Saturday, October 15, 2005

The Adventures of My Knee

About 3 months ago, I was walking into my kitchen, made a slight turn and heard a loud pop in my right knee. Having worked as an administrator for 5 orthopedic surgeons for 13 years, I knew this was not a good thing. About a week later, when my stride would cause a certain part of my knee to move a certain way, I would have pain that would nearly cause me to fall. So, off to the doctor I went.

After an exam and MRI, it was determined that I had torn my medial meniscus and there was a lesion on one of the bones. I'm not one to put off the inevitable and with my son getting married in December, I knew I needed to take care of this now. I had surgery a week later and all seemed to go well until this week. (Well, except when me and the crutches got crosswise and the crutches won, throwing me to the ground on to my good knee...otherwise everything went well.) I noticed that my right leg was swollen. When one leg is swollen and the other one is not, it's a great clue something is wrong. I went to the doctor, he agreed things weren't normal and he ordered a Doppler Flow study. This is kinda like a sonogram and they can see the arteries and veins (in color, no less!) and find out if there is a blockage somewhere. It turns out there was a blood clot behind the right knee. Down to the Emergency Room I was wheeled where I would be admitted to the hospital for a luxurious 3-5 day stay. I was started on an IV drip of Heparin, a blood thinner and assigned to my spot in the hallway. As luck would have it, the hospital was at capacity, so I became a Hall Person in the ER. A large osteopathic hospital closed down a year or so ago here in Fort Worth and it has caused other hospitals to, at times, be at maximum and/or overflow capacity.

My time spent as a Hall Person was quite interesting. I was in the Trauma section of this large emergency room and believe me, I was not bored at all. From the drunkouttahismind victim of a motorcycle accident, to the guy who fell off a roof, to the pleas for anyone to bring a urinal to Section 14, to the screaming child of a grandmother who had indigestion instead of a heart attack, to the saddness of a very elderly lady who had fallen at home and was finally, after 3 days, found by her was amazing. I was there, in my 9 foot section of Hallway D, observing the world as I rarely get to see it. People who are unfortunate enough to need urgent critical help. I've worked in healthcare all my adult life in one capacity or another. I was even one of the many UCLA students that worked "the desk" at the Emergency Room at UCLA Medical Center back in the late 1960s. I was young then and soaked it up like a sponge. It was exciting then. However, laying in my bed from 10:00am until 7:00pm in the hall of the ER this past Thursday, I had a chance to realize just how fortunate I was. Number one, I was fortunate that my problem was one that was going to be easily resolved. And number two, I was in a terrific hospital with a compassionate, caring staff. As I listened to the nurses, doctors and other employees interact with the patients, there was not one moment when they addressed a patient with anything but total respect. When time is critical in caring for and diagnosing someone, you would think pleasantries would go out the window and it would be all business. Not here...doctors and nurses talked to patients as though they were friends, setting them at ease as much as they could, addressing their needs and getting them the care and treatment they need.

I can't tell you how many times I was asked if I needed anything. At about 4:00, they my nurse said they had a real spot for me. I looked to my right at the person on a bed with a neck brace and said, "Doesn't he need it more than me?" She said, "Are you sure?" and I said of course. I was fine where I was. Besides, they were getting ready to do some remodeling and the electricians were working about 8 feet from me and they were pretty darn cute. Their supervisor would come by about every half hour and he was really good looking too. I didn't want to be moved behind some curtain! The veiw was too good!

Finally a room was available for me and I was taken to the floor. Once again, the staff was wonderful. I've recieved excellent care. At 7:30 pm I even had a visit from the Director of Food Services. He noticed my late admission and wanted to know what I would like for breakfast. That's what I call service! The food has been wonderful. How many times have you heard the word wonderful and hospital food in the same sentence?

The hospital I am referring to is Harris Methodist Fort Worth. This is a great hospital. In times when people gripe about healthcare workers, doctor's fees and anything else associated with healthcare, I wanted to tell of my experience so that people would know it's not all bad. I hope that if you need the services of an emergency room or hospital that you are lucky enough to have an excellent facility to go to. And one more thing, remember...nurses are angels. They work so hard for so little. The kindness you show to them is truly appreciated, I am sure.

I hope to go home tomorrow. I miss my cat, Brandy, too much to stay longer than after tomorrow. I'll be on coumadin for 30-90 days and then no more. My experience served to increase my appreciation for what I have at my disposal and will not hesitate to say thank you to my friends in the Administration of Harris Hospital. I hope I won't ever need the services of an ER or hospital again (yeah, right...) but if I do, I'll come back to Harris Hospital and their caring staff. There's a lot of people doing a lot of things right here.