In November of last year I had an emergency appendectomy – not to be confused with horrible gas pain, which is what I thought it was and delayed going to the ER and even boarded a plane before realizing that it was indeed not gas pain. The experience was somewhat traumatizing. I was new to Columbus. I had no idea what hospital to go to. I had to google the hospital from the parking lot of the airport and drive myself there. I was denied pain meds for a long time until I signed a waiver saying that I would take a cab home. And it was the first time in my life that I was in a medical emergency and completely alone. I know that I’ve had the fortune of living most of my life as a hospital princess. My father’s name and reputation has helped me receive top-notch care. This was my first experience in a hospital to be treated very poorly…and it was traumatic.
So today I went to the hospital for my pre-admin testing and registration. I didn’t think I was nervous until in the waiting room the most OBNOXIOUS couple sat down by me. She wouldn’t stop reading every line on her registration form OUT LOUD and then looking at me as if I knew the answers to the questions about her medical history. To top it off…her husband smacked his gum the entire time and commented on everything Regis and Kelly were doing on the tv. It took everything in me to not get up and punch him in the throat. After a few minutes I realized that I was a little on edge and maybe I was just nervous. Just a little.
It wasn’t until I went back with the nurse that I realized I was really nervous. As she asked me questions, I felt my heart racing. I found myself being overly detailed with her because I kept thinking about how in my last surgery the nurses didn’t feed me in time and my blood sugar dropped to 23 and I had totally lost my voice and couldn’t call them on the phone or communicate well when they came in the room and I didn’t have anyone there with me and they gave me the pain medicine I told them I was allergic too but because I couldn’t speak loud enough for them to hear me and they wouldn’t bring me something to write with it took a full body rash before they changed it…
When she took my blood pressure and I saw my normal 117/79 was really 138/99 – I realized that I was having a ‘Nam flashback. It was weird experiencing white coat syndrome for the first time in my life. Which really caught me off guard because I grew up in hospitals.
I wouldn’t have thought that my silly hospital experience would impact me so much. For about three months afterwards I repeatedly reminded my friends that “I almost died,” and they’d consent to whatever I was asking of them. It was nice while it lasted. At the same time, I realized that the experience was very liberating. I didn’t have my father’s reputation surrounding me. I didn’t have a rockstar surgeon that had his own dedicated wing. I couldn’t speak, even on the phone (thank God for texting). I was very sick and very much alone. And I survived it. Just like I survived my physical and pre-admission stuff. And thankfully I recognized what was going on with me and the couple in the waiting room survived sitting with me later on in the morning in the registration office…even though the douche bag guy was still smacking his gum!!!