The Ghostly IVAC®

Forgive me if I still have hospital hangover. I still have a story or two to tell about our recent hospital experiences, the weirdest of all would be three consecutive nights of being rudely awakened at exactly one in the morning by the IVAC® pump. But I’m getting ahead of myself so let me go back to the beginning.

First, let me tell you what an IVAC®  pump is. IVAC® is the trademark for a portable intravenous (IV) pump manufactured by Alaris Med. It serves to regulate and monitor the flow of the IV fluid with a sensor that informs users for the presence of air within the system and of occlusions or blockages (blood clots inside the tube or kinks in the plastic tubing). It’s a boon for the nursing staff as they don’t have to repeatedly check flow settings manually (the old way would have been to count the number of drops in a minute to calculate for flow rate and adjust accordingly) and patients can inform nursing personnel for any problems with the IV line the IVAC® senses. The downside is that it’s a little heavy (it is soo NOT lightweight, as the manufacturers claim) and can be a pain wheeling around.  Moving it from the bedside  IV pole to the built-in pole of the wheelchair also takes precious seconds and if you have an impatient patient (!) like Alphonse, it can be quite a feat running after him as he wheels himself out of the room. Also, for some reason, the unit we got had a weak battery and needed to be constantly hooked up to electricity.

Anyway, the weirdness began on the third night when the IVAC® started beeping at one in the morning. Remember that Alphonse did not sleep at all the first night and passed out really late on the second night, so we thought that the alarms the unit were sending out were due to Alphonse’s activities. On the third night, at one in the morning and only three hours into deep sleep, we were all awakened by the pump’s shrill beeps. It sent out different alarms one after another and we had to call in the night duty nurse lots of  times that night to check the line and the machine. A few minutes after the pump started beeping, the aircon’s thermostat went on and it lost coolness. We tried to adjust the settings of the AC but to no avail. From one in the morning till four, between the constant alarms and the building heat in the room, no one could sleep. We passed the night watching television and keeping Alphonse occupied inside the room. When the IVAC® quited down near four, the AC turned on again. By then, we were all exhausted.

We asked the hospital engineering staff to check the airconditioning in the room and after a quick cleaning, they pronounced it fit for service. The IVAC® did not give us any problems during the day, save for the times Alphonse would pull it accidentally and leave the door open. We thought we had addressed the night’s problems so we were quite unprepared for that night’s events. At one in the morning, the IVAC® started screaming at us and the AC lost coolness again. Alphonse was running a low fever that night so he was tired and cranky. Even with all the noise, he slept a few minutes at a time, only to be awakened by the pump’s alerts. We kept checking the IV line for occlusions; Alphonse’s IV line had not changed positions so we wondered why it kept saying the line was occluded. Again, nearing four  in the morning, the pump quieted down and the AC turned on again. 

The same thing happened on the following night. Each morning, when the dietary department brought in breakfast at seven in the morning, they would find us passed out from lack of sleep. It’s different when nursing personnel make their rounds at night; they try to be discreet (well, most of them, anyway) and quiet so as not to get in the way of a patient’s rest, but the IVAC® seemed to enjoy torturing us every night.

The night before we went home, when they turned off the IVAC®, we were finally able to get sleep. We parked the machine near the foot of the bed and eyed it cautiously. If it turns on during the night, we joked, we were getting out of there, with or without our doctors’ permission. That night, when it was turned off for the first time since our arrival, the AC did not power down as well.

Truth to tell, I was weirded out by these strange occurrences. It seems easy to dismiss these as coincidences but as I rack my brain for reasons, I am left with the most improbable and the least acceptable of all. Nonetheless, I am totally convinced that the IVAC® is the ringleader in this bad prank.


2 thoughts on “The Ghostly IVAC®

    • It was scary. On our last night at the hospital, I instinctively awakened at one in the morning. It was as if someone had woken me up and I had goose bumps down my spine. I was actually shivering from the extreme cold. I said the rosary to get back to sleep.

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