A couple of weeks ago Jambo was complaining about not feeling too well. Being in the midst of a nasty flu season, I just assumed he was coming down with something. He spent a few days at home waiting it out, but as his strength and energy were decreasing the flu never ended up coming around.
Monday rolled around, and as I went to work, Jambo stayed camped out on his couch. The afternoon progressed and he blew up my phone with seemingly over-dramatic text messages. He was complaining that he felt drained, unable to fully use his hands, and feeling slightly light headed. Being miles away and virtually helpless, I suggested he pay a visit to an urgent care clinic.
The urgent care clinic could not do anything but send Jambo to the ER.
I got off work a bit earlier than normal because my after school program was cancelled due to impending bad weather. It's hard enough for Nashvillians to drive when it is dry and sunny outside, but throw some wintry mix into the situation and all bets are off. I decided to cook a small dinner while I waited to hear back from Jambo. I wasn't entirely sure what my next move would be, but if visiting him in the hospital were necessary, I'd be on my way.
Just as I finished up a quick stir fry, Jambo requested I trek out to the ER as he was about to begin a lovely three day stay in the ICU. The thought of something being seriously wrong suddenly weighed heavily upon me. Besides that, I hate going to hospitals.
The sickness and death aspect of hospitals is not what freaks me out. I feel as though I don't know how to act appropriately in hospitals. I never know if I am in the right place, if I am talking or laughing too loud, or is it even inappropriate to laugh at all?? I cannot keep myself from looking into an open door as I pass, and that doesn't seem too appropriate either. Plus, I would love to spend a day in the ER waiting room asking people what stupid life choices they made that lead them to have a lead pipe and a beer bottle sticking out of their left femur, but that would just be bothersome to the other patients.
I sent out a quick message to the troops, I wanted someone to make the journey to Murfreesboro with me. My dear friend, Petunia, answered the call to arms. I quickly threw my stir fry dinner into a Tupperware container and headed out.
Things were not good. It turned out that Jambo's blood sugar was too high to be read by the machine the nurses keep on hand and needed to be sent to the lab. On top of that, his potassium level was about three times the normal level. Jambo was the new owner of a Type I Diabetes diagnosis. By any medical standard, Jambo should have been in a coma. Essentially his body was going into shock and was on the verge of shutting down.
With what seemed like an incredibly low level of security, I walked right into his ER suite. Shouldn't I have needed to at least wear a visitor sticker? By time we arrived, Jambo was hooked up in a mess of about 37 different tubes. However, the genius who connected the monitors and IVs had arranged them quite haphazardly. Jambo was pretty much strapped down to the cot, and being much longer than the cot in the first place, he looked and was incredibly uncomfortable. Now it was time to wait for his room in the ICU to be prepped. Because Jambo needed to stay on a constant insulin drip for the next 24ish hours, they arranged his stay in the intensive care unit until his blood levels became lower.
I sat with Jambo and his roommate in the ER suite, and Petunia patiently waited in the waiting room. It took everything in my being to not make any Steel Magnolias references, but even then, one slipped out occasionally. Every now and then one of the nurses would pop in to offer more ice chips or to take another blood sample. I couldn't help but notice that there are two types of nurses in this particular ER. On one hand you have the middle aged overweight nurses with hair teased to heaven, who have probably been on staff for 26 years, and on the other you have the fresh out of nursing school, or community college, chick who thinks she's hot shit and wears way too much black eye liner. I couldn't decide which of the two options was worse to deal with - one was grumpy as hell and one was just as annoying.
During the whole 2.75 hours I spent in Jambo's ER suite, the attending doctor only came in once. I cannot even express how incredibly awkward he was, and was most certainly lacking the slightest hint of bedside manner. The doc rambled on about the plan for the next 24 hours, immediate life style/diet changes, and to keep a vigilant eye out for a penile infection. Eventually, Jambo's roommate needed to leave for home, Petunia was able to join us, and so we waited some more.
Finally, at about 9:30, Jambo's ICU room was ready for him. It was now the task of the smallest, and probably oldest, nurse on duty to wheel Jambo's hospital cot down 784 feet of hallway, maneuver into an elevator, ride up three stories, and jockey his bed through the ICU. As if being in the hospital weren't bad enough, now his life was being even furthered risk as the nurse careened around corners and tried not to crash into anything. While the nurses were getting him set up in the penthouse of hospital rooms, Petunia and I took to waiting in the lounge. We waited and waited some more, and just when we thought we were waited out, we continued to wait even longer. Waiting patiently is not my forte, but making light of a bad situation is. Petunia and I joked about everything in our surroundings, right down to the janitor who was riding the floor polisher around in circles on the floor below us.
After what seemed like waiting for hours, but was really about 33 minutes, the night nurse came to collect us and take us to see Jambo before it was lights out for the evening. The Night Nurse had to have been the most socially awkward fellow I have ever encountered, and to make matters worse, he had a speech impediment. He stuttered. I am not one for being bullshitted to, and having a bit of a medical background - I became in EMT in high school and my college education track had been set on med school - I wanted to know straight up what was happening. No sugar coating or dumbing down would be necessary. The Night Nurse was having the toughest time answering my questions, I was able to gather more medical information from Petunia's obsession with 'Doctor Quinn, Medicine Woman'. Basically, all I needed to know was how long Jambo would be camping out in the hospital and if he would be allowed cell phone access. Continuing to stutter his way through any coherent answers, I was hoping the Night Nurse would just be watching over the ICU patients and not actually administering anything that could be considered life altering. It took awhile, but I was finally able to trust that Jambo would be in good hands for the night. Finally, after hours of hanging around the hospital in the Boro, Petunia and I headed home to Nashville.
Jambo is now out of the hospital and finally feeling more like himself. We still have a long road ahead in terms of figuring out how to satiate his unstoppable hunger, and I'm not the best at whipping up diabetic friendly cookies with my beautiful KitchenAid mixer, but poking fun at his situation, albeit quite serious, is the best way to cope with it. I now have to find a trendy bag for Jambo to carry his blood tester and his insulin pen in, maybe Coach makes something nice, and frankly the only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize.