Adventure in Third World Medicine…Again

Max experienced chest pains this afternoon and called Dr. Anderson’s office, and was advised to go to the ER. So….he drove himself to the ER [we’ve been through this before, haven’t we???!!!]. When I got home from a DAR meeting, he called, having escaped to the restroom. “Oh…no!!….ER again….yikes”……so, I rushed over there and found him lying in bed, looking flushed. He had been x-rayed, blood-tested, and talked to the cardiologist—and Dr. Anderson had requested “aggressive measures.” [Thank you…..Dr. Anderson]. Max has mentioned chest pains several times recently, but could not be persuaded to see the doctor.

The hospital was sending him to either Jewish or Nortons, depending on bed availability. We waited, and waited. The doctor came by and signed off on allowing me to drive him to the Louisville hospital, after Max was adamant about no ambulance. Finally about 5:45, I chatted with the front desk again, mentioning that neither of us had eaten much lunch [I had not eaten any lunch]. I asked if I could take him home to rest and have a meal—-they could call us when the bed became available.

No dice—he had to wait there, but they suggested I go get food. So, I went home and made sandwiches, and called Dee and Rick. By the time I returned, about 6:30, Jewish had called with a bed. We ate our sandwiches in the ER and finally about 7:00, all the arrangements were made and we were allowed to leave.

Max went out, got in his car, and drove it home. No use to argue on that one…. We packed a few things and drove to Louisville. When we got to Jewish, it was dark—and I could not see the parking signs, forcing us to circle the block. The testy one was really irked. On the second try, I saw the faint sign and made the correct turn. We parked up in the garage with no problem and rode the elevator down with an employee in scrubs who told us where to go next. We had to walk through the outpatient building, across a bricked open area [like a town square] and into another building. When we got to Registration, no one was there, so we went to the ER, where
we asked a sheriff deputy where we should go. Turns out, we had arrived at registration, after a trudge of several blocks……good thing Max was not really ill.

The registration person went through a pre-registration process, even though Max had the bed number and nurses’ name. Finally another register person set her straight, she got it all done, and escorted us up to 4-East. We arrived at the room, to find confusion. A very elderly, and very ill man was being admitted, and his bed made, while SIX members of his family hovered in the room, giving advice—and stinking to high heaven with fragrance. I said to the nurse, “I cannot go in there, too much perfume.” She said, “Too many people!” So, we stood in the hall, talking to the nurse, and waiting for the confusion to die down. Max was visibly tired. Eventually they got the old man in bed and could draw the curtain. Max then went into the bathroom and changed into a hospital gown, while the nurse took me to the station and went over his papers. By the time we finished, two of the other family had left, leaving only four, plus the patient, plus the aide, on that side of the very small room. Another aide got Max into bed, took his temp and his blood pressure, which to no surprise, had gone up over 10 points.

Well–really–world class hospital and medical care, indeed. There we were……standing in the hallway, waiting to share a room with another patient and four of his next of kin. And, the room was no bigger than the one at WCMH that Max had to share with a former student the night his hip came apart several summers ago. On the other hand, at Ortho Indy last year, Max had a room bigger than our house.

I had thought I would stay with him, but the nurse informed me that since the other patient was male, only a male family member could stay. Oh…well….I would have had to sit in a straight chair all night and physically move myself and the chair every time Max needed to get up. I was glad to go home.

When I left, I discovered that the entrance we came in was closed. I had to leave through the ER, walk down a dark alley and across the plaza again, back through outpatient, to the garage, where, fortunately, I had remembered the correct floor. I was really turned around, because I thought I would exit going East and turn North. But, I found myself crossing 2nd Street, going west to 3rd Street. Good grief!!—going west in downtown Louisville at 10:00 p.m.—-my worst nightmare—being alone in the city at night. So, I drove down 3rd Street to Chestnut, circled back, and got on I-65 north. Good thing I grew up in Louisville and know my way around downtown. Once I was across the Kennedy Bridge, the ride home though the dark roads was uneventful.