Two hospital visits on the same day

transthoracic echocardiogram

hospitalHow I had two hospital visits on the same day. Well, of a sort.

Monday, October 10: Leslie and I return to Albany, stopping to pick up a lot of Italian food. My wife also wanted us to pick up her prescription pain medication, but it wasn’t there. Her doctor’s office had failed to send the info either that day or the following morning. She increasingly needed pain relief, particularly from the inflammation of her left foot. Finally, it was filled, and I retrieved it.

Moreover, in addition to the infection of her ankle, a blister developed on her left shin. When I think of a blister, I think of a tiny, though irritated, area. This was considerably larger. As my wife later suggested, it was also appropriate for the holiday season because it like as though it was from a zombie.

Leslie and I saw my daughter before she left the next morning with about a third of the food, which was fine.

Tuesday, October 11: We were going to go to a timeshare in the Berkshires, but my wife couldn’t stand the pain of being in the car for an hour. Plan B:  After we put the one cat in the basement, Leslie came over and washed the dishes while I attempted to straighten up the house and tend to my wife.

Wednesday, October 12: Leslie and I went to the rental car place to return the vehicle. She Ubered to the airport, and I took the bus home. I certainly didn’t mind taking care of my wife, but it ate into most of my time for food prep and just helping her to get from one point to another.

The day without end

Thursday, October 13: My wife and I had separate medical visits. I went to the cardio section of St. Peter’s Hospital to get a transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE). What is THAT? It is “a test that uses ultrasound (sound waves) to create images of your heart. TTE can determine how well your heart is functioning and identify causes of cardiac-related symptoms.”

I’m getting this test because of this. I used to get one annually, but then my cardiologist retired, and no one in the office followed up. So I had to get my primary care physician (PCP) to contact another practice in Schenectady, who I had seen a couple of weeks earlier. BTW, the Ellis Hospital main phone line sucks. I was in phone hell for ten minutes before abandoning it, Googling the directish number I needed, and calling that.

Part 2

So after the test, I went home, ate lunch, and watched a recorded episode of JEOPARDY. But before I could finish it, my wife called and said that HER PCP was displeased with the progress of her leg. The antibiotics should have done more. She should go to the emergency room and be admitted. I was to meet there, at St. Peter’s, where I had just come from.

We both arrived around 2:30 p.m.; she’d gotten a ride from the church friend who had taken her to the doctor. After two hours, she was called to the triage office, which involved her using her crutches to hobble there. Yes, the nurse there said my wife should be admitted. She finally got a wheelchair.

Around 6, I went home to take the trash to the curb, feed the cats, and, most importantly, make my wife a sandwich. The selection of graham crackers, saltine crackers, and Lorna Doones has dissipated over time. The bottled water is gone, with just some ginger ale cans.

Finally, my wife gets to go to a bed attached to the ER. I go in about a half hour later as it becomes obvious that she won’t see anyone for a while. At about 11 pm, I go home.


Friday, October 14: She tells me that several medical folks saw her overnight, some of which involved doctors waking her in the middle of the night. Around noon, she’s on the fifth floor. But she doesn’t have a room yet. And she hasn’t eaten or even drunk water since 8 pm the night before because the vascular surgeon was supposed to see her.

I arrive on the 5th floor at about 1:45 pm and find my wife, who doesn’t yet have a room. She’s on the floor, with some partitions providing a modicum of privacy. Then I got a call maybe 10 minutes after I arrived. It was my MIL wanting to know how her daughter was doing; I hadn’t spoken to her since we were still in the ER.

Finally, at about 2 pm, my wife gets a room. More importantly, since it was established that the vascular guy WOULDN’T see her that day, she got some food!

I was very distressed by all of this. It was my impression that her PCP could call the hospital and bypass the hours of waiting. I figured it would be like my last ER visit in August. Of course, that was a perceived heart thing in a less busy hospital. One of the medical professionals we spoke with subsequently said that’s just how health care is, especially in the last three years.

To travel, or not to travel

Coming from California

travelI’m writing this more than two weeks after the fact, which is suboptimal. This continuation: To travel, or not to travel.

Tuesday, October 4: My usual Bible guys meeting at 9 a.m. I believe I’m the youngest member of the group, which used to meet in person before COVID. But once we started on ZOOM, we stayed on ZOOM. Unlike most meetings, a Bible study with four to seven guys is manageable.

Conversely, the weekly book review at the Washington Avenue branch always wants to be in person. There were some furtive attempts at offering it online, but it’s just better face-to-face.

I went home, and my wife and I started a largely futile attempt to clean the house.

Wednesday, October 5: My wife and I drove to the Albany International Airport. It’s “international” because it services trips to and from a few Canadian cities. I went to the luggage area and met my sister Leslie, who had flown in from SoCal. She was going to go to her high school reunion that weekend. I had agreed to be her Plus One.

My wife suggested going to the Iron Gate Cafe, where we had eaten only a few weeks earlier. But her ankle was now extremely sore, and she begged off but dropped us off there. My sister loved it, as my wife knew she would.

My wife drove Leslie to the Avis/Budget car rental in Colonie Center, near the former Sears; I had no idea it was there. We all went home, with me navigating for my sister; she could have used her phone, but why when she had me?


My wife was on the phone with her doctor’s office, but from my end of the conversation, it didn’t sound as though her pain or possible infection was being taken seriously. Moreover, the redness of her ankle and above was very concerning to me.

This was because, in 1979, two days before I started my first attempt at grad school, I got a little cut on my baby toe. Increasingly, it hurt tremendously. I hobbled through registration, then limped to the infirmary. The doctor immediately put me on bed rest AT THE INFIRMARY for six days. He feared that the infection, traveling up a blood vessel in my leg, would head for my heart and kill me. I started classes late and never did catch up.

My wife and I put Leslie up in a hotel so she wouldn’t have to put up with our demented cat.

Thursday, October 5: I called my wife’s doctor’s office at 6:10 a.m. Of course, I got the service, but I gave the person great detail about the swelling and what appeared to be spreading infection. To my amazement, her doctor called back at 6:30 and promised a slot as soon as the scheduler came in. At 7:40, the office called, and my wife had a 10:30 appointment, which my sister drove her to. My wife got doses of antibiotics. After lunch, Leslie drove us so my wife could get an ultrasound. The good news: no blood clots.

The reserves

Leslie and I were going to Binghamton that afternoon in her rental vehicle. To travel, or not to travel, that was the question. I would have felt uncomfortable leaving my wife but for one thing. Unrelated to the medical issues, my daughter had decided to come home from college for the long weekend. SHE would take care of her mother! This was a bit of serendipity

And from the reporting of the patient, when Leslie and I came back on Monday, she had done a fabulous job. This is not a surprise, based on a story my daughter told my wife. Someone at college had accidentally cut themselves, and another student tried to patch them up, but they didn’t do it correctly. Clean the wound, pat it dry, and then put the ointment on the bandage, not the wound. My wife had shown this method to my daughter, and the message took. Can you hear the maternal beam of joy?

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