Part 1…Hospital hell…I am not a celebrity but PLEASE, get me out of here!!!…

This frequent visitor, a male bushbuck, has the “Got some pellets” look in his eyes.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Maybe it’s like the bar. The boys stop by for a few and get along well.

I prefer not to bash or critique any small or medium business entity. Their success is often predicated by positive word of mouth. Over these past five days in Mediclinic, we’ve seen and been involved in several situations that didn’t have to happen. 

I didn’t want to sugarcoat mine and Tom’s experiences with a plethora of gobbly gook in this particular case. That’s not to imply we aren’t honest about situations we encounter. We make every effort to tell it like it is.
It simply means in my “overly bubbly” manner, I can dwell on the good points and benefit from the doubt on the not-so-good points. After four surgeries in seven weeks, I am ready to put aside my usual patience and understanding to tell it like it is.
First off, I will say the doctors are competent and dedicated to working for a relatively low income compared to doctors in many other parts of the world.
But their hands have been tied by a lack of competency and caring by many employees and outdated inferior systems.
The head of the billing department, Trudy, has gone over the top to work with our difficult insurance company who is still looking for an out to pay the claims total of almost ZAR 1,000,000, US 70,822. She’s remained steadfast in her determination to get this resolved to our benefit.
Upon returning after a time away, we often find bushbucks in the garden seemingly waiting for us. Tomorrow won’t be any different.

I won’t begrudge the hospital and medical center for their lack of modern technology and systems but acknowledge the harsh reality of their low charges based on affordability by the national health care system and the general public.

There are exemplary nurses (referred to as sisters) beyond one’s wildest expectations of sheer perfection. Then, others begrudgingly report to work each day, wishing it was over the moment they walk in the door with little care or concern for the well-being of the patients.

As for the fiascos, since we arrived this past Friday, we started with the problem of running any of our credit cards to pre-pay the hospital bill for treatment and surgeries for my infected legs as a result of the coronary bypass surgery of seven weeks ago for an amount of ZAR 130000, US $9206. 

If the amount they collect is an overpay, they return the excess to our credit card, or the opposite is we didn’t pay enough. But I assure you, they collect an ample amount at the onset, and unless there’s some unforeseen medical issue, one can usually expect a refund in part.

Mom and Baby Bushbuck have been around for many months.

The over an hour we spent at one of the admission desks, one credit card after another, while I contacted each of the companies, only to find out, not to our surprise, nothing was wrong. However, one of the card companies suspected fraud and removed the hold on the card once we contacted them. 

But still, as mentioned in an earlier post, the charges wouldn’t go through on any of the cards. Frustration giving both of us dry mouths and profuse sweating came abruptly when I asked the admission rep to use a different portable card reader. 

Yep, moments later, the first card we tried worked. Why didn’t we think of this earlier when this has happened on several other occasions. TIS…this is Africa…this stuff happened here, like load shedding electrical outages, bad water, no water, poor internet connections, and on and on. So that was the foot we started on.

There were numerous, too many to list, incidences with nursing staff that I dismissed as usual. This wasn’t the ICU where each patient had a highly qualified nurse who attended to the patient’s every need and a doctor who masterfully treated those patients in distress the moment an issue arrived.  On many occasions, she was there for me…including an afternoon after the surgery was my pulse nearly reached 250 beats per minute.

She immediately assured me and told me she would “knock me out” for at least two hours while she’s restarted by heart with paddles. My typical manner of awakening right after surgery was no different when 10 minutes after the jolt, I was wide awake, mentioning how the time flew and how good my heart was to be back to the normal rhythm at about 68 beats per minute.

We stand back when dropping pellets to Big Daddy. Those horns could inadvertently do a lot of damage.

Talk about being grateful. Once again, I was saved, and throughout the eight days and nights in ICU, several similar situations arose, only to bring me, so I feared, to the brink of death and back again. (Sorry, no white lights, a tunnel, or people calling my name).

Then we moved forward to last night after my second leg surgery in four days which commenced around 1700 hours (5:00 pm). For the fourth time in seven weeks, I awoke in the recovery room to similar surroundings, a space that felt more like a warehouse than a hospital recovery room.

Oh, it was clean and sterile, to the point of never allowing a non-medical professional or outsider into its sacred halls.  One could smell the powerful cleaners used to keep it meticulous and never saw a doctor or nurse without masks and scrubs. 

Lying there, wide awake only a short time after the surgery ended around 1900 hours (7:00 pm), I scanned the huge hall checking out signs, boxes, and packages of medical supplies and the hurried frenzy of medical personnel diligently doing their jobs.

After an hour passed, during which I was checked several times, I asked when I could go back to my room where Tom was surely waiting to see me. I was told “soon” on several occasions. 

The girls keep a distance from Big Daddy, but he doesn’t mind sharing pellets with them/

After another 15 minutes passed, I became suspicious about why I wasn’t heading back to my room on the second floor. I grabbed the hand of a kindly-looking nurse and said, “Spill the beans, sister, please. What’s going on.”

She hedged, fearful of upsetting a  patient just of surgery, of telling me that the only lift (elevator) had broken down and there was no way to get me up to my floor and subsequently my room. They’d roll me each way and into the lift in this easily portable bed. Modern, right?

I hadn’t eaten a thing or drank a sip of water other than for my new handful of tablets I now take each morning. I was starving, and my doctor had been complaining about my weight and how it didn’t look as if I’d been eating. Well, after all these surgeries, I had gone down quite a bit, although I tried eating more and more.

The body is so busy trying to heal itself after surgeries. One tends to lose weight easily. Gee…I thought of Bill Clinton and how skinny and sickly he was looked since his bypass surgery in 2010. Please don’t let that be me. I’m working on it, eating as much as I can, even with the non-cooperating limited appetite that goes with the territory.

Back to the lift incident, I explained that the only elevator was being worked on and could or could not be ready by the end of the night. There was no way I wanted to spend my night with nothing to do, wide awake, pain escalating in my legs from the surgery, and not a bite to eat in well over a day.

No food or drinks are allowed in the recovery room regardless of the circumstances.

Another Big Daddy enters the garden.

At one point, I asked for Tom, and moments later, they wheeled me in the bed to a non-sterile area to see him. He, too, was feeling frustrated. He could get to my room via the stairs, but I wouldn’t be there with him. What was the point?

They only left us together for a few minutes as we discussed the lack of lift, and then they wheeled me back to my station, a designated spot on the cement floor. Tom had left to see what was going on, and I had no idea how to find him, even if the lift got going and I was back in my room.

Alas, over two total hours, nursing staff came running to my bed, all talking rapidly in a language I didn’t understand and then in English said to me, “Let’s go, your first up!”

I guess this meant the lift was working again, and as they ran with my bed, I suddenly felt like a character in “Bedknobs and Broomsticks,” a kid’s movie from 1971.

The elevator’s doors miraculously opened, and there inside stood a man in a one-piece grey jumpsuit.  “Who are you?” I asked. He answered, “I’m the lift technician.”  

Suddenly I felt more at ease. If he’s willing to ride on it, so was I. With a bit of groaning and grunting, the lift slowly took off to go up one floor. There was a considerable pause when we reached floor two, and I thought, “Oh, no, now we’ll be stuck.”

I was stuck in an elevator in the early 1980s at the Mayo Clinic for over an hour and had to jump down between floors to escape, while wearing a dress only to have “old codgers” leering up my dress as I jumped down, wearing Candy’s high-heeled shoes, popular at the time. I’ll never forget that experience.

And here I was again, this time wearing a hospital gown, with bandages and tubes in my legs, fresh out of surgery. Ha! Who’s the old codger now?

We made it and as soon as my bed exited the lift, I saw Tom waiting for me.  The first thing he said was, “There’s a story for you, Sweetie?” Who knew? I laughed, and indeed it was my second such situation with an elevator in two medical clinics on two sides of the world.

As for the surgery itself, it went well. Tomorrow, we’ll be going home with lots of restrictions I’ll share in detail, along with Part 2 of Hospital Hell, when the fun began to unfold.

Please check back.

Have a safe day!

Photo from one year ago today, April 2, 2018:

When we went to lunch at the Border Café with Danie and Louise, Danie ordered this dish called, Eisbein, a roasted pork knuckle; it looked delicious. For more photos, please click here.

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