Here I am again, sitting beside Bo in the emergency room of Lourdes Hospital, chasing down his wandering kidney stone that, apparently, is stuck somewhere.
It has been three weeks since his first pains appeared, and now — multiple X-rays, ultrasounds and CT scans later — we’re back where we started. Waiting. Poor Bo. He doesn’t know he’s had horrible pain, doesn’t know where he is or why, but he’s going along with it all like a gentleman.
Jon and I have a routine now. He dropped us off here, made sure Bo was comfortable, then took the car home to get some sleep before he relieves me in early morning. By then I will be numb if we don’t get to move to a hospital room with a chair that I can sort of rest in. Right now I’m sitting in a straight-back chair and Bo’s asleep.
This afternoon he had a CT scan and two hours later the doctor’s office called to say we should take him to the hospital immediately because the stone is causing a blockage. So about 8 pm, we came here. I had copies of all of his recent tests with me but – and this is unbelievable! – the hospital couldn’t read the CT scan from this afternoon, something about the technology, so they took another CT scan just 8 hours later. Seriously? “Some machines are incompatible,” the technician told me. I was incredulous.
Bo has had terrible pain, mostly in the middle of the night. He can’t explain what is wrong, but his misery is evident. He moans and whimpers, bent over, shaking. I wonder if lying down has something to do with this pain. Of course, I’m wondering how they will resolve this. We visited his urologist two days ago (the one that called for the test this afternoon then left for vacation) and the doctor made it clear that he would prefer not to do any procedures on an Alzheimer’s patient, especially if anesthesia or a catheter is involved.
Now, after sitting here for 6 hours, a nurse just popped into the room to say that “all is negative, he just has a kidney stone and it should pass on its own.” Really?
“It’s been three weeks,” I explained to her. “I’m here because the urologist’s assistant called this afternoon telling me to come here immediately because the stone is blocking an entrance …..”
“Oh,” the ER nurse said, “I’ll go and talk to the doctor, “ and left.
Immediately a doctor came in to talk with me, and decided to call the urologist’s night number. “After hearing what you have to say,” he said to me, “we’ll probably keep him here over night until we can have a urologist see him. They may be thinking of doing a procedure.”
I’m thinking that the doctor’s assistant took the cautious route when she called. I’m no doctor, but I do get it when there are conflicting stories. The urologist’s office may have been covering their behinds this afternoon, sending me here; or the imaging center may have over-stated the situation to be on the safe side. OR, maybe something needs to be done for poor Boris! Seriously, the patient is just a set of test results.
So we’re here overnight and I get to sleep in this chair.
But while I sit here, there’s another story in the bed on the other side of the curtain – a woman who “just had pneumonia” who says she has heart failure, seizures, diabetes, and “has been dry for three months” living in a half-way house in Philadelphia but is somehow in a Camden, New Jersey, hospital tonight. Her biggest concern was getting her medicine because she has no insurance but I could hear doubt and concern in the nurse’s voices. “We will keep you here until a social worker can see you tomorrow.” Is she just trying to get more drugs?
And so our parallel lives go on: Boris who is so cared for, and the woman on the other side of the curtain.
(Nancy Camp did happen twice this week: a boat ride around Philadelphia on Tuesday afternoon and a trip to the Ocean City boardwalk last night. More about that later.)