Thursday, August 6, 2009

My own private circle of hell

Now that we're home from the hospital, and I've caught up on all my personal email and have had a full night's sleep, I can properly relay the hell that was the last night at the hospital. But first, I'll need to set the scene.

Deidre was in "room" 508, which was really the bed without the window in the room that was split into 508/509. 509 was a decently sized "room". It had room for the bed, a side-table, the recliner/cot combo, a rocking chair and space by the bed to accommodate the IV stand. 508 however, barely had room for the bed and recliner/cot combo. The side-table was crammed behind the recliner/cot with no access to the drawers, and the IV stand was jammed between them and the bed, always in the way.

Both beds had two light fixtures available to them. A wall unit behind the bed and up high for indirect lighting and a ceiling unit for lighting up the whole room. I never did find the switch for our ceiling unit, but I did figure out the pull string for the wall unit.

The girl in 509 was afflicted with some abdominal malaise that manifested itself with a distended stomach and severe intestinal distress. Now, I don't want people to think that I was insensitive to what the little girl in 509 was going though. She was clearly suffering and I wouldn't wish that on any child. But the series of events that played out that night made me question the wisdom of the hospital putting anyone else in the room with her.

Across the hall in 510 was a child of unknown (to us) sex and age, but the rumour mill told us that the child was mentally disturbed and quite strong. During the day, the was little noise from the room, but the 24/7 rotating guard outside the door was fairly conspicuous. These guys could have been bouncers. There were a few incidents during the day of agitated yelling from within, but amid the daily hustle of the ward, I barely noticed them.

The last night of Deidre's stay started out much like the previous night. Deidre was watching TV while I read a book. Around 8:30, clearly worn out by her visitors (this is a good thing), Deidre turned off the TV and went to sleep. I continued to read for about 45 more minutes and then turned off the lights and rolled on to my side and closed my eyes.

Maybe 15 minutes later, 509 also turns out their lights and all is quiet.

For maybe 10 minutes.

The little girl starts to moan and cry aloud. I hear some rustling and the overhead light in 509 flashes to life. Blinking against this sudden assault to my eyes, I bury my face in the pillow to block it out. The little girl's cries get louder and suddenly there is the sound of explosive diarrhea filling a bed pan. Sustained, gassy diarrhea. And a stench. Wow, what a stench.

As I struggle not to cough and gag, the diarrhea runs it course and the grandmother takes the bedpan to the bathroom on the other side of the wall from me. After a brief muffled washing out of the bedpan, the industrial-strength toilet roars out as she flushes the mess away.

Using the toilet is completely understandable; you don't want to leave it in the bowl all night polluting the air. But the hysterical screaming fit that this instigates from the child in 510 is monumental.

A sustained "WAAAH, WAAAH, WAAAH, WAAAH" fills the hallways for about 10 minutes. This kid had some breath control. His screaming didn't waver or weaken the entire time. I was wide-awake and beginning to get a headache. Deidre, of course, slept through the whole thing.

Now, of course, this incident in and of itself would be worthy of a post, but alas, this wasn't all that I was to be subjected to that night. With little deviation from the original script, this little drama repeated itself through the night with about 45 minutes between performances.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

I slept quite well last night in my own bed.

1 comment:

  1. Did the nurses ever look in on that little girl? That much diarrhea that often would cause her to become very dehydrated. Was the original room actually split with a constructed wall or was it a curtain? When Dad was at Tower Hill there was only one light control for both overhead lights--probably the same thing there.