Like any normal person, I much prefer the planned hospital stay over the call an ambulance type of hospital stay. Planned stays are organised, usually well in advance with prior approvals sought and everyone knows their place. Everyone knows what is going to happen and paperwork is complete prior to admission. So when Paul’s breathing laboured, his skin ice-cold, lips turning blue yet has a fever of 38.9 degrees on a Saturday morning, I had no choice but to go for the undesirable option of calling for an ambulance.
The ambulance officer on the other end of the phone asked me to monitor Paul’s breathing until the ambulance arrived. She will stay on the phone with me until this happens. Dammit, lady, I’m still in my dressing gown, I haven’t had a cup of coffee, the kids want breakfast but they also want to know why they can’t watch tv with dad and you want to stay on the phone with me. Paul was breathing okay and his carer’s were watching him intently. But I knew what would happen and I needed to get myself dressed and groomed before the ambulance arrived- I did not want to head to hospital looking like I just rolled out of bed.
Once the ambulance left, Paul’s bag was packed and I left to go to hospital. At nearly the half way point to hospital, I pass an ambulance on the side of the road. Has something gone wrong with Paul? Why did they pull over? Do I park behind them? What if it’s not even Paul’s ambulance? I wouldn’t take the chance of it being someone else so I decided to go straight to Emergency. Paul’s ambulance had not yet arrived so panic began to set in. Why didn’t I pull over? Maybe I could have helped? Perhaps I forgot to give them an important piece of information. Of course! I forgot to tell them that Paul gets motion sickness! That has to be it. He has vomitted and they cannot move until he settles down.
What seemed like four hours but was only ten minutes, the triage nurse signalled to me that Paul had arrived. I apologised profusely to the ambulance officers for omitting an important piece of travelling information. They said they had pulled over to try and get a cannula into Paul’s hand- he was vomit free and it was likely because of their superior driving skills (yes, ambos do have a sense of humour!) My anxiety now at ease, it was time for poking, prodding, blood test after blood test, blood pressure monitoring, temperature checks, the whole “Have you been to Melbourne in the last 2 weeks or come into contact with anyone who has?” and everyone fixating their dagger-like stare at you if you dared to clear your throat or sneeze into your elbow. Damn Corona Virus. It also meant going through the entire spiel of Paul’s medical history- soooo not sick of repeating that a thousand times a day to people who could easily read it in his file!
To top off the first night at the hospital resort, our friend, the grandma who needed attention from every passing healthcare officer, was only a couple of beds down. Fortunately for Paul who slept through most of the emergency stay, didn’t have the pleasure of listening to our friend sing out “Nurse! Nurse! Nurse! Nurse! Nurse! No, I don’t like you, I want the other nurse! Nurse! Nurse!” all day and half the night.
The emergency department nurses were frequently checking on Paul and appreciated the complexity of his care. They reassured me that they would continue to check on him throughout the night and would call me as soon as Paul was in a ward. So I left.
When I arrived home, the house seemed so lifeless and empty. No carers moving around, no Paul for me to kiss goodnight. Mum and the kids were in bed and it crossed my mind to wake the kids up just to have someone to cuddle before hitting the hay. It had been a long time since we had nobody awake in our house all night long, no sound of Paul’s sleep machine or carer’s washing something in the laundry. It felt eerie and not normal.
Luckily I slept well that night for the next few days were not going to be kind to me.
To be continued….
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