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.