Sunday, July 10, 2011

Are We Home Yet? 'Cause There's No Place Like Home...

So to bring you up to date, yes, I got out of the hospital about noon on Sunday, July 3rd. The doctor's office had faxed the medical flight form to the airline, so all we had to do was wait for the airline to contact us on Monday morning to advise if they were approving my request so we could make plans to fly home on Thursday. Other than that, I just needed to rest and relax while Mom and Holly roamed around Edinburgh and take pics so they can tell me what I've missed.

But then, what is that quote?... "When people make plans, God laughs." ?? Sigh.

You will recall that Mom and Holly were staying in dorm rooms on the campus of the University of Edinburgh. They had originally been given single rooms, with a shared restroom down the hall... typical college dorm. The plan was that when I got out we would either get another one for me or, if I wasn't up to being by myself, upgrading Mom's room to a double. Well, the Lord took care of it and the first night after sleeping in their singles, they were informed that they'd been given the wrong rooms and for their trouble of having to be moved, were being upgraded to doubles! And the doubles came with a bathroom! Praise God!

So they got me to our room, I crashed.

Monday - The rooms came with a free breakfast each morning. Breakfast like, OMG!, if I could have eaten more than 3 ounces per meal, I shudder to think of what I could have shoveled in! So after breakfast, we called the airline to confirm that they'd received the form from the doctor's office. We were told that they had not received it, but as soon as they did, blah, blah, blah. So I called the hospital to confirm that it had been sent. I had to leave a message. In retrospect, we lost an entire day on Monday because I didn't call and push enough. By the end of the day, Air Canada still didn't have the form and I needed to talk to Mrs. Gillis's secretary who had already left for the day.

Tuesday - after breakfast, I call and speak with Mrs. Gillis's secretary. She knows nothing about this, which is understandable, but will investigate. An hour later I call her back. She says she's found the form. Holly hops on the bus to go pick up a copy of the letter/form. When she gets back with the letter, Holly, who by now has cultivated a nice relationship with the ladies in the office at the University, has them fax the form. We give it about 15 minutes and call Air Canada and were told that they had not received the form, but as soon as they did, blah, blah, blah. Someone suggested that we email the form to them. So Holly went and talked her new friends into scanning the pages so we could email them. After calling the idiots at Air Canada and confirming that they had all of the pages (after multiple attempts at emailing them) and explaining that we didn't send page 5 because there was nothing on it as it was not applicable to my situation, we think we're good.

Next, we get a call from Air Canada advising that they didn't get page 5. Sigh. Yeah, we told the other lady that it was empty so we didn't send. Well, they need page 5, so we need to have the doctor write "not applicable" across it and fax it. Right, like I'm going to go bother the woman again so as to her have her write "not applicable" across of piece of paper. I made the note across the page and Holly asked her friends to scan it for emailing. About 15 minutes later, I call Air Canada and confirm that they have it...that they have ALL of the pages necessary. They did.

Next, they call to advise us that the attachments are unreadable. They couldn't have told us this before?? They want us to fax the forms to them... You mean fax the same forms which we've unsuccessfully faxed multiple times to the same number where you've NOT received them those same multiple times?? Yes, ma'am. Holly faxes the forms, but again, it's the end of the day and they've left for the day, so we're left in limbo. I contact my office here in the US and ask for information on how to contact the US Embassy in the UK for help.

Wednesday, we are fully prepared to call the Embassy (not knowing what they could do for us, but still) if we do not get help. Fortunately, along came Frieda. God bless Frieda. Frieda must've had the week off up until this point because she was a breath of intelligent fresh wind in the Air Canada office. Frieda was able to confirm that they were in receipt of the fax, all pages. Frieda had to sent the documentation to the medical office in Canada, but I conveyed our frustration with this whole process and how badly we just wanted to get home as gently as possible, and she said she'd put a rush on it so that the minute the Canada office opened (2pm Edinburgh time at the earliest), they'd look at it.

Finally, about 5pm Frieda called to advise that my flying was approved, so she transferred us to reservations. Long story short, though, there were no flights out of Edinburgh for the next week, so we had to take a train back to London, spend the night and fly out of Heathrow on Friday morning. We could do it!

Thursday, after our breakfast, we left for the train station and boarded our train back to London. This time the train ride was more enjoyable for me. The countryside as we rode by was gorgeous. Lots of cows and sheep, very lovely.

Friday, we flew home and fueled on McDonald's Sweet Tea, Holly drove us down to Evansville. It felt so good to sleep in my own bed, with my cats, that I almost cried before going to bed.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Day 7 thru ?? – I Left My Heart… er.. Appendix in Edinburgh Scotland

In our last episode, Sunday night, after getting back from Stonehenge, we had dinner and I, feeling poorly in the tum and tired, went to bed.

Monday - About 2:30 in the am, I woke up with such severe pain and cramping as I’d never had before, except for when I had gall bladder attacks, of course those were 11 years ago. Without getting too graphic, they were the types of cramps that make you go sit on the toilet because you feel like you have to do something, but you don’t have anything to do, but you sit there praying that something will come out, even if it’s the creature from Alien, just to ease the pain. Of course nothing does. So then you start popping pain medication, whatever is on hand, just praying that it’ll knock you out so you can go to sleep. Sleep never came, or at least not for long. I’d maybe get 30 minutes to an hour in then I’d be back crying/praying on the toilet. Enough of that… fade to the morning.

We woke up and the pain was still there, so we decided we needed to investigate a local hospital. At work we have this weird travel accident emergency coverage, and they were a big help in finding a hospital and getting us to the right place. Holly called a taxi and we were off.

Of course, the UK has socialized medicine. There won’t be any political discussion about the pros and cons here, my long term readers know that I’m not that deep. However, occasionally I may point out something… and it may be a socialized medicine thing, or it may be an England thing, but…so I sign in and sit and wait for my name to be called. It is, by the "A&E Nurse" whose sole purpose it to evaluate me to see if I’m dying and need to see a doctor now, or if I have a broken bone and, presumably get an x-ray now, or if my name goes on the list to see the doctor and I’ll have to wait about 4 hours. Fortunately, I think, by the time my name was called, the pain had eased. I don’t know what had happened, maybe the drugs had finally kicked in, but… so we decided to leave and if it got worse to come back. The four hour wait just to tell the doctor that it didn’t hurt anymore didn’t hold the appeal one might think. So another taxi ride back to the apartment – I felt foolish for dragging everyone to the hospital for nothing. I went to bed and Mom, Holly, and Haley went out to do some sight seeing as it was our last day in England.

I slept and then got up and laid on the couch and, finding that England’s daytime TV is as bad as American daytime TV, dozed until they got home. They made dinner and I nibbled a little, making this another day where I’d eaten much less than the 9 oz I’m supposed to eat each day, and went to bed with more drugs.

Tuesday – Tuesday was the day we were to leave the apartment, find a train and travel to Edinburgh, Scotland, where we’d stay for a couple of days before flying home on Friday. I woke up with pain, but it wasn’t the all-abdomen-encompassing pain from before, but localized more in the lower right region. Never having been very sure where the appendix was, I was more concerned that it was a burst cyst on an ovary or that alien baby thing. But I managed to get my morning shake down along with some eggs and more drugs and we made it to the tube, then to the train, and were off on our 4 hour ride to Edinburgh. I wish I could say I enjoyed it. The sights out the window were very pretty and had I felt better I might have dug out the camera… actually, I’m thinking maybe someone did. Hmmm.. I nibbled a little lunch and tried to drink as much water as possible having had it drilled into my head that dehydration would be BAD for me with my tiny tummy. But mostly I tried to snooze.

We arrived, found a taxi and got to the hotel. I took a shower and crawled into bed. They went to dinner, brought me back some, which I nibbled and tried to go to sleep. However by now the pain was much worse and I was feverish. So we’re up and on our way to the hospital again! The guy at the front desk called us a taxi and Mom and Holly and I were off. Unfortunately, our hotel was like as far from the hospital as possible! But we arrived at the Royal Infirmary University Medical School Hospital. We walked in the A&E area and it was so full I almost wept, but turned out all of those people were here with the patients who were in another area. Still about 10 people, but made me feel better about the possible wait. And it quickly became obvious they were doing it on a triage basis rather than first come first serve which, in my mind, bode well. It was a little over an hour before I saw a doctor, but the Tylenol PM I’d taken had kicked in and I only really hurt when I moved or someone poked me in the tum, I tried to avoid both and the wait was bearable. I’m not sure that’s spelled right.

My doctor, Dr. Hunter is/was a true dreamboat, sort of a MacDreamy. Had I not been sick, I might have attempted to sneak a pic of him with my phone. As it was, I just kick myself for not doing it when I had the chance. He was the first of many who started poking my tum – declared it an appendix and called for a surgeon to come poke on my tum. She duly showed up, poked on my tum and agreed, most likely appendix, but they’d have to admit me and let Mrs. Gillis decide how to proceed in the morning.

At this point, I should point out that although technically they speak English up here, it is so fast and with such a thick accent, I generally get about 40% of what they’re saying the first time around. Choosing items from a menu is fun, too, as I was soon to learn.

I wasn’t sure who Mrs. Gillis was, but I got that they were going to admit me, give me something for the horrible nauseau and pain, and they’d do something in the morning. So about 1am-ish, I got settled in my room. Mom and Holly were able to go home and get some rest.

Wednesday – My first real day in a Scottish hospital. First thing I noticed was that there doesn’t appear to be a division of labor among the nurses. I may be wrong, but using my most recent experience in comparision, at St. Vincent’s certain nurses brought me meds, certain one got me drinks, and no nurses changed my bed linens, that was like a tech or something. Here the same nurses do it all. Also, no private, or even semi-private rooms. You’re in a "ward" of four people… think like in Harry Potter only without the pretty view. Well, actually I have a nice view, we must be on the 2nd or 3rd floor looking over the parking lot, but of course all I can see from my bed is blue sky, fluffy clouds and tree tops. The tea trolley shows up first – I was on no food or drink by mouth, which was fine as I hadn’t eaten much over the past several days. My roomies all got tea. Then a few minutes later the breakfast trolley rolls thru with porridge, rice krispies and corn flakes – again nothing I could eat even if I wanted or was allowed.

About 9:45, we meet the infamous Mrs. Gillis. Turns out she’s the dean of surgery at this medical school and she has a gaggle of doctors and nurses following her and writing down everything she says. Sort of like House only prettier and nicer… although I do like House a lot. She pokes around on me and agrees it’s appendix and says to get me a CT scan and then we’ll see what we see, but odds are, surgery will be today or this evening. So, 9:45, right? Everybody says it’s appendix, right? These things burst and get infected goo all over the place and cause problems, right? So, being an American with an American mind-set, I’m thinking probably by 11am for the CT. Nope. They came and got me at 3:15 pm. I had been on the list and had to wait my turn. The only people who didn’t have to wait were emergencies coming through the A&E. Sigh. Anyway, we got the CT. Everyone was relieved to see, yep, it’s the appendix, and Mrs. Gillis comes back to say surgery tonight, probably about in 3 hours… it was 5:30-6 at that point.
Then the anesthesiologiest comes to talk to me and I said something about going HOME on Friday and he and the nurse both agreed that airlines won’t fly you after having surgery in under 2-3 weeks, and that’s only IF the surgery is "keyhole" or laproscopic. If it’s the full blown surgery, it’s more like 5-6 weeks. OH, MY FREAKING LORD! I don’t want to be stuck here in Scotland for 3-6 weeks! The tears flew freely at that point because I wanted nothing more than to go home!

So Mom, Holly and Haley left for dinner, knowing it would be about 3 hours until they come and take me to surgery, and about 15 minutes later, they come to take me to surgery. I was like "what about the two gall bladders ahead of me??" because by now I knew that if there’d been a hang nail ahead of me it was going ahead of me.

Post-op – I remember someone telling me there’d been a "wee nick" in my appendix. I remember mom giving me a smooch. Then nothing.

Thursday – I wake up, in pain, thirsty, and my mouth is dry. Oh, and by the way, that "wee nick" in my appendix meant that it had burst. No one will give me anything to drink until Mrs. Gillis comes through to say it’s ok. Understood, but I was on no food and drink because I was having surgery. Now that I’ve had surgery, and I’m dying of thirst, give me something to drink!! Mrs. Gillis came through, finally about 9:15 and said yes food and drink as tolerated and a dietician would come see me to see what, if anything, could be done to help met my special nutritional needs. (Note: 48 hours later, I’m writing this and I still haven’t seen the nutritionist.) Mrs. Gillis did say that I would be able to fly after a week and that she’d write a letter to the airline okaying my travel.

Those of you who’ve read my blog for a while, will remember my crying on the toilet after my bypass surgery and my thinking it had to do with the pain and my trying not to take much pain meds..? Well, you know me, can’t teach a dumb Rose tricks. My theory is and has always been that I am too poor to risk becoming a drug addict, so I tried not to ask for much medicine. And here I was in pain, in a foreign land, with strangers seeing my butt everytime I went to the bathroom because no one in Scotland is big and they don’t have large gowns to cover my butt, and we were (are) in the hottest room in the hospital on a day that it’s a glorious 70 something outside, my mommy hadn’t called (she had, but no one told me that) and hadn’t shown up (yes, I knew visiting hours techincally didn’t start until 3, but…), so I was feeling alone and unloved and wanted my mommy. I was never so happy to see her as when she walked in. There’s just something that having your mommy by your side does for you that pain meds can’t. They’d spent all day contacting the airlines about changing Mom, mine, and Holly’s flights, and finding us someplace to stay as Thursday night was the last night at the hotel – which was fine, because it was like $40 round trip to and from the hospital.

Mom got me some more drugs and I felt much better.

Friday – more of the same, not being shy about asking for meds, feeling better except for the changing from laying down to sitting up position and the sitting up to standing positions – your average post-op. When Holly and Mom got here, they’d seen Haley off to the airport, gotten us checked out of the hotel and moved into a residence hall on the campus of the University of Edinburgh where we’ll stay until we fly out on Thursday. While they were downstairs eating dinner, they were reading the brochure on this odd machine each patient has that you can buy for 5 pounds a day access to the "Telly", films, and the internet. So when they came back up, while I was showering and getting into my cookie monster night shirt, Holly was signing me up… the internet being the big draw, as the TV here was crappy and the films aren’t that great.
After Mom and Holly left for their dorm rooms, I sat here and s-l-o-w-l-y tapped out an email to the few people whose email addresses I was sure I could remember. I swear it’s so horribly slow it almost isn’t worth it, but at least peoples were able to hear from my fingertips that I was alive, if in pain.

Well, it’s Saturday morning now, and I don’t foresee today or tomorrow being much different, other than the excitement at meal times, so this’ll be it for this blog entry. Holly tell’s me that there is internet access at the dorm, so we might figure out how to get this posted, otherwise, when we get to Indy. Mom and I’ll probably stay Friday at Holly’s house then come back down on Saturday.