Thursday, June 25, 2009

What Hospitals Won't Tell You

I had to go this morning and get a CT scan at our local hospital/beauty parlor/livestock auction.

I've had these done before; I'm old enough to remember when they were called CAT scans and they used live cats.

This time was different.

I'm an easygoing, likable guy. I don't complain much and I like to think I'm pretty gracious, being from the South and raised right. I had to be at work at 11:00, got to the hospital early, and was experienced with the test. No problem, right?

I knew I was in trouble when I got there and they asked me what I was there for. If they didn't know, what did that foretell?

I registered at 9:50 for a 10:00 appointment, which apparently meant nothing. I hadn't eaten anything since last night, which didn't mean much either since I've had cancer and lost forty-five pounds.

The radiology technician asked me if I'd taken the "contrast drink." When I said I hadn't, she told me I'd have to drink it, wait an hour for it to "fill my abdomen", and then they'd come get me for the scan. She brought out two cups of what looked like urine and smelled like a locker room. I thought Jim Jones was still alive and working in the radiology department. That was the first thing they didn't tell me beforehand.

At 11:20 the same technician came out and said she needed to inform me about the side effects of the test. Side effects? Another thing they didn't tell me. She led me to the chapel. Were the side effects so serious we had to pray about it?

Nope. Just a convenient room.

"Some patients experience a warm feeling all over their body." It's been so long since I had a "warm feeling" anywhere in my body I'd welcome one. "Some patients feel the urge to urinate on the table." I told her that if I felt the urge to urinate it was probably too late.

"You may experience a bad taste at the back of your mouth." Uh-oh.

I got on the "table" (an exaggeration), they put in the IV, loaded the contrast dye they were going to inject, and got started. I felt warm. I felt like I had to pee. I felt a bad taste at the back of my mouth.

The bad taste was moving.

"I'm getting nauseated," I told the tech. "Do you need some help?" she replied. "You THINNNKKKKKARRRGAHHHH?" I tried to say.

(Let me clarify something here. When I vomit, I help my stomach out. I'm not quiet or calm. I don't just open my mouth and let it fly. I give it liftoff thrust.)

She hurried out of the control room and got me a little blue bag to throw up in. Too late. Remember, I'm lying on my back inside the machine when all this starts. I've already puked on my face, my neck, my shirt, and "the table." By the time she handed me the bag I was finished, except for the dry heaves (did I mention I hadn't had "anything to eat or drink after midnight"?).

She took the bag back after I finished, looked in it, and said, "Well, that's not too bad." I couldn't breathe. My sinuses had closed up due to the dye reaction.

"Nnutt pur yew," I said.

I finally finished the test, got out of there, and started home to change clothes. I called Jennie and told her, "Nuth upun th blok dur".

Once I got changed and explained to my sweetheart what happened, I, like all good Americans, looked for someone to blame.

I blame General Electric. Their name on the machine is the last thing I saw before the great eruption. If they hadn't made the CT machine I wouldn't have had to have the test, drink the contrast juice, get the IV, or puke my guts out.

I'm feeling better now. Almost well enough to get a lawyer.

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