The corruption of common courtesy…

Although it was a five-mile trip, it felt like it took an hour to arrive at The Villages emergency room. As we entered the hospital, doctors and medical staff stood sprinkled around like salt and pepper on a dinner plate. I have heard that 911 operators, doctors, nurses, and many businesses barely survive unbelievably understaffed because of covid-19. However, this is not the case with patients, as there is no shortage of people needing urgent medical help. So how will this overworked and low workforce hospital deal with a patient with a confusing medical condition like multiple sclerosis? Not well.

Jan, the orderly, wheeled me into a room farthest back in the ER as if I had catchable cooties for all to avoid. Medical assistant Steve followed us into the room and began asking a barrage of questions he could have asked anyone on the street. Finally, nurse Kathy entered the room with a plethora of queries selected specifically for my situation to help them diagnose my mysterious complications. I shared that I had multiple sclerosis and had just replanted myself in Florida after a very stressful preparation and move only weeks before. Kathy explained she knew what I felt because she moved six months prior and agreed it was very stressful. I fervently pointed out that multiple sclerosis and stress are like oil and water, causing catastrophic consequences that have altered my life negatively.

Eventually, Jan and Kathy left the room while Steve stayed to complete more tests and tasks, trying to help solve my medical puzzle. As I answered his questions, I commented on how it was strange as I tend to talk with my hands in serious situations, but right then, they were as useless as a submarine with a screen door. Also, I was tired and had not eaten since breakfast, which was at six in the morning, and now it was seven in the evening. Finally, Steve put a call button into my hands and said push this if you have any problems, and someone will be right in. Before he left the room, I loudly proclaimed I could not move my arms, so how pray tell do I push the call button? That is when I learned why they were a two-star emergency room, as Steve said he would be right back.

I had fallen asleep waiting for Steve to return, and when I awoke sometime later, I had to go to the bathroom. Struggling for several minutes, I tried to prove to myself that I could use the call button, though with no success. Hungry and thirsty, I cried out for help, but my voice sounded small and distant, and they probably could not hear it if in the room. Finally, I gathered all my strength and found that if I made various sounds, they were louder than actual words. It felt like I had been making raucous attention-grabbing noises for several hours, although no one had yet entered the room.

Finally, my Saving Grace named Grace entered the room with a halo upon her head and a smile on her face. She not only helped me go to the bathroom but set it up, so I did not continue to have this cry-out-worthy issue. The one thing I could say about this hospital definitively is that their communication was terrible as they shared no information. Every medical person who entered my room told me absolutely nothing, including no insinuations, assumptions, or even wild guesses about my perdition condition. So when they began to move me, I was ecstatic, to say the least, hoping an explanation or two would come along for the ride.

They wheeled me through the central part of the emergency room to a hallway, where they once again left me alone. Still extremely tired, I fell asleep on this uncomfortable Gurnee, waiting for something they were unwilling to share, information. My stay in the emergency room was torturous and relatively brief, with very little explanation of my condition. I will end my current writing about this saga of my emergency room soon-to-be hospital stay because no more information is needed. So stay tuned for the next episode, where the hospital will become my new home for 14 days. 

Side note: Someone recently asked me, does the fact that you are in terrible shape physically make you regret leaving Ohio? In Ohio, I was not struggling physically but emotionally because the pandemic let me know who my friends were. Unfortunately, all the people I thought were my friends vanished like fog in the summer sun at a time when friends needed each other the most. However, in Florida, my Rolodex of friends has been growing by leaps and bounds since my arrival on July 3rd. Physical challenges never mean a dull moment.     

My positivity will fight the difficult days ahead.  

The rubber band snapping…

The morning started well with my typical breakfast of a bowl of cereal and, in this case, cranberry juice. I rounded off this early meal with one prescription pill and twelve vitamins to complete what a growing boy needs for an active-ish day. After breakfast, I put my dishes in the dishwasher and began several hand and arm exercises because it was essential for me to keep moving. Finally, I completed the AM portion of my day by brushing my teeth and all the other activities that most people do to prepare for their daily routine.

I had been in my new house for three weeks and still had not slept in a bed or horizontally for that matter. Instead, my wheelchair, a pillow, and office desk had become my unbelievably uncomfortable sleeping quarters. It made me more tired than an 8-hour shift of hard labor at the local construction yard, slowing my thinking and movements. Ten years prior, I had stopped drinking caffeine, so I knew of nothing to fight this lethargy that resided in my brain or the all-consuming torpidity in my body. I believed this was the chance monster brewing a cauldron of hatred towards me, which would inevitably cause life-altering obstacles.

As I ran through the list of tasks I had planned to accomplish for the day, something felt a little off. I was slightly sluggish, which sounded redundant from the lethargy I had felt before, but it was different. I had an extremely dry mouth like the Sahara desert sitting in my mouth, even though I drank what seemed like a fifty-gallon drum of water. After thirty minutes of this, I felt like I was moving through the mud as every body movement was a tremendous struggle. It was like I was wearing a one hundred-pound fat body suit and every body movement was a challenge that was getting slower and more difficult. I thought if I at least took a twenty-minute power nap, that would reboot my system, and I would be okay again.

There was a card table in my living room where I placed a pillow and rested my head to stop my body from struggling. My alarm went off after my brief power nap, and I could not raise my head as I was weak as a newborn baby. My arms were just as helpless as I struggled for what felt like an eternity before I called for help. I could not reach my phone, which was hanging around my neck, so I decided to use my voice and my smart speaker. I asked my Alexa speaker to call 911, and she refused, so I had her call my mom, who, thankfully, was nearby and would be here quickly. When my mom arrived just over five minutes later, she called that triple-digit rescue for help.

I tried to explain to my mom how I felt like the Jolly Green Giant used me as a meat tenderizing mallet. No matter the number of descriptor words I used or how well I used them, I knew my mom would never truly understand how I was feeling. Most people can sympathize with how you feel, but comprehension is only possible for those who have lived similar issues. We spoke, and I explained as best as I could while we waited for what felt like an eternity for the ambulance to arrive. I am positive my mom felt helpless because she did not know what to do to help me, so we kept waiting.

When the ambulance arrived, they seemed as perplexed as I was at my puzzling predicament. Firefighter Bill took my blood pressure, temperature, and other vital details when I believe I heard him say they were relatively normal. I quickly questioned his quote of “relatively normal” when his supervisor, Mike, spoke up, clarifying that my numbers were standard. Mike told me that Bill was new to everything, including communication skills, which he obviously lacked from that example. They waited while my mom gathered my prescriptions, wallet, cell phone, and charger, putting them into my travel bag, and then we were off to the races. 

It confused me when my vitals were normal, yet I felt paralyzed for all intents and purposes. I just wanted to sleep, but the ER was only five miles or 12 minutes away, and they were asking too many questions, making sleep as elusive as a Vaseline-coated eel. The one thing that puzzled me is that before July 2nd, I was in Ohio without issues and did everything for myself. But on the other hand, since I have been in Florida, I need a caregiver to assist me because I am as unsteady as a newborn fawn. So I have gone from one extreme to the next, befuddling and bewildering me while adding a little fear to this boiling cauldron of vile intoxication.

Perplexed, I fear the next.