Category Archives: Health

Life in Memorial Medical Center

We have had a busy and tumultuous last ten days or so, and it continues.

Writer Princess spent two weekends ago in the hospital receiving IV antibiotics for an infection. She was released to recover at home, but she was right back last Saturday for full abdominal surgery to clean out an abscess. So Mrs. Poolman and I have been splitting up the hospital duty with Son-In-Law for the past four days. Never a dull moment.

I have not been a hospital patient myself since I had my tonsils removed when I was five years old. I barely remember that. Just as well. My experience with hospitalized family since then has me convinced the best thing you can do with a hospital stay is to avoid it.

I spent last night on the overnight shift with WP. I thought sleep and rest were supposed to be great healers? If so, why don’t hospital staffs let their patients sleep? I don’t think we went more than 20 minutes between people coming in and out of the room for one reason or another.  I certainly understand the need to bathe patients, but at five o’clock in the morning? Seriously?

Until late last night, WP was in an intermediate care unit with restricted visitors. So she has not been deluged by friends and other family. That was not the case last weekend. Why don’t people understand — with the possible exception of new mothers, people are in the hospital because they are sick or injured, not because they feel like hosting a party. If you visit, stay a few minutes and then LEAVE. It is not appropriate to pull up a chair, turn on the TV and order a pizza. (OK, I’m exaggerating a little here…about the pizza, that is.) At one point last weekend, I counted eight visitors in WP’s hospital room at one time. That is too much. (Mea culpa – Mrs. P and I should have done a better job at crowd control.) Note to hospital visitors – show the patient you care about them by visiting, and then show it even more by going home.

An exciting weekend at the hospital

Never a dull moment around Casa Poolman. Mrs. P and I have been spending most of the past two days at a local hospital. Our daughter, Writer Princess, had been feeling bad for the past week, and had seen her primary care doc twice. She was feeling much worse on Thursday evening. So we (Son-in-law included, of course) trekked to the emergency room. It turns out she had an infection and needed to be admitted for two days of IV antibiotic therapy. By the time the docs figured that out, we had spent the entire night in the ER waiting room. If you have not had the pleasure of such an experience, this is one you can take off your bucket list.

 It appears that healthy-living is not high on the priority list for most of the majority of ER patients. Most had figures similar to my cat, Sid, a Manx. When we first got Sid, I remember reading that you could draw a Manx cat by just using a series of circles.  The same could be said of the people we spent Thursday night with.

 I think it is true what they say, that hospitals are the worst place to go when you are sick. A woman came in and sat near me. Every couple of minutes she tried to cough up a lung, and then hung her head between her legs and moaned, “Oh Lawdy, oh Lawdy.”  If I saw her on the street, I would take her to the hospital. But we were already there. What to do? Actually, what I did was to move across the room to avoid her droplets.

The big party in WP's room.

The big party in WP’s room.

 I didn’t realize hospitals were so popular. I know that insurance companies want the hospitals to move the patients through and get them out the door as quickly as possible. So I was very surprised that WP had to wait several hours in the ER before being transferred to a room…because there was not am empty bed in the house. Really? What am I missing? This does not look like it’s the hot spot in town.

 So it’s Saturday afternoon and WP is a little past the half-way point of her 48 hours of IV therapy. We are working shifts with Son-In-Law to keep someone at the hospital all the time. We’re still looking around for the party that is keeping this place filled. Haven’t found it yet.

Things that go ‘beep’ at lunch

I saw on Facebook today that one of my good friends finally broke down and got hearing aids. I have used hearing aids myself since roughly 1990. I am on my fourth pair at this point. It is ironic that Len joined the hearing aid club, because he was with me and witnessed one of the more amusing incidents in my hearing aid experience.Hearing aids

Sometime in the early 2000s, I upgraded to the third of my eventual four sets of hearing aids. Unlike my previous two sets, this pair had a warning tone that would go off when the battery was almost dead. My hearing aid specialist had warned me of this. I noted it and then didn’t think about it again…for about a week. I was sitting in a Mexican restaurant having lunch with Len when my first set of hearing aid batteries started to die. The warning sounded exactly like the beep a commercial truck sounds when it goes into reverse. Of course, the wearer can hear it, but no one else can.

When the “beep” went off, I immediately started looking around for the garbage truck that was about to run me down. No surprise – no truck in the restaurant. I didn’t say anything, but Len was looking at me like I had just had a stroke. We went back to eating, when the “beep” sounded again. I asked Len if he had heard it. Of course, he hadn’t and was beginning to think I really had lost my mind. A moment later, one of my hearing aids shut down as the battery died. I finally put two and two together and realized the source of the beeping that apparently only I could hear.

Len was relieved. As an attorney, he was already thinking of what legal steps he could take to protect me from myself. (Think – guys in white jackets.)

So now it’s Len’s turn to learn the ins and outs of hearing aids. Just watch out for those garbage trucks, Len!

A ho?

I was cruising one of our local television station’s Web sites the other day I ran across this somewhat bizarre story. A reporter was on the street interviewing a police officers about the incidence of HIV among the local “ladies of the evening,” when a woman claiming to be one such “lady” came up and interrupted the interview.

The first thing that struck me was the woman herself. Let’s just say she doesn’t have a face for seduction.

I was reminded of an early Saturday Night Live skit with Eddie Murphy playing the role of Velvet Jones – the founder of the Velvet Jones School of Technology and the author of the “how-to” book, “I Wanna Be A Ho.” The skit was a take-off of the show “People’s Court.” A “wannabe ho” was suing Velvet Jones because she had bought his book, but her career as a “ho” was still a failure.

Murphy defended himself with one of the great one-liners. “My honah, my honah..I can clear this up in just three words, ‘The bitch ugly!’”

If the subject matter doesn’t offend you, take a look. It’s hysterical.

 

 

 

Sick, recovery and back to work

The last few days have been fairly eventful, at least from my limited, self-centered perspective.

On Saturday, I was a judge at the regional Ocean Science Bowl competition. It involved 16 high school teams from Georgia and South Carolina. It was actually a lot of fun. I was a “rules judge” so my amateur knowledge of ocean science didn’t hurt me. I had one minor conflict with the moderator on my team of judges. He interpreted a rule incorrectly and, at least initially, was not happy about being corrected on it. We discussed it, and when he actually saw the rule in question, he realized he had made a mistake and everything turned out OK.

Mrs. Poolman and I went out for dinner with some friends Saturday evening. It was “restaurant week” in Savannah, and many of the up-scale restaurants had fixed-prix menus. I was not impressed with the restaurant, even though it had an excellent reputation. The chef barely seared my steak that I had ordered “medium.” Once the food was laid down, the waitress did not appear again until it was time for dessert. She didn’t even ask why a perfectly good (but practically raw) steak sat, barely touched, on my plate.

I’m not a complainer. If I’m asked, I’ll answer. Otherwise, I’ll just remain quiet but take my business elsewhere.

I almost nev­­er fall victim to a “stomach bug” or other gastro-intestinal maladies. So I was very surprised to find myself spending most of Saturday night in the bathroom with significant eruptions coming from both ends. What do they say about “thinking you’re going to die, and afraid you won’t.” Ugh. Not a fun experience.

So I spent Sunday like a zombie, laying on the couch, napping and watching TV. I napped through the first half of the Super Bowl. I apologized to Mrs. P for being such lousy company. There are benefits to being married to a nurse. She took good care of me.

Dinner?

On Monday, I recovered enough to drive to Atlanta for today’s Board of Regents meeting and a “Coastal Georgia Day at the Capitol” tomorrow.  I’m off in a little while to meet some of my fellow “coastal Georgia” people for dinner at a Brazilian steakhouse. Is it supposed to be ironic that the representatives of the Georgia Shrimp Association go to a Brazilian steakhouse when they come to the “big city?”

Whatever. I’ll report back on dinner tomorrow or later in the week.

 

 

 

 

Perils of an injury-prone childhood

My new blog friend, MJ Monaghan, recently wrote a post about “boys will be boys” accident he had when he was a child.

It reminded me of all the injuries and mishaps my brother and I had when we were children.  At the time, they didn’t seem to be so many or frequent, but in retrospect, we must have driven our parents crazy.  We were a walking (or not so walking) orthopedic ward.

My brother and I are the oldest of five children. When we were growing up, most of our mother’s time and attention was consumed by our three younger sisters.  Once we left the house in search of friends and activities, we were pretty much on our own, without the benefit or the burden of parental supervision.

We lived in a small and fairly isolated neighborhood that was surrounded by hills, woods and some old farm fields. There really wasn’t much opportunity to cause trouble. However, there were plenty of opportunities to cause damage to ourselves, and we took full advantage of them. From the time we were nine or ten to our early teens, we accumulated:

Me: Fractured arm, fractured foot, dislocated shoulder, stiches in my head (courtesy of a hammer wielded by my brother), and a cut leg that required stitches

Brother: Badly fractured humerus (upper arm), fractured finger, sprained ankle

These were all acquired in the course of playing sports, climbing trees or generally screwing around. Looking back on it, I wonder how many of those injuries started with someone saying, “I’ll bet you can’t…”

We kept our family physicians busy. In fact, one of our regular physicians was, not surprisingly, an orthopedic surgeon.

When I was in ninth grade, a bunch of us were “studio wrestling” in a friend’s front yard. One of our larger kids picked me up over his shoulder and dropped me. I landed on my right shoulder, It did not seem to be broken, but my arm just sort-of hung there. Seeing it was a Sunday, my mother suggested I go to school the next day and show the shoulder to the PE teacher/coach.

“Oh my God, son. You have a broken clavicle. Why haven’t you already been to a doctor?” he asked.

So I called Mom and gave her the report. She said she would call ahead to the orthopedic surgeon’s office. I should walk the few blocks down the street to his office and report to him. If needed, my father would come collect me later.

When I walked in the door, the receptionist just looked up and asked, “All right, Poolman, what did you do this time?” Let’s just say, we didn’t need an introduction.

As it turned out, I may have dislocated the shoulder, but it was back in place and there wasn’t much for him to do, except to tell me not to be throwing any balls around, or doing any studio wrestling for a while.  Eventually, my dad did come to collect me and, I assume, to pay the bill.

That was my last injury that required medical treatment until I was introduced to the joys and perils of motorcycle riding after I graduated from college. That is a story for another day.

So how ya doin’? Don’t ask.

My fellow blogger “Hubby Diaries” wrote a post this week totally abusing her husband for having a “man cold” or “man flu.”

I know that stories are legendary among our female companions of men turning into total babies at the first hint of a sniffle or cough. I hope I’m not one of those. I typically come down with one cold a year, which usually degenerates into bronchitis. I try to ignore it for several weeks in the expectation my immune system will do what it is supposed to do and just make it go away. (What’s the point of all those little antibodies if they’re not doing their job?) Eventually, I end up at the doctor’s office to get a prescription for an antibiotic.  When I do run a fever and feel lousy, I just snuggle down on the couch and apologize to Mrs. Poolman for being such poor company.

However, for those members of the gentle sex who like to make fun of their ailing partners, I have a question. Which is worse – the occasional “man flu baby” or the chronic “I’m always feeling bad” whiner?

None of my male-friends ever complains about the way they feel.

“Hey, man, what happened to you?”

“Well, I coughed up a lung and left it in the passenger seat of my car, but I still have one left so I’m cool. So, what d’ya think about the game last night?”

On the other hand, I know any number of women for whom complaining about aches, pains and discomforts is a way of life.

“Hey, Mary, how are you?”

“Oh, I haven’t slept well in a week. My back aches. My neck hurts. I may be coming down with a migraine. And I think my uterus fell out last night. You know my doctor says I have a very sensitive disposition.”

I have several friends with whom I am very careful to never ask how they are. It’s not that I don’t care. Well, maybe it is. It’s just that, unless someone really is seriously ill or injured, the expression, “How are you?” is just a casual greeting, not a request for a health inventory.

Whatever you do, you must never react or respond to the complaints. To do so would only encourage them and subject you to a lengthy health history and prognosis.

“I really think these are all symptoms of dengue fever. I may have only days to live.”

“So, do you guys want to catch a movie tonight, or what?”

Here’s to hoping your 2012 is a healthy one! To quote another blog-friend, Terri, “Life is good!”

A little OCD can be good for you

Mrs. Poolman thinks I am slightly neurotic. She is probably right. I am a little obsessive-compulsive. Most of my OCD revolves around turning off hot appliances. An hour or more after using it, I’ll ask myself…

“Did I remember to turn off the oven  /grill / iron?”

Mrs. P makes fun of me, but actually there have been a number of times I have discovered the oven left on overnight. Usually this has been when one of our children had been using it, or we had a party and a guest used it to heat up a dish. All the same, I may be neurotic, but I’m not completely crazy.

I have a way of compensating so I don’t drive Mrs. P or myself totally bonkers. When I turn off one of these appliances, I “tell myself” to remember that I have done so.

“You are unplugging the iron, Poolman. Remember this later.”

I’ll have a solid memory of performing the act to fall back on.

As I have told Mrs. P, “Not all neuroses are bad.”

I thought of this last Sunday, when I sat at Mass and listened to the lector read an entire set of readings that were entirely wrong. I felt sorry for her because she was the only person in the church who didn’t realize she was “on the wrong page.” She read the readings for the same Sunday in the next annual cycle. She wasn’t off by a week; she was off by a year. Ignorance is bliss, at least for awhile. She probably figured it out eventually.

I’ve had just about everything go wrong that possibly can go wrong when I have been a lector. Painful experience has encouraged me to get to the church early and double check everything — the Gospel book, the announcements, and especially the page-marker in the lectionary. I hate unpleasant surprises in front of large groups of people. So I”m pretty OCD about making sure everything is lined up properly.

I don’t know if a little OCD can be contagious. Why should I be selfish and enjoy all the benefits?

A truly uncomfortable experience

My blog friend, Terri, posted a story today describing an awkward conversation with her 18-year old son about his new girlfriend. This reminded me of an incident when I was about his age that was a seriously painful experience.

The summer after my junior year in college in Florida, I returned home to Pittsburgh for my last summer at home. My only serious girlfriend in several years, “Melanie,” was left behind in Gainesville where she was taking summer classes.

About a week after getting home, I walked in the house after work. My parents were sitting in the kitchen and greeted me with:

“We’re glad you’re home. Sit down. We have something we need to discuss.”

Conversations that start that way go only downhill, and this was no exception.

“Karen, your friend from Florida, called a little while ago looking for you. She said that your girlfriend, Melanie, has a COMMUNICABLE DISEASE, and she thinks you ought to get a blood test.”

My mind wasn’t running in the gutter, so I was thinking of diseases like small pox, diphtheria, or some weird tropical thing that no one has ever heard of.

“Really? I wonder what that is all about?”

My mother had the answer. “Obviously she has the CLAP! Have you been SLEEPING with that girl?”

A brilliant 20-year old and a master of snappy comebacks, I responded:

Ah…ah…ah…ah…ah…”

For the next several minutes, I made a concerted effort to assert my rights under the 5th amendment to avoid incriminating myself. I’m not sure I was entirely successful. I was 100% positive that whatever “communicable disease” had Melanie in its grips, it was not venereal in nature.  However, I had no objective evidence to put before my parents. (“I don’t know any Karen or Melanie, so they must have the wrong number.”) Finally, I said I needed to call someone in Florida and get to the bottom of the story.

This was at least 10 years before the first cell phones were developed and 25 years before they became as common as wristwatches. I left messages all over Gainesville, without being able to track down Karen, Melanie or anyone else who knew what was going on.

When I returned to my parents, my mother began to tell me how much she and my father had wished they had been able to sleep together before they were married. I think she wanted to put me at ease. It didn’t work. I tried prayer.

“Dear Lord, just take me now. Put an end to my misery.”

Apparently, God was taking the night off, because I remained fully alive and conscious throughout the conversation.

Eventually, with no additional information on my end and far too much information from my parents, the encounter ran out of steam.

It was several hours later when I finally received a return call from Karen.

“I’m so glad you called me back. You really need to checked out because  Melanie has….MONO!”

I was both relieved and so angry I wanted to reach through the phone and grab Karen by the throat a thousand miles away.

Melanie recovered from the mononucleosis just fine. We stayed in touch over the summer and resumed dating in the fall. We had a good laugh over it. We dated for another year and then split up. We both ended up marrying our next serious relationship and both marriages are intact today. If she reads this, I hope she gets a laugh.

I don’t know what ever happened to Karen. Let’s hope she didn’t go into the communications business.

This is rich!

I ran across this little news tidbit earlier today. It seems a state prisoner in Virginia has filed a lawsuit to force the state to pay for a sex change operation. This comes after he/she tried to perform the surgery him/herself with a pair of scissors.

I guess he/she must be motivated. According to the article…

“By 17, she was robbing banks with the hopes of getting enough money to have a sex change operation. By 18, she was in prison, sentenced to more than 70 years for robbery, drugs, weapons and other charges.”

Seems to me that if he/she had gone out and gotten a job rather than robbing banks and getting thrown into prison, he/she could have paid for the operation him/herself.

Bad choices. Too bad.