Wednesday, March 4, 2009

By Popular Demand

In my last post (for those of you that haven't read it, you might want to so you can catch up), I mentioned my hospital roommate, & I've gotten quite a few requests for stories about her. I'll give it my best shot, but since my brain is turning to mush, I make no guarantees on the entertainment value.

Before I get into this, let me be clear about something. I don't know much about sickle cell disease, but I understand that it is serious, like all of the illnesses that were being treated on my floor. Oh, & you might want to get comfortable...this is going to be a long one!

It was quite clear that my new roommate - let's just call her "She" - was less than thrilled about sharing her room. She was on the phone when I came in, & she said "Oh, now I have a white girl for a roommate...", which was my big clue. Whatever, I had more important things to worry about than making pals. The nurse drew the curtain around my side of the room & left me sitting quietly on my bed, waiting for someone to tell me what was happening next. As I said before, nothing happens quickly in a hospital. My roommate was on her cellphone the whole time, & the phone in the room rang for her several times as well.

I suspected - but didn't fully realize - that it was a small sign of things to come.

Doug arrived, & since all that had happened was that I was given a very stylish gown & I had a needle in my arm. Nothing hooked up to the needle, no medicine given, no food, no monitors, no direction... just a little frustrating! During this time, my roommate had a visitor & left the room with her. I didn't know it then, but that was my one & only respite for the next 24 hours or so.

My roommate returned sans visitor, & Doug left to go home. The phones - hers, not mine - started going immediately. Yeah, She was talking on both phones at the same time. Apparently, one of her sisters had hidden her pregnancy from her & She only found out after the baby was born. She was extremely upset & was railing at anyone that would listen. Meanwhile, my nurse came in to teach me how to give myself my shots. Yikes.

It was then that the 1-sided attention games began. She, who had been speaking normally until this point, all of a sudden adapted a weak, helpless voice & tried to call my nurse away from me (while on the phone, of course). The nurse told her that she would be there in a moment (& she was), & was then blasted for giving She an attitude just then. Huh?

After the nurse left, the phone calls continued on & off. (Let me clarify - her phone calls, not mine.) She covered a few subjects, but mostly her sister, & how badly she was being treated by the hospital staff. After a while, the phone attention must not have been enough - she started hitting the Call button for the nurses' station (switching voices when appropriate). She needed more pain medicine, water, whatever, & if they didn't come running within 2 minutes, she'd hit that button again. All night long.

"All night long" seemed to last forever. Every time I started to fall asleep, either the phone would ring, She'd yell into the Call button, or she'd moan & cry. Any time that the nurse or tech came by for me, she always needed something first. I was exhausted & my patience was wearing thin, but this woman was the very definition of "ghetto", & she could move a lot faster than I could, so I just kept my mouth shut.

I finally got a little sleep, but soon woke up to the same circus. I got up to use the bathroom & on the way back, I noticed that all of the chairs were on her side of the room. In the few minutes I was gone, she had also moved her portable toilet halfway into my area (she had that in case of "emergency", & she had used it the night before even though she could walk). I tried to move it, since it was on the only side that I could safely get out of bed with my leg, & she quickly told me that she needed it there. Whatever. I just left it alone & dealt with it. My patience was definitely getting a workout!

Doug came to visit just before lunch, & he'd missed some of the fun. Yeah, more bitching about her sister, more ranting at & about the staff (which I had no problem with). No worries, she seemed to crank it up once Doug showed. She decided to give her sister a call & jumped into a huge lecture on how there shouldn't be secrets, how they WILL be spending more time together, & that she WILL be spending time with her baby. After that, she gave herself a bath & decided that it was the perfect time for a loud & lively conversation with her mother - on speaker. This went on for a good 45 minutes at least (& yes, the room phone was ringing for her as well). It was so loud that all Doug & I could do was sit & try to watch tv...there was no point in trying to talk to each other. A few people called my cell, & we couldn't hear each other well enough to talk civilly, but they did ask what in the hell was going on in my room. Oy, if they only knew...

Keep in mind that the Call button was still one of her favorite toys, & the rules still applied. If you didn't respond to her mostly ridiculous requests within 2 minutes, there was Hell to pay. The day nurse, who was very sweet, responded to a call while Doug was getting us some lunch, was told that She didn't appreciate her tone & that she should drop the nasty attitude. Now, there was neither tone nor 'tude coming from that nurse, but nonetheless, She got on the Call button & demanded to see the charge nurse. Doug walked in to hear She blasting the nurse (alternating between her normal voice & her pathetic one, & even introducing a new authoritative one for contrast, I guess). Having witnessed every incident since my arrival, hearing this upset me. Since I didn't want to cause unrest by speaking to the nurse in the room (& I couldn't leave the room), Doug spoke to her about it once she left to make sure that the charge nurse understood the situation. This is when we discovered that She was very well-known, & a quite dreaded "frequent flier" at the hospital. Greeeaaaat....

She had a visitor at one point, & yes, you guessed it - more bitching about her sister! She was upset because her sister had somehow robbed her of the opportunity for her to experience having a child again. Yeah, I don't get it either, & I have to admit that if I had her as my sister, I'd hide everything I could from her.

More of the same, all day - more calls, more demands for drugs (oh, lots & lots of those), etc. At this point, I was begging for an IV of Zinfandel, Merlot, or something, damn it! Doug left before rush hour & he was less than happy to leave me in that situation. Luckily for me, I had 2 sets of visitors to distract me that evening, & they got to share in some of the experience. Yup, more phone conversations on speaker.

After my friends left, I had the pleasure of hearing She tell her nephew that he needed to improve his grades. They went through his entire report card & she told him no less than 10 times that they were going to draw up a contract. Now, why this was her business, I don't know - she had been speaking to the child's mother a few moments before. Regardless, she had this child & her own child on the (speaker) phone until 10:45 on a school night. After that, she had another call that she stayed on for at least another hour. While she was in a hospital, with a roommate. I was so exhausted & frustrated that I was about to cry, & I was about ready to end my silence & let her have it, come what may.

At about 11:20, the nurse came in & asked me very quietly if I wanted to move. As it turns out, my wonderful husband had requested on his way out of the hospital that I be moved. Doug to the rescue! Since I was on a floor with very, very sick people, I was concerned that someone in worse shape than me would be moved in & have to deal with her...seriously. After I was assured that they would do their best to avoid that, I said yes, get me the hell out of here! Being moved was as much fun as I'd had since I'd gotten there, it was like a secret rescue mission or something. I was very quietly moved (while She was still on speakerphone) at about 11:45 into a room with a very old, almost deaf woman.

Unfortunately, my move was not without drama. Silly me for thinking that it would be! The nurse was gone for a while & when she came back with more of my stuff, she told me that She was very upset that I'd been moved. She didn't think that she'd done anything wrong & she wanted me to call her to "make things right" between us. CALL HER???!!!! No way. I'd spoken no more than 5 very polite words to She, we were not friends. I told the nurse that I wasn't going to call her, that I just wanted to sleep, & that She should just let it go & enjoy having the room to herself. Judging from her behavior, that's what she seemed to want the whole time anyway. That wasn't good enough, apparently - the nurse came back to tell me that She was now irate & had made the whole thing a racial thing. What-the-fuck-ever.

I slept like a baby.


15 comments:

Margot Is Your Hero said...

whew. sounds like she was a whole lotta fun. glad you were able to be moved out of the room, and hopefully she didn't find you laughing it up with the deaf little old lady.

Kristal said...

Wow. You are a more patient woman than I. An hour in, I would have told her to shut the eff up. Thank goodness you had your own room the second night!

mxq said...

what an idiot. i'm sorry you had to experience that and i'm with kristal- you are way more patient than i am! i would have let her have it that first night and been moved immediately.

and for the record, she made it about race when She started rooming with a "white" girl.

Claire said...

Margot, I just slept when I got to the new room!

Krystal, it just wasn't prudent to do that, believe me. All of the rooms were full at the time anyway. They can't always move you.

And Pamela/sportcar, you're right. I NEVER made it about race, not once. Like I said, I barely spoke to her, partly because she was on the phone the whole time.

Sassy said...

I always knew you were a closet racist. Busted.

I would have called her, though. And told her that I didn't blame her sister for hiding the baby from her. What drama! I wish I'd been able to hear it when we were talking.

Rocio said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rosie said...

I would've called her to "Make things right" by telling her what an idiot she is and to F off!

Em said...

Ugh what a miserable experience. It's good you didn't call her, cause then she would have known where you were and would have probably driven you nuts ringing your room to bitch.

Too bad the nurse just didn't tell She that you were moved to "death watch" - or isolation because of your staph infection.

Angie said...

Hmmmm My husband is a cop....I hear stories about stupid behavior like this all the time. It's quite unfortunate and stupid when they pull the race card out on every stupid ass thing. It really pisses me off frankly.

LucyinStLou said...

You are good person to have thought about everyone else because I don't think I'd have lasted half as long as you did. Oh and Doug is a hero!

Thom said...

First of all, thank you for the proof that I am not the world's worst patient... I think we have a new winnner.

Of course she was upset that you were gone. You can't have drama all by yourself, you need an audience. If you called, she would have stepped up the drama several notches. Trust me... I live in a town full of gay men and if we know anything it is DRAMA!

Danny said...

I think that you are to be commended for your tolerance.

Mary said...

Wow. What a PITA. I feel badly that you shared a room with her, and even worse for the nurses that have to put up with her! I cannot believe she played the race card; actually, I guess I can because that's the kind of person that would do something like that. You are a lot more patient than I am!

Sydney said...

Oh.My.God.....

I can't believe you didn't freak out and throw something at her, yell at her, tell her to shut the FUCK up... something! You have great restraint! Holy.Shit.

Rhonda said...

You are destined for Sainthood, Claire. HOLY HELL! What a nightmare of a roommate. I'm so glad Doug was able to talk to someone so you could be moved. You really can't make that shit up.