Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A Baby Story (The Relapse)



The first week after the birth of our son was an interesting one. My wife was running low on the pain medicine they had given her at the hospital so she called the prescribing physician to get a refill. Now I realize that anyone requesting a controlled substance must be properly vetted, but I must admit that we were both floored when the nurse asked my wife, “Now exactly where does it hurt?” One can only assume that when a new mother calls her OBGYN six days after a vaginal delivery the answer would be somewhat self-evident. Despite this, my wife calmly replied that the majority of the pain seemed to be radiating from her recently traumatized nether regions. This apparently satisfied the nurse (I suppose if my wife had slipped up and said “my husband’s knee” the screening process would be deemed a success) who agreed to call in the refill.

While on the phone, my wife mentioned that she had a nagging headache and that her feet were still extremely swollen. They asked that we check her blood-pressure and when we discovered it was north of 160/110 a chain of events was set into motion that would end with us spending the evening in the emergency room. Like many medical trauma centers, this one was a dangerous combination of understaffed and overwhelmed. It took several hours to see a doctor and in the interim we met an interesting woman I will call Dottie. You see, it was Dottie’s job to draw blood from each and every patient who visited the ER that evening and she accomplished her task with unparalleled skill and spontaneous outbursts of evangelical fervor.

Each and every statement she made was punctuated by the verbal affirmation of God’s wisdom and/or mercy. Our conversation went as follows:

Dottie – “What brings you to the ER this evening?”
Us – “Well, we just had our first child and…”
Dottie – “Thank you Jesus!”    
Us –“…indeed… and they fear that my wife is suffering from post-natal pre-eclampsia so..”
Dottie – “Lord be with her! Glory! Glory!”
Us – “…we were told to bring her here to get checked out.”
Dottie – “Little boy or little girl?”
Us – “Boy”
Dottie – “Little boys are straight from heaven! Praise the Lord! So how long have you two been married?”
Us – “Almost ten years.”
Dottie –“Father, be with ‘em in Jesus’ holy name!”

It deserves to be said that during this short exchange Dottie had filled at least four vials of my wife’s blood with such prodigious skill and efficiency that for a moment I suspected she had taken a few samples from me when we initially shook hands. At any rate, we were eventually assigned a room within screaming distance of an ill-tempered woman who insisted that she wished to see “a f-----g doctor.”

After six hours, we were admitted to the hospital and given a room in Labor and Delivery while we awaited the counsel of the on-call physician. When he finally arrived and ordered my wife be given a 12-hour dose of magnesium, a rather sensible question arose from her assembled family: “What exactly are the side effects of subjecting the human body to high levels of an alkaline metal normally used in the manufacturing of sparklers?” Such a preposterous question did not even merit eye contact from the good doctor who dismissively replied that magnesium treatment was “better than having a seizure.”

One can only hope that Dr. Sunshine’s side job was not as a hostage negotiator. I realize that you went to medical school and get to use the word “sabbatical” in casual conversation, but I don’t feel that listing the side effects of a rather specialized treatment falls outside you purview. I can only imagine the packaging on Tylenol if this guy ran the FDA:

Directions: Take 2 capsules every 8 hours
Side Effects: Better than an aneurism and no worse than disembowelment

Fortunately, the nurses assigned to my wife’s care were warm, informative, and went above and beyond the call of duty to make her as comfortable as possible. Aside from Dr. Sunshine, the only other complaint I have concerning our second stay in L&D would be the provided “napping chair.” I do not know which state penitentiary the hospital commissioned to build this monstrosity, but it has all the features a worried spouse needs. In addition to creaking like a drawbridge each time you recline, it is equipped with wheels that somehow only move when you are attempting to sit and a leg rest that simulates an old football injury. I informed the nurse that I would be willing to pay cash for the privilege of taking an ax to the chair at the moment of my wife’s discharge.  

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