June 11th, 2005

I'm going home HOW?

Ah, bad hospital stories. My family should start a book of those... my dad has horrible health issues, and I think he's been in at least ten different hospitals all over the states. My family is pretty much a walking group of various health issues, so we're pretty well trained in "hospital waiting room sleepathons" and "family phone network activation." This particular story is about me, and one of the dumbest things I've ever heard of a hospital doing.

I have a bad left leg, and, until a couple of years ago, my knee would randomly pop out of joint, and I would be unable to bear any weight on it. As you can probably imagine, this gets very frustrating, especially if you are an athlete, like I was at the time (I was a swimmer, so it could have been worse, but I digress). My orthopedic doctor decided to go for a simple arthroscopic surgery to snip some extra tissue and make sure the ligaments were all intact. But, because my mother and my aunt have problems with general anesthesia, they decided to give me a spinal injection to numb me from the waist down.

This is where the problems started. The surgery went fine, but a few days after I got home, I started having extreme headaches, dizziness, and bouts of severe vomiting. My mother called the doctor, but no one could see me for a week, so we decided to see what we could do at home. This worked fine until I actually passed out, which prompted my mother to call the ambulance. In the area I was from, the ambulance has to take you to the closest hospital if you're losing consciousness. Unfortunately for me, the nearest hospital was an utter piece of crap.

I got to the hospital, and they put an IV in my arm to remedy the dehydration brought on from the vomiting, and then set up another pain killer drip to try and take out the headache and other extreme pain I was feeling. Here's where the first of the two stupid incidents happened. I could not sit upright.. I was trying, but I was in tears because it hurt so much, and I would immediately get dizzy and lie down again. So I could only sit up for maybe 30 seconds before I needed to lie down. The attending RN (I think that was what her nameplate said, I was rather dazed from pain) told me "if you just concentrated, you'd be fine." I didn't respond to her at the time, preferring instead to save what energy I had for not passing out again. I'm hoping that she was intending to calm my breathing, because of the crying and such, but she sounded extremely snotty, which really didn't help.

The second occurrence of stupidity was after they had run a few different IV's through me. They decided I should go home. However, I still could not sit up. They wound up sending me back home in an ambulance. I'm going to repeat that. The hospital sent me home in an ambulance. I could not sit up enough to ride in a car, but they decided I was fine.

My mother called the hospital that had actually done the surgery, and they told her "Ma'am, we don't mean to panic you, but you need to get here NOW." Fortunately, my next door neighbor rode with a volunteer ambulance corps, so he was able to get a wagon to take me to the hospital that had done my surgery. It turns out when they had injected the anaesthesia into my spine, they had poked a hole in my spinal cord, and fluid was leaking out. Hence the headaches and the dizziness and the nausea. I wound up having to have a blood patch done (I'll spare you the details of that), and had to stay in the hospital through Christmas.

So yeah. Both hospitals kind of screwed up, but I'm definitely giving the "Rusty Scalpel" award to the first one. The second one at least responded to what was going on and took steps to fix me.

Oh, extra fun. About a month or so after that, a Dr. from the first hospital (the stupid one) called my house. I was home alone at the time, and I answered the phone. They asked for my mother, and I told them they'd need to leave a message. The message?

"We just wanted to say we are sorry for the inconvenience you experienced when you last visited SuckAss Hospital."

Inconvenience? thought I, that's one hell of a way to referring to spending Christmas Eve and the next four days after that in the hospital because YOU fuckers couldn't listen to the patient's representative to figure out what was wrong.

I didn't say that out loud (hey, I was still in high school, I was far too nice for my own good). I think I just hung up the phone. I wish I could've heard the venom my mom unleashed when she called them back, though.
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