Musings from an ICU Bed

I am sitting in the intensive care unit (ICU) of the Medicine Hat Regional Hospital and feeling sorry for myself. I am not here as a doctor but as a patient. An impatient patient!

The other day I was driving to work and felt unwell. I reached my office and felt my condition getting worse. So I turned back and went straight to the hospital emergency department. I was stabilized and then admitted to ICU. The attention and care I have received from the wonderful doctors, nurses and other health care workers has been outstanding.

You see, I have been under the weather for the last couple of weeks. But like a typical male-patient and a doctor-patient, I was treating myself and postponing my visit to my family physician as long as I could. And that is a stupid thing to do.

In some of my recent columns, I have mentioned 2005 being a good year for me in many ways. I was lucky to have many wonderful things happen to me. I also wrote how I try to adhere to the principles of ELMOSS (exercise, laughter, meditation, organic healthy food, stress relief and no smoking). And my plan was to continue to adhere to these principles for 2006.

But somebody had different plans for me. As I drove to work that day, I realized I needed help. I could not postpone it anymore.

So here I am, lying on an ICU bed with oxygen prongs in my nostrils. Millions of cables running from my hairy chest (ouch!) running to the cardiac monitor. An intravenous catheter is in my right wrist. A name tag and allergy tag on my left wrist.

My vital signs are monitored every two hours. Thank goodness they don’t use rectal thermometers anymore. And not every patient admitted to the hospital needs an enema. That is called scientific progress.

My smiling nurses and physicians keep me stable and amused with their care and visits. My wife and children are concerned but very supportive and patient. Their visits are a great strength to me.

But I still feel miserable and sorry for myself. The invincible Dr. B is in the hospital again! I had to cancel my office and several procedures for the rest of the week. Some patients had gone through that ghastly bowel prep for their colon check in my office that day. They will have to drink the stuff again. I had to cancel several vasectomies for that week. These young fellows take time off and get themselves psyched up for the procedure. Now they will have to go through all that again. Several patients were to see me for consultations and follow-up. They will have to wait little longer.

But if I don’t get better now then I may not see any patients ever. “So doctor, heal thyself first,” says my doctor. Here I am trying to be a model patient. Trying to enjoy the wonderful care I am getting. I am also waiting for Calgary to phone as my internist wants me to have more tests and treatment which is available in Calgary. He has been making phone calls and we hope to hear from Calgary as soon as a bed is available.

I hope to be back at work very soon. Probably by the time you read this column I will be working. I hope to be back on my ELMOSS schedule. I hope to be optimistic again about 2006. I will consider this episode as a hiccup in my pursuit of happy and healthy life. Let’s think positive. Life could worse.

Let me end by thanking all the nurses, doctors and other health care workers who took care of me in the emergency department and ICU. I greatly admire the people who work in the Medicine Hat Regional Hospital. They do a good job. Keep it up. And now that I have shared my feelings and experience with you, I feel better already. Sharing is caring.

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