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Monday, September 9, 2013

Maybe we had a chance! For anyone "just tuning in" this post may leave you wondering what the heck I am rambling about, I hope you take the time to go back and review my earlier posts so you can catch up with our story. For anyone who has been along for the whole wild ride - Thank you! I very much appreciate your thoughts and comments!

Maybe we had a chance!

Maybe I was over reacting.  I had heard there had been many changes since we had been there last.  It had been five months since my mothers’ near fatal drug interaction in this very hospital; since I was told I should call hospice.  I hoped at least some of the overhaul had been on the cavalier attitudes and questionable competence mom had been subjected to during prior visits.  I knew at least some of the hospitalists were stand up guys; they really cared.  With any luck one of the good guys would be on duty.  Maybe we had a chance.

“My mother was just brought in by ambulance”, I gave moms’ name to the person at the desk; the same desk I have gone to for years when I someone I loved was in the ER.  Why was she just looking at me?  Did I have something in my teeth?

After what seemed like several minutes (but was probably a few seconds), the nurse behind the desk haughtily informed me I would have to go to the security desk for admittance; she was there for triage.  I apologized for bothering her and commented on all the changes.  She just stared at me.  As I turned to walk the three steps to the new security desk, I heard her say to a co-worker “It’s been that way a long time; ever since I've been here.” and then “Do I look like the information desk?”  How Rude!!  Did she seriously think I couldn't hear her?  I hoped she wasn't an indicator of what was to come.
“When did they move you over here?” I had been so distracted I hadn't noticed the newly constructed cubicle when I first walked in.  The security guard had already come out of the cubicle; he knew who I was and what I wanted.  We exchanged pleasantries and he told me (loud enough for the haughty nurse to hear) of the unveiling of the new cubicle coinciding with New Year 2013.

As I was being escorted to emergency room 37, where mom was being assessed, I was calculating the odds of mom actually being seen by a doctor that didn't dismiss her obvious distress; one of the good guys.  I figured the odds to be about 40/60.  If I was in Las Vegas, I would have rolled the dice; I couldn't lose forever, right?

Mom was taken to the emergency room with a number of symptoms including hearing loss; dizziness; nausea and extremely high blood pressure.  I didn't know which had started first.  Was the dizziness causing the nausea and high blood pressure?  Could nausea cause dizziness and high blood pressure?  Or, was it more likely the high blood pressure was causing the dizziness and nausea?  I really didn't know, but common sense told me any one of the three scenarios could be accurate; my gut told me something was seriously wrong.

Several hours later, after a fair amount of ineffective IV anti-nausea medication; a good deal of narcotic pain medicine; a CT and blood tests, mom had yet another diagnosis to add to her resume`.  The ER doctor explained that “most likely” mom had what was known as “Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo”.  Because of moms’ recent spine surgery they couldn't try the “conventional” method of dislodging the loose crystals in her ear; she would need to see her primary care doctor. 

I had never heard of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, but I knew what vertigo was and mom definitely had that.  “But it’s not positional”, I assumed that meant exactly what it sounded like.  In a condescending tone the doctor informed me that she was indeed dizzy when she moved her head.  He left the room before I could finish my next sentence.  “But she’s dizzy when she doesn't move………” he was gone before I could even mention her extremely high blood pressure, which was being monitored about every fifteen minutes; it was finally coming down a little.

Thirty minutes later no one had returned and I was getting antsy.  Mom was still nauseous and dizzy; her blood pressure still high.  I made sure mom had a clean bag to vomit in to; excused myself and stepped out of the room.  I stood just outside the room and looked for the nurse and/or doctor that had been tending to mom.  “Do you need something?” I was asked by everyone that walked by.  I told each of them I needed to talk to the doctor; I wanted to know what his plan was.  Evidently it was just curiosity that made them ask as none of them seemed to make any attempt to find the doctor for me.  Thirty minutes later, I was fit to be tied.

“But she’s so sick and her blood pressure is still scary high”, I was trying to reason with the nurse who was handing me moms’ discharge paperwork.  Assuming the diagnosis was correct, I still had questions for the doctor.  This wasn't the first time I was told, in a patronizing tone, the ER was for emergencies; for people with serious illness or injury.  Seriously?

Now my head was spinning.  Luckily for that nurse, I am not a violent person.  Otherwise I might have acted on my inclination; I might have slammed her head in to the wall.  Probably lucky for me too; I can’t help mom if I’m in jail!

With moms’ blood pressure, in my opinion, still dangerously high (180/106); her head still spinning and her hand clutching the blue vomit bag, I helped her dress for the ride home.  Mom apologized all the way home.

“It’s OK, mom”, I didn't want her worrying; “There’s still plenty of time” I lied.  It was anything but OK; I was out of time.

With only five days until the wedding, I was panicking; I couldn't let my daughter down; I couldn't leave my mothers’ side.

Four hours later I was making the appropriate calls to my husband; children; siblings and aunt as I followed the ambulance to the hospital I directed them to.

It had been a long day.
It was going to be even a longer night.
But, maybe we had a chance.


Dillard Ann said...

My opinion about what should be "reformed" when it comes to healthcare?

What would happen if firefighters were paid solely based upon the bigger fires that they fought? More fires! What if police, judges, lawyers, jailers were paid based on arrests? More arrests! What if fast food industry was paid based on fat/sugar/salt levels? More fat/sugar/salt> more high blood pressure, cancer,diabetes,strokes> more human suffering> more pharmaceuticals> more hospitalizations> more doctor visits> more health care costs.

Take the profit out of food, hospitals, surgeries,prison beds, and drugs.

healthcare hostages said...

I don't have a problem with showing a "reasonable" amount of profits for any of the above. I do, however, have a problem when they are willing to risk lives in the name of profit!

The "guidelines" by insurance companies need to be reasonable and allow for flexibility to some extent.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment! I truly appreciate it!