Wow, do I love getting (dare I say it?) middle-aged. I won’t say the O word because I am just not there yet. So I woke on a recent morning with abdominal pain that would stop a mule in its tracks. After toughing it out for several hours and assuring my husband that “of course he should go to work I would be fine” (mimicking the old Jewish joke about sitting in the dark) I crawled into the emergency room in my pajamas with tears streaming down my face. The brought me back after allowing a suitable period of suffering in the waiting room during which an elderly man brought me a wheelchair and two elderly female patients felt so bad for me they were holding my hand and patting my head and yelling at the triage nurse. They fairly promptly shot me up with dilaudid (kind of like pharmaceutical heroin) and other sorts of things. They admitted me. They poked holes in me. They took pictures of every part of my body with every type of imaging device known to man except a camera. They found a number of things wrong with me, none of which explained the sudden onset acute abdominal pain. I awoke from the initial round of medication with a blinding and intractable headache. They offered me more dilaudid (ordered for stomach pain which went away!) but nothing else because nothing was ordered for a headache. I refused. The headache continued. They determined that my medical history included migraine so the on-call doc called in a migraine medication which is intended to be taken every 30 minutes or so until the migraine is broken. She ordered it once every 6 hours. So even if I had had a migraine, it would have done no good. Even so it did no good since I didn’t have a migraine. Every time I said I had a headache they offered me dilaudid and this drug. I kept telling them I really did not have a heroin headache, they kept offering me dilaudid (ordered for abdominal pain, long since gone). After four days of this I managed to acquire a tylenol. They still didn’t know what was wrong with my stomach but by God they found everything else possible to find. I figured if they kept me much longer they’d kill me off. So I went in to the hospital with “something wrong with my stomach” and I got out with “something wrong with my stomach”. They placed a brand new IV hours before I went home, even though they knew I was going home. My arms have track marks, tape marks and scabs where they yanked the skin off. The back of my left hand is black. The back of my arm is black and blue where they taped a plastic bag to cover an IV port when I demanded a shower (I had to be punished for that!). I am exhausted from lack of sleep, my back is broken from the bed, I am broke from the co-pay and out of pocket expense (my old coverage didn’t have that) and I am not entirely sure it was worth it. I am now facing numerous specialist visits and the mystery continues. Hospitals seem to specialize in MRSA and indignity. Overworked nurses try and overworked aides often don’t. If your doctor is good, and demanding, it helps, but they don’t have much time either. If you don’t have someone to demand answers and care for you, you are in trouble, at the bottom of the list. Lots of people have written educated and well founded articles, books and letters about the state of health care in this country. Personal experience, however, makes me think that the term “heath care” is an oxymoron.
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