Last week was one I’d like to never repeat.
It all began with Dad’s blood pressure going up…and staying up. He was having a-fib episodes. He recorded his BP for 3 days and decided he needed to go to the ER. Off we went.
I expected to have to wait; it was the ER after all. They took Dad to triage right away. His BP sky-rocketed to 203 over something. I can’t even recall the numbers now. But that was too high and he should have been seen right away. 2 hours went by in the waiting room before someone came in and took Dad’s BP again. It had gone down to 188 over something. I was glad it went down but it was still too high. He could have a heart attack or stroke! I figured they’d be calling us back soon.
Yeah right. There was virtually no one in the waiting room when we got there but quickly filled up. There were people puking in bags, a sick Mennonite baby, an ankle injury, a 7-year-old with a life-long issue with twisted intestines who was screaming at the top of his lungs in pain, an elderly woman who fell and broke her shoulder, and numerous others. (Dad and I were wearing masks, thankfully!) Everyone was being called back before us! I was getting pissed because high BP is a serious issue! With his readings being so high you’d think they’d put him on the priority list. They kept telling us that as soon as they had a room, we’d be called back. Geez. I wondered how they had a room for all of those others they took before us! Finally, after a 7-hour wait, they called us back.
The doctor came in right away, which was a surprise! He ordered an EKG right away and a drug to bring his BP down. The nurse came in sometime later and asked if anyone set Dad up with an IV. I asked, “Why does he need an IV?” She was a snot about answering. Not very pleasant at all. I mean, how the hell am I supposed to know why he needed an IV. She told me it was so they could give him the meds to lower his BP. I said, “Ok, that’s fine but don’t they have a shot for that?” She got snippy and said, “I’ll check.” She left and came back with a syringe and proceeded to bare Dad’s arm for the shot.
I asked, “How long will it take for his BP to come down?” She told me she didn’t know. She said it would be slow and that the IV would have been quicker. I snapped at that point and said, “It would have been nice to know that beforehand!” I mean, fuck. I was worried that she had the wrong patient and about Dad being poked and prodded while they try to find a vein for the IV. He was shivering cold, for Christ’s sake! If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of this then you know it’s sometimes hard to get a vein right away when the patient is cold. And if you have a nurse that isn’t that competent, which you won’t know until she needs 20 minutes to find a vein, then it’s even worse! Anyway, she could have explained that the IV would have been quicker and then we could decide which way to go. The bitch acted like it was killing her to tell us what was going on!
After more time passed, the nurse came back in and untucked dad’s t-shirt. She just grabbed it and pulled it up. Now, I’m not a medical “professional” but I did work in a nursing home for several years as a Med Tech and CNA. My training included intensive coverage of patient rights, privacy, and dignity. You are supposed to tell the patient what you’re doing, as you’re doing it. Dad didn’t know what the hell was going on. The nurse started sticking little tabs/sensors all over his torso. He was agitated and asked, “What the hell’s going on?” She said she was getting him ready for the EKG. Why the hell couldn’t she tell him that before she started pulling on him? I was getting pissed.
And regarding patient privacy…every damn time someone came in they left the door and the curtain open! So, they let the cold in again and every time someone walked by they had to look in! I was getting tired of closing the door and curtain. Oh, and that snotty nurse said she would bring dad a warm blanket but she never did!
Dad’s BP was taken automatically every 30 minutes. It went down slowly but it did go down. But then the last BP reading was higher; it jumped from 168 over something to 179 over something…and about then the nurse came in and said they were letting him go. I asked, “What about that?” I was pointing to the machine that had his last reading on it. She acted like she had no clue what I was talking about. I told her, “His BP shot back up!” and I added, “These are dangerous readings!” So, she took his BP again while she said the drug will continue to work to bring it down. The doctor came in and suggested dad see his regular doctor….DUH. He said that he will need to see a cardiologist for the a-fib. Geez. So helpful they are.
After 8 1/2 hours, we were on our way home…in the dark, which I am not used to. We’re talking an hour’s drive along country roads. My eyes play tricks on me in the dark. The lights and glare from other vehicles, and other lights, make it very hard to see, and to have to watch for deer, possums, and other critters is scary! At one point, I heard this loud dog barking. It scared the daylights out of me! I didn’t see anything at all but I imagine it was a stupid car-chasing dog that came awfully close to my car as I was passing! He got lucky.
By the time we got home, it was after 2:00am. We were exhausted, especially Dad. We hadn’t eaten since lunch and we were too tired to worry about it at 2 in the morning! We both slept about 2 hours.
Dad got an appointment the next day to see his doctor and she didn’t do anything either. She just wanted him to record his BP readings for a week and then come back. Geez. He always keeps track of his BP. Why add another week? Why risk a damn stroke or heart attack with another week of high readings? His BP has been better this week but it’s still too high. I am ready to strangle these people! He will see her again on Wednesday and he will insist on seeing a cardiologist. He’s worried to death and that doesn’t help his BP. I’m worried and I’m afraid to take mine!
I don’t know how much more of this either one of us can take! The next time we have to go to the hospital, we will go to the one on the Arkansas border. It’s the same distance and maybe, just maybe they will be quicker, more competent, and more respectful. Hopefully, we’ll get Dad’s BP down and I’ll have him with me for much longer. I’m just not ready to let go…and he isn’t either.