Tuesday, April 08, 2014

The View from Room 820

Because objects in motion tend to remain in motion, it should not have surprised me that the gallstones that brought me to the emergency room 10 days ago would continue to wreak havoc. Last week was spent trying to find a balance between extreme discomfort/nausea and a medication level that would let me get my work done, as well as shuttle back and forth to the doctor's for tests and scans. The tests got worse, not better, so when I saw the surgeon at a previously-scheduled appointment yesterday morning, he said, "I think we're going to admit you."

"Look, you're in the penthouse," the hospital auxiliary lady said when she showed me to my room. It's true; I'm on the top floor of the Virginia Hospital Center, with a wall of windows that looks out onto a nice suburban neighborhood. I can see trees and the highrises of Ballston, though it's been pretty gray since yesterday.

The Virginia Hospital Center is rated one of the nation's best hospitals, with good reason. It used to be Arlington Hospital, but was rechristened 10 years ago after a massive renovation/expansion. The buildings are big, clean and shiny, and the staff have been nothing but kind. I'm in a private room, with wi-fi and cable and an IV drip that beeps if I bend my arm wrong.

That said, hospitals are for sick people. I don't think I belong here, or at least I don't want to believe that I do. I spent about an hour (at least, it felt like an hour) in an imaging machine last night, and based on those results I think I'm having some kind of surgical procedure today. I'm really, really hoping to be home tonight, even though my bed at home is not adjustable and the hospital has better cable. I have no big insights from my hospital experience, except the obvious ones: nurses are great. Patient care assistants are great. Twelve hours is probably too long for a shift. Hospitals smell weird.

The one really good thing about all of this is that I have health insurance. God forbid this should have happened last year, when I didn't. 

Thanks to everybody who's called or emailed to express concern. I'm in good hands and should be home soon, tomorrow morning if not tonight.

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