Sunday, September 01, 2013

How to Turn Your Spare Bedroom Into A Walk-In Closet, in 437 Easy Steps (PART THREE!)

Part 1 is here; part 2 is right here.

We were on, I think, Step 11: Finding A Parking Spot At The ER.

What you want to do next, as a Master Level Closet Craftsman, is try to get one of your older kids to babysit your younger kids while you go to the ER, because a hospital is no place for young children, unless they overhear you making plans to have them babysat and begin to panic because they don't like being left with a sitter.  If that happens, handle it by calling one of your kids, getting her to promise to come over immediately, then realize that Mr Bunches has overheard you and he and Mr F are somehow agitated because they know you are going somewhere, and call the kid/babysitter back and tell her not to bother.  Bonus points if you can make it seem like it's her fault for not getting there already, even though it's been only 15 seconds and not even ambulances flown by Superman could have gotten to your house that quickly.

Step 12: Think About How Cool It Would Be If You Were Flown To A Hospital By Superman.

Hey! Did you forget your wife is in the car, desperately ill and waiting for you to go to the ER? COME ON, MAN!

Step 13: Drop wife off at door and explain to security guard that the parking lot is full and you're going to have to park farther away.

After he helpfully begins to wheel her into the hospital, go get the absolute nearest parking space to the ER, which is about 1 and 1/2 blocks away in the parking ramp.  Do not think about what this means about how crowded the ER is, as that will only lead you to the train of thought where you start to resent people for being at the ER because they are making it take longer for you to be at the ER, and you don't want to be the kind of person who gets upset with other people for being sick, or injured, but let's face it: absolutely nobody in this ER looks like they actually need to be here.  That one lady? She's making sarcastic faces.  She's sitting in her chair next to that guy who's probably just her boyfriend, he's not going to marry you, and she's making sarcastic faces at the nurse as she walks away.  How can it possibly be an emergency if you can still be sarcastic?

Step 14:  Don't realize right away why you don't get to go back with your wife to the small room where they'll work on her.

Once we were inside the hospital, and Sweetie was talking to that triage nurse who always tries to figure out a way to weigh you, and who will also ask you your religion, what's that about?, I got the boys settled down with their cheese puffs (Mr F) and their iPad (Mr Bunches) and waited for someone to come and tell me that Sweetie was getting fluids and would be just fine.

I already knew what was going to happen; trips to the ER when Sweetie gets the flu were, by now, pretty much like an episode of an average sitcom: you know what's going to happen, you're just waiting to see the specific gags along the way.  Would the dad drop the hammer on his foot? Or would the mom burn the roast?

Step 15:  I feel like that analogy was a little forced.

It was.

Step 16:  Remember what shirt you are wearing.

They brought Sweetie out of the triage room, in one of those weird new wheelchairs where they don't really look like wheelchairs, they look like endtables or occasional tables that have been upended and had wheels attached to them.

If you look around your average medical establishment these days, you will realize a few things about life, and people.

A few things about life, and people:

1. I don't know why they are called occasional tables.  Apparently, having just now looked it up, it's a table with no regular use planned for it.  So we now have:
    a.  Coffee tables, which are as far as I can tell never used for holding coffee.
    b.  Kitchen, or 'dinner', tables, which are used for supper.
    c.  Occasional tables, which are not occasional tables at all if you have a regular use planned for them, so if you always, say, put your slice of cold pizza on them while you try to read your book before you get asked to play the part of 'Kwazi" in the "Octonauts" re-enactment that is being set up on the living room rug in front of you, it's not an occasional table.

2.  People are getting fatter.

This is an inescapable fact of life for everyone except me.  I have lost 22 pounds in the past year and am doing great: the other day, I was able to get into a sportcoat I haven't worn in years.  This has come at a heavy price for me, in that I no longer have regular access to bowls of Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch, but the fact remains that you are all getting fatter.

I was thinking about that the last time I went to the doctor, myself, for a sinus infection that turned out to be the least of my problems once the doctor tried to kill me with the antibiotics he prescribed, which caused an allergic reaction which in turn caused me to have trouble breathing, which in turn caused me to go to the doctor again, which in turn, etc. caused me to have to get referred by my doctor, after he said "Well, I guess stop taking the antibiotics", to the cardiologist because if you have just one heart attack in your life then for the rest of your life they're going to treat every single medical problem including but not limited to decaptiation, by referring you to the cardiologist, who I had to meet with, and who that he didn't think I was having a heart attack.

When I said I hadn't thought I was having a heart attack, either, but had only been referred back to him as a precautionary measure, it seemed to make him upset that I was implying that I, a guy sitting in his office wearing a t-shirt, could know as much about who was, or was not, or maybe was/was not, having a heart attack as him, a cardiologist with a giant poster about the heart right behind him, and so to get back at me he began telling me I was fat.


I mean, I know I am still fat, but I was (a) there because I'd had an allergic reaction to medicine, one (b) not caused by fat, and (c) even my original heart attack three years ago was caused not by fat but by bee stings, which as far as I know also (d) are not caused by fat.

Despite all that not-fat-related health history, and despite the fact that a quick glance at my chart would show the aforementioned 22-pound weight loss in the past year, Cardiologist Joe began lecturing me about how I needed to lower my cholesterol (it's actually fine) and lower my triglycerides (probably not a real thing) and watch my diet, and when I said I already do those things, he went on to say that he once heard a dietician or someone say that a good rule is to only eat french fries if you cook them yourself.

And then he stopped and looked at me in that meaningful way that doctors use to say they don't believe you about what you are telling them, and he repeated it.

And then he explained that the point of it is you can go to restaurants and order what you want and just don't eat the fries and then you'll be healthier.

OK, it's a stupid rule, because first of all, the fries are not the problem at restaurants, really, it's the fact that a hamburger, when ordered at a restaurant, weighs in at 8 pounds, as do all restaurant entrees.  One place we sometimes go to eat 7 years ago before the boys were born had, as an actual menu item, "Half A Chicken."

Half A Chicken.  That was what the entree was called.  So we're not even trying anymore.  We don't give clever names to entrees, like "Chicken A La King." We just describe the sheer amount of food you're getting.  I look forward to McDonald's new menu item, "Box Of Meat."

Secondly, cooking fries at home is easy.  They sell them in bags, and they cook up in about 10 minutes, which I know because Mr F loves french fries and eats them several times a week.

Step 17: Maybe you ought to go back to read Step 16 again because I think you got a little off-track here.

AS I WAS SAYING, people are getting fatter and the proof is all around us at hospitals, which want to subtly insult you while they make their job easier, Exhibit A in which is the OccasionalTableWheelchair, which is both larger than a traditional wheelchair and has no sides or armrests on it, so that anyone can fit into it, even you.

Exhibit B is the scale at the doctor's office, which is no longer that traditional doctor's scale with the sliding little weights, the big one and the small one, where the nurse slides it back and forth in smaller and smaller increments, and where she as soon as you step on has to slide that large one way to one side to imply that you are way bigger than anyone else who has stepped on that scale recently, and which made a helpful clunk to tell everyone else in the area just how many levels bigger you were than everyone.  Clunk clunk clunk rattlerattlerattle and then she'd write down "250" and you'd try to explain that if she'd just let you take your shoes off...

That scale doesn't exist anymore.  Instead, hospitals and doctors offices have a semitrailer truck measuring platform, a giant metal slab on which you stand and a digital box on the wall tells how much you weigh and how many axles you would have if you were highway legal. (You're not).

Step 18:  The shirt? Remember?

As Sweetie was sitting in her Occasional Chair and I was sitting and parceling out Mr F's cheese puffs and trying to figure if I should talk to her, a male nurse came over to explain that she would be going back soon, they were just busy tonight, but first, he began a conversation with me about my t-shirt, which was a Russell Wilson (TM!) brand Seahawks t-shirt, and it was only after we agreed that his team, the Oakland (TM!) Raiders might be pretty good this year, that he bothered imparting information to the patient, that information being the aforementioned news that they were busy and we'd be here a while.

About which I wanted to say: Hey, I have been through this before, and I know that what she needs is some fluids, through that little IV bag, and also that little pill you give her that makes her stop throwing up instantly.


I know, right? They do.  They have a pill that will absolutely stop you from throwing up no matter how sick you are.  And it dissolves on your tongue, like a Tic Tac only faster.

We learned this back in February when Sweetie had the flu for 17 months straight and also got dehydrated and became delirious and was having trouble sitting up and I took her to the ER and they gave her fluids and The Magic Pill, and after what had seemed like years of her bwah-ing every 5 minutes, she stopped.


And even better, later on I got sick with the flu and knew that I was going to bwah, too, and so I took one of her pills, look I know you're not supposed to do that but they'd given them to the boys, so they must be safe, right? and although I bwahed once, a little, that was it, and my flu was over in 5 minutes as opposed to the several days other people suffered through, and Sweetie and I decided later that it was probably only because I took the pill too late that I got sick at all.

So they have a pill that stops you if you are vomiting, and prevents you from vomiting if you are going to, and they do not sell that pill.  Doctors don't prescribe it.  You only get it if you go to the ER when you are actually throwing up, which is why our health care system isn't a system at all.

We sat there in the ER while the crazy man stared at us from the corner -- he really was crazy, I think -- and I didn't say "Look, while we sit here would you give her the pill and an IV bag and we'll be on our way?" because a drive-thru ER should be a thing, especially if you know how to do an IV, which I do because we used to have to do one on our cat, and I was the guy who got to give a cat an IV.

Step 20: Really? What was that like?

Not as fun as you'd think.

Step 21: I didn't think it sounded fun, at all.


Click here to go to the next part. 


Liz A. said...

King of the Tangents!!!

Andrew Leon said...

They don't sell that pill for many reasons:
1. They only have it because they got tired of cleaning up bwah at the hospital. They don't actually care if you bwah at home; that's your business.
2. If you have to go to the ER to get one, they get lots of money for it. If you could just go to Safeway or somewhere and pick them up, you probably wouldn't bother with the ER at all.

I'm waiting for "half a cow" to appear on a menu somewhere.

Briane P said...

No, Liz, these really ARE all the steps you want to take to finish this home improvement project.

A conspiracy, Andrew? I like it.

But seriously: If health insurers had any idea how to run their business, they'd insist this pill be made available to everyone. It cost $4,000 of our insurer's money to take Sweetie. The pill? $30. AND THEY GAVE US A PRESCRIPTION FOR IT. So you could get it at Walgreen's, without the $4,000 advance fee.