Over the years I’ve spent some time in hospitals, but except for a very brief Emergency Room visit it has always been as a visitor. (Okay, I was there for our son’s birth, and there was a one-day visit for some elective surgery, but the most recent was 27 years ago.) The week before Christmas I had some abdominal pains that turned out to be a perforated ulcer (I didn’t even know I HAD one!), and there I was on the wrong side of a hospital room — lying IN the bed, rather than sitting or standing on the other side of the room. It’s quite a different viewpoint. For one thing, it was difficult to judge how tall people are. Until I was being discharged and standing up, I didn’t realize I am a couple inches taller than the doctor who handled my case. And I really let go of any remaining tendency to judge people by how they look. What became more important was their attitude as they had to do something they realized was unpleasant, or their willingness to help the confused woman across the hall who needed help with everything.
I wound up spending five days at Sutter Coast Hospital. It’s a small facility (47-59 beds, depending on the source), with an Intensive Care Unit, obstetrics unit, full surgery unit, and the medical unit. They can handle a lot of things, but for really specialized care people are often flown to Medford (Oregon) or San Francisco. They have a well-deserved good reputation, though it was hard-won. The old Seaside Hosopital was so bad everyone called it Suicide Hospital (which is why our son was born 70 miles north of here), and when Sutter took it over and then moved into this new facility, it took a long time for the local residents to allow that it might be a good hospital. They have good doctors now, and nurses and technicians who know what they are doing and care about people. The surgeon who was assigned to me while I was still in ER is Dr. Susan S. Schommer, and I credit her with getting me well without surgery. She paid attention to the signals my body was sending, ruled out several possible diagnoses, and ordered actions (with my agreement) that allowed my body to heal itself more rapidly. And she has a great sense of humor. 🙂 The nurses and CNAs (Certified Nursing Assistant, I think) were pleasant and competent: Deena, Kathrine, Marina, Ann, Megan, and Larry immediately come to mind, and others whose faces I can see but their names escape me. There was one lovely woman who got all the things together for me to take a nice hot shower, and even found me some lotion that smelled heavenly. 🙂 [Hot showers rank high up there with the most pleasant things in life.]
It is amazing how much importance the little things take on when so much is stripped away from you. [Not a new idea, I know, but one I haven’t experienced much of in the last 15 years, thankfully.] I couldn’t have anything by mouth for the first three days, and when they allowed me to have ice chips on the fourth day they tasted SO good! And the shower I mentioned above. At first I had so many wires and tubes hooked up (I felt like an astronaut) that I had to have help with the bathroom. It felt good to be able to finally handle that on my own. When they finally decided I could begin a liquid, bland diet that cup of chicken broth tasted like a gourmet feast.
The first few days they gave me small doses of morphine; it reduced the pain and helped me sleep. Gave me strange dreams, though. At least three times I remember vivid dreams where someone else was in the room. I managed to force myself awake and open my eyes, but there was no one there. Later I realized I was probably sensing the angels or other entities who were there helping me heal. I remember one of them standing at the foot of my bed, dressed in black. Couldn’t see the face, but I don’t think they looked like Nicolas Cage. 🙂
My husband was a sweetie, coming in to keep me company and letting me hold his hands with a couple proceedures that were . . . unpleasant. Friends and family visited, made phone calls, and sent cards, and one very special group of friends included me in a healing circle. I know all that good energy helped.
I got to come home on the 23rd, and have been behaving myself and staying on the diet they recommended. The doctor also said no caffeine, spicy foods, or acidic foods for six months (no chocolate! no green tea!). 😦 They think the primary culprit for the ulcer is the arthritis pain medication I’ve occasionally taken, so now I’m only allowed to use regular-strength Tylenol. Interesting thing is that my arthritis hasn’t really bothered me much since I came home. Hmm . . .
Am glad to be out, and am so determined to remain on the right side of a hospital room that I’m sticking to my diet. Am thankful for the insights I gained through this experience, but am hoping to find a more pleasant path to continued enlightenment. 🙂