Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A Spoonful of Sugar.

It began with an ambulance, a hospital, and a shot of morphine. Well actually, it began with some Chinese herbal medicine. Talked into taking herbal supplements by my mum over Mother's Day weekend, I ingested my morning dosage of han yak (Chinese herbal medicine) and carried on with my day. I consumed my daily serving of Special K mixed with Smart Start, tossed and turned in my chair, raided my co-worker's box of Mint Cookies & Cream Frangos, sent an email, and then contemplated and caved into another Frango. The usual.

A couple hours later, I feel a wave of nausea and lightheaded-ness. This is not good.

I stop by my meeting, long enough to blurt out "IfeellikethrowingupI'llseeyoulater!" and make a beeline for the onsite doctor. After confirming that I'm not pregnant, the medical aide shows me into a room with a giant beanbag. Sink and trash can? Check and check. I can rest assured. I then fall into a 30 minute nap, waking up just in time to throw up in the sink. Upon realizing what time it is, I clean up the mess and limp over to my creative writing class.

"I'msosorrybutIcan'tstayI'mfeelingreallysickbuthere'stheassignmentcansomeonegetmybag?" Tom, the instructor, looks concerned and asks a fellow student to journey to another building to grab my belongings.

As I'm stumbling over to the building lobby, where my friend Grace is waiting for me, I collapse on the sofa to take a breather. And that's when it begins. The sequence went something like this: receptionist calls over security guard who calls security guards plural who call the emergency response team who notify the Mountain View Fire Dept (onsite doctors are gone for the day) who call the paramedics who strap me into a gurney, roll me across main campus, into an ambulance and cart me off to the hospital.

"Where are you?" Google.
"What time is it?" 5:30ish. My mental capacities are in tact.
"We're going to check your blood sugar level." Do I have diabetes?! I knew I shouldn't have killed off my co-worker's box of Frangos!
"No, just standard procedure, ma'am."

This is the second time I've ridden in an ambulance, and the sirens did not sound.

At the hospital, there is no wait. I'm rolled into the corner bed, change into a dressing gown that ties in the back and am wristbanded. So this is what it feels like. Certified patient now.

Here's what I learned: explaining the concept of han yak to non-Asian medical caregivers is no easy feat.

"Did you eat anything today, miss?" Well... there's this eastern medicine thing that I took this morning..
"What's it for?" Erm.. general good health? It's not exactly like how Tylenol is for headaches.
"What is it, exactly?" I have the bottle here, but there's no label, and no, wait.. don't open it.. it smells really bad.. I warned you..

By now, I'm rather dehydrated. Continually tossing and turning in pain, I ask where Grace is. The waiting room, they tell me. The nurses hook me up to an IV.

Will this make me throw up again? "No, this will go straight to your veins."

I feel something surge through me, and I'm hurting like I've never hurt before. I saw an episode of Grey's Anatomy where Karev miscalculates the amount of fluids to give and the patient dies. This is what's running through my head as I'm writhing in pain.

Why are you torturing me, nurse? We've only just met.
A shot of morphine later.. I love you, nurse.

Grace is finally brought in. She's studying for tomorrow's exam, while I'm catching up on half a day's work email on my phone. Such a wonderful friend. :)

A drunk patient from two beds over wanders by and mouths something that I'm squinting to make out. "I'll pray for you," he says, convinced I'm terminal. Grace and I giggle, while the drunk guy wanders back to his area.

I'm discharged later that night, once my blood tests check out, and my roommates pick me up. I unfold a hastily scribbled prescription, which simply reads: STOP TAKING CHINESE MEDICINE!

And so begins my birthday week.


Tim said...

I knew those Chinese remedies were suspect.

woz said...

My favourite quote:

"Why are you torturing me, nurse? We've only just met. A shot of morphine later.. I love you, nurse."