Single People with Dead Family Must Be Meant to Die, Too

Because getting help for medical issues in RockTurd, IL is like pulling teeth from a parasite.  Since January of this year (2018), I’ve had symptomatic gallstones.  Now, they’re VERY symptomatic.  During the workup for the gallstones, it was noted that my kidney and liver function tests were off.  Got those figured out (not an issue for surgery), and then I broke my ankle.  Was having some issues getting enough fluids in (and was putting a tube into my own nose for fluids), and wanted some help with that from the GI folks… but I never got to tell the NP why I was there.  Gastroenterology Nurse Practitioner (of all of 5 years- barely even a nurse, and didn’t look like any actual time BEING a ‘real’ nurse) ordered tests irrelevant to why I was there- but went OFF on me (like needed medication adjusted) after I apologized TO HER for sounding abrupt.  The tests felt punitive, and because it’s MY body, and I knew WHY I was there, and can’t do any of the follow-up (transportation and physical limitation issues), I won’t get the tests done.  Period.  But my reasons were seen as irrelevant.  And the facility had nothing to say about how I was treated, and seems to think the angry NP’s shit doesn’t stink, because they still want tests I’d had done in 2016, with no change in THOSE symptoms redone.  Nope.  Not until you hear me out- but since I won’t ever go back there, won’t happen.

Well, then the OSF surgeon decides HE won’t do anything until I get the GI doc’s tests done- and CANCELS my appointment so I could show him what looked like an epigastric hernia.  Didn’t want to hear from me at all.  SO, I- the actual patient- was irrelevant to my own healthcare here in ROCKTURD, IL.   THANKS so much, Dr. Barteau.   Because you disregarded me in my own healthcare, I was able to find someone who DID listen, and is willing to talk to me- not AT me about another doctor’s orders for tests that were already done.  But you wouldn’t let me tell you because YOU cancelled my appointment that I’d waited WEEKS to get.

I opted to go on Palliative care at this point- if I can’t get real help, then let’s focus on symptom management and stress relief- and then THEY don’t follow up when they KNEW that their staff were sick but didn’t let patients know of any changes in scheduling or when to expect contact.  Really?   No communication?  So, again, not relevant to my own healthcare. Not considered at all… not worth an e-mail.

I got a referral to another surgeon with another medical group – and he is SO nice.  He got things all set up, and surgery is scheduled.  I had a ride there. I have someone to pick me up, and get me home, and stay with me (rent-a-nurse, as my family is dead or out of town, and the few friends have lives).  Today, I decided I better be sure I can just be dropped off and picked up – and of COURSE NOT.  I have to have someone who knows nothing about me, being paid to sit in the hospital doing nothing, so the hospital won’t CANCEL THE SURGERY.  The “rules” aren’t for my benefit !  I’ll be laid out on the OR table.  And if something is screwed up, I don’t have anybody alive who’d sue.  So, I’ve got to have surgery alone (essentially), some stranger is more valuable than I am in my own care, and random rules don’t address individual situations.  It would be much safer if I stayed overnight if they’re that concerned.  But that would cost the hospital more money.  Can’t have that.

So, I’m the only single, family-less person with friends who have lives in the entire city?  I highly doubt it !   SO how many people die here each year because they simply get tired of fighting to be part of their own health care?   I don’t see the value in pursuing any future medical care here. And I can’t move somewhere with good healthcare (again, physical limitations). So, I’m done.  If something happens to mess up this surgery, I will die when my gallbladder gets so irritated it blows up (like appendices do).  I’ll get peritonitis, and after a few horrible days, I’ll be dead- and that sounds SO much less stressful.

Could You Just Call And Check On Me In The Morning?

That’s really all I’d gone over to ask my neighbor.  Thank goodness she could tell something was wrong that couldn’t wait until morning.  I had been having a lot of low blood pressure episodes, but this felt very strange, and I was a bit afraid of going to bed and not have someone check to see if I was OK in the morning.  I’m an RN. I’ve lived alone for decades.  I’m glad I knew my neighbor well enough to ask her to call me.  But she could see something was really wrong.  And that’s the last thing I knew until…

…I woke up in the Emergency Room approximately 4 hours later.  Lisa worked late, and got home around 9:00 p.m. , maybe 9:30 p.m. I’d gone over there around the time she got home so I wouldn’t bug her later.  I woke up in the ER and the clock said 1:30 a.m. I’d been unconscious for around four hours.  The dysautonomia was one part of what was going on, I think. Many years later, I realized that a medication interaction was also involved.  Anyway, the first thing I saw off to my right was the doctor counting my medications.  I had a bad habit of adding the last of an old prescription into a bottle I’d recently gotten, to minimize the number of bottles around. They were medications I took routinely, so I knew I’d use them within a short period of time.  The doctor wasn’t amused at my space-saving maneuver as he couldn’t determine if I’d OD’d (no) and on what (nothing).  Once I woke up, he just asked me; I answered him, and he stopped counting.

The next thing I remembered was being told that they needed a urine specimen.  OK, no problem, just let me up and I’ll go pee.  They told me that with my blood pressure being what it was, they weren’t going to let me go anywhere.  That’s the first I’d heard about my blood pressure.  It had taken 4 liters of fluids to get my systolic BP to the upper 70s, and a random 80mm/Hg.  It should have been at least 100 without fluids, and with roughly a gallon of saline, I should have been well into the upper normal range.  It wasn’t happening.  They were sending me to ICU for dopamine if my BP didn’t stay near 80.  If I ‘hovered’ enough at 80, and continued to make sense, they’d hold the dopamine. That’s a resuscitative drug.  I didn’t like the sound of that  whole situation.  But I wasn’t in any condition to argue- they’d stuck a catheter into my bladder (blowing up the balloon on my internal sphincter which HURT-  one should always make sure to push the thing in before blowing up the balloon).  One hose in (IV), and one hose out (Foley).  I was stuck.  I was also more than a bit spooked that I’d  just lost consciousness at my neighbor’s apartment with no warning. I never felt like I was going ‘out’.  I just wasn’t ‘there’ anymore.  I think I kinda know what it feels like to die, until checking into the afterlife (for me that’s Heaven; I’m one of those born-again people).

So, off to ICU for the night.  I was in a bed  in a room with a camera so the nurses’ station could see every move.  Lovely.  Like were was I going?   I kept looking to see what my blood pressure was on the monitor behind me (took some scootching around in the bed), until one of the nurses told me that if I kept watching it, she’d put a towel over the monitor.  Hmmph.  I just wanted to see that I was moving in the right direction. I did not want dopamine.  More plain fluids were running.  I probably should have been thankful for the catheter by the time my kidneys caught up with the volume of IVs pumped into me in a relatively short period of time.  Even though my urine test and blood work showed no abnormal amounts/types of medications in my system, they treated my like an overdose.  Guilty until proven innocent?

My regular doc came by on  morning rounds, and corrected the OD diagnosis.  She knew me well enough to know that ODing wasn’t something I’d be doing. At 41 years old, and not in great health, I was more interested in staying alive.   I didn’t ‘do’ drugs, and had enough medications to take  on a routine basis that I resisted taking prescribed medications that weren’t ‘scheduled’ meds- I didn’t like ‘as needed’ meds at all.  But I didn’t know that two of my medications had been making my life hell, and were likely the cause of my blood pressure dropping to the point of unconsciousness in my neighbor’s living room.  I’d taken the muscle relaxant  Zanaflex for years and had no problems with it (NOT Xanax, the anxiety pill- one physician I saw – once- didn’t know the difference; she now works in the Botox/spa medicine field).  I’d also taken Benadryl as needed for years for allergies.  Well, the two cause really bad hypotension, at least for me.  I had my list of medications and prn OTC meds on a piece of paper in my wallet, and nobody caught it.  I’d been in the ER before for low BP, and all I got was a bunch of nasty attitudes from the nurses, and one doctor in particular. I figured it out later, after changing to a different muscle relaxant because of cost.  All of a sudden, no more severe low blood pressure (I’d actually had mini-strokes from hypotension).  I still had the dysautonomia blood pressure issues- which felt totally different.

Anyway, I got cut loose that morning. I’d been offered another night’s stay in a regular room, but wanted out of there. Had it been a weekend in the Caribbean, I might have reconsidered.  The ICU nurses were actually quite nice.  That ER was known for being nasty and sometimes cruel; I guess the balloon being blown up too soon could have been an accident, but who knows.  I just hope they aren’t that nasty now; I go to a different ER when I need to, which has proven to save my life twice.

I owe my neighbor more than thanks. She literally saved my life.  She also avoided having to have a body removed from her living room (unsightly and deteriorates quickly).  I’ve lost contact with her, as she moved years ago.  I know I thanked her, but I’m not sure I really ‘got’ the extent of what she did at the time.     So thanks, Lisa 🙂