Thursday, June 10, 2021

pensées hospitalières

I got back from the hospital a bit after 2 p.m. Went home, drank the SlimFast shake I'd been wanting to drink all day, bought lunch (two chicken breasts and two Paris Baguette salads), and headed to work. So how was the trip to the hospital, overall?

Well, without a doubt, Samseong Hospital is a bureaucratic nightmare, as I've written before. At the same time, there are things to admire about the system. Everything is tied to your patient number, so all doctors in all departments have access to the same records. I've had a patient number on file at the hospital since my toe infection almost exactly a year ago. At least in this way, docs can coordinate with each other because they all see the same numbers associated with each patient.

I did eventually get through all three appointments. For the first appointment at the diabetes center, I had to check in first, which meant taking a number, waiting to be called, then flashing the text message I'd received to prove I had an appointment. The receptionist generated a ticket (called a jeopsujeung in Korean), which I had to keep with me as further proof I had an appointment. While I waited, I had to go get my blood pressure read, as well as my height for some reason. They may also have weighed me at the same time. I didn't realize they were taking my height at first, and I was a bit slumped when the automatic ruler came down onto my head. So that didn't help my BMI, I'm sure. Next time, I'll stand tall and proud.

Then all the crap happened that I described in my previous post, but I did eventually see the diabetes doc, and she told me to hold to a strict diet and to continue to exercise. I no longer need any encouragement on that front; I'm already back to walking. She did mention that my blood test had come back with a blood-sugar level of 126, which was interesting because my home test kit had put me at 102 that morning, and I'd eaten nothing except some macadamia nuts the night before. One funny thing: I had been told to provide a urine sample right after giving my blood sample; I went to the men's room, did my thing, and I kept that damn little plastic bottle in my pocket until the diabetes appointment was done. The doctor never asked for it. Then I told a nurse that I had a urine sample in my pocket, and asked what was I supposed to do with it. She said, somewhat embarrassed, that that would have been for a different consultation that I wasn't getting, so I could just throw the sample away. So somewhere in a garbage can inside Samseong Hospital is a plastic bottle with a sample of my urine in it, a testament to literal waste produced by bureaucracy.

My next appointment, now a bit late, was at the stroke center, and I didn't have to wait too long, nor was the floor very crowded. As with the diabetes doctor, the consultation was brief, and the doc took an interest in my tee shirt, which showed my 2019 walk. He was also the only doctor of the three I saw today who wanted to see the records I had kept of my BP and blood-sugar levels. He, too, encouraged me to keep losing weight, as that would help lower my blood pressure. My goal weight is 100 kg (220 lbs.), but who knows? I might not stop there. In college, after I got back from Switzerland, I was down to an even 200 pounds (91 kg). It might be nice to return to my college figure. (Well, I regained weight once I got back to the States, so I wasn't 200 pounds for very long.)

The final appointment was with the rehab/physical therapy center. The doc there did a cursory exam, asked me some friendly questions, and told me I was good enough not to have to come back: I would need no extra physical therapy, and I was on my way to healing up. I did ask him about one thing I haven't yet discussed on the blog: a change in personality. I am now a somewhat more emotive person: when something is sad, my throat tightens up and I have to fight the urge to cry. When something is funny, I can no longer hold back my laughter and be deadpan the way I used to be. (As an introvert, pre-stroke, I tended not to be too visibly emotive except around close friends.) So some of my inhibitions apparently got killed off during the stroke. My brother Sean tells me to just go with it: there's nothing wrong with being in touch with your emotions. He would say that: he's a professional musician. Anyway, the doc said my brain would heal in time. Good. I'm not sure how much I like this new Kevin.

I was having trouble understanding how to handle the prescription and payment procedures, so before my stroke-center appointment, and while it was quiet, I asked a nurse what I had to do, and she explained there was a machine where all I had to do was scan the bar-coded form I received from each doctor, and the machine would both print out the prescription and guide me through the payment process. This turned out to be easy enough when the time came to pay, although my particular machine decided it was time to engage in a Windows reset (goddamn Windows) while I was using it. Luckily, the reset was on a thirty-minute timer; there was no danger of the reset interrupting my prescription/payment procedure, so I minimized the reset screen and continued with my transaction. I was unable to use the bar-code scanner, but the machine gave me the option of simply punching in my patient number. Your patient number really is the key to everything at the hospital. I actually found the machine rather impressive, despite the glitches.

So I have two appointments in three months on September 16. If I continue to follow my diet and exercise plan, I'm hoping to surprise the docs with much-improved numbers. I also now know about the blood test, and I understand the procedures for each appointment, so the next time I appear at Samseong Hospital, things ought to go a lot more smoothly.

Anyway, hospitals are always distressing for me, and it was a relief to get out of there, despite how friendly the doctors and nurses and other staffers were. One last thing: not a single doctor said that I needed to keep maintaining my journal or checking my BP and blood-sugar numbers daily. I hate pricking my finger twice a day, and at this point, after several weeks of monitoring, I have a pretty good idea as to what drives sugar levels up, so I'm going to do blood-sugar monitoring only occasionally from now on. As I discussed in an earlier post, the whole blood-pressure issue still baffles me, and the only real solution I can think of is to perform exercises that get the heart pumping. For me, than means stairs. I'm starting slow, going up only from B1 to the fifth floor, but by December 31, I'll be doing twenty six floors three times, i.e., thirty minutes of stair work. By September 16, I'm supposed to be doing 1.5 sets of stairs (i.e., one set of twenty-six floors followed by thirteen floors). If that doesn't strengthen my heart, I don't know what will.

Tomorrow, I meet my friend Tom for dinner, and I'm treating this as a cheat day, one last hurrah before starting two months of austerity on Dr. Roy Taylor's program. I need to do some further research as to what I can eat on 800 calories a day; I have a feeling that two chicken breasts and a Paris Baguette salad are not going to cut it if that's all I eat every day.


Daniel said...

In Stoicism, there's a saying that goes along the lines of "the obstacle is the way". Those stairs that you will come to hate as you summit them several times daily are the way. The constant hunger and drab Paris Baguette salads (there are WAY better salad places on 배민 & 쿠팡 잇츠 if you would prefer a better and more filling salad, btw) are the way. And, of course, the the East Coast trail you'll explore in the summer is the way. Now, let the journey begin...

John Mac said...

No bad news other than the normal pain in the ass part of seeing a doctor. You'll be a lesser man the next time they see you! Keep it up!

Charles said...

For as annoying as hospitals can be, the bigger ones do have some very efficient systems. It's just a matter of getting used to them.

I still hate going to the hospital, of course. And I think trying to take your BP at the hospital is pointless, because you're always going to be stressed. You're never going to get an accurate reading.