Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving in the ER



This was last night's prevailing scenario in the ER:

You visit family for the Thanksgiving holiday and sit down to dinner together. The Southern cooking is so good!--salt cornbread, turnip greens, ham, stuffing, a variety of casseroles including hashbrown, squash and the ubiquitous God-forsaken green bean casserole that always turns up on this day, 4 different types of chocolate cake--and you just can't get enough of it.

You begin to have abdominal pain, probably caused by your attempt to sample all the fixin's and go back for seconds. Still, you continue to indulge yourself. After all, how often do you get to eat like this and not feel guilty?

The cramping begins. You run to the bathroom and just make it in time to hurl all your hard work into the toilet. You no longer feel as if you've overeaten, but that bitter bile taste in your mouth sure doesn't resemble the cranberry sauce you just had. Back to the table after cleaning up. After all, you don't get to see these people very often.

But your GI system doesn't care about your social life. Everyone can hear your intestines writhing as you dramatically rush into the bathroom and make a split-second decision as to which end should kiss the bowl first.

Your family is concerned. They tell you that you should go to the ER. After all, you could get dehydrated.

The next thing you know you are lying on a cot with a bright fluorescent light over your head and I am sitting on a chair beside you starting an IV. Your significant other is holding your hand. You really do feel much better after puking up the last of those heavy sour cream-laden mashed potatoes, but hey, what the hell--you tell me that your pain is an 8 out of 10 anyways.

I draw your blood. You get a bag of IV fluids. I nag you for a urine sample for an hour until you finally decide to drag yourself up and hobble to the bathroom. You get some Dilaudid. It knocks you out for an hour or two so that I don't have to listen to your whining about how long this is taking. Your labs come back normal. I take your IV out and you wince as the tape is being removed. I say sorry, it's worse on men with all the arm hair. You get your discharge papers that say "return to the ER if symptoms worsen." You and I both know they won't.

Bottom line: You eat too much food, you get sick.

5 comments:

Nash deVille said...

Ha ha ha ha ha! The green bean casserole was definitely left OFF the menu this year. Ick!

troutbirder said...

Yikes. I still think you deserved your writing award though.

Juri said...

Wow...I love your blog! Not sure how I got here, but I sure have enjoyed your posts!!! This one did remind me of a New Years when I ate too much and had all the symptoms you spoke of. I ignored it....ended up weeks later in the hospital with a burst appendix....later diagnoses with cancer of the appendix...what a shock that was!! You just never know when to take symptoms seriously!

Juri

C. Moonflower said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
C. Moonflower said...

Troutbirder,

I asked my husband if he thought that I should write a blog separately for nursing, something even more anonymous, but he said no, it is a part of who I am, so keep it on here. But I'm not so sure if that's a good idea. There is a stark contrast between the life of a hospital nurse (especially in the ER) and the life of a gardener and naturalist. Cynicism vs. hope. Venting vs. absorbing. They do generally balance eachother out, though.

Juri,

Thanks for visiting my blog. I'm glad you like it! I'm so sorry to hear about your cancer diagnosis. I hope that you were able to get rid of it. You are right that some symptoms can mean a life-threatening illness, like in your case. But from what I have seen in the ER, 75-90% of abdominal pain complaints turn out to be stomach flu, irritable bowel syndrome, or painful gas.

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