Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Notes On My Recent Hospital Stay - Part 1

If I didn't survive my recent hospital stay, my headstone might have said "Here Lies Noel. He died of boredom while in the hospital". Fortunately I was able to find things to occupy me. Finding out that wi-fi was available in the emergency room and throughout the hospital certainly helped, and to my surprise, Facebook wasn't blocked and the wi-fi didn't cut you off after a certain amount of time. At my job, a lot of websites are blocked including Facebook and the wi-fi cuts you off after half an hour. Posting on FB and getting responses certainly kept me occupied and entertained. Although being hospitalized is not an ideal bloggable moment, writing about it helped pass the time.
One of the blood tests that was done was the lipid panel. Although my triglycerides were low, my HDL cholesterol had gone down while the LDL had gone up. Total cholesterol had gone down 9 points from 229 to 220 since last February. Still, an LDL of 138 was worrisome so I asked the doctor if it was time for me to start taking a statin medication. Even modifying my diet since last February hasn't helped with the LDL. I’ve tried Niacin and Red Yeast Rice to lower my cholesterol in addition to not eating fried chicken, hamburgers and ice cream anymore, but they didn't seem to have much of an effect. Beans, barley, brown rice, and an increase in fiber intake hasn't helped either. I don't know if the decrease in my running and the subsequent increase in abdominal fat is related to the cholesterol problem. Well my cardiologist did prescribe generic Lipitor. I did some checking online about how much they cost. Generic Lipitor in the U.S. is about $130 for a month’s supply if you don’t have insurance. In the Philippines it’s about $11.25 (according to mom). Whoa! I thought that since the generic form became available late last year, the price would have dropped significantly compared to the real Lipitor. With insurance I would only have to pay $15 but that is still more than triple of what I pay for my blood pressure medications. A thought occurred to me: can an Atorvastatin pill be split? Well, it’s not scored (a line that sometimes is placed in the middle of a pill), but with a good tablet splitter, it can be done properly. I’ve been prescribed 40 mg. so next time I’m going to ask the doctor for 80 mg. pills.
When I was transferred from the  ER to the telemetry unit I noticed something that might have been a change in nursing policy. They used to automatically at least give you a pitcher of water and a glass so you can hydrate unless it’s contraindicated. I guess they don’t give those out anymore unless you ask for them. But then again I was NPO (no food or drink until after all tests are done) so that’s probably the reason. I did have to ask for a toothbrush and toothpaste. I was hooked up to a Holter monitor for the duration of my stay. I noticed that the monitor is now about 2/3rds of its previous size. From my experience of being hospitalized for a night more than 10 years ago, I vowed that next time that happens I’m going to bring earplugs. Well, I forgot to do so, thus I didn't get much sleep with all the beeping of machines and alarms on the unit.
There was a delay on my cardiac ultrasound (echocardiogram) and treadmill stress test. They were not done until mid afternoon. If they were done in the morning, I would have been discharged by noontime.
Part 2 to follow

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