When an Emetophobe Goes to the Hospital

My recent visits and stay in the hospital has shed a new light on my emetophobia.  It would seem that with the level of pain I was experiencing and the intensity of the situation that I was experiencing that my emetophobia might have taken a back seat.  Or even stayed at home while I dealt with the back issue.  But no. 

Hindsight makes me shake my head and say, “Really, Elizabeth? You must have better things to worry about!”  And I do, but I just have zero control – or so it seems – over this phobia. 

To give you and idea of the severity of this phobia, I’ve been mentally tallying the thoughts that ran through my head from the first entry to the emergency room to my departure from the hospital.

Upon entering the ER, I immediately assessed the existing patients and placed them in the following categories:  here due to an injury; here due to a bronchial-type illness; here for moral support; here because <EMET FLAG>

Back in the ER, I assess those that I pass and end up in a room by myself.  Instant relief that I’m not sharing a room but still trying to get the lay of the land of those who may be in adjacent rooms.

The nurse is going to give me pain medication <EMET FLAG>.  Knowing that historically some pain medications make me woozy, I demand request an anti-emetic. 

The same process is repeated on my second venture to the ER a couple days later…and the next day. 

Visit three is when I’m admitted to the hospital.  Up until this point, I have not been placed in a room with another patient.  I am told at this point, that I may get a private room, but don’t hold my breath <EMET FLAG>.  I didn’t hold my breath, rather I tried to breathe deep in order to relax.  I was going to have a roommate.  A roommate who could have been admitted for any one of millions of things and any of them could result in – AHH – vomiting.  Breathe. 

I’m taken to my room where I immediately check out who my roommate is.  She’s asleep.  I listen when the nurses come in to talk to her.  She’s recently had surgery.  Surgery = anesthesia = <EMET FLAG>.  She seems to be OK.  (She was a miserable old bat, but she seem vomit-free)

With each dose of pain medication my emet flag goes up and I request more anti-emetic. 

Now is the day of surgery <EMET FLAG>.  I have spoken with the anesthesiologist about an anti-emetic post-op.  I KNOW from experience that anesthesia does not agree with me when waking up.  They promised that they would load me up on all the good stuff. Which they did.

After surgery, while in recovery, I am slightly awake but mostly comatose, however, I am aware that there is a patient next to me who evidently didn’t find her surgery to be as beneficial as I had.  She was clearly in pain.  And then she uttered the dreaded words, “I’m going to be sick!” <UNCONSCIOUS EMET FLAG> 

Yes, I was 97% unconscious and concerned that this person may be ill.  That is a problem. 

The remainder of my stay was uneventful.  Some similar flags as noted above, but not to bad.  However, departing the hospital and inhaling the cold, fresh air outside, filled me with intense relief.  The air was just so much easier to breathe since it wasn’t infected with the stale hospital air. 

Just one of the handful of reasons I hate hospitals.


~ by zuzu on December 10, 2008.

4 Responses to “When an Emetophobe Goes to the Hospital”

  1. Ugh! I’m glad you made it out ok. I, too, hate hospitals and their stale hospital (sick!) air.

  2. You are a trooper…even without the phobia, being in a hospital makes me anxious about all of the same things you mentioned. The important thing is, you got through it.

  3. Interesting light you shed on phobias. It can’t get much more deep-seated than at 97% unconconscious!

  4. I always thought your phobia was rare until recently when I was talking to a friend about her daughter going to the ER and she mentioned her phobia of the same thing….and then two others chimed in with their agreement. I certainly don’t like it, but I have gotten better …. especially since having children.

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