A common phrase for students at my school when the football team dons the all black uniform against opponents is, blackout or backout. Today, I backed out of an elevator and blackout on the floor outside of my dorm room.
I’ve had a bad cold for a couple of days now, and I went to bed last night at 9pm. My entire body was so achy that the water in the shower almost hurt. I woke up at 8am this morning, threw on a hat to cover up my messy hair, and headed downstairs to get some food from the dining hall before climbing back in bed. As I walked down the hall towards the elevator, I realized that my body was still incredibly weak and that it would be important for me to get back in bed as soon as I had finished eating. I got in the elevator on the 5th floor, my floor, and the elevator made two stops, on the 4th and 3rd floor. By the time the elevator reached the fourth floor, my vision had started to cut out, and everything went black by the 3rd floor. The next thing I knew I was on the first floor outside of the elevator and on my back, and one of the maintenance workers was standing over me and asking how many fingers he was holding up (3). He called for the campus security to come, and they did. The EMS came, checked my pulse ox, EKG, and then advised me to go to the hospital to get an iv line for some fluids.
What bothers me most is that not one of the three other people in that elevator helped me. Not one stayed or called anyone to help me. I was left alone on the ground for what was probably was not very long, I mean, it’s pretty easy to spot a body laying on the ground, but come on..you’re supposed to help someone when they’re in need of help. Sheesh. Today’s experience was also an excellent example of the importance of patient and caregiver advocacy. A friend drove me to the health services center on campus, and after waiting for about a half hour, she noticed that several students had been admitted before me, even though they had arrived far afterwards. My friend took it upon herself to ask where we were on the docket, and she soon found out that they had forgotten to enter me in the system. So, pager number 29 that I had been holding on to was more like pager number twenty-nothing. My friend then strongly asked if we could be seen as the next patient, as we had waited and, as far as we were concerned, making sure that I didn’t pass out again was more of an emergency situation than cutting someone’s leg cast off. I was too weak and exhausted to ask many questions, challenge any tests or doctors, etc. but she wasn’t. She asked if a needle was sterile because it had been laid down on a table before entering my finger, she asked if the second EKG of the day was really necessary, and she made sure that there was a bottle of Gatorade in my hand all day. What would the world do without patient advocates?