When I had end stage liver disease before my liver transplant I had ascites which is essentially fluid build up in the abdominal cavity. I have a congenitally weak intestinal wall which the pressure of the ascites caused a rupture of so ever since then I have been dealing with an inguinal hernia.

This bothered me more at some times than others but enough so that I finally decided to get it surgically repaired as I see a lot of gardening in my future next summer. I figured I would get the surgery now so I would be well healed by early spring.

That was Dec 14th and by now even the discomfort that succeeded the initial post surgical pain has faded. I am not supposed to lift anything until February 7th.   I got enough wood split and into the house wood bins before I went so we can coast until then so mostly I have been laying around, wallowing in lethargy.

For healthy people a hernia would have been an outpatient procedure but due to my complex medical situation the surgeon wanted me to spend a night for observation.

Prior to admittance for the surgery, a few days before I had a pre-op screening. There they had me bring all my meds and took an inventory.   I was explicitly  told not to take any diabetes medicine (I have diabetes as a side effect of my immune suppression (anti-rejection) meds) as fasting was involved, from which I assumed that I was cleared for the rest of my meds.

I had to be in the hospital at 6 am for 8:30 am surgery. I brought my pill box and took my regular meds before the surgery and the admitting nurse never said  anything about it.  By noon I was out of surgery and took my midday meds.

Now, I was in a lot of pain right after the surgery and it took them until mid afternoon to get the pain medications adjusted so I was pretty miserable until then, missing my usual nap.

By the time 9 pm rolled around I was exhausted and wanting to attempt sleep.  I was taking out my pill box to take my evening meds when the nurse came into my room. She looked at me funny and said “they” are going to want to profile the meds.

What I didn’t know at this time was that the hospital protocol was that they profile your meds, then provide you the equivalent out of their pharmacy. No one ever told me that. I think the glitch was that the pre-op screening just assumed it was an out patient procedure and didn’t advise me of their protocol, and the nurses in the ward assumed that pre-op or admitting had advised me.

Anyway, trying to be a good patient, I gave the nurse a sample of each pill. She took them but quickly came back and said “they” wanted the whole pill box so I gave that to her.

So I waited a half hour and nothing.  I kept asking her every half hour until it was after 11 pm and nothing. By this time I was  totally exhausted and, truthfully, getting a little cranky.  I felt I needed to get my meds so I could go to sleep because I was a little concerned if I went to sleep without getting them they might let it fall through the cracks.

This is more than an academic exercise. One of the meds is my anti-rejection drug.  If I don’t take the  Prograf, my anti-rejection drug, the immune system will start rejection, the liver will be compromised, and I will die.  Probably not from a single missed dose but I prefer to follow my post transplant co-coordinator’s opinion in this regard and actually not miss a dose.

I decided to get pro active.  I unhooked my monitor, knowing it had battery backup, and took off to the pharmacy clinging to the pole on wheels that holds the monitor.  It was only about 50 yds (45 m) of actual walking plus an elevator ride and I was there.

My thinking was that the squeaky wheel gets the oil and if I go plead my case, a compassionate pharmacist would make  getting my pills back to me higher up the list. At minimum, once he was done profiling them, I could get them directly short cutting whatever logistical chain  they might otherwise have had to go through.

I got to the counter and no one was there but there was a phone which I picked up.  An already irritated voice answered. I stated my aim and he testily said he hadn’t finished  yet. I made what I considered a reasonable request and said can I simply have access to my pills, I would take what I need and he could have it back and do what he needed to do at his convenience.   Bear in mind that at this point I still have never been advised that they will provide the meds from their own stash.

He flatly refused and told me to go back to my room and he would dispense the meds later.  I calmly but firmly dissented, again stating my case that he doesn’t need to do anything other than let me have brief access to my own property that I brought into the hospital  and I would be on my way.

By now he was getting agitated and raised his voice to me telling me to leave. I replied that I prefered to stay and would just wait for him to get around to dealing with my case. He then said if I didn’t leave he would call a security guard.  By this time I am too exhausted to fake being civil so I told do what he needed to do but I was not leaving.

Sure enough soon thereafter a security guard showed up, followed shortly thereafter by a second one.  He told me I have to go back to my room. I explain my perspective and he listened politely then picked up the phone. He listened for a while, then hung and turned to me and said “He was kind of rude,” to which I readily agreed.

However, he insisted I go back to my room.  I again refused, it went back and forth for a while, in the meantime another nonuniformed guy showed up, then  my nurse from the ward plus a couple of more nurses just for good measure. It was starting to be quite a party.

I asked the guard to speak to his supervisor and he claimed he was the supervisor and again insisted I leave. I asked him what was he  going to do if I don’t and he said he would arrest me.

At this point the absurdity of the situation dawns even on me and when they say that if I go back to my room a nursing supervisor will come and talk to me, I relent. Shortly after returning to my room with my entourage in tow,  Prograf appears.   So I did achieve my purpose in my trip, though with way more drama then I ever anticipated.

So that is the story of how I almost got arrested while in the hospital for surgery. :-)

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