The official blog of Susan Landis-Steward, writer of whatever she likes, and co-founder of Puddletown Publishing Group

Archive for July, 2009

Near-Death by Kittens

Okay, no excuses. I’ve been busy, I’ve been working, and I’ve been to the hospital twice. Yes, twice. This (see photo) has been trying to murder me.  Now, I am many things but I’m

MURDERER!
MURDERER!

reasonably sure I am not a cat tree. I am not made of wood. I am not covered with cheap carpet or sisal. I am not stationary.

But for some reason, this and his/her sibling (I can’t tell which one that is…but I think it’s Abby) has been making daily attempts to cause me to bleed out. With some modicum of success.

But, about 10 days ago, my leg suddenly got hot, bright red, and blew up to piano leg proportions. We have a box grand piano, with elephantine legs, so that’s pretty damn big. And it hurt like hell. Jenny decided that a trip to Urgency Care was in order. I had pretty much decided that I’d cracked my tibia/fibia (always get those two mixed up…the little one) when I slipped on wet leaves the week before. So I reluctantly agreed.

Diagnosis: Cellulitis caused by cat scratch. Okay, fine. Sounds tame. Then they start jabbering about necrotizing fasciaitis and other things that sound nasty and are.  They natter, Jenny panics, I’m just hoping there’s some good drugs involved. We go home with heavy duty antibiotics and by the next day, a miracle! I’m worse! The leg is redder, parts of it are turning purple, and it hurts like hell. I call the advice nurse and her advice, after consulting a physician, is get to the ER IMMEDIATELY.

Which we do. (Well, we did eat dinner but it was already cooked and we were hungry so make that Immediately plus 10 minutes.) We are members of Kaiser and mostly that’s a good thing. But on a Monday night (or any night for that matter if staff are to be believed) it is a freaking zoo. I get in line and am second in line. The line moves and I am first in line. It is about 8:15 pm.

The line grinds to a halt. A triage nurse, the only triage nurse it seems, is using the check in counter to do, well, triage. So the person who checks us in can’t because of HIPAA laws. So I’m standing there, getting purpler, and swollen, and the triage nurse yells at me and about 20 other people to BACK UP. BEHIND THE LINE. FOR CONFIDENTIALITY. We’re already behind the line but we back up. Which forces some people out the automatic doors. Which start opening and closing. Which causes the triage nurse to yell at them  to stop playing with the doors. Which they aren’t but what do I know. I stand there for close to an hour. I am not happy.

Finally, it’s my turn to check in. It is now after 9 pm. I’m told to go sit down and that I will be seen soon. Only if soon means five hours later. We sit across the room and can STILL hear the triage nurse asking personal HIPAA-covered questions to people at the desk. That dang line is so damned effective!

Finally, after a couple hours, I get called into a room where I am weighed and my blood pressure is taken. Then I am sent back to the waiting room but not until I’ve found out (being a former newsy and all) that the ER has 43 rooms, 4 doctors, and 8 nurses, and that some REAL emergencies have been waiting over 2 hours. And that the triage nurse, who should be in the little room talking to people in private because of HIPAA LAWS, has been told to do triage at the front desk by Kaiser management. Which means people can’t be checked in while she’s doing triage. Following that? My Kaiser dollars at work.

If I decide to try to die in some particularly dramatic way, I ain’t going to Kaiser Sunnyside.

Two more hours pass. I am returned to the little room for another blood pressure check. I am not weighed although I’m sure I’ve lost a couple pounds waiting. My blood pressure is up but I’m one of those folks who has low blood pressure so up for me is normal for you.

Then the triage nurse wants me again. Just to see if I’m worse. She wants to know what’s changed since we came in. I tell her my leg is now swollen up like a giant oak and she says, no, what is new. I say that is new. It wasn’t swollen when we got there because I was following doctor’s orders and elevating it. I’m sent back to my seat for insolence.

Then Jenny  gets bugged enough to go up and talk to the nurse. Finally, I am taken to the exam room. The doctor comes in, draws around the infection with a pen, mumbles MRSA, and prescribes Clindamycin. Look it up. It’s nasty. Better than being admitted for an IV but still nasty. My favorite side effect is that it may cause nasty side effects in my lower GI tract SIX MONTHS after I finish taking it. Not that it isn’t causing them already. YOGURT IS GOD.

Anyway, we got home after 3 am. It’s now been ten days and I am on the mend. Nothing is eating my flesh. My left leg will stay attached. No tubes are coming out my arm. I will live. The kittens are still using their claws on me. They will live too.

My new prophylactic treatment is water aerobics. I figure the chemicals in the water will cancel out cat slobber and other stuff. Don’t tell me otherwise. Some of us require our fantasy lives to survive. And Vicodin.

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