I heard the antelopes ricocheting off the elephants as they came stampeding down the hallway to my room.

Eight, maybe ten people skidded to a stop at my doorway, all trying to get at the same time, almost like a Keystone Kops or Three Stooges kind of a thing.

Somewhere a two way radio chirped, “Patient is showing over 300”.

I looked up at all of them, looked around, and asked, “Which patient?”

“Patient is fine, asymptomatic”

“But he’s showing over 300!”

“And he’s sitting here, talking to us.”

Thus began my first bit out of ICU, where I’d been for a few days as a result of some complications of surgery.

Leigh, the charge nurse, took over and said to whoever was on the radio, “He’s okay, I know him.”

And the main reason we’d gotten into this mess was because they’d wanted me out of ICU, and I had to go to the bathroom.

I’d looked around for the nurse call button (because in ICU they don’t want you going to the bathroom without someone there in case you fall), saw that the call button was in a very poorly designed spot, and swung my legs over the side of the bed so I could turn to the left far enough to reach it. They’d just put some kind of a new monitoring system on me about the size of an iPhone, and sure enough, it had transmitted a message to whatever was monitoring me that it was rather annoyed with something.  That message was picked up by someone manning a monitor in another building, who’d called for a “Rapid Response Team” to come tearing down the hall to see why my pulse was reading 300.

They were all baffled – the numbers indicated that I should be anything other than sitting there on the edge of the bed chatting coherently with them, and I had to tell them exactly what happened… “I needed to go to the bathroom, and wanted to push the nurse’s button, but the bed’s so weird you can’t reach it without breaking your arm, so I sat up, swung my legs over, and then heard a herd of elephants racing down the hall.”

“Well, there were some gazelles in there, too” said one of the svelte, non-elephantine members of the medical staff.

I agreed, there were.

They tried to figure out what to do, given that my pulse was clearly showing higher than it had any right to be, and I was still sitting there, chatting with them, coherently…

A few more radio calls were made, the person on the other end was finally, laboriously convinced that I was really, truly, sitting up and alive (I said hi to them on the radio, finally), but someone decided that because of all this I wasn’t actually ready to be out of ICU yet, so they called down, found they were just finishing up cleaning up and sanitizing my room from when I’d been there about a half hour before, and decided to take me back.

So we piled all the personal items back on the bed, just left me on it – they decided to hook up an oxygen tank just in case, and then we all paraded down to the sixth floor where I headed back to room 657, and we sat there – oxygen tank, personal stuff, and me all on the bed, waiting in the hallway till the room aired out from the sanitizing chemicals. It’d look bad, ya know, to have me have lung issues in ICU because of the chemicals they used there…

We worked together to move me out of the non-ICU bed into the ICU one, got me all hooked up to the various monitors, got everything situated, and just as the nurse was leaving the room, I realized that the one thing that had gotten me back there hadn’t happened yet.

I still had to go to the bathroom.

 

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