Wednesday, October 31, 2012

We Gotta Get Out of This Place

     I'd been in Charlotte for a whopping week before the first emergency room visit happened. Half of me is surprised it took that long and the other half still wonders what the hell we were doing there, because my husband's health has been holding so steady for the past few months. I suppose gratitude should have taken the lead in the emotional race, since we were "only" there for an eyeball issue, not a crippling pain in my husband's spine or a random staph infection or something of that nature. No, in this case, he was simply bleeding into his eyeball. No big.

     We'd had big plans for Monday, did my husband and I. We were going to get up early, brush our teeth, shine our shoes and go to the furniture store behemoth that is IKEA. Not having one in St. Louis, this was going to be a fun thing for us and we were going to start the slow process of acquiring the things that people use to make empty houses into homes. Except for, when he woke up, my husband couldn't see anything out of his left eye. Well, that's not entirely accurate - he said it was like trying to look through frosted glass.

     I'm just going to take a moment to edit out a whole lot of irritating bantering back and forth about what the proper course of action should be and tell you, gentle reader, that what the conversation boiled down to was that my husband wanted to go to the ER and I did not. Having spent entirely too much time in them in the relatively short time that my husband and I have been together, I have developed a not-completely-irrational hatred of all things emergency room. The reasons for that hatred are myriad and a post all their own, but one of the biggest reasons I did not want to go last Monday was simply because I was fairly certain that nothing could or would be done to correct my husband's current issue.

     Ultimately, the ER is exactly where we ended up, because there was no better option available to us. Both my husband and I were pretty certain that we knew what was going on, but that succeeded in calming his fears of losing his eye altogether not at all. He's bled into his eye several times before and it's actually not an uncommon thing with Marfan's kids, so I didn't really get why he was freaking out about it this time. Then again, I wasn't the one experiencing life through a frosted-glass window while worrying that this was the big IT, the event which would lead to the doctor telling him that they could no longer patch the eyeball up - it had to go.

     That didn't happen, incidentally. What did happen was a whole lot of nothing, though that's no fault of the hospital staff. In fact, I was ridiculously impressed with the service and care that my husband received at the first North Carolina hospital I'd ever been to. I mean, StL emergency rooms often have a war-zone-like atmosphere that's a challenge to deal with on your best day and borderline impossible any other time. Charlotte, though? Not only was there no waiting to get into an exam room, but there was a lovely concierge to walk us to the aforementioned room! That, and the snack bar in the (apparently unnecessary) waiting area just made my day.

     Awesome first impression aside, this emergency room was really similar to the ones back home in the Midwest in that they couldn't really do a whole lot for such a specific issue. I mean, yeah, the attending physician was able to check the pressure in my husband's eyes and see that it was normal, indicating that his old incision had not opened up and allowed the fluid to drain out. 'Cause, you know, that happens sometimes. Next most likely cause of frosty-glass vision? Bleeding in the eyeball due to a weak spot in the optic tissue allowing the blood to enter through a hole. Icky, but not at all unexpected.

     There was nothing more the ER could do, so they contacted an opthamologist and told my husband to contact him as soon as possible, that he needed to be seen by a specialist. It was at this point that I exercised HUGE restraint in not muttering, "I told you that we should've skipped the ER and just gone to the eye doctor," as I led my half-blind husband back to the car.

     I'm tired of the ER, just as tired of it as my husband is, and I don't want to go there anymore. I don't want to have my plans for the day wrecked by yet another unplanned medical emergency. I don't want to sit there trying to relate the events of what got us there in the first place while the doctor treats me as though I haven't the slightest concept of what I'm speaking about. I DON'T WANT TO, DAMMIT! I'm sure that looks ugly on the page to whoever reads this, but it doesn't look that way to me, nor does it feel ugly - it feels like the truth of a bad situation for all involved.

     We're both so, so tired of the ER, my husband and I. Don't wanna go there anymore, either, so we decided that we're not. I mean, strictly speaking, if he's bleeding internally or appears to be having another mini-stroke, then yeah, full steam ahead to the nearest hospital. But for the things that we've always used it for in the past? Nope.

     The subject came up while we were in the car driving home from the eye doctor's appointment, actually, and we both agreed that there's really nothing more the emergency rooms can do for my husband when it comes to the usual suspects that have traditionally sent him there - pain and eyeball issues. The pain thing is becoming less of an issue since the methadone/Nucynta routine was introduced and even when it does start to go off the rails, he's got a back-up prescription of Dilaudid to get him through until his back calms the fuck down again. That's all the hospital ever did - administer the proper dose of painkiller, albeit through an IV instead of orally. Really, though, you're talking semantics at that point.

    Eyes have to be dealt with by a specialist as well and now we know for certain that there's really nothing that can be done outside of the opthamologist's office, so that's going to be the destination in the future. It's actually kind of a relief, knowing that only in the most extreme of circumstances will the ER be our go-to. We've spent far too much time there and it's a huge drain, both emotionally and financially. Besides, it might be kind of nice to use the ER as most people do - as an occasional thing, not a so-frequently-they-know-us-by-sight thing.

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