Stories from the Ablation. Part III: Adventures on 10th Floor

I was brought to the 10th floor at 8:03 on Friday night. If you happened to read my account of my 2014 summer vacation tikosyn experience at UCSF you might remember that the hospital nowadays has a relatively good food service. Patients have a real menu with many options, and order whatever they want from the menu. The food is much better than it was even two years ago.

Unfortunately their food service closes at 8:00 p.m. and they don’t make exceptions for even slightly late patients. Since I arrived in the room pretty hungry, not having eaten since 10 p.m. the night before, there was no recourse except to feast on crappy nurses’ station refrigerator food for supper.

Nurses’ station food Friday night had only one menu option: dry turkey sandwiches with dry turkeey and with dry lettuce on dry brown bread with an apple, reasonably ripe, reasonably juicy compared to the turkey, and two dry graham crackers. I ordered two of these menu items. I also got two cartons of whole milk, which I was glad they have as it was the only thing that was reasonably decent food unless you happen to believe sugar laden fruit is good for you or that hormonal laden genetically mutated turkey loaf are a panaceas. I don’t.

Dry. Dry. Dry. I would have fared better with three cartons of milk. Or five cartons of milk and no sandwiches.

My nurse was a high-spirited African American kid about 30 or so, which now to me is a kid, originally from Indiana. He’d lived in the Bay Area for a year, said he planned to move here, and fantasized when he arrived he would just “get an apartment ‘downtown’,” until he found out the price of living “downtown.” He looked elsewhere.

Nurses make really decent money these days, but certainly not as much as the Twitterites or Googlian tribe members and their ilk who have inundated our formerly fair city. Even those modern predators may frequently be priced out of “downtown” apartments. No place in the U.S. surpasses us now in the money/real estate carnival. Dubai is still ahead in the world, of course.

Because San Francisco was out, my nurse friend chose a town in East Bay to live, based on a show on the Food Network that he once saw in Indiana, reporting on a really special food truck in the town that he found intriguing. He still hasn’t found the food truck, but shops at the local Ikea too much, he confessed.

Throughout the night, he busied himself removing tubes as symptoms warranted, and the urinary catheter (I can live without those), and bandages, and, along with the tape and bandages, even more hair from me than I’d already lost.

He was too diligent with alcohol soaked cotton balls trying to rub off hospital tape gunk that is a notorious globby gook residue on the skin for months after even a short visit to medical facilities. I ended up telling him I would take care of it myself at home, because he went in too much of a frenzy that was hurting me more than my sore heart muscle, incisions, or the other remaining accessories dangling from my carcass.

I was assigned a room on the north side of the hospital. The south rooms have views of the hospital physical plant and steam release areas, and there are a few pine trees. As UCSF is high on a hill, the north rooms have sweeping views of parts of the City, Marin County, and even the Golden Gate Bridge. We were cheated out of the bridge by about a half inch of the window’s view. I did not fret much, as, quite frankly, I have seen it before.

I had a roommate, though I usually don’t. He had the bed closer to the window. He also owned a house in San Francisco and New York, so this was not surprising he got the closer view. He was a native of Pilsen (Plzeƈ), Czechoslovakia (pre-Czech Republic), escaped in 1972 when he was about 20. He told me long since that time he thinks of the U.S. as “home.” His mother died not so long ago, but a brother still remains in Pilsen.

An operation on Thursday confirmed a tumor on my roommate’s lung was benign, so he was also going to be released (later) Saturday, and he was really upbeat.

In my preparation for this exciting visit to my “home away from home,” I forgot to tell my doctors they should not t dare try putting me on their version of the “medical” heart diet. So, of course, they did. By the time this was discovered I was too tired to battle, and considering how poorly I’ve eaten the last year, it would be hypocritical to act too bent out of shape.

I managed to order breakfast. I guess the only thing that was restricted was sodium and cholesterol. They’re still battling over sodium, the CDC has finally confessed they’ve been lying to people for years about cholesterol.

Stupidly, they’ll give you caffeinated coffee (which I am sure is not good for MY heart, at least, but I ordered a cup and drank two small sips then tossed it. My roommate had four cups within an hour. I was impressed.

As they wouldn’t give me eggs, I told them their thinking was medieval (my day nurse who took over at 8 a.m. believes the same things I do and thought it was pretty “old school.” Even the guy on the phone seemed reticent to defend the diet. I tried telling them not having eggs was against my religion (or at least on Saturday last it was). I have to list my “religious” beliefs about food before the next time I go in and print them out on a card. I wouldn’t want to offend the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

I ate a couple of good things and some bad things for breakfast, as I ordered two complete meals to at least get my money’s worth. Next time I will remember to do what I have in the past, and again take enough of my own food with me, including, of course bacon and eggs. Even though their food has improved, my cooking is still better. Maybe not on all their dinner items.

I’m pretty comfortable on 10th floor. I’ve been there a lot. I generally recognize or remember a lot of nurses. The night charge nurse was my room nurse the evening some medical doctors decided not to give me my regular meds, the night after a cardioversion (electroshock) to get my rhythm back to sinus rhythm in August 2014. I was dubious about not getting metropolol, and I was right. All hell broke loose early the next morning. I need it even more than sugar free popsicles or eggs.

The day charge nurse, whose name is Ann, is someone I’ve had three separate vacations on 10th floor. She is so bubbly and cheerful usually. But since she’s in charge of the other nurses, I noticed an edge was gone from her usual self. Made me a little sad. I’ve noticed in the past a lot of the politics (hierarchical) there create unhappy people.

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