Friday, October 31, 2014 • 05:20
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Helping hands


March 26, 2014
I have two new best friends named Jane and Donna. It was about 10 days ago that they doted on me quite a bit, served me lunch, let me lounge in a very comfortable armchair, put me in charge of the TV remote, adjusted the shades in my room to bring in just the right amount of light, exchanged pleasantries when requested, and showed me some fancy needle work.

Now that I have your attention, let me be more specific. Jane and Donna are registered nurses at the Infusion Unit of Palomar Hospital, the old campus in downtown Escondido.

I visited these two professional women because I was a quart low or something like that. I needed three bags of blood, which sounds rather gruesome, but when one's red blood cells are not replicating at the suggested speed and efficiency it is sometimes necessary to get a fill up. It was my first such procedure but won't be my last.

The purpose of writing this type of column is to encourage people of age that good medicine is practiced at both the downtown campus of Palomar and the new Palomar Medical Center in the western corner of the city. I have visited both. I wrote about the other complex a few months ago.

My message is that you are in good hands.

I was the Early Bird patient at 8 a.m. I also was the only patient for about an hour. The unit soon filled to capacity, with all patients receiving blood transfusions. Donna and Jane were the two nurses on duty and it was a pleasure to watch and be part of their professionalism.

I'm not an expert, of course, but they followed proper protocols to the extent I know them, plus they were friendly and accommodating throughout. They exchanged conversation about general topics when I inquired – which was often since I am a nosy writer/reporter. I like to know lots of little things, especially when my health is involved. There are some who even think I can be annoying.

I'm guessing they were in and out of my room about every 10 minutes, which is substantial since I was there for five and a half hours. And yes, they did serve me lunch, adjusted my comfy chair as needed, and fulfilled every man's wish of being completely in charge of the TV remote. The time went by quickly, helped by a newspaper and crossword puzzle.

The needle work part is a play on words. They stuck a few needles in my arm as well. It goes with the territory.

I also was part of a Code Pink. That's when intercom announcement says there is an intruder in the building near the infant quarters perhaps trying to abscond – or steal – a baby. The physical description of the culprit – a woman – was given, plus the style and color of the clothes she was wearing. The warning sent security personnel and hospital employees to pre-arranged stations. Donna and Jane locked the doors to the infusion unit.

The announcement came twice in five minutes. When the third warning came everyone relaxed because it not the real thing, it was a readiness test. The powers-that-be were just keeping the troops alert. My new friends told me they are tested rather frequently but that it is worthwhile since there have been times when disgruntled parents/spouses tried to take off with a baby.

Another unexpected event during my stay was a dog visit. Two ladies brought a Schnauzer, comfortably placed in a stroller, into my room and asked if I wanted to play, pet or talk to him. I said no thanks. I guess I'm a one-dog guy – Maizy, my golden lab – so I declined. Two or three others in adjacent rooms were very glad to have a dog to visit with.

I also learned that I have B Positive (B +) blood. I liked that. I try to be positive all the time. It turns out only 10% of Americans have B + blood. The highest percentages are 0 + at 37% and A+ at 34%. I also learned that dogs have 4 blood types, cats have 11 and cows have about 800.

Some people think blood type tells about personality. Type B is creative and excitable, it is believed. I will confess to the creative part. Actually, I do get excited now and then as well.

Certain blood types are more common in certain countries. In China, over 99% of the population has Rh+ blood. The Japanese often ask friends and strangers what their blood type is rather than as "what's your (astrological) sign."

My story might end here. It depends if my editor finds the humor in a rather embarrassing incident that took place near the end of my hospital stay. If you are still reading on, it means she laughed.

The blood bags are hooked to a large pole and the blood drips slowly down through a tube and into the arm via a needle. Everyone probably knows this. When the blood bag runs dry, a buzzing noise begins. This is to alert the nurses a new bag is needed. After bag No. 2, Donna entered the room to make the change for the third and final bag.

I told her I needed to make a restroom visit. She said I would have to drag the pole – on rollers – with me. She left, I started on my way and the buzzer started again. Turns out you have to keep your needled arm – my left – straight because the line would kink and start the noise again. I noted that and moved on.

When I returned to the room, plopped down in the comfy chair and adjusted the pole I apparently bent my left arm too much and the noise started again. This time it was Jane who came in the room and asked what was happening. That's when I misspoke. Donna would have understood because she was there earlier but now it was Jane.

I absent-mindedly said, "I went to the bathroom and I guess I was holding it wrong."

Jane's eyes widened a bit, followed by a smile. It instantly dawned on me – too late, however – that I omitted the part about the pole and keeping my left arm straight. I immediately tried to explain what I really meant… and, well, never mind. The damage could not be undone. I was toast. I think Jane understood my words didn't come out exactly as I intended.

Never mind, again. This conversation simply can't end well for me.

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