When you think about an industrial fire alarm going off, it may make you wince. Thoughts of that shrill sound and flashing strobe light don’t evoke positive feelings in most. But among the varied and unpredictable noises in the hospital, the fire alarm recently served as a lullaby for this girl.
Let me start from the beginning. Good news: I have now been sick twice since my transplant, and I have survived. One of my biggest fears last July was getting sick, since commonplace illnesses can be far more debilitating for those with suppressed immune systems. That, combined with the risk of rejection masquerading as a cold or the flu, really caused me to worry about getting sick post-transplant. I had a cold a few months ago that did stick with me longer than it probably would have affected someone with a fully functional immune system, but it was overall uneventful.
More recently I caught something more than a cold. I spent a full day in bed with a horrible headache, followed by vomiting six or seven times through the night until I finally called the heart transplant service in the morning. My nurse advised me to head straight to the emergency room to get checked out. The first priority was determining if I had an infection, which would have been dangerous for me. Fortunately, we determined it was just a virus. The second concern was eliminating the nausea in order to allow me to take my important medications, so I stuck around overnight to be sure I could keep food down.
Well, my visit happened to coincide with Hurricane Irene’s visit, and the hospital lost power late that night. I had been awake after yet another date with the toilet and was trying to get to sleep in spite of the erratic beeps and voices and other sounds that are omnipresent on the heart floors and probably throughout the hospital. Fortunately, the power loss (which was quickly remedied with generators) triggered the fire alarm. This was just the consistent white noise I needed. It lulled me right to sleep, I had the best sleep I’ve ever had in the hospital and I awoke ready to try some breakfast. Breakfast and then lunch stayed with me, and the challenge promptly became finding a route home from New Brunswick in Irene’s aftermath (which was obviously nothing compared to the damage a lot of folks faced).
|What happens to the people that legitimately pull the alarm...you know, when there's a FIRE?|