We spent almost all day in hospital yesterday. It was time for my husband’s follow up visit after two weeks on a new medicine. This meant blood tests before starting these meds and blood tests after two weeks to see their effect on his system. Apparently, these have a load of side-effects including anemia and dizziness and stomachaches and headaches…and so on.
So this Monday morning, like almost every Monday and Saturday for the past six months, we set off after breakfast. There was another worry. A week after starting the medicine, my husband experienced a dizzy spell accompanied by breathlessness and general discomfort. Once the feeling passed, he shrugged it off, but of course, we were worried to death.
To add to this, one of my close friend’s friend’s husband, who led a healthy lifestyle felt a little uneasy and was rushed to the hospital at midnight. A couple of hours in emergency and a bunch of tests later, they discovered a 70% block in his heart and he had to have a stent.
Naturally, we were worried, yes. And we certainly could not ignore it. The feeling of breathlessness did not really disappear. We did call the doc and were assured it had nothing to do with the medication, which increased our worry.
When we finally met the doc yesterday and explained this, he suggested that my husband get a full physical to rule out any serious stuff.
We did consider going to our usual physician closer to our place, but weighing the pros and cons, decided to do it at the hospital as it meant a little less running around, with all facilities on the same premises. And thus started our waiting saga in a massive waiting area overflowing with people.
So we settled down to play a game, guessing people’s backgrounds and occupations, and of course, ailments. It was fun to hear the names—some very unusual—being called out.
Our appointment came after two hours. We were standing as there was no place to sit, in spite of there being more than a hundred and fifty chairs. All were occupied.
We were momentarily freaked out over what the diagnosis would be, but quickly got over that, reaching the conclusion that there could be two outcomes:
- All is well
- Something is wrong
We should feel grateful for both, my husband said.
If all is well, great. Let’s make lifestyle changes and strive to stay healthy.
If something is wrong, then let’s feel grateful we now know, and can take timely action.
Couldn’t argue with that logic, eh?
Finally, they called his name and we went in. After the clinical examination, as a first step, the doc advised a blood test, an x-ray and an ECG.
The blood test was painful, thanks to some target practice by the phlebotomist. (Yeah, those are the guys that draw blood).
What followed was some running around, upstairs and downstairs.
If you are familiar with how hospitals work, you’ll know that one has to wait in line for something before they tell you to go to the cash counter at the other end of the building, pay for the service and bring the receipt. By this time you lose your place in the queue for the test. The procedures that precede lab tests and other diagnostics are quite tiring, especially in a hospital that size.
Once the blood was drawn, the emergency section advised us to hand it over to the lab three floors down. The lab refused to accept it without a payment receipt. Urging my husband to stay put, I ran back to the emergency section to ask them what to do, because we were holding the sample in our hand. They looked surprised and sent someone with an ice pack to hold the sample since the cash counter had a long queue and the blood sample would get messed up during that time. Half an hour later, I ran back up to bring the sample and handed it over to the lab with the cash receipt.
Realizing we would have to rinse and repeat this for the X-ray, I cleverly included it while paying for the blood test to avoid standing in another queue.
So by this time, it was 2.30 pm and we were hungry as hell.
A funny thing about hospital visits—you go there for treatment but end up skipping meals and standing around and building fatigue and feeling worse. I always joke it’s a good thing, as one can immediately seek treatment for the new ailment. Ha, ha, funny! Not.
We settled down to wait for the x-ray.
Got it done.
Went back upstairs for the ECG.
After another long wait at the cash counter attached to that department, settled down to wait again.
This time around, we managed to find two chairs. I mean, after all this even a normal person would feel exhausted, eh? We amused ourselves by playing song-tag until our turn came. After the ECG was done I ran back to the lab downstairs to get the blood test report.
Armed with the ECG and blood test report, and being assured that the doc could view the X-ray on her system, we waited. A little bit tense, yes. But also hopeful.
As my husband loves to say, until the fat lady sings, we cannot assume anything.
I somehow like to think we lived in the present moment throughout our visit.
- We did not check our phones. We generally don’t until it rings and the call appears important.
- We chatted, joked, laughed and tried to make our visit as pleasant as we could.
- We realized it was pointless to stress ourselves out. The staff was doing its best and accepted that we weren’t the only ones waiting.
- We appreciated the stressful schedule of the doctors on duty.
- During the times I was by myself, I was constantly chanting prayers, both for us and for all the patients waiting there. It was the least I could do.
- Moving around a large hospital puts our own lives in perspective. We see people from all walks of life, some from neighboring towns or cities. They come with their families and luggage and try to make themselves at home off the corridor or anywhere they can if they are allowed. We see them struggling with infants—obviously, they can’t leave them somewhere, right? We see people who have no clue what to do in that huge place teeming with people. It is heart-breaking to see those accompanying surgery patients. Some of them have no idea when they’ll get back home.
- Consequently, when we look at our own lives, it seems like a cakewalk. We have access to treatment, are able to afford it and have a comfortable home to go back to. Also, we have each other’s support and love.
- We were grateful to be able to get all the test reports after a short wait, without having to make another trip for it.
- As it happened, the doctor okay-ed the reports, even though some breathlessness persisted, and attributed it to the seasonal changes. She also warned us that bird ’flu was in the air, and to be careful. She advised plenty of steam inhalation to keep the airways moist.
We got back home and had a super late lunch, which I had the presence of mind to make the night before and stash in the fridge. We enjoyed a cup of coffee together, followed by a chat with our son. My husband caught up with his work.
I took a nap and sleep off my worry, deciding everything could wait.
As my eyes closed, I was filled with a sense of gratitude for all that I’ve got.