Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Getting Katie to Vienna Pt 2

Joseph Smith said something about starting right that I can't exactly remember. That was our big problem at Floreasca. I think we went in the wrong entrance and were looking for the wrong place. Find the Ecografie room and ask for an ecografie dopler. Easy enough right? We walked in and followed the sign to a dead end hallway and they all said it was closed. So we made our way to the emergency room. We stood outside for a minute and then realized we just need to walk in. A lady told us to go to the place that we had just gotten back from. I told her we were already there. She walked down with us to make sure and see if someone would let us in. She joked a little about Katie's limp and kind of urged her to go faster. We didn't really think it was funny. There was no one there. This person told us to go back to the Emergency room. So we did. They told us to get paperwork, so we did. They checked her vital signs and drew blood. I asked if they were doing a PTINR. They said no. I stabbed a bit with broken romanian but then I let them go ahead. They took the blood. They made an attempt at bedside manner. Smile, I said to Katie as they drew the needle, the nurse and I chuckled a little to ease the tension and then I translated. "Look, american blood!" the nurse mused to her colleagues. I told her to be careful, because it was precious. She probably thought I meant expensive though (it's the same word). If I would have done it again I would have said, "Hey look, it's red! What color is yours?" But I'm neither Ghandi nor Martin Luther King. I was also beginning to feel the angry guard dog emerge from me. That probably doesn't seem like me too often, but you don't eff with my interns... They are ineffable.

Eventually we got pointed to the radar... er ultrasound. I had to wait outside, but they spoke english so I felt a little better about her going with them. I sat for a minute and answered a few calls. There were phone calls going on between all of these events between me and either 1) Matt Brady, our doctor/vindicator of medical justice, 2) Sora Lundberg, our surrogate mother, and 3) Katie's real mother or father, duly distressed. I also started noticing the people around me. This is a difficult one for me to venture towards, because I can trivialize our experience or theirs. Ours is a shock, because it was deathly serious and the care was not particularly trustworthy (we were warned of this by Dr. Brady, and it was confirmed through some of our experience). The hard stuff to see on their side was the fact that if they didn't have money some things they needed would never be done. This was the best hospital in the entire city. Beyond reruns of ER and scrubs, this is the best they got. It was a hospital, but for some reason seemed a little more grave. Back to me: I came to a realization on a call with Dr. Hanson that there was pretty much no chance that we would make our train back. I was OK with that. I guess that's when we were introduced to Sora Lundberg (Sora means sister; she's the mission president's wife here).

She seemed a little overwhelmed by our request for some help finding a place to stay for a few days. I would find out later that their car was broken into a couple days before and that they frequently had missionaries in and out for health problems. Sora Lundberg is an amazing woman. She had been to Romania about 25 times for a couple days or weeks each time in the process of adopting their son Joshua (formerly Marian) from Barlad. It took 3 years and the starting of an NGO to place him in their family. Her NGO is called Bridge of Love. I recognized the organization, which was fun, I think I e-mailed her for help with Alex a couple years ago. Her story is incredible and she understood the pain and joy of loving these kids, which was a breath of fresh air for me.

We got the results from her test and this is where things began to change. I read the concluzie. I didn't need to be fluent in romanian or have a medical license to see that it said she had a big problem by the words intinsiv and thrombo in there. Well I had a doctor help me with that one before. We called Doctor Brady and he told us to go get the perscription filled. We would have gotten away too, but we thought we had to pay. We showed the results to the nurses. Everyone stopped joking around after that. They looked over it and told her to go to the emergency room emergency room across from the room we were in (the check you out and stuff emergency room). She got pulled into the room and it seemed like nobody really knew what to do with her, which kind of set me into let's get the f out of here mode. They eventually put her on a stretcher in a spot in the room and I was like showing people the prescription and I was like OK so are you going to give her this and they were like no, we don't have it. I told them we can go to the pharmacie and buy it and give it to her and that we don't need the hospital. They didn't really listen too hard. Then I was concerned, because the beuracracy smell was coming through. I stood next to her as one of the doctors asked her questions and then he told me I had to go sit beyond a curtain away from them. I couldn't hear, but I kept looking and Katie's body language and voice tone implied that she was resisting which relieved me. I don't know why, but the entire experience was comparable to being arrested and detained for several nights, although let's not get ahead of ourselves. When finally, after sitting for awhile and anxiety building sufficiently I lost my patience, I started making some noise. I didn't see that doctor which was good because then I wasn't worried at all about offending him. I started saying "Nu vrem sa asteptam, vrem- sa- PLECAM!" as if I was talking to a disobedient 5 year old (which is the demographic I'm most comfortable speaking to in romanian). Oh yeah that means, "We don't want to wait, we want- to- LEAVE!"

The doctor got defensive at that point and said OK, she has a blood clot, every step she takes puts her at risk for the clot to break off and move into her lung (close but also bad diagnosis #2). We need to keep her here; she could die. This is nothing to smile about. This is nothing to laugh about. This is nothing to shout about (which he said as he looked at me). We were in the process of signing a paper in which we were instructed to write: I understand the risks of leaving this hospital. Doctors kept telling her more things to write afterwards which she scrawled quickly and haphazardly as additions and afterthoughts. Of my own will. Including the risk of death. "Any thing else?" we asked. This may have been where the laughing and smiling lecture came in, "Who was laughing when she led us to the radar and took her Sangele Americane?" I thought, but held my tongue. Then we left.

We asked some nurses where to pay. They told us it was free. We figured it was probably because they thought we were crazy for leaving the hospital. We walked to the Pharmacie. I kept hearing, "break off into the lung," in my head and saw a 3D animation from an episode of HOUSE. Too much walking. We went to 3 pharmacies before we found the medicine we needed. We took a half hour taxi back to the clinic.

I felt like we just outran the cops. I can't really emphasize enough how difficult it seemed to get in, get what we needed done and get out of there. We'll come back to the hospital in a later post though.

Katie got a crash course in the administration of the Romanian version of Lovenox, a blood thinner. Dr. Brady sobered us a little bit with the gravity of the situation. We were aware of the gravity, but sometimes we have to keep the laughing going. Sometimes I think we take pictures and document things to distance ourselves from the reality of the situation, by becoming spectators in our own lives. I'm starting to get epic thoughts like a stoner so it's probably getting late. We'll come back to this one.

1 comment:

Rachel said...

this experience sounds exciting and mildly terrifying. i loved "they are ineffable, don't eff with them!" and also "the smell of bureaucracy." i'm glad katie is going to be okay!!! and that they didn't hold you against your will in the hospital. what an adventure you are having...