I was so elated to leave ICU and finally get into a regular room, but I quickly found out that my expectations were too high. Enter into the paralysis drama, West Wing 7, my interim stay between ICU and into my much anticipated rehabilitation. The stay there was brief (6 days to be exact) but chock-full of unpleasant surprises. This whole “not moving” thing was still very new to me and there wasn’t a step-by-step guide on the nightstand to walk me through exactly what was going to happen to my body.
I was told that in West Wing 7 my main goal was to learn how to sit in “the pink chair” and tolerate it for as long as I could without passing out. Sounds easy enough, right? The pink chair was actually a pink table that they placed me on and strapped me to. There was a crank that slowly turned the table into a chair. Not a very sophisticated piece of medical equipment, but passing the test on this thing was my ticket out of here and into rehab. To most, this doesn’t really sound like a big deal. But If you’ve been horizontal for several weeks, sitting in a chair without passing out is a big deal. Add to that a spinal cord injury, and it’s even more difficult. Once I achieved this great feat, I would be able to move into the rehab unit. This is what I have been wanting to do since the day I moved into ICU.
My first impression of West Wing 7 was how nice the room was (I had a private room and it looked like a hotel room), how professional and detail oriented the nurse who helped me get settled in was and of course, how clean the ceiling tiles were. I’ve become quite the connoisseur of ceiling tiles since looking up has been my main perspective for quite some time now. I had a great feeling about West Wing 7 but things quickly declined from there. I was well aware of the patient to nurse ratio as compared to ICU, and that reaction time would not be as quick when I needed someone however I did not anticipate being ignored completely. Don’t get me wrong, there were many excellent nurses on staff there, but a few not so great ones upset Mary’s apple cart. There was more than one occasion that I needed a nurse but was not able to get one. I was not pressing the call button to order a fresh fruit plate and a mimosa, I truly needed someone’s help. By the way, they refer to the call button as the “pancake” because of its shape. This is not Perkins Pancake, it’s a hospital therefore I refused to refer to it as a pancake…it sounded stupid and that’s just the way I am. At one point, I was left in the pink chair for way too long. I have not been acclimated to sitting upright yet and my body was well aware of that. My neck quickly turned into a throbbing and painful mess and I felt like I was going to pass out. Remember, I was not recovering from a nose job…this was major spine surgery and I was still experiencing substantial pain and some dizziness. I hit the call button several times because I absolutely needed to get out of the chair and back into bed. The secretary at the nurses desk that is in charge of answering the patient calls kept telling me someone would be there soon. This was her only job; to answer the phone and make sure that you got a nurse. Well, she sucked at it. I think at one point she just stopped answering my calls. Finally, probably 45 minutes later, a nurse came and I was transferred into bed and given pain meds…finally relieved. Just the next day, I was in severe pain and hit the call button to ask for much needed pain meds. After about an hour of no nurse in sight, my friend Peter happened to arrive to pay a visit to me that day. At that point I was sobbing from the pain and he quickly ran to the nurses desk to get help for me. He actually had to go a couple times before someone finally came. This is absolutely unacceptable and I was about ready to lose it. I soon realized that idiots and people that really don’t give a shit about their jobs and only care about getting a paycheck exist in the nursing profession as well. The days of Florence Nightingale are over. This treatment was like night and day compared to where I had just came from. On another occasion, I needed to use the hospital notary for some documents that needed to be sent out ASAP. Kim was still with me and went to the same desk and talked to the same inept person that answers the phone for the patient calls. Kim received absolutely no help from this person. She was actually quite rude. She tried to tell Kim that there was no notary available at the time (which we knew wasn’t true) and insisted that we had to wait until the next day. Now, is she really trying to tell me that a 2200 bed hospital only has one notary on staff? Where is Monica Quatermaine when you need her? Trust me, the lady at the desk was lucky that I couldn’t walk because I was more than annoyed at that point and some serious shit would’ve gone down at the nurses station that evening.
As a result of all of the top performers there, Kim slept in the room with me in West Wing 7 every night until I was transferred to rehab. She was afraid to leave me alone for fear I was not going to get the help and care that I needed. I love Kim, she’s my Florence Nightingale. We made an official complaint so it should be documented with someone somewhere in this hospital. I’m sure it will be ignored.