Escape from the Hospital

by John Delach

The events, characters, people, places and anything else you can think of contained in this story are purely fictional.

Before beginning this story, let me note that as bad as it can be to be discharged from a hospital, it is an infinitely better ending to a hospital stay than the alternative.

I entered the hospital early on a Monday morning for a full-knee replacement and by 8:15 AM the old one was long gone. About 8 PM I was transported to a regular room without a roommate to begin transitioning to my hospital routine of blood pressure tests, blood tests, temperature checks, timely dosages of prescribed pills, chats with doctors, P.A.s, nurses, compilers of facts and information, dieticians, clergy, physical therapists all the while answering repetitive questions.

My roommate arrived almost two hours later allowing me to re-live this routine by witnessing his version.

The rest of the night was ruined by a semi-planned cavalcade of tests, bathroom breaks, etc.

My ultimate goal, getting released to go home, began to come into focus on Tuesday morning. My orthopedist had predicted that I would most probably go home by Tuesday night. This became my Holy Grail and anything I did, ate, drank or participated in was influenced by my desire to make it home that day.

It wasn’t too long before I was informed of two impediments that were coming into focus that would block the fulfillment of my quest; I had yet to demonstrate the ability to urinate on my own without the need to use a caterer and my body had to meet the minimum sodium levels. My minimum level was 128, considered low, and my count seemed to be falling.

That dear reader is the essential issue of this story which we are going to let unfold.

One of the doctors explained that morning, “You can’t get out of here until you achieve both goals, but right now you are receiving medicines to make you pee. Unfortunately, these same medicines have a habit of reducing your sodium level.”

“So, what you are saying is that the same medicines that will get me to pee will fail me on my sodium count?”

He replied: “That’s right.”

“Great, that makes me a Catch 22, I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t.”

I was failing on both fronts. They had to get the sodium count up and re-cauterize me for 12 hours to empty my bladder. At the end of the 12-hours, I was allowed to let the open channel do just that, then I had a four-hour widow to do it on my own. I failed miserably.

When my sodium count dropped to 126, my dream team decided to go in a different direction; use medicines to increase the sodium level while I took responsibility to make my body achieve free-flowing urine. We tried the cauterization / free flow route one more time with the admonition: “Don’t screw this one up, soldier.”

At first, zero! But that night after several dry holes, mother nature ran her course in her own sweet time that allowed me to produce enough liquid to pass their test. “Thank God Almighty!”

I texted my wife: “Peed! One down, one to go.”

On Wednesday morning a kidney specialist who let’s call Dr. Salt joined my dream team. He was greatly concerned about all my sodium issues and though he liked me, he didn’t trust my sodium production ability. Never-the-less, he prescribed a single dosage pill to fix me. Later that day when my sodium count came in at 128, there was joy throughout the known universe.

I had achieved lift-off. All of the responsible top docs signed off and discharge was only a review away until one last impediment raised its oily head. It turned out I was taking a water pill, a terrible no-no. After a lengthy delay of five hours, compromises and promises were made and I was cleared to go.

My nurse ordered a wheelchair from Transport. We waited and we waited sitting in my room. After about another half-hour had passed, Mary Ann got up and left without saying anything. I figured she needed to make a stop at the lady’s room, but not too much later she re-appeared pushing an empty wheelchair. “Let’s go!” she commanded. As we made it passed all sort of hospital personnel, I asked her, “What if somebody stops you?”

“I’ll tell them I’m certified to move patients.”

Turns out there is truth to that. In any event, no one said anything. With some help, I squiggled into the front seat of her Jeep Renegade and she drove us home without further incident.

The next day after everything had calmed down, I asked her why she did it. “I was about to explode. My hair hurt. I had to get us out of there.”

I for one am only too glad she did.

It is nice to be back, but at this stage in my recovery, I cannot say for certain that I will be publishing “On the Outside Looking In” weekly. Please stay with me and I will do the best I can.