Where you hang your hat

March 1, 2007

Hurrah!  Shawn has returned home as of this morning.  All of his tests came back with good results and Stanford released him very soon after I arrived at the hospital.

We experienced a bit of chaos and drama at the end of the day yesterday.  Shawn was supposed to go for a CT scan (a super x-ray) on Tuesday, but could not because of some heart arrhythmia the previous night.  Each time they decide to do a CT, the patient is put on a clear liquid diet.  So on Tuesday, Shawn had broth for breakfast and then broth for lunch before they decided to cancel the scan and let him have solid food.  “We’ll schedule you for early tomorrow,” they said, “but we can’t be sure when it will happen, because we only have two scanners, and one breaks down a lot.  Traumas and outpatient scheduled appointments have priority over inpatient scans, so we just don’t know when.”  Wednesday’s broth for breakfast rolled into broth for lunch as we waited.  And waited.  One of the scanners had, indeed, broken down.  At around 5pm, before the dinner tray of broth was scheduled to arrive, we were told that they would scan him soon (before 7pm) and then maybe send him home.

This is where the chaos ensued.  My guess is that someone was under the impression that Shawn wanted to be out of the hospital that night, no matter what, when in fact he was willing to wait another day so that everything would be checked out and nothing rushed.  Besides the scan, he needed to have the IV in his neck and arm removed, practice climbing stairs with a physical therapist, and get a few other items (prescriptions, in particular).

There is another CT scanner in one of the clinics associated with Stanford, and it had little bits of time available for inpatients.  The nursing team and someone from the surgical team began to talk about releasing Shawn from the hospital, then sending him to this clinic on his way out of Palo Alto.  At this point, it was about 7pm, Shawn was actually hungry for the first time in a week, and I was trying to wrap my head around getting the scan, having the IVs removed, finding the PT, getting the prescriptions (and where to fill them at the late hour we would be arriving home).  It just wasn’t working for either of us, particularly the part where he was released from the hospital before the CT scan had been read.  The surgeon himself came in to assure us that this was an okay plan, but it still felt a bit rushed and last-minute, and this was one of those times when I wanted to be clear about everything.

Shawn and I asked a few of these questions of the nursing team, and they sent in Judi, the cardiac nurse coordinator who had explained much to us on Shawn’s pre-op day.  She was wonderful– she asked us what we wanted to do, and found a way to make it work.  He ended up getting the scan at this clinic (probably about 8pm), then came back to his room and had his neck IV removed and slept there.  In the morning, the doc was able to read the scan, Shawn met with the PT, and generally we were able to get all of the exit procedures finished at a reasonable pace.  And he did get some solid food that night!
Again, I think that all of this mishigas was the result of some kind of miscommunication about our relative eagerness to leave the hospital vs. getting all the ducks in a row.  The whole thing was straightened out quickly, and we got what we wanted and needed.  And now Shawn is home, has his meds, and has been able to shower and relax, eat a good meal.  A fortunate ending for all, in my opinion.

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