After my husband left me in the ER, I stayed in the area for another 3 hours. I couldn’t leave the area, not even to go to the bathroom, without my sitter knowing. A sitter is a hospital employee who watches your every move while admitted as a psych patient. She wanted me to sit with some other patients so everybody could be watched at the same time. I told her I couldn’t do it. My anxiety level, not knowing the covid statuses of the others around me, would not allow me. So that I wasn’t pressured, she allowed me to stay in that one triage room that wasn’t being used. Finally, around 3:00 a.m., I and four other women were led into a pod. This consisted of a large (what looked like a) trauma room with 5 reclining chairs. I was confused. The 2 sitters that accompanied us said there were no rooms available for us at the time, but made reasonable accommodations until some rooms become vacant. I am thinking to myself, ok… maybe I will get a room some time later today.
We were all told that we needed to remove all clothing and put on gowns. I requested 2 gowns, one to wear backwards and the other to wear open side in front. That way I was completely covered. One of the sitters saw my waist beads and asked me to please remove. I told her the only way to remove was to cut them off and I did not give permission to do so (obviously she didn’t know how much they cost). So she said ok, it shouldn’t be a problem to keep them on since it couldn’t be removed. I also don’t think she realized I kept on my underwear. I couldn’t go commando in there, not until I get a room at least.
After we were all situated – pillows, extra blankets, personal belongings numbered and locked up – we were settled for the rest of what was left of the early morning. Then someone mentioned about being hungry. When there were 3 sitters, one of them went to get food for us. He brought back turkey and Swiss sandwiches wrapped in plastic wrap. There were no juice available so we were given water. Honestly, that dry sandwich tasted really good to my hungry stomach.
Being in an unfamiliar territory had me on edge. I wasn’t sure what to expect. As I laid there, trying to at least relax, the three sitters were carrying on conversations like there was no one in there but them. Me … I’m wide awake. Not only because of the unfamiliar area and the talkative sitters, I just couldn’t go to sleep. I spent my hours watching the sitters and the other sleeping women who were there. I know there was one, maybe two women who were there was homeless. The way that they ate those sandwiches and slept on the recliner, they probably felt like they were in a five star hotel. Their demeanor was like gratitude that they were able to eat and had a warm place to stay.
I saw the morning shift come in at 7 am. We had four sitters this time. I was thankful because this group was so much quieter. They were so much more respectful of the patients. Approximately 45 minutes later, I was able to talk to the doctor on call via teleprompter. He discussed taking me off of some medications I was on, weaning me off of one and adding something new. He also told me that they are doing their best to provide rooms for all of the patients that are waiting. I thanked him and went back into the pod with the rest of the women.
Soon thereafter, I had an anxiety attack. My nurse immediately contacted the doctor who then ordered something for my anxiety and the pain in my back and hips (tylenol) from sitting on the recliner. When the nurse returned with my meds, I thanked him and asked for something else to eat -that famous turkey & Swiss. By this time, it was 8:30 am and breakfast was not served yet.
I had finally got to close my eyes when my nurse was standing over me calling my name. Breakfast finally arrived close to 10 am. Drunk with sleep, I managed to eat the bacon and drank some orange juice. I could not keep my eyes open to eat anything else. My nurse took my tray and I went back to sleep.
No sooner had I closed my eyes and my nurse was standing over me again. I remember saying “Weren’t you just standing there?” He chuckled and said, “Yes, about 3 hours ago. I have your lunch.” It was only 3 hours but I felt better having slept. I made myself wake up this time so I could eat a decent meal. And decent it was.
Around 2pm, I was finally moved. But it was not to where I had anticipated. I was moved into another part of the ER. Imagine my disappointment as I was led into a corner room, a broom closet compared to the other rooms which had a window next to the door where you can see more of what was going on in the nurse’s station. You see, I was moved into a makeshift dorm hall housed by male and female patients. I asked the nurse why wasn’t I put into a room? Their response was there were 27 other patients, including me, waiting for a bed. Are you kidding me? So, I made myself as comfortable as I could. My sitter was constantly looking at me which made me feeling uncomfortable. I know that was her job, but still. My bursitis and back were not happy with the bed, but tylenol became my go-to for the pain. I made the best out of an awkward situation. I pretty much slept most of the day.
I called my husband from the nurse’s station in between wake ups throughout the day to keep him informed of what was going on. I tried to make the best of it considering I had to share a bathroom with multiple people(there was another bathroom on the other side for others to use). I felt sick everytime I went in there. Having to step (with socks) on the bathroom floor with sprinkles of urine around the commode, to see urine and God knows what else on the seat, to use that 1-ply toilet tissue (you know, the one that shells apart when using), to having to use a paper towel to hold the button for water to come out when washing one hand at a time (the water didn’t stay on) – to describe what I was feeling (disappointed, filthy, isolated surrounded by people) is an understatement. I made a point to tell my nurse to please put in my food orders (because we had no say so in what we wanted to eat or drink) that I was lactose intolerant and did not want milk at every meal. And I would prefer apple juice instead of orange because the acidity would bother my acid reflux. Well, I kept receiving milk and orange juice and every day, money was wasted. My voice was not heard. I’m trying to help the hospital save money and they didn’t care whether I drank it or not. I went to bed with a full stomach but feeling nasty with no resources to a private bathroom. I kept thinking to myself I was glad I showered and brushed my teeth before I went to the ER. But that was well over 24 hours ago. Thank God for masks. I’m glad I got a fresh mask out of my bag before they took it away.
Oh,but there is more. Stay tuned because tomorrow, I will talk about day two.
Until next time … be blessed.