This has been a pretty rough year for us in terms of medically related issues. We’ve visited our fair share of medical facilities and had our fair share of admittance to hospitals for several days as well. To put it simply, Hospital was the theme of the year for us.
The Road So Far
In the beginning of April, R started experiencing severe chest pain. This resulted in a trip to the emergency room and his eventual admittance to the hospital for what we discovered was a flare up of his pericarditis which was initially diagnosed in April of 2011. The doctor also discovered a 6cm cyst had formed between his lung and the right side of his heart so he was admitted and observed, while pumped full of medications, looking for improvement.
Obviously he got better.
The doctors we saw initially were adamant that the cyst HAD to be removed, however, R decided he needed a second opinion because he didn’t want either of us going through the stress and recovery of unnecessary surgery, so he located another cardiologist recommended by colleague and this doctor, with 30 years of experience under his belt, seemed extremely confused as to why he was being recommended for surgery without an echo and stress test as a means to figure out if the cyst was actually impinging on his lung and heart.
All of this took place towards the end of April so we scheduled to have him evaluated in the beginning of May, but we never made it that far.
During the first week of May, R once again started to experience chest pain but it was not similar to the pain he had before. It was different and when we went to the ER that fated Monday night, he tried to explain that to the doctor but was ignored because they had a prior diagnosis. They assumed it was the same thing and sent him on his merry way, after pumping him full of morphine and writing another script for pain meds. Least to say, it didn’t work. He spent all of Tuesday in pain and had extreme difficulty around the house, symptoms that were completely different from those associated with pericarditis. The pain medication barely helped and he was completely miserable.
Finally, I decided enough was enough and on Wednesday morning, drove him back to the ER and refused to allow them to let us leave without some type of diagnosis or treatment plan that extended beyond pain medication. The doctors were stumped and kept reverting back to the prior diagnosis in April. They stated none of the tests or the X-Rays revealed anything else and wanted to send him home once again.
At that point we had been in the ER for 7 hours without a single treatment option and the cardiologist stated that he thought it was the cyst. He stated that R should have elective surgery to have the cyst remove to see if that would fix the problem because they had no more treatment options to give and believed it was the pericarditis flaring up again.
I adamantly refused to be sent home and requested they keep him overnight for observation stating that he is unable to do anything because he is in too much pain. The doctor was hesitant but agreed to admit him and made it clear, he didn’t think admitting him would do any good but would if I really wanted him to and I did.
While the doctor drew up the paperwork, R, who works for a health analytics company and has access to several medical professionals reached out and asked if there were any other hospitals that we could go to for a second opinion. We were given another hospital to try, one that deals specifically with heart issues and I tracked the nurse and stated we wanted to be discharged to go to another hospital. The nurse was taken aback but said he would talk to the doctor about our request. He came back 20 minutes later, stating the doctor would discharge us but it would be against medical advice and R would need to sign paperwork indicating he understood. The funny thing? The paperwork he received was completely blank. There was no diagnosis, no treatment plan, nothing at all to indicate what medical advice we were disregarding, which R made sure to notate on the paperwork after signing.
8 hours later, we got out of that hellish hospital and I drove him to ER of the other recommended hospital, where he was seen to right away, where blood was drawn, X-Rays were taken, questions were asked, and were we spent about 3-4 hours waiting for a copy of his labs and X-Rays from the prior hospital. It finally took my calling the other hospital directly and lighting a fire under their asses before his charts and records were faxed over. To be it shortly, we were pissed.
After the charts were sent over and the doctor had a chance to review them, the nurse came in about 10 minutes later and asked, ”Did you have X-Rays done at the other hospital?” We stated that they had and she said ”I’m not sure how they missed it but you have a pneumonia in both of your lungs.”
Our jaws dropped.
On top of all that, R had an elevated white blood cell count on Monday indicative of an infection but all of that data had been overlooked because he was admitted the previous month with pericarditis, so how could it possibly be anything else?
Not to mention, the doctor’s suggestion to have elective surgery which very well would have killed him had we decided to proceed, and if we had waited any longer without some sort of treatment, that would have been it. My husband would be dead and all because no one wanted to take the time to try to actually figure out what was wrong with him. Least to say, we are NEVER going to that hospital again and actively avoid it and tell others to do the same.
R is much, much better now and we haven’t had any further incidents1 but the story does not stop there. I’ve had my own merry ride on the hospital bandwagon but I think I’ll save that adventure for another post.
- Cross your fingers. ↩