Monday, June 09, 2008

Guess I'll Just Go On And Die - And I HAVE Insurance

If any of you have been to the emergency room in the last well, ten years or so, maybe you've noticed that no one actually acts likes there's an emergency anywhere. I was thinking about something that happened to me three years ago and thought I'd share it with you.

I had allergy testing done during the week - you know where they put all the stuff you might be allergic to on needles then poke a ton of them in your arms. Then you sit and wait to see what you have an allergic reaction to. Well, guess what - I'm allergic to everything and my arms showed it within a minute - not the normal ten. So the doctor was afraid I might get sick from the testing and told me to double up on my allergy medicine. Which apparently sent my heart spiraling.

So of course, it's Saturday when the problem appears. My heart would simply stop beating for a couple of seconds, then give a HUGE beat that spiked through the top of my head and made me dizzy. So I did what any good technology geek would do - I googled it. Well, turns out the PVC's (which are annoying but benign) and the precursor symptoms to a heart attack are apparently the same. So my husband and I headed up to the emergency room to have someone check out my heart.

First off, I told them my heart was stopping on a fairly regular basis, but I still had to wait 2 hours in the waiting room. Once in the room, we waited another 2 hours after testing for an answer. So finally I grabbed a nurse and said "I'm just going to go. Apparently nothing is very wrong." And she says "You can't leave. There's something wrong with your heart. We're admitting you to the hospital." Well, doncha think that was information someone should have given me hours ago??????

So we wait and wait and wait and wait, and my husband every 45 minutes or so keeps asking if there is any progress and what is going on, but can't get anyone to take interest. He walks back in the room frustrated beyond belief and says "I can't get anyone's attention out there." Finally fed up, I said "I can," and pulled all the heart monitoring equipment off my chest. So the machine flatlines, alarms went off and I awaited the attention I was long overdue.

It came 15 minutes later.

So I said to the nurse "I flatlined 15 minutes ago and you're just now coming in here?" To which she replies "Oh that machine hasn't been working right for weeks." Well, that's encouraging, especially if they're using it as a basis to decide I need the additional expense of a hospital bill.

So they finally get me into a hospital room and I haven't eaten in forever. My chart clearly says that I'm in there to have my heart monitored until I can have a stress test and I have 5 million wires hooked up to my chest. The nurse goes to the cafeteria to get me a dinner (b/c the regular round has already happened), and does she pick me up the food for heart patients? Of course not - she shows up with chicken, pasta (all salted), a soda and a chocolate brownie. Well, let's see salt, caffeine and a shitload of carbs - probably all the things you need if your heart has problems.

I ate every damned bite of it.

For the record, I had PVC's and they still turn up occasionally. Not sure why as I can't find a common thread between anything I'm doing and when they happen, but I am sure that if I'd been having a heart attack, I probably would have passed away before anyone noticed.

So anyone else with a hospital horror story?

Deadly (Not Yet Dead) DeLeon


Anonymous said...

Good grief. What is it about emergency rooms??? Ours has a bad tendency to tell people they just have the flu and send them home even when it's obvious that's not what's wrong with them. If I had to go to the emergency room here, I'm not sure I'd bother. We usually use the small urgent care clinic instead. If it turns out to be an actual emergency, they can deal with it and it's not as chaotic.

Christie Craig said...

Oh, Jana,

Don't get me started on ER care.

How about sitting in the ER for over an hour, and when you finally get in the back they tell you that you have to have emergency surgery in less than thirty minutes or you might die.

Of course, I still tried to talk them out of it. I kept saying, "I'm sure this is just gas. Give me some Beano and let me go home."

Doc kept saying, "No, your appendix has burst."

Love the topic. It's so universal.

Crime Scene Christie

Terri Osburn said...

I hate emergency rooms. They are worthless. Doesn't the word "emergency" mean needs urgent and immediate attention? I'm sure some people rush off to the ER everytime they feel the slightest twinge, but that doesn't mean you let the rest of us suffer because you assume there's nothing wrong with us.

I've had reason to be in the hospitcal four times in my life. On two of those occassions, the staff was hateful. The other two they were great. It must be the luck of the draw as those two good hospitals were in different regions of the country, but still, it's so hard to find a nice nurse sometimes.

So happy to hear you're ok. I'm going to show my ignorance and ask what are PVCs?

Wendy Roberts said...

Well, glad you did NOT die lol! We have very much the same situation here in Canada although if you have heart issues they whisk you to a special waiting room away from the lowly cuts and broken bones LOL.

Keri Ford said...

Good grief. Glad you ain't dead! Last time I was in the ER, it wasn't me waiting for care, but anyway, there was a boy in there, HEAD CUT OPEN and they had him sitting out in waiting room, sack of frozen vegetables to head.

I personally think they left him out there to entertain the other kids--they all got a kick out of it!

Lucy said...

Just remember, doctors are only practicing. Sheesh!

Jana DeLeon said...

Tori - I hear ya. And if the doc in the box would have been open - I swear I would have gone there instead.

Jana DeLeon said...

Christie - Of course you argued. :) You're going to have to share that story with us one day.

Jana DeLeon said...

Terrio - PVC are premature ventricular contractions. Basically my heart pauses the beats one big hard beat to catch up. Feels very strange.

And yeah, the hospital is definitely hit or miss with the service but always horrid with the billing.

Jana DeLeon said...

Wendy - gotta love the medical field - and in Canada I would GET it due to the government controlling the medical system, but here in the states where the hospital gets to bill you stupid amounts like 5k per day I don't understand it at all.

Jana DeLeon said...

LOL Keri - that could very well be! I was sitting next to a guy in the emergency room once that had his hand wrapped in a towel and in a bucket. Apparently he'd dropped a chainsaw on it. He waited over two hours.

catslady said...

Unfortunately I have more than one but one was after giving birth at 33 to my first child within the week I thought I was having a heart attack but then progressed from hours to 3 days of pain over the next 3 months. Finally I was told it was nothing or an ulcer - eventually they tested me and it was an immediate "you're going to die if we don't take your gallbladder out now".

Jenyfer Matthews said...

That's terrible! (But the nurse's response to your flat-lining is really funny in retrospect!)

I walked into an ER when I was in labor with my second (in Dubai) - it was after my doctor's hours of course and that was the recommended procedure. Before I could even tell them the problem they wanted to know how I was going to pay. I couldn't get any further until I practically gave them my wallet.

Son arrived within the hour!