Sunday, January 23, 2011

Can I Get Lox With That Bagel?

As the accumulating years continue to prove to me, you Just Never Know what a new day may hold.

Case in point...this past Friday, when we took 19-year-old son, Ben, for his first appointment with a new endocrinologist. Determined to start out on the 'right foot,' we were up and out early, and checked in to the doctor's office ACTUALLY EARLY!! Huzzah. Bill accompanied us for this first time, and went in to work later.

The appointment went well, with Dr. H. proving to be the Southern gentleman we had been told to expect...for some strange reason, Ben liked his drawling accent...Ben is currently in his "Cajun-philia" phase, it seems...intrigued and enamored with anything that seems remotely associated with Deep South legend.

Dr. H. confirmed that Ben again meets medical criteria for a 'full blown" diabetes diagnosis, but he is not sure whether he is best classified as a Type I or a Type II. Also, he felt that additional tests needed to be run, including ones that Dr. C. never ordered, such as certain antibody tests, and other blood levels to try to get a more specific handle on exactly what Ben's liver is doing in terms of kicking out extra sugar, etc.

[True to form, I compuslively scribbled notes as the dr. asked questions and made comments, but I have not even had a chance to find them yet, due to the way the rest of the morning unfolded.]

So, several lab tests were ordered, and we went downstairs to the lab to have the blood drawn, etc. Bill innocently left for work. After some dithering, since the lab personnel evidently were not familiar with one of the tests ordered, they finally called Ben back and did the draw--6 vials, which is more than he is used to.

I learned of all this when Nurse 1came to get me because Ben had passed out. Propped up in the phlebotomy chair, he was white as a ghost--even his lips were chalky, and his under-eye area was grey and puffy---worse than me after a couple of all-nighters during finals week in a Previous Era.

A couple of nurses were switching cold compresses on his neck and forehead, one was rubbing his wrist, another was talking to him, trying to get him to drink some orange liquid--he didn't look well, but he didn't look dead, either. I mentally beat back those images of him from the prolonged hospital stay of two years ago. Ben's eyes fluttered a little, but he couldn't really make any sense when he talked, and couldn't sit up on his own.

Backstory:Due to 'imminent geopolitical sibling strife' back at the Circle H Ranch, I had made the executive decision to bring Miss Cee with me to the clinic, rather than tax the already strained emotional reserves of her older siblings who had originally been charged with her supervision.

So, this meant that aside from Ben, four nurses, a clerk, and a seemingly aimless doctor, Miss Cee and I were also compressed into a miniscule lab cubicle where Ben was apparently 'down for the count.' I was holding Ben's hand, talking to him, and getting little in the way of response. Finally the first nurse said, 'we need to call an ambulance.' Pardon?

Even at the time, I knew that a more informed person than myself likely would question this, but I was concerned since Ben didn't seem able to stay awake or bear his own weight. Of course, it didn't help that he wouldn't eat before the appt. I mentioned this to Nurse 1, who retorted, "mom, YOU got to get this boy to eat! He's a diabetic!" [who knew?] To Ben: "You've GOT to eat,'re diabetic, you can't be messing around here." Sensing some Official Support on the subject of frequent meals, I leaned in: "Ben, did you hear that?!" Nurse 1, to me: "No, no, YOU'RE his mom,[ahem, I didn't think anyone ELSE was his mom], YOU MAKE him eat!!" Ah, it SEEMS so simple, particularly when the patient is not fully conscious.

Someone asked what his blood sugar was, so I retrieved his glucometer from his jacket pocket, but I don't know if anyone ever tested him or if they did, what the # was. As it turned, out we didn't even know where the glucometer ended up, not to mention his DiscMan.

The next thing I knew, an earsplitting siren sounded, accompanied by the instantaneious appearance of four burly paramedics bearing a gurney and heavy-looking life support equipment. At this, Miss Cee's last nerve had been snapped and she began crying, asking "will Benny be alright?"

At odd moments like this, one can quickly gain an appreciation for first-responder they do what they do is a mystery to me...but maintaining a sense of humor must have something to do with it: "Oh, he'll be OK, little lady. I have a friend, everytime he sees me, he starts crying...and he's normal in every other way."

Somehow, Ben was propelled from the lab chair to the gurney, strapped down, and summarily whisked away. Meanwhile, someone told me they had called Dr. H. upstairs and let him know what happened. I kept hoping I would wake up from this expensive nightmare, but so far, that hasn't happened, and I'm afraid a hefty, ludicrous ambulance bill will be arriving shortly in our mailbox to certify the reality. Sheeeeeeesh.

So, I bundled up Cecily, and we drove next door to the ER, while two more ambulances arrived just afterwards on other, hopefully more legitimate, emergency calls. Once inside the ER waiting area, I tried to ascertain where they had taken Ben, but was told they were "settling him in." I believe this is code for "go away now." I was patient and after a short while, asked again, but was put off because of all the hustle-bustle.

I don't know if they were short-staffed, or what, but the staff nurse at the registration window was there for about 5 seconds and then disappeared....for the duration. Finally, I'd had enough and the next time a person with a pulse appeared near the window, I asked to see Ben...he was in a treatment room, hooked up to a heart monitor, fully conscious and thoroughly disgusted.

No wonder medical costs are so high. We sat there about 15 minutes, another nurse came in, checked the monitors and disappeared...then the door opened and we hoped it was a doc. Instead, it was Bill, who had received an 'interesting' phone call from a clinic nurse, saying they had found Ben's glucometer in the snow outside the clinic and 'by the way', he had been transferred by ambulance to the ER. So, I don't imagine that was a relaxing 20 minute drive from office to ER.

Some time later, a courteous, competent ER doc came in, reviewed Ben's new chart with us, examined him, asked more questions, etc., and noted that his heart rate was up whenever he was vertical. Then he disappeared. What-ev-er.

The thing is, when you are a layperson, you just don't know what to ask or how worried to be. Especially when it's your own kid. We knew it probably wasn't wise to just remove the monitor leads and walk out, so we waited and whiled away the time by trying to make sure Cecily didn't trip any switches or turn anything on or off on her busy little investigations around the room and bathroom. Having seen Benny fully alert and verbal, despite intimidating looking wires and monitors, she had reverted to Explorer Mode and was scoping the place out.

Eventually, the Dr. E.R. returned, had a nurse do some orthostatic blood pressure readings on Ben, and then concluded that Ben's ailments were neither cardiac nor diabetes-related but rather a phenomenon called 'vaso vagel'--although Cecily was sure it had something to do with a bagel--and discharged us.

Next time we need lab tests done, I'm asking for a location near a deli.

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