Saturday, March 17, 2018

The Need Appeared Genuine

The ER waiting area on a Saturday night
A friend of ours is on a tight budget. And she's possibly hypochondriacal---though having witnessed supposedly mild diseases and injuries cascade catastrophically in the aged, I'm beginning to feel that way, too.

She said that she had a pain in her abdomen--on her left side, so it wasn't appendicitis--and needed to go to the Sutter Hospital emergency room.

From Safeway in Sacto: Dinner
and snacks for the trip back
No, an ambulance was too expensive, and she had trouble activating Lyft, which her Medicare Advantage plan said they would pay for if she could only figure out how to use it. Her siblings lived outside California, and, having moved a year ago, she had no friends nearby.

I packed an overnight bag. Our friend lived near Sacramento, 2½ hours away. True, I'm easily manipulated, but the need appeared genuine.

Arriving, I asked how she was feeling. The pain wasn't crippling.

She walked me through the instructions on how to take care of her dog and small animals in case the doctors wanted to keep her overnight. She kept using the phrase "if I should die", which seemed overwrought since she was moving about her house with twice as much energy as I. All the same, the prospect of tending to her pets long-term added fervor to my appeals to the Healer in the Sky.

At Sutter Hospital my friend 1) waited an hour, 2) gave blood and urine samples, 3) waited another hour, 4) had her abdomen scanned, 5) waited some more, and 6) was released after a final interview . The diagnosis was dehydration and constipation. All told, she was very lucky. The entire process took five hours, and the doctors didn't find anything that merited hospitalization.

She disagreed with the diagnosis. She assured me that she wasn't constipated. You should see a gastroenterologist, and you should get a colonoscopy. (She had had a bad experience with one years ago and had never been back.) Okay, but the procedure is much easier nowadays. Please think about it.

I am not eager to repeat this experience, but if she does have a colonoscopy I'll drive up to take her.

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