How NOT to Spend Most of Your Week

130924 Hospital

 

This was going to be a rant about health insurance but is going to be a rant about our present healthcare system – from the inside out.

Tuesday morning I woke up with what I thought was an asthma attack.  I hadn’t had one in over 2 years but always have my trusty albuterol inhaler available.  I was short of breath, light-headed, and I had this pain in my back.  I felt like someone was sitting on my chest.  I used the inhaler – nothing.  Damn.  I called my doctor thinking I would be going in for a course of Prednisone and would be done.

Well, my doctor wasn’t comfortable with my symptoms.  He sent me for stat blood work and a chest x-ray.  This is at 11:00 AM.  At 3:30 he calls and tells me he thinks I really need to go to the ER.  The D-dimer blood test was a little elevated and he thought I should have a cat scan to check for a pulmonary embolism – and oh while I was there just stay overnight and have a nuclear stress test in the morning.  Then he said something about my insurance having an issue but don’t delay, go to the ER now.  Oooookaaay.

I spent from 4:00 PM until 2:30 AM in my little room on a gurney in POD A of the ER at Baystate.  When I arrived I was thinking “Oh, this is pretty comfy”.  By the time I went to my room I was thinking “Dear God, get me outta here!”

I took the photo in the ER, I wasn’t feeling so bad at the time and figured I could make a post out of this little experience.  As I took the photo I was thinking “Wow, this probably breaks every HIPAA law there is”, but I took it anyway.  I intended to take more.

I had a great nurse while I was in the ER.  She had been nursing for 45 years – in the ER for 25, she knew her stuff.  She put in an IV.  We had a conversation about how healthcare was nothing like it used to be.  She said back in the day they would never do all the tests they do now.  The tests were to cover the drs. butts in case something happened.  If the lawyers were taken out of healthcare it might be saved, as it is now it’s swirling in the bowl.  She really didn’t need to tell me that, up until this point it had been all about the tests.  I had blood drawn 2 more times in the ER.

The CAT scan took place at about 8:30 or 9:00.  They go through all of the side effects of the dye that they were going to inject me with.  I had a vague recollection of having this done before but for the life of me I can’t remember when. The test was done in a short period of time and it was back to my little ER room to wait for a bed.

When I finally went up to my room they put the monitor on me and left me alone – for about a half an hour.  Then my roommate was moved in.  Once she was settled I drifted off to sleep a little.  At 4:00 a nurse came in to take more blood.  At this point I had a screaming headache.  I questioned the reason for more blood tests  – I was just staying for another test.  She told me they needed it for the stress test.  She stuck me – got nothing.  She said she would call phlebotomy.  Half hour later another nurse comes in – stuck me again (ouch!), got nothing.  She said she would call phlebotomy.  About 5:00 I called the nurse and told her I had a really bad headache and was really nauseous.  They gave me Zofran IV for nausea and two Tylenol. While she was there she wanted to do the blood test.  I argued, told her to tell my dr. I was noncompliant but finally just relented, it was easier.

Now I have to tell you the top of my head felt as though it was going to just blow off.  This was the mother of all headaches.  I had told 3 RNs about this and they brought me two Tylenol – ooookaaay.   My dr. came in and I told him about this headache as well.  Let me see here, I couldn’t talk to him because I am in a fetal position because my head hurts so much.  I couldn’t open my eyes because the light bothers them  and he says I’ll get you a Tylenol with codeine.  Okay.  There’s something wrong with this picture.

Between the Zofran and the Tylenol I made it through the stress test.  I went back to my room and resumed the fetal position because my head was killing me.  Cardiologist after cardiologist came in to tell me that all of my tests are fine – sheesh.  I couldn’t really talk to them because the nausea had come back.  “Do you have a history of migraines?”  I do but they never last more than a few hours, I always have an aura involved and this headache is getting worse.

My dr. calls my room phone to say I’m going to discharge you now, everything looks fine.  When the nurse came in I told her that I think this has to be a reaction to the dye in the CAT scan considering when it started.  I told her this is the kind of headache I would be going to the ER for.  She says she’ll call my dr.  She comes back and says he wants me to have a double dose of Zofran and morphine.  REALLY?!?  I have a reaction to morphine and they all know it, that’s his solution.  Fine, do it, I have to get home.

I get the injections.  Okay, the morphine dulls the pain enough so I can get home, but the vomiting begins as I expected it would.

I leave the hospital around 6:00 PM and go directly to bed when I get home – along with all of the dogs who have missed me sooooo much (okay, that part was pretty nice).

The headache finally abated Thursday afternoon.

I am concerned and disgusted by the tunnel vision of all of the caregivers around me once I was on the floor.  The only thing they could look at was my heart and did not listen to a word I said about anything else.

What started out as some tests ended with me being quite ill.  All of the results were fine.  I still have no idea what happened, why I had those symptoms and my dr. says we will keep an eye on things.  Maybe I did something to my back, that’s his answer.  I should let him know if I have any other symptoms going forward.

I’ll be sure to do that.  Mmmhmmmm.  The problem I see here is if I have symptoms how bad do they have to be before I call anyone again.  This was a totally insane experience because my dr. freaked out about an elevated lab.  Obviously doctors these days NEVER spend time as patients.  Almost everyone that ran tests or took care of me was competent and nice except for the physicians.  There is something very, very wrong with the way this system works.  How can 6 physicians look at a patient in a fetal position, unable to function in any way and think that is okay?  My tests and labs are okay so I’m fine.

I was never so happy to get home to my bed and lick my own wounds.  Now, I can’t wait to see the bill.

4 thoughts on “How NOT to Spend Most of Your Week

  1. Glad you’re back home. I was never before afraid of hospitals nor of surgical solutions. But things have very much changed over the past 50 years. After my Aug 13 cardiac ablation I said I’m NOT going back for a 2nd round if this first one didn’t work. I went in to the hospital feeling good, and came out feeling awful. I felt like I had very little support and little or no explanations for the post-op problems. I feel pretty darn good now, and I hope you can say the same very soon.

  2. No wonder they are worried about the lawyers. Maybe if they were really doing the job of a Dr. they wouldn’t be so worried. Hope you are feeling better. I quit going to the Dr. when they tried to give me a mammogram for an itch on my leg, didn’t seem the same to me.

  3. Oh man!!! Glad you’re home and doing better!? I had a similar ‘hospital’ experience about a year ago when I slipped/fell down three steps on my back. It’s a stink’n shame! I’d rather suffer quietly at home than endure a hospital emergency visit! 😦

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