Why We Were in the ER This Time

G is having Rituxan (Rituximab) treatments as a preventative measure, which we are hopeful will prevent him from needing plasmapheresis. His first treatment was last Monday, and it went as smoothly as we could have hoped for. Smooth enough that despite, or perhaps because of the cocktail of drugs he gets during treatments, G decided to walk home. Thankfully, Scott & I were able to pull a U-ey on Liberty Avenue and pick him up across from West Penn at the gas station convenience store, a place where choosing chips while really really high goes largely unnoticed.

He reacts to Rituxan during treatment like many patients, and the other drugs are to treat those reactions. This is followed by soreness, especially in the joints, which will last at least a few days. After a few days of recovery he is able to move around normally, but every once in a while he’ll start to feel worse toward the end of the week, just before the next treatment: pain accompanied by a fever.

Unfortunately, with treatments early in the week, this has traditionally left us checking into the hospital during the weekends, which is usually when the regular doctors are off. The weekend doctors are usually replicants, and treat your symptoms without a proper understanding of the human condition. Some nurses are replicants, and you can tell because they won’t laugh at “I got a fever, and the only prescription…is more call bell”.

Labor Day

I gave G acetaminophen for his headache, which is what they give him in the hospital, but since he hates pills and went against my advice to get a prescription, he had nothing stronger for the pain. The nausea was something new, and quite frankly I didn’t appreciate him launching a new symptom during a new episode of Mad Men, but he has never been a fan of the show. At 102° F, his vomitous defiling of the trash can had muffled enough dialogue that we had to go to the ER, where they have two televisions and they will leave you alone for hours.

Now being the weekend, I expected the ER doctors to be replicants, but everyone was very cool. Dr. Martin and nurse David who is fine with being called Dave had some of the best bedside manners I’ve seen. By the time we got there, the Tylenol had taken care of his fever, but he was extremely dehydrated due to not being able to drink water without interrupting Mad Men. The doctor understood this and gave G narcotics, nausea medication and saline so that he would finally let me watch the new episode, which AMC repeats at 1 AM. A few hours later, to play it safe, the doctors decided to admit G.

The problem came around 8 AM when G called me to tell me that he was on floor E8, and wasn’t getting his medications. Apparently his nurse was supposed to bring them and never returned, and was not responding to the call bell despite him being able to hear her talking loudly outside his room. If this sounds like a horror movie, you’re having the same reaction I did, except you’re probably awake. The best course of action I could determine was to be really rich and call my many powerful lawyers and private doctors. Plan B was to tell G to call his doctor, but when he called me back to tell me they were closed for Labor Day, I wasn’t awake enough to tell him to stay on the phone to reach the attending on call.

G also told me he was going to check out, and I appreciated the advance notice, because in the past he hasn’t let me in on his plans to escape. This was my cue to head back to the hospital, so I got up and called his doctor while picking out a nice pair of socks. I dressed business casual because replicants will treat you with more respect if you look good, and G looked pretty bad.

Shift change happens at 7 AM, so neither Dr. Martin nor Dave were still in the ER. By the time I got to his room, the new nurse and a doctor were there giving him drugs. Of course, the doctor asked him the same questions every other doctor had already asked him, which I’m pretty sure is their way of proving that we aren’t replicants. I assumed it was my phone call that got G his meds, because they were already there before anyone noticed my shoes.

I spoke to G a few hours ago, and he actually did get to speak with his doctor, Dr. K, whom we love. She explained that there were no available beds on the usual floor, which is why she had to put him on the “snail floor”. I felt better knowing that they were slow with everyone and weren’t treating him worse because he was wearing pajama bottoms, and even better that Dr. K was able to light a fire under the snails. Which were now escargot.

Dr. K also thinks G’s soreness is caused by the steroid they usually give him during Rituxan treatment. She had ordered them not to do so this time, so somebody got yelled at. I’m anxious to see what happens tomorrow without the steroid, and hopeful that G can come home on Wednesday, because I really hate cooking for myself.

I’m heading back to the hospital soon. I’ll probably dress casual for Labor Day.