Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Kootenai Medical Center Room Service

It's not every day one gets the pleasure of dining in bed, especially while hooked to oxygen tubes. This morning I woke up completely short of breath. It took the wind completely out of me to even tie my shoes while getting ready for work. I wondered what on Earth was happening? Was I having an asthma attack, perhaps the aftermath of my recent bout of bronchitis? Was there something in the air making it difficult to breathe? No, my room-mate said he was just fine. Was it the coronary effects of last night's Paul Bunyan corn dogs and onion rings finally bringing to pass the big one, wherein I come to join Elizabeth, Fred Sanford style?

I rested for a while and decided I'd be able to go to work but I was out of breath again already by the time I reached my car, thirty feet away. Granted, I realize I'm not in the best shape anyway but this was ridiculous. Something was wrong and I decided I'd better visit the big blue building and get checked out in the ER. I honestly thought they'd just give me a quick asthma inhaler and send me off to work, but suddenly I was sat in a wheelchair and whizzed into a room where I was immediately put in a breezy backless robe, hooked to oxygen and various other tubes and wires, poked and prodded, measured and manipulated. Scary, really. If you ever want to swiftly bypass the waiting room at the ER, the magic words are "shortness of breath."

They decided to book me into Room 355 after I failed the "oxygen test", meaning that the level of oxygen in my system is too low without a sexy tube of the stuff shoved up my nose. "You just won yourself a ticket to the hospital" said the nurse in enough of a sarcastic tone to make me love her despite the grim news. After all the fresh oxygen and some kind of lung-opening mist treatment, I was feeling good enough to skeedaddle, but I was stuck for further tests at least, if not overnight.

Of course, the first thing I noticed after settling into my luxury suite was a classy little laminated folder labeled "Room Service Dining Menu." Room service? I laughed. The soft-focus photo illustration on the front features a gourmet chef delicately sprinkling herbs just so across a plate of lovely braised chicken and veggies. I wanted to call "room service" right away, but alas I was due for a cat scan soon and they wouldn't let me eat first so I wouldn't upchuck all over their expensive machines. The cat scan was weird, dizzymaking, and the injection of "iv dyes" into my system made me indeed woozy, warm and pukey.

So I was delighted when the nurse finally gave me the go-ahead to order lunch - I hadn't eaten a bite all day and all the trauma had made my tummy growl. Oh, the options! Breakfast is served all day but pancakes weren't really going to cut it and I can't say that eggs and cheese seemed fun with mystery chemicals still coarsing through my veins. I would order a burger, but I pictured a dry puck of a thing, and French fries are sensibly not listed as an option. "Grandma's Macaroni and Cheese"? Isn't that what landed grandpa in the hospital? A peanut butter and jelly sandwhich actually sounded good, but didn't offer enough oomph. What I needed was some good old meat and potatoes.

I dialed the number."Room Service?" "Yes, I'd like, um...Tender Beef Pot Roast With Homemade Gravy, Whipped Potatoes, a Wheat Roll, Broccoli, Carrots, Fresh Baked Cookies, and an orange juice." I expected her to say "OK, that'll be $47.99" but instead she just piped "That'll be up in 45 minutes!" and hung up.

45 minutes later, on the dot, a gray young girl arrived with a large gray tray with an ugly gray circular plastic dish, like a cement UFO. Not a terrible appetizing visual presentation, to be honest. Inside lurked an equally gray clump of meat, some nuclear enhanced veggies, and a pile of potatoes that were "whipped" in more ways than one. The saving grace? The brown gravy, a form of which can only be found in institutional facilities like this. Just salty enough to counter the extreme blandness at hand. The wheat roll looked like it had been sat upon by a healthy phlebotamist and the accompanying Promise Lite spread added insult to injury. The orange juice was tiny, presented in a wee pudding cup and finished in one swift gulp. Finally, the homemade cookies were unexpectedly edible, quite good actually and will be what I might have to live on if (God forbid) I have to stay here for any length of time. I've got my laptop and there's some hot wi-fi here, so I'll be a'ight.

Healthwise, I still dunno what's going on at this point, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to live. Heart conditions run in the family and I'm pretty sure this will turn out to be related to that kind of thing, which means last nights Paul Bunyan was the last time I get to indulge in that kind of thing for awhile. Salad city here I come...


Idaho Dad said...

Sorry to hear about your hospital stay. I had a similar, but not as extreme, sensation yesterday, while hiking Mineral Ridge.

I'm chalking it up to some kind of low blood sugar situation. But still, I'm at that age where I can't eat the half-pound burgers and whole pepperoni pizzas anymore.

You should do an article on the best salad bars in town.

Hope you're feeling better!

Anonymous said...

I love salads and I especially like hot salads. I would weigh less, if I could afford to eat more of them. Too bad something so good for you is a bit pricey. Hey -I like lobster, salmon, and King Crab on mine - too!

Try Shari's. It's worth the bad service and you might even get it free - because!

Papa Murphys has outstanding takeout salads.

Also, check out the salad bar in the hospital(s) (where the healthy folks who are not patients eat) - the prepared ones are usually really good and the added weight of the dressing does not cost you!

The prepared ones at Safeway are not too bad but be prepared to pay - same goes for the other food chains. If you get too many hunks of the inside of the lettuce core -take it back.

Mongolian Stir Fry would also be good - just skip the noodles and use water instead of oil.

Take care Orange TV!

Anonymous said...

Hey Cuz,
I heard through the grapevine that you landed in the hospital. Are you getting a nice, juicy IV? Hydration! Love it! Yes, we odd ones in California actually get IVs on purpose sometimes (and no, not heroine...like, spirulina IVs or something).

I hope you find out it's nothing and come on down to Sacramento to see some local music and get a spirulina IV or something.

Your Cousin, Holly

Anonymous said...

What a bummer that you're sick. I keep hearing about this horrible pneumonia that is going around this year. Maybe that's what you have. Anyway, I hope you up and at em real soon so you can eat where the good food it.

OrangeTV said...


Question: What do you think of the food at Kootenai Medical Center?
Posted by DFO | 27 May 4:45 PM

There are 4 comments on this post. (XML Subscribe to comments on this post)

Wow, OTV I hope everything turns out alright. I had a similar experience a few years ago. It turned out to be bradicardia, which is related to sleep apneia (that's the phonic spelling for apneia because I'm too lazy to look it up right now). Nothing too serious. My heart just slows way down sometimes after a night of rough sleep. I was actually on my way into work and trying to catch my breath and all of my limbs went numb. I had to limp my way into sacred heart ER... It was scary.
Posted by Indy | 27 May 5:45 PM

Hey OTV. If they let you wander around, try the salad bar. It's mighty tasty. And IF God forbid, you need some kind of surgery, your post-op nurse may be a fellow red-head. That's my sister-in-law, Bonnie. Say howdy for me :-)
Posted by Cindy H. | 27 May 8:41 PM

I spent a night at KMC this last March. The meals are done like Room Service with a bedside menu. It is so much better than the way it used to be. In my opinion, KMC (for institutional food) is hands down better than most. The new menu system makes hospital food exciting. Good stuff all the way around.
Posted by MamaJD | 27 May 10:06 PM

I agree with Cindy here Orange. Try the salad bar onetime! I had the Spinach and Almond with Pear salad last night at Moontime, and loved it. Washed it down with a Spire Cider beer too
Posted by CoeurGenx | 28 May 8:41 AM

OrangeTV said...

Hey, thanks y'all commenters for your well wishes. My official diagnosis is Obstructive Sleep Apnea, which i kinda already knew anyway. All the other issues I've been dealing with stem from that problem. I'm kinda glad it wasn't something worse, actually. I'm getting a sleep machine thing and working on getting more active and yes, trying salads, spirulina IV's, whatever it takes to get over it and slim down...

p.covalt said...

Hey OTV, Huckleberries is great, speedier than gossip. Glad to know you got a diognosis you can get to work on immediately. Hope you take your own advice and hit Salad City often. Take care of you we love your column, Blog and You. Auntie Peg

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to respond to your blog about Kootenai Medical Center's Room Service. I was resently a patient there and I have to say I disagree with you completely. I think what they have done to there patient food is wonderful.And the fact that your in the hospital and not feeling well it is nice to have a choice. It is not a 4 star restraunt it is a institution. So I guess you were expecting much more and were disapointed. I think you should have given them alot more credit for all their effort and hard work that they put into making the patients happy.I felt that the staff there were very friendly and helpful when I called down for my meals.They said it would be 45 minutes for my food to arrive but usually showed up much sooner. The staff that delivered my food was alway very friendly. I just felt it was my duty to give my opinion on their food and my stay.

Anonymous said...

I was recently a patient at KMC and I found their food and service to be one of the best hospital food experiences of my life. If you ever have to stay in the hospital again I suggest you try one of the entre salads on their menu, they are very delightful. The Lemon Baked Tilapia is also on the tasty side. If you only had to survive one meal at KMC. That is good for you, health wise. But,not as far as your lack of experience that was missed place in judgement. If you ever write a blogg about the terrible food from KMC's Roomservice, and you experienced more then just one meal of different items and still don't like the food then maybe I'll consider you a decent critic.

OrangeTV said...

Twas merely a joke, my anonymous friends, merely a way to kill some time whilst recovering. Yes, the food certainly could have been much worse, but it was more fun to write about it being typically stank. Actually, now that I think about it, it might have been a better piece if I would've indeed given KMC a rave review!

Anonymous said...

hahahaa Pat... you're funnie. I love you.

So, ummmm.... not to be alarmist or anything, probably the lack of further attention toward the subject means everything is well in hand, problem being addressed, life not being threatened
and all that.
Still, there are those of us who might be
still a little spooked and I wonder if you might
reassure us with some sort of Jenny waving from vindow type of way.
If you don't mind...

I wish you would shop more at Safeway. I saw that fine Lou there the other day... did he tell you?

Missing you,