Saturday, December 19, 2009

December, 1974

I hadn't been in a hospital since I was born, and of course I don't remember that.

But my asthma was not getting better that week (I was on Marax- you RPh people remember that?) and so, after repeated visits to his office, my pediatrician admitted me to Local Hospital.

My most vivid memory is watching "The Year Without a Santa Claus" on TV ("I'll have a blue Christmas without you...). It was the only thing I remember being on. Maybe that's why, ever since then, I've been oddly partial to the "I'm Mr. White/Green Christmas" musical numbers.

Yes, kids, back then you had to PLAN your holiday-TV-special-watching. It wasn't as simple as just, say, finding which of the 182 channels were showing it on any given night, or popping the DVD in whenever you wanted. A motivation to learn to read was so you could look through TV Guide and make a list of when and what channel each of the key specials was on. Because if you missed them, too bad. They wouldn't be back until next year. So, no matter where you were, you found a way to watch them.

I also had to learn to pee in a urinal. But, I digress.

I thought I was a good patient. I really did. I don't remember pressing the call button much. My breathing got better. I went home the next day.

And now let's fast-forward to the mid-90's.

Studly, white-coated, intern Dr. Grumpy, fresh out of med-school, is now doing his training at the very same hospital where he spent that night long ago. And one day, while waiting for an admission to come out of the MRI, he wanders down to medical records, looking for that long ago chart from 1974.

Down 2 flights of stairs, in a dimly lit basement, they still had it. It was on microfiche (remember that, people?). I sat down and perused the notes out of curiousity. Reading off asthma drugs long withdrawn from the market.

And then I came to the nurse's notes.

And my nurse that night had written "Patient won't stop whining."

WTF! You bitch!

Me? Whine?

I didn't whine! I was sick, damn it! And my IV hurt! And the hospital food sucked! And the TV reception could have been better! And you put the urinal where I couldn't reach it! And you kept waking me up for that breathing treatment! And I needed another blanket because you kept my room pretty freaking cold! And you had coffee-breath!

I put the chart away. I was curious. I called the pediatric floor to ask if she still worked there.

She'd retired the month before I started my internship.

You got lucky, lady.

22 comments:

psychnursen said...

Another good reason to be careful what you chart. You never know who will read it or how it'll be interpreted.

Old MD Girl said...

I got my medical records from my doctor when I moved from Chicago a few years back, and I was TOTALLY expecting to see some comment along the lines of, "This patient is a total pain in my a**."

I didn't, but then it took a month to get the records sent to me. Maybe those sheets were artfully removed.....

Jacqueline said...

That is crazy! Too bad you didn't have a chance to run into her.

You checking your records reminds me of that Seinfeld episode where Elaine keeps trying to get her records and gets more and more stuff written on them.

I admit, when I am at the doc's I always peek at my records...although he probably doesn't mind.

Julie said...

sometimes it's best not to know :)

RxKerBer said...

Totally off topic - but The Year Without a Santa Claus is my favorite Christmas movie! I too love Heat and Snow Miser (heat esp). Now I'll be singing Green Christmas all day at work. Lol

kc said...

I got a copy of mine from my pulmonologist that said I was articulate and well groomed. Must have been an exceptional day for me.

Christy said...

Hahaha! That is fantastic! Your posts seriously make my day!

MomNurseWife said...

Hmmm.....can't imagine a kid whining.
Silly nurse. She prob though peds would be easy and all the kids cute and families would always be functional and happy. We have a few misguided souls who thought OB would be the happiest place in the hospital.

Bibliotekaren said...

Too funny! I agree with Julie -- sometimes it's better not to know yet I gather my medical records anyway.

A past neurologist would always take one of my off-the-cuff quips to quote in the office note making me sound pretty nutty. "...she notes that xxx drug is evil and reported xxx symptoms..." Yep, I had an exorcism scheduled right after the neuro consult.

My neurosurgeon always refers to me "as this very nice woman" in office notes -- sometimes multiple times. I should probably take that at face value and not read code into it but it's used so often that it seems over the top.

My internist notes that "...patient arrives with binder of her prior tests in hand..." which I'm sure is code for pain in the arse :)

Fiz said...

I was told I could go home the next day a week after I'd had my tonsils and adnenoids out (I lived on penicillin till they took them out). I got very excited. my temperature went up and I cried quiety into my pillow and a nurse slapped me for being "a spoilt little bitch". Then I had German measles when I came home. Rot, St Alban's hospital!

Anonymous said...

Now so many Drs offices, have your file on the computer. I know I can't look at mine anymore. Dang it!!

mm

Amy said...

My pediatric dentist told my mother and I that I was the first and only patient to ever scream and cry at the dentist.

Anonymous said...

I remember the 'sultry' pose of my younger 11th grade sister when she wore my mother's military dress pumps and a pedal pusher outfit as she artfully draped herself in the living room doorway; how it reminded me of Marilyn Monroe in LIFE. (Probably long before your time, Dr. G.)

Later, but not too long after that I happened to read her health record. The physician described her as obese. (She wasn't.) I never saw that doctor in the same light again!

I suppose that HIPPA was not the only reason there are strict rules of confidentiality...but someone at the hospital here is sure to remind me that I will bet fired for even looking at my own records...at least that's what the orientation training described...

Cheryl said...

I was five years old and in the hospital for a tonsillectomy. They put me on a ward in a crib and tied a net over the top because I was a sleepwalker. When I cried the nurse told me if I didn't stop she would stick me with a big needle. I have never forgotten the terror. It was like a Hitchcock film. That nurse damaged my psyche because she couldn't be bothered to comfort a child.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Grumpy..you are the best. Long, long ago I remember a friend of mine had her tonsils out and said they take your temperature in your butt! I never complained of a sore throat again.

Anonymous said...

Cheryl, I sympathise. That was really cruel.

sc780913 said...

At least you can read it. All the neurologists I know are the worst offenders in terms of mysterious and illegible handwriting.

Anonymous said...

Hilarious, Grumpy!

But I couldn't stop thinking, "WTF is microfiche?". I had never even heard of it until you mentioned it in your post. I had to google it, and then I asked my mom. She remembered it from when she worked in a library. I just looked at her while she was explaining it and said, "Uh-huh...".



L.

Anonymous said...

I was just telling my kids about planning the holiday special viewing......Wizard of Oz always on Thanksgiving night, etc.

Anonymous said...

What do you mean "remember" microfiche?

I handle it every day. And, I'm only 30.

My Miracle on 34th Street wish is that the office will upgrade to scannable files. A kid can dream...

GingerJar said...

I had to be nurse for a close family member who was assigned on my floor...she agreed for me to be her nurse...no problem, I didn't mind, but when reviewing the H and P , the hospitalist had noted "The patient appears to be border-line mentally retarded...", I almost swallowed my tongue trying not to laugh...my sentiment's exactly, however ... with family knowledge it was more like "Red-neck inner-breeding...". Actually she isn't retarded, but she likes to talk reallllly slowwww and repeattt herself over and over, to be sure you understand her (because no one is as smart as she is). Funny that the doctor interpeted that as mental retardation.

Anonymous said...

i have grave's disease and my endo once told me in front of my husband that i had murderer's hands. unbelievable!!

 
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