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A Million Little Pieces Of My Mind

Emergency Room

By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 4/15/2024
Posted: 4/16/2020
Page Views: 698
Topics: #Travel #Health #Coronavius #Maui
What happened when I went to the emergency room NOT with coronavirus.

Keith and I just had food poisoning.

We have a refrigerator but because our electricity is still unreliable we haven't used it for food, just soft drinks. We keep our food in a cooler, and buy ice for it every other day. We've been buying frozen bag dinners, since the bags are waterproof so the melting ice doesn't get inside. we've been going into Kahului every four or five days to resupply.

And last night we ate the last remaining dinner, Mongollian Beef, with something called "black rice" which is supposed to be like brown rice but more so. (In other words, very high fiber).

By 2 AM, Keith didn't feel well but I was puking my guts out.

By 7 AM I knew I needed an emergency room. And the nearest one, according to Google Maps, was 2 hours away in Kahului.

So we piled the dogs in the rental Jeep and headed to "the other side", as Kahului is called by Hana residents.

I've been to emergency rooms any number of times in my life, both as a patient and as a friend or family member of a patient. But i'd never been to one during a pandemic.

There were a number of tents set up outside the Maui Memorial ER, working to triage patients without making them (or allowing them) to come inside. They don't allow people with elevated temperatures inside, at least, that's what I was told. My temperature was 97.7° so they let me in. And, in fact, I was taken to an ER bed in short order.

Keith was not allowed to accompany me. Of course, he had to stay with the dogs, anyway.

Given the story I told, they assumed (and I agreed) that I was suffering, at this point, more from dehydration and low potassium than the food poisoning, which had probably resolved when I threw up. So they had me take off my shirt and put on one of those open-in-back robes, and hooked me up to an IV.

The room was cold. I mean, cold. They keep these rooms at 64°, and I was shivering my ass off. I asked for blankets, and the nurse re-took my temperature. Now, I had a low fever of 101.6°. From then on, the nurse wouldn't re-enter the room without wearing full hazmat gear.

She also had an odd idea about handling a fever. I've always been told, and I know from personal experience that it works, is to pay attention to my own body: If I feel cold (whether there's a fever or not), I get in a hot tub. As soon as I then feel warm, I switch to a cool tub. Back and forth, until the fever breaks, which never takes long with this technique. It's a lot more effective for getting over something than aspirin or acetaminophen.

But my nurse was horrified. "That will damage your brain!" she exclaimed.

"It doesn't seem to harm people who use Jacuzzis," I pointed out.

She smiled smugly. "Well, that's not what we do in our practice." And so I remained, not only not in a Jacuzzi, but without any additional blankets or relief from the unrelenting cold.

Even though they had already punctured me for the IV, they now decided they had to take lots of blood for tests. That required, not one, but three additional punctures (since a couple didn't work), and vial after vial of blood, to the point of my wondering if I would need a transfusion.

They found low potassium, as expected, and added a bag of it to my IV cocktail.

They also found a high white blood cell count, and decided to give me an abdominal CAT scan, even though (other than throwing up) I had no abdominal problems.

I never saw the CAT scan technician, though I heard him. The nurse who wheeled me to the radiology lab did the "get on the table" part, and then I had to wait for those results. (They found nothing, as I had predicted.)

So, after over six hours in the emergency room, Keith was able to pick me up. It was really too late to return home, so we spent the night in Pa'ia, did our supply run in the morning, and then, finally, got back to our cabin, determined to be more careful with our frozen goods henceforth.