This year involved several hospital admissions and I feel like somewhat of an expert now. I can give you the ins-and outs of Southlake but I can imagine these tips of the trade to be fairly standard across the board. In most cases you have to go through Emergency to be admitted which is a grueling process so here is what I have learned and my advice to give:
GET A NOTE: My first trip to the hospital due to colitis was in December 2013 after I passed out at a Christmas Party from being so dehydrated and anemic. I went to the ER in the evening and after waiting several hours, was sent home and told to follow up with my GI. This is why a year later, I waited for an appointment with him instead of going to the hospital, allowing the disease to get worse. This time though, because my GI was sending me, he wrote me a note. And this is what helped speed up the process. Triage, nurses and the ER doctor took me far more seriously seeing a note from my doctor telling them to admit me. Generally the process in Emergency is waiting for them to decide whether or not you’re sick enough to be granted a bed, but with a note, that part is sped. His notes explained what was going on with the disease, what treatment I’ve been receiving, and what he would like done in the hospital. Cut and dry: Admit her and do this. The end. The triage nurse actually said to me, “Oh Dr. T. doesn’t send people over unless they’re very sick so let’s get you in.”
IF YOU DON’T HAVE A NOTE: If you are going through Emerg. without a note, (I had to with my 3rd admission), still insist that your doctor sent you to emerge. Both my family doctor and GI told me that if things get worse (bleeding, # of bowel movements etc.), don’t sit at home and go to emergency. Unfortunately that left me the job of convincing the ER doctor that I needed to be admitted. They generally don’t like to admit people, especially those who don’t look sick, but I kept telling them that if they sent me home, my doctor would send me right back. And I insisted over and over that I was TOLD to come here. They see a lot of cuckoos in ER and have to filter through the ones who are actually ill, so drop the names of the people who would normally advocate on your behalf.
TIMING: I strategically planned what time to go to the hospital. I quickly learned that it takes approximately 12 or more hours to get a bed once you’ve gone through triage. Therefore I figured if I went at 6am, I’d have a bed for that night. I wouldn’t recommend going in the evening because then you’re just sitting in the ER all night, which is extremely uncomfortable. Unfortunately at Southlake I also learned that the nurses shifts go from 7am-7pm so arriving at 6am meant checking in with a nurse an hour away from ending a 12hr night shift. You can imagine how pleasant she was. Therefore if I had to do it again I’d probably aim for 7am in order to be greeted by the awake and eager nurse, pleased to help me.
Also, for someone with digestive issues, an ER doctor is likely going to assume you’ll need a scope. So eat right before you go in, or before you see a doctor, otherwise they’ll put you on a “liquids only” diet and you’ll starve waiting.
I also don’t know how accurate this is but I found going to emergency during the week is better than on a Friday or weekend. You avoid drunks and people injuring themselves on their wild weekends.
ESCAPE ROUTE: Anyone complaining with diarrhea is likely going to be put on IV fluids, which means being glued to a pole. Sometimes the pole is on battery and sometimes it needs to be plugged into a wall. Now this makes trips to the bathroom difficult as you shuffle and push past the crowds. So, if possible ask to be seated close to the washroom. In addition, plan your escape route and how you’re going to maneuver the pole through the area. If there are any obstacles (chairs, carts et.c) in your route, get them out of the way before you have to go.
Most importantly – BE A PATIENT PATIENT: Again, they have a LOT of cuckoos come through Emergency. There are likely 1 or 2 doctors on call with a limited number of chairs and beds. The nurses run that Emergency room. Actually I firmly believe nurses run that whole hospital. The more patient, kind and understanding you are, the more likely they will show you patience, kindness and understanding. If the signs say “1 family member per patient” don’t bring in an entourage. The last thing the nurses want to do is ask people to leave. I try to be the least demanding patient in there and I found that it goes a long way. During my second admission I had tested positive for C-Diff, which meant I was not only waiting for a bed but I was waiting for a private room because I was so contagious. This also meant I was going to have to wait in Emergency over night and not allowed to share the washroom with anyone else. You know what that meant? They gave me a commode (A toilet on wheels that doesn’t flush or have water……uhhh….gross). For a person who has 20+ bloody bowel movements a day I must have displayed a sheer look of horror. Then I overheard one nurse say to the other, “Now wait, she’s a 25 year old girl. Why don’t we move this person and that person and then she can have the private room.” That’s right. The penthouse of Emergency was given to me after shifting other people around. Do you think they would have done that for a grumpy bitch complaining the whole time? I’d like to think no.