Sunday, November 28, 2010


What an end to a week!
Friday evening I fainted and ended up at St. Luke's Hospital for about 18 hours. First I have to reassure you and say there is absolutely nothing wrong with me.
Here's the story:
Friday evening we provided a sort of second Thanksgiving dinner for Jane and her family, Jane's stepmother Caroline, and Jane's cousin Jay. (We did the same thing last year and included Scott's parents then.)
As usual, I was the primary cook. I went into the day quite tired, and indeed I wondered early on how I would be able to hold up. In retrospect, I realize that I also didn't dirnk enough liquids all day and so in addition to being tired I got dehydrated. Finally, just as I was putting the finishing touches on dinner, I had to go lie down -- and I dozed for about three hours. Then I got up for a whie, ate a little bit of the dinner, and enjoyed the company of our grandchildren, Jay, and Jane while Scott took Caroline home. At the end of that, what I wanted most was to soak in a hot bath -- something I rarely do, but my legs were very tired. It turned out my bathtub was unusable, because dirty water from another apartment had backed up into it. So I took a bath in Liz's bathtub. I luxuriated in the very hot water. However, when I stood up, I felt light headed. I should have sat down immediately, but all I could think of was drying off and getting to the bed.
The next thing I knew, I was on the floor, feeling sick. In fact, I had fainted and thrown up all over myself and the floor. I had also bumped my head on the edge of a shelf of a bookcase, and there was an amazing amount of blood from was in fact was a minor scrape.
When she saw me lying there, Liz immediately called our Security Department and told them there was a medical emergency. I said, "No, it's not an emergency," but they had already called 911 and an ambulance was on the way.
The EMS technicians are very good at their job -- they managed to persuade me that I should go to the emergency room because of the bump on my head. Once I was at the hospital they did a lot of tests -- a chest xray revealed that my heart is normal, a cat scan revealed that there was no hidden head injury, the EKG and blood tests also showed that I am in good shape. Still, they decided to admit me to the hospital -- the doctor told me they wanted to give me a stress test. Liz stayed with me for a couple of hours -- she went home after it became clear that I would be admitted. By then it was about 2 AM. I finally got to a room sometime between 3 and 4 AM. They took more blood, put me on a heart monitor, and an intravenous saline solution. (I'd had that in the emergency room too, but this one went through a a machine which monitored the drip and made noise.) Before 7 AM I had spoken to three doctors, and all were agreed that I was ok and could go home. The last one was an intern and he told me that when Dr. Bhat, the attending doctor, came in I would probably be discharged. That's not what happened. Dr. Bhat never showed and sometime after 10 AM a new young intern came. She told me the name, which I promptly forgot, of another attending doctor who would make the decision about discharge. Shortly after 11, Liz got there with my clothes. During the hour and half she was there, she went out and asked what was taking so long. Finally, we decided that she should not wait -- I would go home alone. Just before Liz left, the intern came back and said the attending doctor would be there in maybe 45 minutes. When he came, which must have been about 1 PM, he said he had spoken to my doctor, Dr. Romanoff, who wants to see me this week, and that he would tell them at the desk to discharge me. So I got dressed.
The next thing that happened was that I was told that I needed to have more blood tests and an EKG. It took a little while before that happened, but it was still only about 2 PM. Shortly before three I went out to the desk and asked what was happening. The intern was there and she told me she wanted to give me the lab results to take with me. She gave me print outs of the earlier tests and said she would have the EKG in a little while. Soon she brought the EKG results and apologized that the blood test results were taking so long.
Part of the time while I was waiting, I was dozing because I was still sleepy from the day and night before. If I hadn't been tired, I might have been a little more assertive. Finally at 5 PM, four hours after I was finally told I could leave, I went to the nurse and said this is ridiculous, I'm leaving. She said, give me a minute , I'll get the paper ready for you to sign out. She came to the room with the papers and while I signed she told me that if it had been up to her, I would have been gone hours before.
As I walked home, I thought how ironic it was. The reason I was taken to the emergency room was the bump on my head and in the emergency room I got a cat scan and a tetanus shot for that, but no further treatment for the minor scrape on my head -- not even an antiseptic. And I never got the stress test.


Grandmère Mimi said...

Allen, I'm glad you're all right. All's well that ends well - I guess. Next time you feel lightheaded, you'll know what to do. And drink your liquids.

All that other stuff and no antiseptic on your scrape? Why I could have done that for you. Oh, dear. Well, you have a story to tell.

Love and blessings.

Allen said...

Thank you, Mimi.
I told my friend Joel Kovel about it and he said (a) going to the emergency room was the right thing, and (b) they could undoubtedly see that the scrape didn't need treatment. Joel is a doctor, although he hasn't practiced in a long time.