Have you trusted your healthcare providers with your life? Who do you trust with your life? Maybe you did not receive the care you felt you deserve. Or maybe you received superb care. Did you know what to expect if things in your life took a drastic change and you relied on their help?
I had faith in the physicians and local hospital in suburban northeast Ohio so I thought I would be in good hands. My family physician was on vacation and now I needed to rely on his colleague, someone I knew nothing about. And he did not know me either. First, we needed to leave my mother-in-laws and return to Northeast Ohio. My husband and teenage son carried me out of the house. I could not stand or walk. My husband and mother-in-law did not think much of the local hospital, given the fact that my father-in-law recently died from preventable problems. I wanted to see if I improved as the day went on so they carried me into my home to bed. I slept the rest of the day. I did not get better, only worse!
My husband did call the doctor and they suggested I go to the emergency room. They again carried me into the car late that afternoon. That began another nightmare I never expected. I was repeatedly questioned in the ER what had happened? It was just too much noise, too many questions, overall a very daunting and endless questions of repetition.
I had the burning gush down my spine during the night and could not walk. I could hardly stay awake. I was overwhelmed with all the questions. Out of frustration, I told them for the last time: I was assaulted in the head several weeks earlier as a nurse, had severe headaches and vomiting and gave them the information required as the current medications I was taking. Three days earlier I was started on Midrin for headaches. The headaches were relieved, but I started having increased symptoms with fading of my vision and tingling into my head and face. The last thing I recalled in the ER was about 7:00 pm when given Norflex for spasms in my legs.
My husband and the male assistant (Orderly) transferred me from the ER via cart and lifted me into the hospital bed. They both said they were lifting “dead weight”. I was admitted to the Pediatric Unit at this suburban hospital. They both brought their observations to the attention of nursing staff. I’m sure the nursing staff had plenty of other work to be done and besides they were informed this was alcohol related issues. Sad that this was not true at all! They were provided false information, that compromised my health forever. My husband left a note at the bedside that he was instructed to go home. Staffing was short because it was the holidays so they only had staff on the Pediatric Unit for admissions. I only hope all the babies and children received good care that night. It’s hardly a unit you would want anyone to be admitted to unless you are a child or infant. This is definitely a specialty for the young generation, and anyone besides that on this unit will not receive the same or equal care. And understandingly so, as these young children and babies take priority! I am a mother and I would not want to think otherwise.
This was a long time that I do not recall. Not because I needed the sleep. I already slept all day before going to the ER. From shortly after I had the Norflex at 7 pm for my leg spasms I did not recall anything until 4:00 am December 23, 1991. For the next 9 hours my life was uncounted for! I woke up with feelings of suffocation. It felt like someone had a plastic bag over my head and I could not breathe. People tell me I am lucky to be alive! I wonder how lucky that would be? People who have gone through similar scenarios know and understand where I am coming from. If I had the choice, I would never do it again! This has brought such distress over such a long period of time…it’s not worth it. But, given the fact that I always knew I was right and looked forward to the day I could tell my story. And here I am finally getting my story out with hopes that others can be prevented from living this same horrendous nightmare!
Anyway, at 4:00 a.m., I was helped to the bathroom by two nurses. I was able to put one foot in front of the other, but could not balance. I was not able to urinate except about 5-10 cc, a very small amount of urine. That’s all they needed for the toxicology screening they were doing. They kept asking what drugs I was taking and how much I had to drink. At this point I was totally confused. I had no idea what was happening. It was mentioned to my husband that they were sure my problem was alcohol related.
I have never had an issue with drinking, for that matter I simply never had alcohol, except a very rare social mixed drink about once every 5 years. I do not and never had one cigarette in my life either. I guess this was something they set their minds to and they were not going to look elsewhere or help me out. It was their opinion it was alcohol and drug related and that was it!
As I returned to bed my roommate was telling me what happened during the night. She told me that she fell at the airport the previous day and had surgery on her foot. As they pulled her bed into the room during the night (I don’t know when this was) they kept running into my bed. According to her I never moved or woke up. The nurses were laughing and poking fun at the fact that nothing could wake me. All while I was unconscious in the bed next to her. She felt so strongly about what had happened she gave me her name and number. Sad, as this is how patients are treated? Were these overworked nurses short staff during the holidays? What’s worse yet, it is documented that I could not be aroused! Hmmmmmm! It’s also documented that I was voiding normally and I could walk. All this documentation is falsified. So sad, is all I can say.
Anyway, my family physician was on vacation so I got his colleague taking care of me. Another person who knew nothing about me or my situation. He walked in early for his morning rounds and he started yelling at me: “What did you do to be assaulted? I’ve been doing this for 10 years and it hasn’t happened to me!” My Midrin and Prozac was abruptly discontinued. All I know is what I was thinking at the time. My thoughts were this: “If I had the energy I would do the same to you” but I wasn’t well enough to do anything but pick up the telephone and call a friend to pick me up. I did not care that I could not walk, I could not urinate, I could not think! I just needed to get home and get away from this verbal and physical abuse. My husband was at work and again, I could not call him.
My friends came within a couple hours and I was out of there using a wheelchair. But, before I left I was given urinary catheters so I could cath myself for urine because I was not voiding. [Contrary, to what the documentation notes!] Now, I have never done that before and I wonder how they thought I would be able to self catherization when I was so weak. I tried, but I had no hand-coördination to even make a good attempt or even be in the right area! So that was the end of that. You can’t even imagine how weak I was…or maybe you can? It was simply an impossible task. Interesting that I given these urinary catheters, but it was falsely documented that I was voiding! Hmmmmm. I guess because I was a rehabilitation nurse, or maybe just because I was a nurse I was expected to be able to handle this skill on myself, like I would a patient. How unrealistic is that? I rarely ask for help, but in this situation I would think that a hospital would be able to help.
Over ten years later as I reviewed my medical records it was clear that at about 10 pm while I was unconscious the ten-second EKG was done indicating a depressed T-Wave, also indicative of ischemia, a stroke. Ten years later, based upon my symptoms, current MRA results (at the right cavernous sinus and right internal carotid artery significant narrowing), and calcification in the brain identified at this site confirmed this was a Subarachnoid Hemorrhage of the brain and spine. It was also noted that no MRI, or no updated CAT Scan for diagnostic reasons anytime between November 1991 and 18 months after this hospitalization. There was no spinal fluid evaluation. However, they called a psychologist I had seen for guidance and help with my dependent physically and mentally challenged teen-age daughter who had multiple problems since birth with mild-cerebral palsy and seizures. This psychologist was aware of my inability to ask and my mistrust in healthcare professionals. I cannot believe to this day that she did not see what was happening. I am sure she did. But, as part of the healthcare team she would also cover for her colleagues. It is a money based business, a livelihood, and there is too much at stake if someone speaks the truth!
The reality is this: patients would rather know the truth and get the proper treatment. Quit hiding the truth and blaming patients! In retrospect, I wish I was well enough to think clearly. This is something no one ever thinks about at the age of 38 or preferably sooner, but they should. Have you thought about how you would handle a situation like this when you cannot think? or physically move? and simply are not well?
My siblings and I have always resolved our own issues and did not feel medical intervention at any point in our life was helpful. This was a learned response and has carried through into our adult years. This obviously had merit to what I believed. Now my adult children have the same learned response for obvious reasons. Their health is on the line, because of what they have gone through and the lack of trust in the field of Healthcare! We know we are not alone when it comes to this healthcare issue.
We hope that we can bring light to this very dim situation occurring within America’s healthcare system. We need everyone to manage their own healthcare needs, and always be there to advocate for friends and family or find the proper people to turn to for help. This is a critical situation, and many never survive.