Monday, July 7, 2014

Passing Time in the ER

Robert came into the hospital last Tuesday.

I am pretty sure today is Monday and, yep, we’re still here.
Rocky Road makes the wait much easier

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!)


What?  Anything else?


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?


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.  

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