Monday, June 1, 2009


If I were recovering from heart surgery, the ICU is the last place I'd want to be. Oh, it's OK as long as you are totally knocked out, but you do not want to be there once you wake up.

When I arrived at 6:00 AM on Sunday, my husband had the desperate look of a sane person who had accidentally been locked away in a loony bin. It didn't take long for me to figure out why. Apparently it had been a very eventful weekend, and they had packed five or six patients into the small overflow room where John was, in the bowels of the hospital. Two of them were delirious, had yelled at the top of their lungs the live long night, and were doing their best to climb out of bed and yank off any equipment that was attached to them. One was a gentleman from Dubai, who spoke no English. The other was an elderly gentleman suffering from the results of a chemical bomb. Apparently his son had set off bug bombs all over his house while he and his wife were out of town, and they came back earlier than they were supposed to. It sounded as if there was then a shooting, to top it all off. Pretty exciting stuff, huh? But wait, there's more.

On Monday I expected to see John doing much better, since he finally had the nasty tubes out of his throat and could speak. Instead he seemed to be worse than ever, and hadn't slept a wink all night. "Were you in a lot of pain," I asked? "No, I was too frightened to close my eyes." "Frightened! What do you mean?" "I can't talk now. I'll tell you later."

* * *

There is a special room off of the ICU waiting area. It's called the "Family Room." I saw a couple of families using it, at different times, and thought "Lucky them. They're getting the VIP treatment!" I was wrong. Turns out that's actually the UN-lucky room... the bad news room... the you-don't-want-to-go-there room. Once I'd figured that out, my stomach clenched each time a nurse stepped out and called a name, then said "The doctor would like to speak with you." On Monday one of them called my name, but instead of asking me to step into "The Room", she said "Hurry, grab your stuff! They're taking your husband up to a room now." Jeez Lady. Pardon me while I go change my underwear!

The minute they had him settled in and had left us alone, John launched into the tale of the terrible night. It seems that Man From Dubai had yanked something loose from his leg, so they'd had to put a clamp on it, to hold an artery shut. A new patient was brought in, and his adult son apparently was offended by Dubai's continuous rantings in a foreign tongue, so he sauntered over and knocked the clamp loose, then started laughing! When everyone came running, the red-haired lady in the bed next to Dubai pointed to the bigot and said "He did it!" Security was called in, and they hauled Bigot and Wife away. But later they were released, and they came back, with a gun, and started threatening Red! A nurse somehow got ahold of the box with the gun, and the two were hauled off to jail. Then the patient they had been with started threatening the nurse, saying he was going to be waiting for her one night as she came into work, and they ended up hauling him off too!

When John finished his tale, I just sat there, flabbergasted. Could this really have happened? John seemed perfectly lucid, but what if he was having a reaction to his pain meds, and they were making him have paranoid hallucinations, the way they always did to his mom? I didn't want to hurt his feelings, by telling him I found this all a bit difficult to believe, so I just went along with him.

Later, I was coming back from the restroom when I happened to notice that Red was now in the room right next to John's. I poked my head in to say hi, and asked how she was doing. "Well, other than the fact that no one will answer my call button, and I haven't slept in 24 hours, I'm doing fine," she replied. "That's odd, John's having the exact same difficulties! By the way, he's told me some pretty crazy stories about what went on in ICU last night. I don't know whether to believe him, or to just chalk it up to morphine paranoia." "Believe it honey," she said. "That's not the morphine talking!"

So I ask you, can two people be having the same delusion simultaneously?


d.a. said...

Whoa. That's some excitement you DON'T want to see, that's for sure! Glad nobody was terminally injured...

lexlane said...

I hope those bigots get locked up for a very very long time for attempted murder.

How does one hate a stranger so much that causing them pain seems like a good idea? I don't understand.

Judie said...

Lord what a zoo! Thank heaven you all were well enough to move to a room. There is no upside to this nightmare, but can you imagine working there?
Thx for keeping us posted. JudieJ

Joanna Jenkins said...

Yikes!!! It has to be true. You don't even see that kind of stuff on "House" or "Law and Order"! Poor John. All that AND surgery!

And where was security? Can anyone say law suit!

How much longer before your sweet husband can come home and get a decent night's sleep!

musingegret said...

Becky, something is not right in that ICU. You need to politely start asking some pointed questions about the noise and yelling that was allowed to go on all night. Time to start escalating your concerns up through the managerial chain. Your recuperating husband, who should have had peace and quiet and rest was deprived of that environment. This **must** be brought to the attention of someone in the role of Administrator of Patient Relations. Gird your loins, take a huge deep breath, be prepared to be shunted around and be put on hold ad nauseum and start making calls. Keep a tablet and pen by your side, get the name of every single person you speak with and note the time and date in your notes. Keep the pressure on and politely, yet firmly, demand some answers and a face-to-face with whomever has the responsibility of 'stopping the buck.' Good Luck; onward!

Casey said...

Lord, have mercy. It sounds like that hospital needs a security guard in the ICU round the clock.

Glad everyone made it through that little episode of hell. Stress is the last thing anyone needs when healing.

Cindy Saunders said...


I can totally relate to what you are going through since I have been by my Bob's side through his numerous surgeries for his 4 diagnosis of cancer in these last 5 years! It seems when I finally get him home, he sleeps for days trying to catch up on all the lost sleep while in the hospital allegedly resting and recuperating. The best medicine is always his own bed!
I will keep you and John in my thoughts and prayers.

Hill Country Hippie said...

Well, all's well that ends well. Thank you all so much for your concern. At least John is having lots of fun regaling visitors with the tale of his wild adventures!

Hey Miss Cindy! Is this my old pal from Katy? How on earth did you come across my blog? I'm so sorry to hear about Bob. What a tough time you have BOTH had, since we saw you last. Sure makes you appreciate the tiny things, doesn't it?

Jessica said...

What? Wow - that is quite a story... I can't even imagine seeing that! Poor John!

We did get called into "The Family Room" on the first day for our meeting with the physician. It was the worst meeting of our lives... I'm glad that you didn't have to go there.

You're right - all's well that ends well! :)

Cindy Saunders said...

Yes, Becky, it is me - from our coffee and dinner group in Katy. I have been following your blog for some time now - ever since you sent out an email asking everyone to log onto it to increase your hits for a contest. I love it! Whenever I am tired of all the stress from work, etc., I go and live vicariously in the Hill Country! Besides, being a liberal from California, I am in tune with much of your musings. When John is better and you are in town, we would love to meet for dinner.

Hill Country Hippie said...

Cindy, It's a date!