The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Cough: hospitals suck

The first week in the hospital was actually split between two hospitals. It seems that my health plan didn't have a contract with the one (Palms West) I went to for the emergency care. I spent two days there before they told me about it and arranged transport to the nearest hospital within my plan.

It was an interesting two days. After the initial treatment of nebulizer (two treatments) and steroids (prednisone), I was placed in a semi-private room with a suspected cardio patient. He was just there for observation. It turned out that was a good thing; that he was there, I mean. I was supposed to get nebulizer treatments every 4 hours to keep my lungs open and as clear as possible. It was about 10 PM or so when I began to realize I was seeing spots before my eyes and was very light-headed. I hadn't had a nebulizer treatment since about 4 that afternoon. I buzzed for the nurse. I coughed, repeatedly. I waited... and waited. No one came.

My roommate rolled over in his sleep and pulled a couple of EKG monitors off which triggered an alarm at the nurse's station (one supposes) and a nurse appeared, walked past my bed and checked on him then re-attached the leads on his chest. She walked past me on the way out the door while I whisper-wheezed "I need some help" which she failed to hear. Noting my distress, my roommate buzzed the nurse who came back to him and he directed her to my bed where I convinced her of the need for a nebulizer treatment.

In the morning, I was introduced to a pulmonologist who would be trying to figure out what was wrong with me. I gave him the background, explained I was not allergic to anything, and told him I was in his hands. He gave me the possibilities (Good: possibly unknown allergies, to Bad: cancer) and told me he will need to run some tests. they wheeled me to a room with a large machine and explained the Lung Function Test to me.

I failed. Miserably. I could not even get started. As soon as I tried to breathe deeply, I began coughing violently. I was given a nebulizer treatment. I managed to get past the first step in the test but then began coughing violently again. Which put an end to further attempts to test my lung functions. So I was wheeled back to my room and left alone the rest of the day except for a couple of nebulizer treatments and meals and the taking of "vitals." Faye visited, my doctor called and apologized for not treating me more aggressively, but he didn't come by.

That night, sometime around 11 or so, I began coughing violently and then I felt a sharp pain in my back on the lower right hand side. It felt like I had been shot or someone jammed a cue stick into it really hard. I had just broken a rib. I soon learned no one really cared about that. Seems they no longer tape you up when you do that. Better to just leave it heal on its own, especially if your lung functions are already impaired. Or so I was told.

In the morning, they broke the news to me that I either had to sign a request to be treated there or be moved to another hospital. I chose to move. An uneventful trip in an ambulance brought me to Wellington Regional where I got a private room and a new pulmonologist. He also promised to inflict tests on me in an attempt to ascertain why I was having trouble.

I spent the next 5 days there, high as a kite on O2 and prednisone. Tests were attempted with about the same results as at Palms West. But, after 5 days, I was able to walk more than 50 feet without passing out and was promised that I would be right as rain with the proper treatment. This turned out to be overly optimistic.

I also learned that night nurses rarely follow the doctors' instructions unless the patient demands it (I did) and that some of them are terrible at inserting and removing IV devices. And that food at hospitals is not uniform. Wellington provided quite tasty meals once I got the doctor to take me off the cardio diet. You have to be firm, they think they are in charge.

I went home. I went back to work. I was feeling better. For a couple of weeks, anyway. Silly me, I still trusted doctors then.


Heidi said...

Are you o.k. now?? I have a ghoulish interest in anything related to lungs. I had Blastomycosis 3 years ago--a deadly lung fungus that is rare, but prevalent in NE Wisconsin (where I live). I wrote a blog on this (attached if you care to read--if you're a ghoul like me, anyway

Anyway--I completely understand the hospitals suck routine. I was in for 8 days, peeing myself from coughing so hard and day after day, they cared less and less. I was doped up on morphine and vidocine, but still miserable. I was sent home with oxygen, iv drugs and all kinds of fun meds for 6 months--but I recovered fine.

I'll be waiting for another post to see if you're better. My prayers are with you!

Man of Roma Manius said...

I am sorry that you are not well. Hope you get better soon! Hospital suck everywhere. But they are better than nothing. I had a motorbike accident in Indonesia when I was 29 and was brought to a strange hospital that really sucked in a way I didn't imagine it possible (like I was left lying on the floor and a woman beside be was having a baby and was screaming at the top of her lungs. But, after while, I realised the local doctors and people knew exactly what they were doing. I was well treated after all and healed well. Certainly, an experience I will never forget.


Douglas4517 said...

I am afraid you misread the post, my friend. This all happened between 14
and 12 years ago. I have been left with some lung "issues" which plague me
and affect my quality of life. I know that, as you learned, the quality of
the hospital has little to do with the quality of medical care. It helps
(sanitation practices primarily) but it is not the most important factor.


Douglas4517 said...

A number of medical professionals (none of them doctors) were mystified that
I did not have a broncoscopy. As was I ( and still am). It might have meant
a speedy and complete recovery. Instead, the diagnostic procedure more
resembled a Marks Brothers or Three Stooges film.

I am ok. But some things linger, don't they?


Heidi said...

I guess I misread your post too--I thought you'd just been in the hospital. Well--that's GOOD NEWS--you've made it with lingering issues is still making it. I know more than I care to know about pulmonology, lung pain (which is felt in your shoulder, of all places) and biopsies. If you ever go back in, insist on a broncoscopy--it's really no big deal at all. A friend had a biopsy done through a needle--how barbaric!!

Hope you live in a dry place and have continued good health.

FTell001 said...

Well..thank goodness that health care reform bill didnt' pass. It promises such dire consequences for the patient. Thankfully you got the best care available!

Pearl said...

Whoa! Douglas! Just caught up on the last two days and am amazed at how hard you had to fight to be treated decently.

I have always had lung problems and have coughed until I passed out -- but I have never broken a rib! What kinda crap is that?!

They stick with you, though, don't they?


p.s. Am coming up on six weeks without a cigarette. I have missed it only twice. I have successfully convinced myself that "I'm not a smoker". I know you've been tracking my progress!

Douglas4517 said...

I've had things stick to my ribs... but never thought about my ribs sticking
to me. My fight was just beginning.

Douglas4517 said...

I should have referenced the first post, I guess, would have prevented some
confusion. Survival is what it's all about, isn't it?

I live in a very humid place which makes me wonder about the possibility of
a fungus infection. We have something called "black mold" here which is
classified as "toxic." The building I worked in at the time had it all over
the walls of our open-to-air stairwells. It would explain why the
antibiotics seemed to have little effect.

Douglas4517 said...

Since this was the 90's, there was no health care reform bill. But, as with
all things, there are always rules and regulations imposed by those that
administer health insurance.