I was admitted to the hospital last week

No grandma’s chicken noodle soup…no herbal teas, yoga mats, massages, workout gear…no green smoothies or turmeric shots…no vitamins or herbs…no communication…no continuity…and not much common sense. This week was the first time in my life that I’ve ever been admitted to a hospital from the Emergency Room. I’ve delivered babies in hospitals, and I’ve had some outpatient surgeries, but I’ve never been in the clutches of a hospital system as I was last week, for two nights and almost three days.

It all started when I woke up Tuesday morning with tingling in my head and neck. For five nights I had been struggling with some big swollen lymph nodes on the right side of my neck. They came on suddenly with a complicated migraine and neuralgia involving my ear, nose, and eye. I’d seen my primary care physician the day before, and she ordered a CT scan that she wanted to have done immediately, but I couldn’t be scheduled for two more weeks on the first available appointment. The tingling was new and the lymph nodes were even bigger.

Resolutely, I decided not to mess around. I packed a few things and drove to the ER. After I checked myself in, they wheeled me to a room and started asking me questions. One doctor came and then two. Meanwhile, the nurse put a syringe in my arm, taped it in place, and drew some blood.

Fortunately, I get lab alerts to my email, so I could see on my phone the results as they came up. My white blood cell count was way down to 2.7, red cells were also low at 3.94, and I had low platelets, low neutrophil abs, and high AST (liver enzymes). It looked weird to me, so I was searching the internet for answers while I waited. After awhile, two doctors came back and told me the lymph nodes were messing with my blood.

“I’ve spoken with an oncologist,” one of the doctors said. “They want to do an excision biopsy of the lymph nodes. You have two choices. We can either admit you and get that done along with anything else we need to do, or he can try to get you in as an outpatient in a few weeks.”

I must have looked worried because he stepped closer and grabbed my hand. “I’m not saying you have cancer or lymphoma, but we have to check.”

“I understand,” I told him. “I’d rather be admitted and get it all done now.”

“Okay then we’ll get to work on that.”

After a while, another lady came in and introduced herself. She was responsible for my hospital admission and started asking me lots of questions. Then they took me to get some CT scans and a chest x-ray. When the procedures were over, I asked the technician if it was a lot of radiation and how long it stays in the body, and she told me it was over 3000 images, and once radiated, the radiation never leaves. It’s with you for your whole life! My mind darted back to all the scans I’ve ever had in my lifetime. I wish I’d known that 30 years ago. I may not have become a hypochondriac.

They wheeled me back, gave me a menu to order lunch, and left me waiting for a long time with several cups of water and juice, at my request. I called in my lunch order and was drinking as much as I could to flush out the contrast they gave me for the CT scans.

In late morning, I saw a hand reach up and close the curtain all the way, and then shut the sliding glass door. Hmmmm, I thought, that’s weird. Fifteen minutes passed, and my nurse and her assistant came in dressed like astronauts, with helmets like in The Jetsons, only they had air conditioning units built in to keep their face shields from steaming up. She was carrying a big plastic bucket-like piece of equipment that she set down by my bedside.

“Someone ordered a QuantiFERON Gold Test for you…so we have to dress like this now and you have to use a commode because you’re being isolated. Don’t we look ridiculous?”

I laughed, “Say what???? Why?”

“Because you traveled to Malaysia,” she said, as she took more blood from my arm. “They’re looking for infectious TB.”

“But I don’t have the symptoms of someone with TB, do I? Just this little residual cough from having Covid a month ago.”

“I don’t know, someone thought you might.”

She told me the helmet was hot and ever since Covid, they’ve had all these new procedures they’re obliged to follow. A funny lady…at least she could find humor in it all.

They shut me in and left. I’d never used a commode before and I was a little hesitant, but didn’t want to hold my pee-pee too long. All I could think is I was super blessed that I didn’t have to go poo-poo. A few more hours went by—enough for two pee-pees—and the nurse came back to tell me they have a room for me and it’ll be ready in about an hour. Then, I got the CT and x-ray notifications to my phone and read the reports:

Unremarkable CT of the thorax, abdomen and pelvisNo evidence of adenopathy, mass, or acute process. No suspicious acute or chronic process identified…Somewhat asymmetric non mass-like enhancement involving the right base of tongue extending towards the right vallecula…Multiple enlarged right cervical level II and VA lymph nodes, which form a conglomerate with areas measuring up to 1.1cm in greatest short axis dimension. Scattered prominent lymph nodes also extend inferiorly along the posterior internal jugular vein deep and posterior the sternomastoid muscle. 

Now, I was really glad I was being admitted and looking forward to having the biopsy right away and figuring out what was in the back of my throat. Another hour and a half went by, and finally they came to bring me to my room. It was a spacious room with a big window, in a new building. A man with a regular mask came in and gave me a fresh gown, towels, wash cloths, body wash, lip balm, a toothbrush and toothpaste, and a comb. I asked him if he had a conditioner, since I cannot comb through my hair without it. So he went and found me one. Fortunately, I had thought to dress comfortably for sleeping. Regrettably, I didn’t bring a change of clothes, so I’d be sleeping in what I had worn all day in the ER.

I asked if I could take a shower, and he said I could, but someone would have to tape plastic around the syringe stuck in my arm, so that it wouldn’t get wet. I agreed, and got that done. Then I crawled into bed and started messing around with the buttons to control the height when my nurse came in and introduced herself. She was wearing a face shield and a mask, but no helmet. She started asking me questions and seemed surprised, perhaps by how healthy I looked, and that I just had a little cough. I explained that I had Covid a month ago but quickly recovered, and my cough was only residual.

“So why did you go to Malaysia?” she asked.

“Well, the Prince Court Medical Center, which is one of the best hospitals in the world, has these packages where you get a lot checked out for really cheap. I did their 50+ package.”

“Did you tell the people downstairs that’s why you went to Malaysia?” she asked, as if she knew about the miscommunication before I did.

“No, I don’t think I made that clear. I was talking to so many different people, I can’t remember who I told what.”

“Well, you don’t look like you have TB, but you’re in isolation so visitors have a wear a mask.”

An elegant looking Eastern European woman, originally from Lithuania, came in and introduced herself as an infectious disease doctor. She looked me over carefully and asked me more questions. Both the doctor and nurse made it clear I would be doing the biopsy the next day, and there was some talk about the type of biopsy that would done, excision of a node or needle. The doctor explained that I really needed to do the biopsy, but she’d run some more blood tests to rule out dangerous issues also. Before departing, she told the nurse that she’d see her in the morning, and it sounded like we were getting started early.

Things got quiet after they both left and I stayed up reading and taking notes. Looking over my labs, they ran a respiratory panel for different types of covid, hemoglobin, antistreptolysin, parvovirus, dengue, TB, HIV, mononucleosis, epstein-barr (which I had in college), CBC with differential, comprehensive metabolic, and a thyroid function cascade. I refused a shot for pain, and I refused a shot of something that is supposed to stop blood clotting, so I didn’t have any medications in the hospital at all. Amazing, huh? I had noticed from my labs that my AST liver enzymes were high at 41, and I didn’t want to make it worse.

I spent the whole next morning just waiting and asking the staff what’s next. Nobody seemed to know anything, and encouraged me to be patient for the doctors who were making their rounds. Finally around lunch, two doctors came by. I asked them when I was going to have the biopsy, that nobody had told me anything about it yet.

“It’s not scheduled for today,” they said.

“What? Why not?” I asked, stunned.

“I think they’re waiting on the TB test,” one of the doctors said.

“But the nurse told me the TB test can take up to seven days. I’m not staying here for seven days to wait for the biopsy.”

A perplexed look fell upon his face. “I don’t think it takes that long. I think the plan is to do the biopsy tomorrow. We will talk to the team and get it set up for tomorrow.” This was the head doctor of the hospital. I looked him up and his specialty is Hospital Medicine, with a degree from the University of Lagos, Nigeria. I didn’t even know there was such a specialty. When the other doctor left, he asked if he could pray for me, and I told him yes. He then took my hand and prayed that God give wisdom to the doctors and healing to me. It was a nice prayer and it felt like a caring thing he did. I was happy to receive any prayers I could get from him and others in my life.

Later, the Chaplain came by and asked me how I was doing and if I had family and friends in my life. I told him I’m well covered with people who love and care for me. He asked if I had a community of believers, a faith community, and I told him I do not. And he asked also if he could pray for me, and he did, standing all the while at a distance, obviously afraid my illness could be contagious. I knew I wasn’t, since I had been around family and they were all fine. But nobody seemed to care about that because “it was procedure” to isolate anyone who any staff member flagged for a test.

Finally at the end of the day, the infectious disease doctor came back to see how I was doing. She was the doctor who checked me the night before who I was expecting in the early morning to get the ball rolling. I shared more things with her that I had forgotten to mention, like all the supplements I was taking. She looked over the list and said they don’t teach about these supplements in medical school, that I probably know a lot more about them than she does. I then asked her when the biopsy would take place. She said it hadn’t been scheduled yet and she’d get with the doctors to have it set up the next day. She asked if I had been able to collect any phlegm in a vile they gave me 24 hours earlier.

“I tried, but I can’t cough anything up. I don’t have anything in my lungs.”

“Well if you can’t cough anything up then you don’t have TB. I’m removing the isolation,” she said, as she took off the mask.

It was nice to see her face and feel un-isolated again. It’s a strange feeling to be cut off from other people…we all know from the lockdowns. I was also relieved to know that nothing more would stand in the way of the biopsy. Hopefully I could get it the next day and be out of there.

That night, another nurse came [Note: I didn’t see the same nurse again after each shift]. She was a traveler and had been to Thailand and other places I’d been. She was going to Africa next, and it sounded like so much fun wading at the top of Victoria Falls. Wow! I love traveling, and she did too. She was asking about Costa Rica, and where to go, and I shared what I could. It was a fun conversation, so fun that I forgot that I was sick. Then she told me they still hadn’t scheduled the biopsy, and I asked her more about it. She didn’t know. All she could see from the notes is that they were probably going to set it up as an outpatient thing. That struck me as odd, since the only reason I agreed to hospital admission was because I needed the biopsy fast and the ER doctors thought that was a good idea.

Dinner was not good at all, and I didn’t sleep well the second night. Something hit me, and I felt trapped. The food was yucky. I couldn’t move much. I had lost two pounds in one day. There was no yoga mat! I got up in the night and started doing exercises (squats, jumping jacks, push-ups on the wall, stretches using the couch) and anything I could figure out how to do to get my body in action mode. I thought about asking for some gear and some homemade ginger tea with lemon and a Vitamin C but all the hospitals have are big pharma drugs, almost as if the hospital is big pharma’s dispensary.

My thoughts were making me antsy. It occurred to me that hospitals are not wellness centers. They aren’t set up for healing people, but rather for making people sicker. You want to get in and get out as soon as possible…waiting was deadly. Suddenly, I had to get out of the hospital, and I had to do it fast!

The next morning I was clear with the nurse; I was leaving with or without the biopsy, I told her. I had an ENT appointment the next day that I had scheduled a month earlier and I wasn’t going to miss that. You can understand…they admitted me under the pretense that I’d speak with an oncologist and have a biopsy of my lymph nodes, but I was instead assigned an infectious disease doctor and isolated. Essentially, I spent two nights in the hospital for nothing, although I did appreciate getting the CBC results daily and seeing my WBC climb back up to 3.7. My liver enzymes went back down into the normal range also. But nobody ever bothered to tell me.

Around 11am, the Nigerian hospital doctor came in and explained to me that they were going to discharge me and I’d have the biopsy in a few days as an outpatient, as soon as the TB test came back. They had spoken with the radiologist, and he didn’t want to do the biopsy without the results of the TB test. As the staff were discharging me, I saw the appointment for the biopsy pop up on my phone and also on the paperwork. It wasn’t in a few days, as the doctor said it would be, but in a few weeks! Funny thing is, if I were at that super-ultra-organized Prince Court Medical Center in Malaysia, I would have had everything done efficiently in a matter of 1-2 days. I know this! That place was like a 5-star resort hotel, and the food was delicious.

I don’t know what it is exactly with the medical system here, but it has become a captured slave to others…the insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the government. There’s a toxic triangular relationship between these industries where the hospital is slave to big Medical Care and Big Pharma’s Drugs, while milking insurance companies and driving the cost of health care up. When I described what happened to a few friends, they thought it was criminal, but probably it’s just the left hand doesn’t talk to the right, and they’re all slaves to this toxic complex system that really needs to be completely overhauled, or just demolished and rebuilt. It does a lot of good, but I fear that it causes a lot of bad too.

The problem is the big guy upstairs, Big Money, who is in control of all of them (hospitals, doctors, medical schools, pharma companies, insurance companies, and government). Don’t get me wrong…everyone was very nice and kind to me, but clearly the system isn’t working for any of us. It implores people not to think, but to follow. It traps them in a deluge of bad communication and discontinuity, and procedures that supersede common sense. How is it that hamburgers and Diet Pepsi are on the medical menu, but not grandma’s homemade chicken soup and ginger lemon tea? I didn’t dare order a salad since I knew it would be iceberg lettuce laced with sulfites.

On the morning of my arrival, I had asked someone to run an iodine test because I was eating a lot of kelp and wakame from Malaysia. Maybe I had too much iodine in my system? I thought. It’s certainly a possibility with my diet. Well, the test came back today, and I about passed out…until I realized they had taken my blood for this test AFTER the CT scan with contrast. Turns out it was the same lady who flagged me for the TB test and triggered the Martian suits. I think I’ve come to the realization that Wellness and Medical Care are antonyms. If professionals can’t be permitted to think, or just don’t think, and the system does it for them, what will become of us? This can’t end well for anyone.

My blog posts are published every Sunday, and they’re free for anyone to read and share. If you would like to support me financially in this weekly process of thinking and writing, I’d be most grateful. For this reason, I started a Wendy Williamson Patreon page. If Patreon isn’t your thing, you can send a one-time gift via Paypal to me@wendywilliamson.com. Thank you!


  1. Goodness!! Glad you were able to speak up and get results on your watch!!

  2. Wishing you a speedy recovery. (whatever this is)

    Some years ago my thyroid went hyper active. Pretty sure it was triggered by an MRI of my right shoulder using a contrast die containing iodine. It resolved after I removed all iodine sources from my diet. No sushi, no iodized salt, no multivitamin, no whey protein powder, no cow’s milk, no eggs, for a time. (Re-introduced slowly.)

    Western medicine is broken. For all the reasons you listed, and more.

    There are a few things going on that could break this broken system, at least for the hyper alert and hypochondriacs among us. Here is one. “SelfDecode” is building an A.I. driven platform that connects the dots for the patient or practitioner willing to do the deep dive into some rabbit holes. Their system is for disease prevention and optimal performance by analyzing genetic predispositions, and actual health as measured by blood tests, dietary recommendations, etc. I don’t know if they will have enough customers to survive as a company, but what they are building seems powerful.

    I am using SelfDecode and the A.I. program “Claude 3” to connect dots on some personal health concerns. In answers to queries, Claude has the best output I have seen of the publicly available A.I. programs. (I have no interest in, don’t work for any of these companies!)

    To your health

    • P.S. to my comment above.
      I am not a techno optimist. I don’t really like solving problems with more technology. But I figure the electric grid can stay up for another 10 years of so before limits to growth start to impact. And A.I. is here…I am giving it a try.
      We are building a path dependency on A.I. now, I figure it will be around for a while too, at the cost of giving up other energy consumptive goods and services. NVIDIA might just rule for a few more years.
      But who knows. Time will tell.

  3. Get well soon!

  4. I avoid doctors as much as I can. I pray you heal quickly and recover from this experience quickly as well. Many blessings t you.

  5. I’m sorry that you had to deal with that incompetence and disarray that Always seems to be involved with the hospital. It doesn’t matter where you are in America, it seems to be ubiquitous. I hope you can get some answers and some relief soon, and I will be praying for you.

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