Sunday, July 15, 2007

In sickness and in health

While we were on our Myrtle Beach vacation last month (see the last half dozen or so entries), Jen had on her left upper thigh (right below the rump) what she first thought was a pimple. Then as it grew, she decided it was a spider bite. She was OK with it and content to let it run its course until last Tuesday, when she tried to go to work. She got to the end of our driveway, and had to turn around and come right back home.

We didn't want to mess with Beaufort County Hospital - we've had a bad experience with them not seeing our nephew for over 3 hours despite him having a fever of over 103 and being at risk for seizures. So I called in 'sick' (told my boss I needed to take care of my wife), and we went instead to the Urgent Care in Washington on Jen's doctor's recommendation, where they told us the doctors weren't seeing anyone else that day (apparently they wanted to get their golf game on, y'know). So we drove to Greenville's Pitt County Memorial Hospital (henceforth PCMH) to the emergency room.

PCMH is usually pretty good. We trust them, and they're one of the most modern hospitals I've seen, rivalling the best in my hometown back in CA. Actually, I'm more impressed with PCMH than any other hospital I've been to (which isn't many). However, it took them about 6 hours to get to us - apparently there was a prison riot/fight, and you know prisoners get priority treatment (sounds wrong, but otherwise it's cruel and unusual punishment and therefore unconstitutional).

So they finally saw us close to midnight, and told us it was not a spider bite but instead an abscess - basically, a pimple/rash from Hell. They put her on an antibiotic IV, but the first nurse couldn't find a suitable vein on her right and more easily accessible arm. (Oddly enough this happens with me as well, but on my left.) So they called in an expert, a real cool lady who said all kinds of things, like that she could get a vein in the dark, stuff like that. Of course she gets it on her first try, and Jen became a pincushion.

That wasn't the worst of it, though. The prescribed treatment involved them cutting it out (the friendly hospital term is lancing). The first part was the worst, where she had to be stuck with this huge needle, a local anesthetic to numb it. She about broke my hand a couple times, but once she was numbed, it wasn't so bad when they went to the cutting, although she still felt pressure.

When they discharged her, they told her to see her regular doctor on Thursday. This was almost 4 in the morning! We stopped at a Walgreens and got her perscriptions (and these bomb-*** Whoppers made with coffee), and got home.

So she saw her doctor, who told her that PCMH hadn't done everything right, and someone would need to go in there and open more 'pockets' which hadn't fully drained. They couldn't find any free surgeons in Beaufort or Pitt counties (golf should be banned) but told us to go back to the ER at PCMH and have their on-call surgeon take care of it. And then this doctor changed her packing (her new hole was stuffed with gauze) and poked around inside without using any anesthetic, so she was in some pain. I only wish I was there, but when she had to leave, I had like 3-4 hours of sleep, so I was just out of it.

Thursday night, I'm at work, and I knew I'd have to take her in, but I thought I was going to drop her off. I had to work that night and couldn't really afford to take another night off. Well, Jen wanted someone there with her. So I agreed to go with her, and call out if I needed to. I didn't. We were in and out of there in like 2 hours. No prison riot, and basically a slow day for them. So it was cool. Anyway, they told her that it was in fact doing good, healing nicely - to cover their end they actually had a few people look at it. And we trust PCMH pretty much over the doctors in Beaufort County, in general (knock on wood, because I'm going to one tomorrow, but that's a story for later).

So far it's been doing good. Her sister changed it yesterday (I couldn't because of the kittens, but that too, is a story for later) but I changed it today with the help of a Sprite to settle my stomach. It wasn't too bad, but yesterday this hole was the size of your average adult nostril, maybe 1mm wider, a little deeper, and round. It's closing fast, though - today it was almond-shaped, and a little more shallow. But still - I had to remove a gauze bandage, and then a piece of tape holding the excess gauze down, and slowly pull the packing out. I rubbed the outer rim of the hole with hydrogen peroxide (every kid's favorite cut/scrape treatment), then carefully repacked it with more gauze, and put a new gauze bandage on it.

She can mostly sit on it, but it's a little sore. She's not feeling great, but she'll make it, and I'm there as always to take care of her the best I can. I vowed to be there for her in sickness as well as in health, and damn it, I meant it.

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