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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."


Type rated on A330, B747-400, B747, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Night At The Hospital

Ever see the movie, Night at the Museum?

I’m living this movie at the hospital.

Yesterday I left you with the Roommate in, Hospital Assisted Suicide, having taken Ambien, and the hour was 2 a.m. I’m dozing in the chair, sitting guard. A draft. A noise. My skin crawls. And I open my eyes.

In the glow of the monitors, and light filtering through the cracked doorway, our bed-ridden roommate is standing at the end of his bed with his thing in one hand and urinal in the other busily filling it. Staring my direction. I didn’t move. I glanced down. Not watching, but keeping my peripheral vision alive in the event he came my way. I had plans of the big kick. He didn’t, and soon climbed back into his bed.

The following morning the nurse advised me that Swedish Hospital administers Ambien to all their patients for a sleep aid. She also shared the story of a man who was bed-ridden and had no strength to feed himself. She said, "He had a tube up his butt, a catheter, a tube in his nose, and unable to do anything for himself." Until Ambien.


During his night of Ambien, she said , “He had super human strength. Pulled everything out of his body. Bit his tubes in half. Crumbled his glasses and began screaming that someone was burying his daughter in the well. It took four of us to constrain him. This goes on often here.”

How scary is that? I’ve heard stories of passengers becoming naked on planes, people unkowingly eating in the middle of the night, and one pilot who had a beer and an Ambien, and ended up in the emergency room, not remembering that he was yelling that was having a heart attack as he rolled on the floor grasping his chest.



Another day.... and the night lingers on in the hospital. We got a private room when my husband went to contagious status. Soon we had new neighbors. Moaning and crying on one side of the doorway, the other is a young man who yells for the nurse to bring him food, or that he's thirsty. He can walk. He stands in his doorway and yells down the hall as if he were at a baseball game and he needed a package of peanuts and the vendor was 12 rows over. Since then the rooms have rotated and the noise of the night continues.



Saturday night felt as if we’d been transported to One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, and we're still there.

Yesterday we received news that our visit is continuing through the week. The same morning my Chief Pilot at my "support center" pulled me off payroll because I was not allowed to use my sick leave to stay with my husband. He wanted me to go fly a plane despite my telling him I hadn't slept for three weeks. I told him I was sick and could get a doctors note. What he said to that will surprise you. Shocked the heck out of me.

Flood gates finally broke... at the same time the surgeon, resident, and infectious disease doctors walked into the room. I asked, "Would you want to get on a plane with me now?" You know that answer. More to come Tuesday on this.

Tonight my youngest daughter flies in to stay with her Dad, while I go home for my first night of sleep. The human body does not function on fatigue. Yesterday a pilot dodged a star because he was fatigued and thought it was a plane. Imagine what I would be doing flying like this. Scary.

But I can do anything for a day… a week… a month… a year… (except not sleep)

Have you ever taken Ambien? Any side effects? Is this something that nurses should administer to patients?

Enjoy the Journey!

XOX Karlene

13 comments:

  1. Looks like you've got enough material for another book after the hospital saga! Hospital assisted suicide, Ambien, your sleep deprivation, Chief pilot reaction..you've got another thriller coming up with all this experience! All the best with his quick recovery (and for a good night sleep for you!)..

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    1. Anup, yes... I do have more information for another book and some of this is going in the sequel... Flight For Safety. When we go home I see lots of naps in our future. Thank you for the comment and support!

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  2. Karlene, I think we live in a crazy world right now. How long do you think human beings can survive when nothing makes sense any longer??? Hang in there...pretend you are in a zoo...oh, you are!! Kathy

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    1. I just read this to Dick, and he laughed. Laughter is the best medicine. Thank you!!!

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  3. I hope you get some rest hon, you've more than earned it. And I hope the hubby is doing better. I had a friend who took Ambien and the side effects were HORRIBLE! I don't recommend it.

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    1. I agree... no Ambien! We'll know tomorrow if he's doing better. We can only hope! Rest came. Thank you!

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  4. Did you get to sleep in your own bed last night? I hope so!! And I hope Dick is doing better and better each day. Here's to him being home soon! I took Ambien once and loved it--slept like a baby, as far as I know. Now I'm wondering if I actually spent that night happily raiding the refrigerator in my sleep. No wonder my jeans wouldn't fit the next day! (I have seen the effects of Ambien mixed with alcohol--so beyond not pretty! Downright scary.)

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    1. I did sleep in my own bed. Midnight to 9 am! One wake up. Dick had a mental set back with the CT scan tomorrow and not today. I'm hoping Friday, but we don't know.

      And I too took Ambien once, before I knew. I think I slept 8 hours and didn't have any effects....But then you just never know. Some people swear by it.

      Thanks for the comment and see you soon. Maybe next time in my house?

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  5. To echo Capt. Murthy, you could write a whole new novel, if not a whole series a million times the size of Harry Potter's. I also was considering Ambien as I also suffer from insomnia sometimes, however, am glad I didn't as I agree with Heather, the side effects are horrible. I hope sleep is in your flight plan and we shall speak soon. Regards from mild, cloudy, and drizzly NYC..

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    1. Hi Jeremy, I think if you take it... the safest course of action is a home and with someone there to monitor you in the event. But... it's best to not take it if you can help it.

      Yes... another book coming soon.

      Thank you so much for the comment!

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  6. I offer a story from a friend of mine whose father was an alcoholic. Near the end of his life when he was hospitalized for chest pain and any number of other things, the shock to his body that deprivation of alcohol would have imposed was solved by having the family buy 40's of hard liquor, and having it fed to him intravenously with his meds; however, because he wasn't actually drinking it, he was howling constantly for his booze. Wow.

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    1. Wow! That is amazing. I was joking with my husband we were going to hang a bottle of Jack Daniels on his IV pole for a joke... but it's amazing this really happened. Moral of this story. Don't be an alcoholic!
      Thank you for sharing!

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  7. Wow, that chief pilot is an _______!
    (fill in the blank)

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