Friday, August 19, 2011

Overnight in the VA Hospital

Two days ago (Wednesday), I had been sitting at my computer doing various things to catch up on needed work for both church and home.  As I stood up to go get a drink from the kitchen, I felt very light-headed and dizzy.  I assumed it was from just sitting for too long and getting a "head rush" too quickly. 

Anyway, I thought nothing of it and did nothing about it.  I happened to mention it to Sondra, and she became concerned.  She asked me to check my blood pressure.  My readings (as I took several) were all around 90 over 50.  A little low!  Because of that, Sondra called the advice nurse at the VA Hospital hotline and described my symptoms and what had happened.  With the background of my heart attack and bypass surgery two years ago, the nurse said I needed to go to ER to be checked out.  This all happened between 2 - 4 pm.  Sondra asked if I needed to go immediately, and the nurse said, "No, but I am inputting this in the computer so he needs to go sometime this evening."

So, I finished getting ready, and Sondra and I went to church.  I led the 7 pm Bible study.  Afterwards, I felt obligated to go to the VA Hospital ER and let them look me over.  I was not in pain, I had not been dizzy since that afternoon.  I therefore felt kind of silly going in.  I thought they would check my vitals, ask me questions and let me go.

Well, that didn't happen.

We arrived right about 9 pm.  They took my vitals, gave me a quick EKG, drew some blood and told me to wait.  After a while, they took me back in and tried to draw more blood but I am what they call a "hard stick" and they gave up for a while.  They then sent me to wait for a doctor to be available in the ER exam room.  Around 11 pm, I was seen by two doctors at various times.  Also, more vials of blood were taken and sent up for evaluation.

One thing I learned while they were taking blood was that tea, because of the caffeine, has a diuretic effect.  I was taking blood pressure pills plus four "water pills," plus then I had been drinking a lot of ice tea that day.  I was told that the ice tea doubled the effect of flushing the liquids from my body!  That dehydrated my system.  I was told to drink decaffeinated ice tea from now on.  I had been drinking fluids all day, but I was still dehydrated because of the tea!

Close to midnight, the doctor came to me and said, "We are going to admit you now."  I was flabbergasted!  I was not ready for that, as there did not seem to be any indication so far.  The results, however, were showing that my kidneys were not functioning properly.  I was dehydrated, and my blood pressure was low.

I was wheeled immediately to my room where I was to be admitted.  The nurses there asked me many of the same questions I had been answering all night, while they took more blood and gave me more "physical ability" tests for eye and hand coordination.  By the time they finished it was around 1:30 am.  I was in a room with three others already asleep for the night, so now there were four of us in the room.

Thankfully, it did not take long for me to go to sleep, but I woke up around 5 am.  The nurses were back in, taking blood samples from us all, as well as taking our vitals.  I got no sleep after that.  I found out again how bad hospital food can be.  Both breakfast and lunch were tasteless, no matter how much pepper and salt substitute I used!

I was seen by several doctors.  I was given a steady drip IV to rehydrate all day.  I was told that the dehydration had given me a "dry kidney."  After the IV all day, they were hoping I would rebuild to a functioning "wet kidney."  Thankfully, that happened.  At 2:30 pm, they came back with a report that my kidney was functioning well so I was discharged and sent home with new meds.

During the morning and early afternoon, I began talking to a fellow veteran who had spent the last three days at the hospital in this room.  During our conversation, he asked me, "So, what do you do now?"  That opened the door for me to talk about my ministry as a pastor.  To make a long story short, he told me he had been thinking about going back to church and was going to start looking.  He asked me for my business card, which I just happened to have!  He and his wife live in Ontario, very close by our church.  He told me I will see him soon at church!  His name is Joe Sanchez.

If for nothing else, my overnight stay at the VA Hospital may have been just for me to meet Joe Sanchez and help him in his walk of faith.  I am looking forward to the days ahead.

No comments:

Post a Comment