Last Saturday, Kelsey was admitted to the hospital with viral meningitis. She was admitted from the ER, so they wheeled her bed up to her room on the sixth floor. As we rolled in, we noticed an extra door with a sink area before we actually entered the room.
A nurse assistant — who seemed like she was about 12 — started taking vital signs and explained that it was an isolation room with negative airflow to keep germs and disease (i.e. bacterial meningitis, which they hadn’t ruled out yet) away from other patients. Hmm, isolation room sounds kind of scary. Maybe this is worse than we thought.
That’s when the women in blue descended. Three…ahem…larger nurses, wearing masks, gloves and blue gowns swept into the room, ready for action. One of them positioned herself behind her rolling computer cart and began taking a history. The other two stood on either side of Kelsey’s bed, gloved hands poised to a skin check. They were waiting for a disposable stethoscope kit (we gotta limit the disease) from the nurse assistant, so they had some time to kill as they stood there in their hot gowns, sweating. They decided to use this time to freak out my wife.
Nurse assistant, on the way out to get the kit: I’m going to get gowned up because I did NOT know why she was in here.
Two nurses beside the bed, talking over each other: You might have bacterial meningitis? How do you feel? When did it start? When did you come in? You have kids? How old? They need to be checked out right away. And your husband. You could all have it. They need to be checked. (To me): How do you feel?
Me: I have a headache, but not bad.
Nurses: You should get checked. Everyone needs to be checked.
Me: The doctor’s coming in soon. We’ll ask her about it.
Nurses (like I haven’t even said anything): You don’t want the kids to get it. You should call the pediatrician.
Nurse behind the computer, firing questions at the same time: Been in the hospital before? When did the headache start? Are you up to date on your tetnus shot?
Nurse behind the the computer, to me: Are you feeling ok? You have a headache? You need to be checked right away. Promise me that you’ll get checked. She won’t feel better until she knows you’re ok. Promise me you’ll go get checked.
Me: Yes ma’am.
Nurses beside the bed: Here, what’s the number for Owensboro Pediatrics? I’ll dial it for you. Here honey (holding the phone to Kelsey’s ear), you tell them what’s going on.
Ask-a-nurse on the phone (because the office is closed on Saturday, of course): Just watch the kids. If they get any symptoms, bring them in.
Nurses in blue: Where’s that kit? It’s hot in these gowns.
Us, later: Doctor, what about our kids? Can they get this? Should they be checked?
Doctor: Are they showing any symptoms? Are they acting ok?
Us: They’re acting normal, no symptoms.
Doctor: They should be fine. Just keep an eye on them.
There was just something about all three women talking at once with masks and gloves and an expanse of blue. It was an overwhelming force against which nothing could stand. They made Kelsey cry because they got so worked up. I tried to stem the tide, but it was like I wasn’t even there. They were actually concerned and were pretty nice, but their technique was a little off.
Coming next time … how Mountain Dew can save your life.