Last Tuesday at 3:00 AM with excoriating pain in my gut I took a cab to the ER in San Francisco after sending Michael an email that I was doing it. The ER was almost empty and I was seen shortly after getting there. After a quick exam, I was hooked up to a morphine drip. The next step was a fairly easy MRI. After that I was restricted from food and drink and a catheter and heart monitor were attached and I was wheeled to my single room. The only contact numbers I had in my wallet were for Michael, that didn’t work and my masseur. I left him a message. During the first three days my frustration intensified when three different people told me different stories about what the doctor had discovered and what he was going to do about. On Friday I was on a gurney in the surgery theater all wrapped up and ready to have my gall bladder removed when doctor said my liver was too weak for surgery, so I was returned to my room. He next day Dr. Charles Binkly came to my room and showed me pictures of his shy German Shepherd wearing a hat in the rain and talked about living with his husband in the Castro almost as if he wanted me to be assured he was gay enough. For the first time someone was clear about what was doing on with me and he seemed to actually care about keeping me healthy. His visit was the first time I felt good about being in the hospital. He also said the catheter should be removed. Yeah! Walking around with a bag of urine at your side is a bad fashion statement not to mention uncomfortable, neither is being tethered to a metal tower on wheels that holds several drip bags and accompanies me wherever I go.. You can imagine the difficulty of peeing into a plastic container that looks like a drunken giraffe with one hand while the other hand is tied to drip lines. Dr. Binkly ordered another MRI and this one was exceedingly lengthy and excruciatingly painful. The next day he reported that the MRI showed that one the tubes connecting my pancreas to my colon was too narrow. After a week of extreme frustration and an intense desire to be home with the dogs, knowing there was resolution gave me great joy. The next day I underwent another surgery and that problem was resolved.
During the first days I was besieged by efficient Asian female nurses who politely introduced themselves and asked me if they could do anything and then they drew blood, took my temperature and recorded by vital functions. Not an emotion for miles. Friday’s nurse was a cheerful Irish lass and we hit it off immediately. She made an infusion the day before that had been painful and the male nurse had never been able to fix go into me without pain. The next nurse was Mediterranean woman and the first thing she did was ask why I was wearing a heart monitor: a one pound plastic box connected by four wires to various spots on my chest. Life was getting better. I was started on a liquid diet and she asked me what I wanted from among the limited choices.
When Michael read my email he thought I’d gone to the ER in Santa Rosa and after many calls; he finally located me in SF and discovered the only way someone could reach the phone in my room. Once he got in touch with my son Seth, Seth took control of my care. He visited daily and peppered the staff with questions about my care and drove to Sebastopol to retrieve my laptop that connected me again with the world. He also stayed in constant contact with Gerry who was boarding my two pooches. Michael continued to be a steadfast supporter with regular phone calls concerned with how I was felling and consulting with Seth for the lasted news. Rochelle and I and hospitals go way back; she was with me the night Michael died of AIDS. She was an angel and had to know what was going on. The day before I was released she in her wheelchair with husband Richard drove down from Sebastopol to be with me in the hospital and they and Seth and his girlfriend Casssandra showed anyone in the hospital that I had a family that rivaled the best Italian family. After being released Rochelle showed up in Sebastopol with food minutes after I arrived. Two days later Michael came by with container of rich soup. He came later with tapioca. I couldn’t have asked for better care, and what they did for me the last days I was in the hospital makes up for the awful frustration of the first days.
This medical episode will conclude when I have my gall bladder removed.