Outtakes Around the Lakes: Was she trying to DMI?
My wife majored in audio-speech therapy in college but a nurse she is not. I mention this because I've been hospitalized (yes, again) for nearly two weeks in the coronary unit of Summa's City Hospital where my doctors all seem to congregate for coffee each day. Nevertheless, it's the only local hospital I'll patronize.
I had poison in the blood and was put on intravenous antibiotics. Four hours on and eight hours off. You had to hold your arm straight and not bend it to any degree or else bells clattered, red lights flashed and medical experts galore came running, telling me nicely to keep my arm straight or the liquid antibiotic would stop flowing. Keeping it straight for four hours was almost as painful as trying to lie still for that length of time
Our daughter, Wendy, who seems to be able to converse competently in medical-speak with doctors and others of their ilk, suggested I be discharged and the medicine given at home by my wife, Peggy, and her. By this time they had my down to two hours at a time of intravenous antibiotics with eight hours off. At home, I'd be on it two hours a day for 28 days.
With a pic-line inserted in my right arm (you guessed it, I'm right handed) an RN tagged along to teach the new apprentices the exact way it must be done or I could be writing my next column from among the heavenly clouds.
A pic-line enters a vein inside the arm and just above the bend of the elbow. It travels up the arm, around the shoulder and back down in front of the chest where it comes to a stop at the opening of the heart valve. It can last much longer than the temporary lines nurses and para-medics install and, not that I would want to overdose on these medical cocktails, but it's designed to handle more than one dosage at a time.
The RN did the first one at home while a dozen eyes, grand-kids included, watched in awe and wonderment with a few Eewwws and Oowwws thrown in for good measure. Naturally, I had to play along so I faked a few Oohs, Oowwws and Aahhhs otherwise they might feel as if their performance went for naught. Instead, they needed to know their efforts helped me cope.
By the third day things at home were buzzing along, and even though my right arm, which I use to type more than I do the left, was sore and achy, I was thrilled to be home and eat good home cooked food and not the gruel medical facilities serve.
“Will you be back in two hours to unhook me and allow me to eat something with my right arm instead of spilling nearly everything with my awkward left?” I asked Wendy.
She shook her head as she answered, “No. Mom will unhook you.” And then noticing a look of concern on my face, she added, “It's okay. Mom watched enough. She'll do fine. See you tomorrow.”
As she left with her back toward me, I quickly blessed myself, looked heavenward and then muttered a fast Hail Mary.
After dozing off to sleep I woke up an hour later feeling wet. Blood was on both hands and down the arm. I pulled back the covers and noticed I was laying in a pool of blood. The sheet was soaked. Immediately I thought of the scene from “The Godfather” where the movie producer awakens amid the same scene, only to find next to him the severed head of a race horse. My next action was to yell, “PEGGY!”
As she phoned the nurse for help, she discovered the cause. Each line has a clamp to stop the blood flow once the medicine is finished flowing. And then, one of the worse words I have always dreaded hearing when medical staff is working on me, flowed from her lips.
“Oops!” she said aloud into the phone. “I forgot to clamp the line shut.”
That's why I couldn't help wonder, after nearly 48 years of wedded bliss, was she trying to DMI (Do Me In). Accidentally, of course.
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