Friday, January 3, 2014

Hospitals, Long Hallways, Morgues and Panic Attacks

Because the crud I had at Thanksgiving kicked back in right after Christmas, I haven't been to the hospital to see my MIL.

I'm feeling a lot better now and am just hacking up the last of the gunk in my lungs so I decided to go see her for a minute last night.

We got to the doors of the Cardiac Care Unit and that's when the trouble started. It's one of those locked doors with a phone next to it. You pick up the phone, tell them who you want to see and they open the doors.

The problem is that when the Oldest Island Boy was born he was 10 weeks premature and only weighed 2 pounds. Needless to say, he spent 6 weeks in the Neo-Natal ICU at Sacred Heart Hospital and every time I'd go in there I had to go through the locked door/phone procedure.

I have a bit of PTSD from his birth and every time I see one of those phone doors I get vertigo and a little shaky. They let us in the unit, I managed to calm myself down and the world stopped spinning.

Just in case I'm still contagious (I really don't think I am but you never know) I put on a surgical mask and stood just inside her door to tell her I love her.

The Island King and his brother were there as well and as a nurse walked by she stopped to tell us only 2 visitors are allowed in at one time.

I told her I loved her again and then told the Island King I'd wait for him in the car.

There happens to be a geocache in the hospital parking lot which I figured would keep me busy while they visited and I was still a little off from the door incident so I was happy to leave.

Out of the room and around the corner I go. And around another corner. And then another.

But I haven't made it through the locked doors yet so I know that I will not be able to find the elevator until I get through the doors.

Finally! There they were. Out through the doors I go and realize that I have to turn either left or right.

I cannot for the life of me remember how we got here so I turned right. Long, empty hallways stretched in front of me.

It was only 5:00 but I did not see a living soul – anywhere.

Around more corners, down more halls and of course everything looked the same.

I finally rounded a corner and saw the Pediatrics desk. I'm positive we didn't pass this coming in but there was a nurse sitting at the desk so I asked her how to get to the elevator.

“Go down that hallway and turn left. Go to the next hallway, turn right and you'll see the elevator.”

Off I went but never did see an elevator. Just more Unit doors with those damned phones, no people and silence.

I'm used to being lost so you'd think this wouldn't be a big deal for me but...

I worked in a big hospital in Pensacola many years ago and one night I got lost and wound up in the morgue. A big morgue with doors leading into different freezer rooms – which I didn't realize were freezer rooms until I opened the doors, felt the cold and saw the gurneys lined up against the walls with bodies on them.

As I walked and walked, never passing anyone, I started feeling like I was trapped in a Stephen King movie.

Between the phone/door and the lost in the morgue memories I was really starting to wig a little.

I turned another corner and there was the same nurse at the Pediatrics desk.

She gave me the same directions and I tried again.

Ten minutes later I came around the corner and there she was again.

I was doing everything possible to fight off a full fledged panic attack and I think the nurse could tell I was upset so she said “Honey, every time you walk down that hall you turn right instead of left.


Back down the hall, left turn, an immediate right turn and there was the elevator.

At this point I was really having a hard time holding it together and as most of you know I already have a problem with elevators so the idea of getting in one was not appealing.

Just across from the elevator was a small room with a few chairs in it so I decided to sit down, compose myself and wait on my husband.

Just as I sat down another Unit door opened and a large almost hysterical family piled in the little room. They were crying and yelling and because the room was small they were all around me.

Which is when I absolutely lost it and went flying out into the hall and ran right smack into my BIL and the Island King. Both of them were shocked to see me come flying out of that room in a complete panic and of course wanted to know what was wrong.

They were shocked to find out that I'd only just made it there because they'd been in with my MIL for over 45 minutes.

My BIL wants to know how it took me 45 minutes to make the 5 minute walk from the unit to the elevator but all I can do is blubber about long hallways, the morgue and the hysterical family in the waiting room.

And now we have to get on an elevator.

My BIL thinks the whole thing is hysterical and as an orderly gets on the elevator my BIL tells him I want to go to the morgue and see the bodies. Which caused the orderly to look at me like I was a freak.

I told my BIL that I've seen all of the dead bodies I care to see and that made the orderly look at me even funnier. Like maybe I've been touring hospital morgues or something.

The elevator doors opened and while it may have taken me almost an hour to find the elevator I was out the door, across the parking lot and into the car in record time.

I was thinking about the whole incident later and have decided that from now on I'm taking my GPS with me and will mark a breadcrumb trail as I go in the hospital so I can follow it out when it's time to leave.

I'm not sure what to do about the phone doors though.

Maybe I can wait around the corner while the Island King makes the call and then when the doors open I can run around the corner and into the unit.

Unless I get lost between the corner and the door.

Maybe I should look into Skype.
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