says, the CT scan is clear. We just need to do a quick pelvic exam to see what we can see with the ovarian cyst from the inside and then we’ll be able to send her home.
This is her first pelvic exam. Not exactly how that first experience is supposed to go. We women know it’s not a pleasant experience, but it doesn’t have to happen under circumstances like this.
He’s fast, really fast, and again, I’m grateful for this.
The doc brings the boyfriend and me in to the room, but we’re snugged up by the door inside the curtain that’s separating us from Panda and the nurse, because Panda’s not dressed yet.
“So, we’ve done two days worth of procedures in three hours and we’ve figured out a lot of things: She doesn’t have appendicitis, she’s not pregnant, she doesn’t have a public disease (what exactly is this? I was too stunned to even think to ask for clarification), she’s got a cyst on her right ovary that ruptured and we’re sending off a mumble-mumble to verify that she doesn’t have any STDs. So, a lot of tests, but we had to rule out a lot of things. I’m sending her home with a prescription for Ibuprofen (600 mg), Vicodin if the pain gets too great and a suppository if she gets nauseated again.”
I’m surprised that I remembered any of that speech. I think I got most of it, and Panda will chime in to correct what I’ve gotten wrong, I’m sure.
And so, we headed out to the car. All in all, a very surreal day.
It ended well enough, but certainly not the kind of day that Panda and her boyfriend had expected to spend. They figured they’d be cuddled up watching movies all afternoon.
I figured I’d be upstairs playing Word Twist and taking breaks to go through the old stuff in the Christmas boxes, so that I don’t keep repacking things and putting them up in the rafters when they haven’t been used in over 15 years.
Hmmm, I wonder what tomorrow will bring.