The Best Doctors in the World

…apparently don’t work at the hospital where my father-in-law just spent almost two weeks.

Shortly after dinner two Mondays ago (13 days) Phil [Not his real name, but father-in-law is long.  I could acronymize it to FIL which sounds like Phil, so there you go.] developed stomach pain which because vomiting which wouldn’t stop.  A visit to the ER became a night in the hospital.  Tests the next day indicated a “hot pancreas” which they had to cool before they could remove his gall bladder.  [I may be skipping steps in here because I can’t recall all the tests and because all the steps aren’t overly important here.]  Tuesday turned into Wednesday which turned into Thursday and into Friday when his level (that had to do with his pancreas) had dropped enough for them to do the surgery.  Sometime on Tuesday or Wednesday, one doctor said he could drink water, another said he couldn’t, and the two of them had to Indian leg wrestle over which of them was right.  The starvation diet plan doc won which was probably why Phil was able to have the surgery on Friday.

By the time my wife and I visited Friday afternoon, he was back in his room recovering from the surgery and concerned that he was naked…under the hospital gown…and blankets. Since he was a little out of it and mostly sleeping, my wife, mother-in-law, and I left my brother-in-law in the room and went for coffee.  He found us downstairs a while later and said the doc had come by and checked on Phil and said he could eat anything he wanted and could be released as early as the next day.  We all thought that sounded too good to be true, but the docs must know what they’re doing, right?

My wife and I left shortly thereafter and came back home.  Saturday rolled around and Phil wasn’t being released.  He was in pain.  Okay, he’s no spring chicken, so maybe it’s just taking a little longer to recover.  Sunday comes.  He’s still in pain and doesn’t want to leave yet.  Now we start wondering if he’s milking it.  We don’t doubt he’s got some pain, and we don’t really want to believe he’s just groovin’ on the meds, but there’s that little tickle in the back of the mind saying “the docs say he’s ready to go.”

Turns out Phil wasn’t just enjoying his hospital bed.  By Monday he had a lot of gas (internal bloating–he wasn’t stinking up the room) which may have caused some of the pain.  He also had a raging infection.  I think maybe he knew something was wrong, but just didn’t know how to articulate what the problem was.

We don’t know if this infection had just never quite been killed off before the surgery or if it was contracted after/due to the surgery or because they let him eat rich and greasy foods like pot roast and grilled cheese so soon after the surgery…maybe a combination of a couple of these, but it took most of the rest of the second week in the hospital to eliminate the fever and get all his levels back down to levels that were normal, or at least sufficient to be discharged.  During this period, the infectious disease docs were brought in and they took and tested his blood.  At one point, after the fever flared up, visitors had to wear contamination suits to ensure they wouldn’t catch what he may or may not have had.

Yesterday (Saturday),  Phil was cleared by his regular doctor to be discharged today, but there was some real doubt as to whether that was going to happen because the infectious disease doctors don’t work on the weekend.  As late as this morning, they were hooking him back up with IVs because they didn’t think he was going to be discharged and then, miraculously, my wife got a text from her mom this afternoon that Phil was finally getting discharged…after almost two incredibly long weeks in the hospital.

If we have the best doctors and the best hospitals in the world, as we’re constantly told, I’d hate to imagine what would have happened if Phil had gotten ill while on vacation in another country.

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