St Vincent’s Hospital (1) — From theory to practice

Living life isn’t writing about it. Such an obvious statement but one that comes home very quickly when your GP says, “I’m sending you to the hospital.”  It’s a bit complicated but basically I have headaches caused by a bleeding between my skull and the outer lining of the brain.

At the Emergency Room

I arrived at St Vincent’s Emergency room about noon on Wednesday 1 May. it’s now about 1 PM Friday on 3 May. It’s taken me that long to decide to do this blog and get my iPad to work (now in St. V’s Private Hospital in a private room with wifi.) In summary, the experience has been very good up to now.

As a writer I look at everything as material for telling a story, so that’s what I intend to do in this post and others that follow.

At morning changeover as the shifts change at 7:30 in ER, a cluster of people walks around and the man in charge gives a short overview of each case. Today I hear him say “hematoma” about me. They didn’t stay with me long. I suppose that’s good. Either they see lots  of these case or they are boring  cases — or I have been here 2 mornings in a row and  they remember me. Funny how my mind tries to process what’s going on, to get a ‘theory’ about my situation and give me some control.

My heart monitor’s buzzer keeps going off. For a while I just assumed it was my moving in bed that disturbed the cords but I asked the nurse and she said it was my blood pressure was low. That’s unusual for me; mine is normally high. So we had a nice conversation about this and she told me they wouldn’t give me any of my normal blood pressure meds today until my BP came back up. I asked her about an unusual necklace she was wearing and she told me it was to remember her friend back in the UK. She’s from Kent, right near where my ancestors (Thomas Greene) came from. Small world.

Both these experiences make me think more deeply about what a hospital is:
1. It’s a special place with a special language — The various people working here use a shorthand, with latin used frequently, to describe conditions quickly and accurately. I have a “subdural hematoma.” With my basic knowledge of Latin, I can figure out that means a blood (hema) thingy (toma) below (sub) the skull (dural, or enduring). They also need to teach me to communicate about my experience of my condition so they can understand what’s going on that only I know, eg, how bad is my headache so they can give me the correct type and dosage of pain killer. They ask, “On a scale on 1 to 10 how bad is the  pain?” Initially I just guess 5 or 6 — it’s pretty  bad but not terrible. That makes them give me morphine, which doesn’t work  for me; doesn’t adjust  the pain and makes me vomit. When I report this they try codeine which works better for me.  I have now learned a little bit of  hospital language about pain assessment and treatment. They are learning a little about me as well.

2. A hospital is a ‘love factory.” I have been in hospitals before  so I know that it’s how you are treated that is as important as the medicines and procedures. St V’s is a loving place; I know that already in 2 days. The Neurosurgeon was interested in me, not just my condition. Why I came to Australia. How I met my wife. What I did. He had a nice conversational style that put me at ease and made it easier to talk about my treatment options and the potential operation to remove the clot. A night nurse, while I was sleeping, noticed my heart rate was a bit fast, and decided it probably ought to be lower. When she came in at 3 am, she told me she like to add some Magnesium to my intervenous drip to bring  the heart rate down. I  told her about my previous experiences taking Magnesium orally and she assured me it wouldn’t work that way intravenously. She had such a nice manner I knew she cared about me. It’s like that with the other people here at St. Vs. They seem to really  care about me.

3. Of course an inner-city ER is an interesting place. It is located in Darlinghurst, right next to King’s Cross, the infamous nightlife district in Sydney. A man today kept yelling “You f___ers. Let me out of here.” Everyone basically ignored him. Lots of Ambos and policemen coming and going at all hours. They congregate right next to me and keep up a friendy chatter throughout the night. Wherever I wake up there’s entertainmemt. Seems like mostly old people being brought in but that will probably change on the weekend. I won’t see it — I’ve been moved to the high rent district in St. V’s – the 10th floor of the Private Hospital, into a Private room! Woohoo! Seems almost like I’m going on a vacation!

Sent from my iPad




2 Replies to “St Vincent’s Hospital (1) — From theory to practice”

  1. Jim,
    I’m sorry to hear that you are in the hospital but I’m glad to hear that you’re being well treated. It sounds like things are under control, that your pain is being managed and they can treat your specific problem. Please keep me informed of your progress.


  2. Jim,
    Jerry let me know of your hospital adventures. I know all about that end of medicine, I had an aneurysm removed from near a heart valve 3 1/2 yrs. ago and as a fellow writer I have written many details about it. Keep it up, as long as you can write you know your brain function is perfect. Trust in your medical “team” means a lot, I KNOW

    Love Betsy

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