Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Netcare's Worst

What is supposed to be the flagship hospital of the Netcare Healthcare are group, last night was one of the worse nights I ever experienced. Well I suppose I don’t have much to compare it with in terms of hospital overnighters as I have never stayed overnight in a hospital before but surely my many private and government hospitals visits count for something.

I started this morning a grumpy old man that was not suffering fools lightly due to a lack of sleep. Oh but wasn’t I supposed undergo sleep observation in the Sleep Lab last night? Yes I was but sleep was so very hard to find. Let me start at the beginning...

Wednesday last week I was booked to undergo Obstructive Sleep Apnoea screening at the Sleep and Neurophysiology Centre’s Sleep Lab at Sunninghill Hospital. The receptionist at the centre gave me a two page form with procedure codes and practice numbers to help me with the pre-authorisation number that they required from my medical aid. Having got the authorization number that afternoon, I notified the centre and they instructed me to arrive between 3 and 4pm Tuesday which was yesterday at the admissions desk of Sunninghill Hospital.

Going through the two page document that the Sleep and Neurophysiology Centre gave me on Tuesday morning I noticed that it mentions a pre-admission form which can be filled out online 24 hours beforehand. A bit late but I filled it out anyway. I also noticed that it mentioned a menu and that I have to tick and email it back to them. I assumed it was the dinner menu but there was no such menu attached so I decided to phone the centre. Their answer was that they haven’t received menus for some time now. I was a bit concerned as they just expected me to arrive and all will be in place, so I told them that I need a Kosher dinner please. Oh no was their reply that I should have told them the day before. The morning before was a bit late for them. What? No I don’t need special dietary requirements but what if I needed vegetarian, kosher, or halaal? This is starting on a bad footing.

So I presented myself at the admissions desk about 3:30 pm yesterday with some trepidations. My pre-admission that I filled online was not on the system, it would only reflect the next day. Oh well the form did say 24 hours before and not 12 hours. Surely 12 hours was ample time for a digital system. No worries, the admissions clerk soon booked me in and directed me to the Sleep Lab.

At the Sleep Lab I found Patrick who directed me to Lab 2 which consisted of a bed, a side table and 2 chairs. After standing for a while in the room alone, I left to find Patrick and asked him about the procedures for the evening. Patrick was the first person who then explained to me what was going on and what they were going to do. Surprisingly he apologised about not having Kosher and he said that there was a new catering company and the menu keeps changing hence I was not given a menu form. Oops, there seems to be a little confusion as to if I am going to get supper or not.

Not long afterwards, Patrick said that his shift ends at 6pm and that he needed to have me wired up before then as the next person taking over from him doesn’t know how to connect all the wires to my head. And that once I am connected I cannot move from the bed. BUT what about a shower? Okay I see, a shower needs to be done down the passage on the other side of level 2 passed all the other wards at a communal men’s bathrooms but before 6 please. I was very concerned that if no supper arrives that I would have to track down to the foyer and buy some food then prepare for bed. But Patrick soon brought me my supper.

Now for that shower. It felt like a walk of shame walking down to the male bathrooms on the other side of the building past all the other wards. Sigh, this must be a very old hospital, surely this can’t be Netcare’s flagship hospital.

By 6pm, Patrick had wired my head up and then introduced me to nurse Elzeth who would be supervising me overnight. Now I thought the singer Nataniël had a unique voice, well it sounds like Elzeth can be his twin sister because they talk very similar. Anyways Elzeth settled me down and around about 8pm she put a strap with a sensor around my chest, nose clip, and pulse oximetry on my finger tip.

Now for some sleep. Well with the one monitor super glued in the middle of my chest that started to painfully dig into me as turned to get comfortable and the pulse oximetry started to hurt on my finger, sleep was hard to come by. The worst was the ambient light and this constant hum in the building that there was very little that I could do to try fall asleep in the Sleep Lab. I tossed and turned throughout the night and at about 2am in the morning I was more comfortable sitting up in bed with my eyes closed praying for just a little sleep. And sleep didn’t come.

I was awoken a little after 5am by Elzeth as she opened the door. I told her that I didn’t get much sleep last night and asked her if she got any useful readings. She said that she did noticed that I was constantly waking up from a light sleep and when in the sleep mode my oxygen levels dropped dramatically. All I felt was that I hardly slept more than an hour and had a sleep deprivation headache from hell. Elzeth proceeded to remove all the wires by using acetone to wash my scalp. Then it was the same walk of shame down the passage to have a shower, but thankfully most of the patients were still sleeping. I was grumpy, and needed sleep as Elzeth brought me some coffee while I sat, eyes closed at the edge of my bed. Ahhh coffee. Bring more Elzeth more...

Sadly Elzeth’s shift was ending at 6am and she said that she could discharge me at 6 or get a nurse down the passage to discharge me later. After enquiring about some food, she answered that breakfast was only going to be served from 8am. Uhmmm that is if someone knew I was still sleeping in the Sleep Lad. I wasn’t too sure that the kitchen staff would bring me breakfast, so I decided I rather go down to the café downstairs, order more coffee and have a hearty breakfast. Ahhh just what the doctor ordered to get rid of this headache and wash away my grumpiness.

I arrived in the foyer just after 6am only to find that the café only opened at 7am, well all I could do was wait and wait I did, reflecting on all the things that led up to me being grouchy at this time in the morning. A little before 7am I saw my doctor shuffle past my table in an empty café passage just off the hospital foyer as if he had a very late night. His head was down and had this dejected posture as he walked past on the way to his rooms. Oh well I am not the only one who is grumpy this morning after the worst night ever.


Debageo Italian Greyhounds said...

Hi Jerome ! pity the Nathaniel sound-alike could not whip something up for you! i think the notion of a sleep lab has to be an oxymoron!
don't know much about sleep apnea - but would recommend that you explore slow release magnesium. solal herbal sleep also made me sleep like a log! and melatonin (natural but now only available on script) is supposed to help you fall asleep.

Also how is Patch doing he would be 16 in July! i would love to see him again if poss....

i hope you find a solution to the sleep problem. may i also recommend green tea to replace coffee post 6pm - worked for me! good luck. Diane Ward 083 965 4371

Jerome West said...

Diane, Patch is somehow just going on and on and on. We thought last year winter would be his last as he had arthritis. This winter he was back as his naughty self. He is very thing and can't do long walks anymore. His mind is willing but body well is not. Although he still knows how to jump onto the table and eat all the left over cat food to the dismay of the cats.

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