Lebanon Reporter

Columns

June 11, 2013

Breathing easy

This is a humor column about a serious medical concern. Everything turned out fine, but this is my one chance to write funny stuff about my own  lung biopsy. I hope.

When I arrived at the hospital, I met Jill, the RN, and immediately asked her if the doctor assigned to me was good at what he did. Jill confirmed he was “the best we have here.”  I admire nurses for what they do, but I don’t think they are as forthcoming as waitresses:

“How’s the tilapia tonight, Tina?”

“Not so good — it’s a little fishy. The meatloaf special is awesome, though.”

You don’t get this kind of honesty from your average nurse:

“Is this Dr. Jones a good radiologist?”

“He’s no Dr. Smith, but I’m sure everything will be OK.”

Jill explained to me that after the procedure, I would return to the recovery area and would not be allowed out of bed for any reason for two hours. “So, I am going to encourage you to go to the bathroom now,” she said.

“How are you going to do that?” I asked.

The nurse seemed confused by my attempt at being funny, but my wife became absolutely hysterical at this remark and there was even some talk of sedating her. Nerves, I guess.

I wanted to know if I was the physician’s first patient that morning, because the needle probe requires really good aim, and I was hoping he had a chance to warm up on someone else first. When I saw the doctor, he informed me that we’d be talking to each other during the biopsy, but I would have no memory of what I said. He promised me that in the very unlikely event I said something amusing (he apparently reads my column every week), he’d note it on my chart.

During the four hours I was there, the staff constantly asked my name and date of birth, confirming that I was the right person getting the correct procedure, and also to see if the meds they had administered were affecting my ability to recall information. Sometimes the same people asked me this question over and over again, so I started to worry about their memories.

In the afternoon the staff brought me lunch, but before I took a bite I had to confirm my name and date of birth still again, this time because the hospital will not buy you a meal if you’re just having a $69 heart scan. The food was good, but I’m a messy eater and when I was digging in, the wrist port for my IV got clogged up with mashed potatoes. The nurse said she had never seen that happen before, but she was required note it on my medical records because technically it was a blockage.

Mary Ellen came back into the recovery room and sat by the bed after lunch. Jill came in and asked my name and date of birth for the 15th time. I responded appropriately, but then just to throw her off, I asked her who the strange woman was sitting next to me.

When I left, I told the nurse how incredibly nice everyone had been and that I really appreciated it. She informed me that the staff treats everyone the same way — no matter who they are. But just to be sure, I told her anyway: Richard Wolfsie, March 5, 1947.

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