LOWER TIDMARSH & BEYOND

BY NORMAN M. COVERT  

 (Frederick, Md.) — Interesting that the Obama Administration decided not to quarrel with the U. S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which struck down Obamacare Monday last. The Atlanta–based court ruled the legislation is unconstitutional in its requirement that all citizens purchase health insurance.

We knew that all along and expect The Supremes to agree. A preliminary motion has already been filed with SCOTUS by the plaintiffs. Don’t hold your breath on a quick decision.

Albert Tuttle Building, Atlanta, Ga., home of 11th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

 The “death panels” revealed among the thousands of pages in the legislation are not a new notion. This decade has seen my insurance company’s expert deny coverage including pre-op cardiovascular diagnostics.

It’s all in the bottom line, you see. Medicare, such as it is, takes some of the heat off my “provider” for $96.40 per month, but preventative and emergency treatment can be a roll of the dice.

Consider that my summer vacation at beautifully-appointed Lower Tidmarsh Hospital here could only have been scripted by Benny Hill. He was the zany Thames Television comedian, satirist and king of sexual innuendo. Excepting cigarettes and Bitters, the eight-day sortie had all of Mr. Hill’s now not-so-funny routines.

 
 
 
 

Cover art, "The Best of Benny Hill."

(Lower Tidmarsh is the moniker Mr. Hill gave his fictional British community fire brigade and hospital.)

I didn’t plan to bother the folks in the emergency room that late July Sunday morning, but the persistence of pain makes a man do what a man has to do. We wanted no frivolous diversions that morning, just something stronger that aspirin or acetaminophen to mitigate the pain.

I typified Mr. Hill’s foil, the diminutive Jackie Wright, with gown agape; being patted on top of the head; watching them play tic-tac-do on my chest as they mapped the incision; dropping cigarette ashes; and suturing only to learn the surgeon’s watch has been left inside (Jackie gives Mr. Hill his own wristwatch and runs away).

I was assured that every instrument was accounted for by my surgeon, but we joked that he may have left a hemostat inside. Maybe this too shall pass, as they say.

The doctors were the good guys, while a couple post-op care givers’ performances made Nurse Mildred Ratched (actress Louise Fletcher in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”) resemble Florence Nightingale instead of the Queen of Evil. Nurse Goodbody (Gunilla Hutton of “HEE-HAW” fame) never showed.

The look of intensity from Louise Fletcher, Nurse Ratched.

The Lower Tidmarsh nurse notification system is easy. It requires using a cell phone to text your spouse, who then must negotiate the hospital telephone system, eventually linking up with the Nurses Station.

That lesson was learned the morning after surgery. The nurse had ignored room 3224 overnight. By 8 a.m. the need for meds and other support was reaching critical mass. The closed doorway and missing call button enhanced the experience.

A nurse answered the long-distance page and ultimately burst in the room, but was unhappy to have been disturbed at the shift change. It did not improve when the surgeon and consulting doctors individually provided guidance to them later that morning. You know what they say about “paybacks.” The rest of her shift — the call button having been found, brought her response in 30-45 minutes. That’s either STAT or ASAP, I guess.

Post-Op meds were prefaced by the nurse verifying the name, birth date and wrist band barcode. With medicine-filled syringe in hand she turned from the computer screen, avoided the IV stand and walked to the “sharps” disposal box, dropping it in.

“Oops,” she said with a grin when called back at the doorway and told she had not administered the medicine. It wasn’t all that funny. Back to the med cabinet down the hall she went, returning to administer a minimal dose, because she thought it was wise.

When reminded that she was almost 90 minutes late with the pain med, she shot back, “You have to request it!” So every three hours I wore out the nurse call button.

She was happy when the shift ended, but there she was next morning with the same exasperation that she was overworked and the end of her shift could not come too soon.

Gunilla Hutton portraying Nurse Goodbody for Archie Campbell in syndicated TV show "HEE-HAW."

The shift change was good for the patient, too. For 12 hours the pain meds were proper; the nurse attentive and caring. There were clean sheets and dressing gowns, a wash basin and associated supplies for long-delayed ablutions.

In the midst of this chaos came a young nurse to care for the incision. She recognized this patient as the Nurses Training Directeur for Frederick/Carroll Voiture 155 of the Society of the 40/8. Her distinction as a scholarship recipient brightened everyone’s day and she used extra care to do her work in sensitive places.

She is one of several quality registered nurses at Lower Tidmarsh who have received scholarship awards from our veterans organization.

The happy ending of course is that recovery is nearly complete with return to the cardio-fitness regime and several bike rides with grandson downtown and through the park. Eating is still a mine field– but that’s another story.—©Norman M. Covert, 2011

You may contact Mr. Covert at nmcovert@thecovertletter.com.

This article appeared in its original form at www.thetentacle.com Sept. 28, 2011 and is published courtesy of The Octopus, LLC. and the author.
Reference: The states of Florida, South Carolina, Nebraska, Texas, Utah and several others filed suit Aug. 12, 2011 at the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit convening in Atlanta, Ga. Challenging the Constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Pub. L. No. 111-148, 124 Stat. 119 (2010), as amended.  The court issued its opinion Monday Sept. 26, 2011.