Tuesday, October 20, 2009

True Story Tuesday

In May 2003, I was diagnosed with a left sphenoid wing meningioma. I underwent a 13 hour surgery to remove as much of the grapefruit size tumor as the neurosurgeon was comfortable with. I was in and out of the hospital in 5 days.

That's not the best part of the story though, just a little background info necessary to understand the rest.

About a week or so after I was sent home, I was getting out of bed one morning, when all of a sudden, my right leg decided not to hold me up. I stayed on the floor for a little while, then tried to get up again, only to fall again. So since it was early morning, and I was still living with my mom and dad, I tried to quietly work my way into the kitchen. For breakfast. I guess I was just too hungry to panic over my leg.

After fumbling around trying to get some cereal, my mom finally woke up. She asked what was going on, and I explained that my right leg wouldn't bear weight. I didn't think it was that big of a deal, but she insisted I call the hospital and my neurosurgeon immediately. They recommended I come to the ER (which was about an hour and a half from our house).

So my mom races to the ER, taking only about an hour to get there this time, and we made our way into the place to check in. This ER was not like the local ones, where you put your name in at the desk, tell them what was wrong and wait for forty years. This one was surprisingly effecient. I made it into the waiting area without much commotion, although they didn't offer to help my mom get me in and seated at this point, despite having a dead weight leg.

After about 10 minutes, we were called back into a series of cubicles. The first one took my stats, listened to my heart, asked what was going on and slapped a bunch of bracelets on me. One of them was orange. (Remember that, it's important for the end of the story)

So I was placed into a room, or at least a side of a room. There was a curtain between me and another bed. Shortly after I arrived, there was girl brought in that was SCREAMING and moaning and making more noise than I ever thought one human could make. After a while, my mom got curious and peeked around the curtain to see what all the fuss was about. A caucasian young woman was on the bed with a very large black man lying on top of her. The color of their skin doesn't matter, except you have to know it was a strange sight because the girl was tiny, and the man was HUGE. And he was completely on top of her.
(We later found out she was there for a migraine headache....??? )

After about an hour, an orderly came in to start an IV and get some blood to test. He was also a very large man, probably 400 or more lbs, at about 5'11". He got his little tray full of vial and needles, and started trying to get some blood out of my already completely bruised arms (I do not have good veins). He tried here, and he tried there, sweating profusely, until my bed was soaked with his sweat (yes I was grossed out too).

Now comes the good part....

He was trying to make small talk, I guess to mask the fact that he was completely unsuccessful at drawing blood.

Orderly :  "So, what are you in for?"

Me: "Oh, I had brain surgery about a week ago, and my leg decided not to work this morning when I got out of bed."

Orderly:  "No, I mean, what are you in for?"

Me:  " Well.... I called my neurosurgeon after my leg wouldn't work and he said I should come to the ER to see if I had developed a clot."

Orderly: (who was by this point much more aggressive with the poking and the not getting blood and the sweating) :    "No, I mean, you've got an orange bracelet on, so what are you in jail for?"

Me:   "What? IN JAIL? I'm not in jail...."

Orderly:  "Well, if you have this orange bracelet on it means you are an inmate." (He's looking at me a little suspiciously)

Me:  "But I'm not an inmate. I had brain surgery last week because of a tumor, and so I guess this was a side effect.  I don't know why they gave me an orange bracelet, really....I'm not an inmate."

The orderly looked over at the door and nodded.

Orderly: "Oh yeah, I guess you aren't, since there isn't an officer standing at the door. Plus, usually they have you cuffed to the bed."

Yep, apparently, they weren't quite as efficient as I thought to begin with. I was labeled a convict by the check in folks, and after two other people trying to draw blood, 87 pokes into my sking, 8 hours of whistling "la la la la, la la la la, elmo's world" as I watched people in hospital gowns going back and forth to the restroom right outside my door, and the place being locked down because of gunshots in the parking lot (which I later heard from a security officer that there was no trigger on the gun????), I was finally taken back for an ultrasound. And there was no reason why my leg didn't work.

A few days later, my leg returned to normal.

And a few weeks later, I got the bill, with the diagnosis that I didn't get in the hospital.

Dx: Lethargy. (look it up if you need to, it's not why I was at the ER)

Needless to say, I have not recommended that ER to anyone.


  1. So was the girl behind the curtain the inmate....and the big dude on top was restraining her? I bet the orderly was scared to death of your orange bracelet and that's why he couldn't get blood and was sweating profusely. I think you should post the hosptial name so as to make sure none of your "friends" on here go there to the ER (kidding)!

  2. I knew it was bound to happen. We have a FB friend in common - Caroline B. She goes to my church back home. Just saw your comment on her pictures.


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