A weekend in hospital

November 11, 2007

Hospitals are funny places.

Definely funny weird, rather than funny ha-ha. Now I’m in my mid-thirties (I know it’s hard to believe with my youthful good looks…) I, like most people, have been in a few. Sometimes – say at the arrival of a child, it’s a happy time. Sometimes it’s just plain sad, when you’re saying goodbye to someone or watching the erstwhile strong fade away. Quite often, though, it just feels like something you do, something to get through, unpleasant in many senses but just kind of there, a gentle reminder that life doesn’t always go entirely to plan.

Which is a terribly roundabout way of saying that we’re here again. This time Rohan is the troublemaker: a cold turned into a bad cold turned into a chesty thing turned into what doctors now think is ‘Bronchialitus’ (no, I hadn’t heard of it, either). He’s gonna be fine, but is in a plastic hood whotsit while he fights the virus. He also has a feeding tube and an ET-like glowing toe attachment. It all looks alarming but is actually quite straightforward. The hood is the baby version of an oxygen mask to just help him breathe a bit easier, the tube means he doesn’t have to expend valuable energy and air on eating, and the glowing toe thing measures his heart rate and blood oxygen. I know about the latter because I – sadly – looked it up on my PDA and discovered that it works because light is absorbed differently depending on how the blood is oxygenated. It doesn’t, unfortunately, give Rohan the means to signal to alien beings, which is a shame because I’ve always fancied a ride up there and he’s way cuter than ET ever was.

Most of the time the defining feature of hospitals is the waiting. And that’s why I’m here, writing a blog post on my phone, waiting for the next feed, the next night, the next day and of course for him to get better.

In some senses I’m the ideal person to have around during times like this: I’m terribly calm, very pragmatic and generally fairly unphased. In other ways, I can see that I’d be a right pain in the arse: it just doesn’t come naturally for me to worry and I can see that I could easily come across as a cold fish. Working out the medical tech and blogging from hospital sound like echoes from a Daily Mail headline: “‘Mr Ellis sat cooly by’ said one nurse who refused to be named, ‘…all he cared about was the gadgetry…'”

Anyway. There was a funny moment last night just before I left Rach and Rohan here. He’d been miserable all day with lots of coughing and crying. Then the nurse put the hood on him and within about 5 minutes of the oxygen starting an enormous grin was on his face. He looked like a dodgy clubber coming up on a handful of E: red, watery eyes, pale skin and a huge ear-to-ear smile…

Anyway, young Rohan. Here’s the bottom line: you might be a little bit noisy at night and mildly grumpy from time to time. I do like you quite a lot, though, and much as I’m a gadget fan, it’d be better to play with them at home, ok? Get well as soon as you can. I miss you, and it’s only been 24 hours.

But before we go, do pass the oxygen….

2 thoughts on “A weekend in hospital

  1. Eva is in hospital with the same thing now and has been in for 4 days, following several visits to the GP. I am fairly laid back also, but I wish the doctors (of which we have now seen 3 GPs, 3 Drs. 3 Registrars, 1 Clinical Head and 2 Consultants, plus numerous students) would tell us what they know. We have been told of at least a dozen things that Eva hasn’t got and the reason why she hasn’t got them. Bronchialitus she also hasn’t got according to the Lab, but one Doctor believes she has and certainly her blood oxygen level is falling, and she is not feeding properly. Eventually we (the wife and I) boxed a Doctor into a corner and would let her go until she told us what was going on. And wasn’t it so simple. Eva has an infection in her throat, (upper respiratory tract) and it’s viral (because she has no temperature) and is not treatable – it will get better on it’s own. But she needs to be monitored for blood/oxygen saturation and food intake in case she needs what Rohan has (oxygen tent and food tube). We are not there yet, but she is deteriating and we are down to 93% saturation – 2 more points and the tent beckons. I hope these explanations help others who can’t make head nor tail of Doctor speak.

  2. Hey Dave, thanks for commenting. Lack of information is a massive problem, and it seems to be one which everyone suffers from when talking to the medical profession. You’d assume that seven years of training – or however long it is – would make for good communicators too, but that just doesn’t seem to be the case.

    Either way, the important thing is that Eva gets better soon – I hope you’re outta there soon and back home.

    Kind regards

    Mike

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