It is unfortunate that often medical care leaves something to be desired.  This may not be everyone’s experience, but ask anyone with a chronic medical condition – especially someone with one of those difficult to diagnose things (yes, I’m talking about the truly weird ones but also stuff like MS or Lupus) – and you will hear at least one story of health care hijinx that will make your hair stand on end.

This Monday evening was not the worst treatment I’ve received in an ER.  No, that would be the time I passed out at home, had my (now ex) boyfriend pull me up by my arms while I was stiff on the floor after hitting my head off the wall, door, and dresser, and went in only to be treated like I was a drunk kid and not a grown up grad student who had stayed up too late studying, got dehydrated, hypoglycemic, and hypotensive all at once.

This Monday evening was the one after the worst one.  That is to say, it was bad and I have a history of bad, which conditions the response to subsequent bad.  Oh also, I was in the worst pain of my life.  I have only had pain like this immediately post-operatively and that pain was handled with PCA narcotics.  This pain, well, this pain was not from surgery.  It just came upon me.  And that is scary as hell.  This pain was so scary that I did go to the local ER despite really deeply not wanting to, and I did ask for narcotics despite really truly not liking them because they drop my BP lower than is remotely ok.  And I did question the doctor when he came in and declared that everything was normal on my CT, he’d ruled out diverticulitis, and that was the end of the diagnostic path.  “Um, so you saw my kidneys and everything and that all looked ok, right?”   “Oh, well, no, not with the contrast…that would make it hard for them to see that.  I mean, they might but it’s not likely.  We’d have to do an ultrasound for that and they don’t open for several hours.”

And it was at this point that I stopped being the nice, accommodating patient who didn’t freak out and demand a supervisor when I was literally mowed down by a moving too fast triage nurse in the waiting room and who didn’t demand that I get a nurse who wasn’t in LABOR (yes, you read  that right, my nurse was very very pregnant and was having visible difficulty even moving around herself).  I didn’t get surly when the doctor denied me IV fluids, despite a BP reading somewhere around 82/37.  No, I was committed to being a cooperative and good patient who was taking a team approach to this, my having to come to the ER to make sure I didn’t have a kidney stone, a rupturing something or another, or a dissecting aneurysm.  Because yes, the pain was that bad.  But when the doctor told me that he supposed they could do an ultrasound and a pelvic exam “to be complete”, then turned on his heel and stalked out of my room without me knowing if that meant “yes, I think I should do a pelvic exam and an ultrasound” or “I neither want to do nor think we need to do either of these but you clearly are being a pain in my ass so I will order them to humor you….and boy are you going to pay when  I do that pelvic exam*…” – I didn’t handle this well at all.  Oh did I mention I was drugged to the gills on narcotics, hypotensive, and probably hypoglycemic at this point?

Long story short, I’m making a complaint to the state department of public health about the hospital, to the state board about the doctor, and to the hospital.  I doubt the latter two will result in much.  The hospital one might.  We’ll see.  In the meantime, I saw my primary care, who recommended I make a formal complaint with the state.  He also noted that on my CT scan report, which the ER doctor said was “perfectly normal” and used as a large part of his basis for declaring me undiagnosable and therefore no longer worth treating, they had noted my uterus was normal.  That is very reassuring, especially since I had a hysterectomy.  On the plus side, I did get to listen as my primary care doctor called the radiology department and questioned this.  It was good to feel like someone was advocating for me.

Well, off to shower while gripping the wall so I don’t fall over.  My BP’s still shit.  71/55 last night.  I blame the narcotics, oh and the dehydration.   Then it’s off to the lab where they will have a horrible time getting a vein since the ER blew the good one with the IV port they put in.  Then off to the Neurologist to find out how effed up my hand is.  I will be mentioning the ER experience to him too.  I want the word out about this doctor.

* = yes, this does happen.  I’ve been a victim of it more than once, and at the ripe old age of 40 and as a sexual abuse survivor I simply refuse to subject myself to it again.  If a doctor says “I really think you need a pelvic exam” then that is one thing.  But if he is putting it out there “just to be complete”, that says to me that he does not want to do this and I am not going to have a non-specialist put his hands up all up in my privates “just to be complete”/a.k.a. “just to stop you from complaining”.

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  1. YIKES! I have had bad ER visits aslo, and it truly makes you scared to go there again. Did anyone come up with an answer about your pain? Your blood pressure is ridiculously low….and they did nothing about it? Please keep us posted about your complaints. Sheesh.

    • Crimeny, went to hit reply and I unapproved your comment. Duh. Gonna plead narcotics and a continuing low BP – up to 88/55. But yes, that is ridiculously low. Btw, call to the patient advocate has gone 1 day unanswered. I wonder how long they will take, or if they will even bother to reply. If this is how they practice medicine, they are going to kill someone.

  2. Yikes. Sorry to hear that.

    By the way does salt help your BP at all? Try pickle juice too, don’t quote me but there’s more than salt in it that helps –my memory fails me on the specifics. I like the Clausen brand.

  3. Mmmm…salt. Salt, Gatorade, and sitting with my knees pulled up to my chest seem to work pretty well. I will happily try pickle juice!

  4. Feel betta!

  5. I don’t know how you deal with all this! I hate pain, I’m such a wuss about it, if I have any the whole world has to feel sorry for me. Here’s a virtual hug!


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