Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Gratuitous Postcard: at the medicine lodge
As posted below, ex sailorette and I drove to the VA hospital for more of ex s's usual... tests, tests, tests...
There was a variance from the published plan, though. Me Muddah came along with us, &, in fact, drove us home. I had to take way more antihistamines than I expected, & ex s was pretty well exhausted by both prep and procedures, so, once more, I am indebted to the woman who done birthed me.
The drive to Iowa City is about 2 hours and change, and when we arrived in ex s's van, there was nary a parking space to be found. Lucky for us, there was an elderly couple exiting the V.A. hospital, so we followed them to their car, waiting for them to vacate their space. We'd been in place about 30 seconds when some other woman in a minivan pulled up on the other side of the old couple's car, acting as though she were going to have the space, no matter what.
Now, ex s can usually hold her own, but we all knew it was going to be a long day, & she wasn't going to want to wheel her little chair six blocks, so I offered to hop out & stand in the space for my friend, just to make sure she got this nice, close one (it was only about 25 meters from the main door). As I took my position and the older couple pulled away, the woman in the other minivan very kindly and patriotically waved a flag at me just like this one:
I smiled and waved back, then directed ex s to pull in.
We made our way up to the 8th floor, where ex s checked in, then we did what bureaucracies are so good at having people do. We waited. And waited. And waited. Her appointment was scheduled for 11:00 a.m. At 12:00, a guy in scrubs came past (we were seated in the elevator "lounge", the space between the banks of elevators, where they'd placed about 10 uncomfortable chairs) with a big ol' cardiac monitoring cart, and stopped to speak to a woman sitting on the far side of the hallway -- she was just out of my view, being beyond two fairly large men. She didn't respond. The doctor said, "Ma'am? Ma'am?" a couple more times, put his fingertips to her neck, then quickly said to the men beside her, "Help me get her down on the floor."
We then got to see how effective it is to call a "Code Blue" in Iowa City's VA hospital. I doubt there was a single doctor in the entire building not elbows-deep in a surgery who didn't make his or her way to the 8th floor elevator lounge. There must have been 30 or more people in scrubs gathered at the scene -- and most of them seemed to be doing something constructive (I think there might have been a couple of students there, as well, but don't quote me on it).
Not all of them were dealing with the woman on the floor, either. It seems she and her husband had been volunteering just down the hall, and hubby was in a daze, since she had just sort of passed out right beside him & he hadn't even noticed... He had been tired and looking out the window (or, maybe just zoning out looking past us, at any rate), & never even considered her silence to be anything other than restful. Somebody immediately attended to his needs, and at least three people came over to speak with ex s, Mom, and me, to make sure we weren't traumatized by the whole thing.
I was impressed. The young feller who was first to her side was alert to a crisis when nobody else was -- she had stopped breathing and had no carotid pulse for several seconds before he applied CPR. The rest of the staff on the 8th floor were quick to respond and checked on the needs of others when they saw their own skills weren't needed by the woman or her husband. And everybody maintained a professional demeanor.
That's something I don't always see in gummint-run facilities.
Still, it was almost 2 hours after her scheduled time before ex s got in for her procedure. So, the bureaucratic nonsense of hurry-up-and-wait wasn't completely absent.