Three Days In Cedars

Kage Baker often said I needed a keeper. She worried about it a lot in her final illness. How was I going to survive my tendency to get lost everywhere? Who would remind me to take my pills? Or eat? Or sleep? And what about my habit of being a disaster magnet?

“Things just don’t go normally for you,” she fretted, again and again. And, alas, she was pretty much correct.

I suspect she tasked several people with keeping an eye on me. And she made me promise not to try to live alone, as doubtless I would be kidnapped by aliens within the month. Luckily, Kimberly agreed with her, and was ready and willing to take me in. Evidently I was voted the Most Likely To Step In A Hole and Plummet To The Center of the Earth … I’ve decided to believe that the fact both my sisters feel I am a danger to myself is merely a sad sign of paranoia running in the family.

Nonetheless, I do seem to be approaching old age with an increasing breakdown of discrete organs. There’s a General Strike spreading through my body; my bodily systems are all turning into Wobblies and anarchists. I’m aware that this is more or less normal for the elderly – it’s called senescence and death – but, man! I’m only just 60!

I went to see my cardiologist last week for a perfectly normal follow up to an echo cardiogram, and ended up being admitted to Cedars Sinai for an angiogram. Then my initial blood tests showed I had an astronomical blood sugar, and so it was discovered I have developed diabetes. This was quite a surprise – I’ve had no especial symptoms. But apparently the pancreas can go out like the alternator in your car: no warning, just BAM! Or rather, fizzle … and the damned thing just stops working and leaves you to find out on your own.

So, three days in hospital, another angiogram, some basic education on diabetes, lots of politely bristling cat-fights with stupid nurses who didn’t feel patients have functioning minds or should be treated like adults. The balancing act of a cardiac diet vs a diabetic one worked itself out by managing to provide me with one (1) meal a day … not that hospital food is thrilling, and I certainly need to lose weight, but enforced starvation seemed a little extreme.  The not-stupid nurse who sneaked me in a yogurt is a candidate for sainthood.

I admit it freely: I am a lousy patient. I won’t take orders without explanations, I will and do refuse treatment I don’t agree with, I have a tendency to cut and run … it’s probably a considerable pain dealing with me. However, most nurses seem to rather like having a responsive patient; it’s just the odd aggressive one that gets upset. I have problems with bullies, even when they smile a lot and call me “Sweetie”. Actually, maybe because of that.

But Cedars-Sinai is a nice hospital. Most of their personnel are top notch. I only got a passive-aggressive nurse my very last day; and as she finally refused to come to my room or have anything to do with me, I managed to get discharged despite her delays. My stated intention of leaving AMA might have had something to do with it … you know, they don’t really expect anyone to do that? But unless you’ve been so much trouble they’ve broken out the soft restraints, you can always put your clothes back on and walk out.

My angiogram was not the drug-fueled hallucination fest the previous ones were – which was sort of disappointing. I miss the raccoons and Captain Nemo … on the other hand, the surgeon did briefly seem to forget where my head was, and let the CAT monitor down on my face: which produced some amusing hysteria from the nurses. He also accused me  during the procedure of having narrow blood vessels: which was a fair cop, but when I asked him what he wanted me to do about it, he just mumbled. I don’t think I was supposed to answer … but I’ve noticed that the surgeons never view these things as the social occasions I do.

I was delighted to learn, though, that my heart is 70% functional; and is, for a bum heart, basically healthy. Huzzah! And I was pleased that the angiogram was done by going in through my radial artery rather than my femoral one – using my wrist instead of my thigh is a lot easier. However, using the groin approach is more usual. And that led to an interestingly surreal meeting in the middle of the night, when I woke up to find a nice young man in a white coat standing patiently beside my bed.

“Good evening, Ms. Bartholomew. I have come to examine your groin,” he told me solemnly.

It took me a few astonished seconds to figure out what he was actually talking about. I raised my arm, which was circled by a blood painted plastic shackle keeping my artery closed.

“I’m flattered,” I said. “But they went in through my wrist this time.”

He stared, nodded, and left without another word.

Nothing ever just happens normally with me …

Tomorrow: grist!

About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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10 Responses to Three Days In Cedars

  1. maggiros says:

    ROFL Madam, your timing is exquisite. Laughing right out loud at the nice young man who cannot have been prepared for a smart-ass in that situation at that hour of the day. Not the little old lady he was expecting, eh? Mwahahaha!

    I;ll be giggling on and off all night..


    • Kate says:

      Faire training in improv and meet and greet rises to our assistance at the oddest moments … part of our brains are always on automatic and looking for a snappy line.


  2. cate bramble says:

    Bravo. Well done. You should have indulged the resident, it would have been embarrassing for him and a little fun for you …


  3. Kate says:

    Oh, Cate, that would have been hilarious! Especially when he couldn’t find the incision … well, that just goes to show that one can always improve the act. What a great idea!


  4. Jane says:

    oh my god, I can’t stop laughing! How lovely of you to turn all of these moments into hilarity! Huzzah the Faire training, indeed – but you GAVE most of the training, so I’m inclined to think it’s indemick to you and your talent. The constant opportunities for medically sacriligious humor is a wonder.


  5. johnbrownson says:

    …Of course, it’s always possible, too, that you hallucinated the young man. A Nurse once told me about the phenomenon they call “ICU psychosis”, after my Mother began seeing unsettling things on the walls of her room, and hearing improbable messages from the television. Something about a combination of medications and disorientation (both temporal and spacial), as I remember. Can’t make this stuff up.


    • Kate says:

      Buffalo – nope, can’t make this stuff up. It’s one of the reasons you must pay close attention to Real Life: it’s weirder than anything people make up.


  6. Mary lynn says:

    Kate, next time suggest that times might have been more fun twenty years ago.Then watch him blush. Resident,s bkiid turns to cherry kool-aid when confronted with sexual inuendo from little old ladiesl


  7. Luisa says:

    OMG, Kate: you certainly have a *ton* of material for roaringly good short story there, if not for a full (and fun) novella! I can imagine Kage placing one of The Company Operatives in such a situation, with the complication that the CoOp must *keep* their internal workings as secret as possible to the hospital crew!

    Also, so much *Truth* to your experience. Especially the neo-nice, professionally polite nurses who talk to you in nursery school sing-song! Grrrrrr … I just wanted to BITE them!

    Can’t wait to hear the continuing saga!


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