Last Thursday my mom called an ambulance because I got in a lot of pain going around from my back to front. It woke me up from a sound sleep. A good, loving mom is a mom who will call an ambulance even when you tell them not to because it scares them when their little girls are in pain no matter how old or big they are.
So the ambulance comes. And it goes. My mother hobbles down the road after them to flag them down. When they arrive the first scary thing was the paramedic telling her since she was able to flag them down she can walk out to the ambulance. My mom stared at him open-mouthed.
It took me a second before I got it and had to advise they were here for me. What that says about them or how my mom looks I’m not sure. I just know at that point I couldn’t have flagged down that ambulance if my life depended on it. It seems to me the correct thing to have done would be for the paramedic to ask who they were there for but what do I know about paramedic etiquette?
I arrive via ambulance in the emergency room at Randolph Hospital still in my night-clothes. First I want to say the emergency room was busy. There were people who were priority above me, I understand it and get that. Especially since the pain had let up for the most part by the time I got there. Thank God.
What I can’t excuse was the poor quality of care and communication. The first indicator was the woman who came in and accused me of removing the arm cuff and the little thingy on my finger. I told her the pressure cuff had fallen down and it did. When I reached over to move it up the finger thingy flew off and hit the floor. To be honest I forgot I had the call button but even if I did remember I’m not sure I would have used it because I knew they were busy.
Anyway, she scolded me that the cuff and finger thingy were not to be removed. I was a little stunned she ignored what I said but I took the high road and ignored her attitude. It went down hill from there. So. It takes her three tries to put in an iv in the most weird-assed place I’ve ever had an iv put.
Most of the time it goes in the back of my hand. Pretty damn easy too. This one is on the inside of my arm half way between my wrist and elbow. Have you ever tried to pee then wipe with an iv in that particular place? It’s not easy. To add insult to injury she stands there and mashes the thing after she gets the needle in claiming that will stop it from bruising. Not. It’s about an inch long and about that wide.
After about an hour or so the doctor comes in and asks a few questions then leaves. That’s the last I see of him for over three hours. They take blood and do a urinalysis. That bathroom was so nasty, there was pee all over the seat. Yuk. They give me morphine. Woo, hoo! It about knocks me out but I’m coherent enough to ask what they plan to do. The nurse said she would ask. Then I asked if I could get some water because I’d been all day without anything to drink or eat. The answer was she’d find out and no. Okay, then.
I never did get an update. In the meantime a nurse comes in and fiddles with the monitor that shows my blood pressure at 188/102. She taps it then informs me the monitor is wrong but doesn’t bother to check manually. Well. Why are we bothering with it then?
By this time it is late. We’re all still expecting x-rays because no one has informed us otherwise. Every time a kidney stone was suspected in the past an x-ray has been done. I don’t think it was unreasonable to expect the same this time. I tell my mom and dad to go get something to eat.
About five minutes after they leave the doctor comes in and advises me he thinks it was a stone rolling through. On what basis, other than the pain I described, I don’t know. He did not examine me. My urine and blood work were fine. No x-ray was done to see if the stone was even still there. In my experience just because the pain was better didn’t mean the stone was gone.
He advises me that I can go home. My mom does not have her cell phone. We didn’t call Paul and Tracey because I didn’t want to bother them at work since I didn’t think it was a life or death thing. Now I’m alone in a hospital in my night-clothes shot full of morphine. I tell the nurse my ride has left. Sorry the nurse says. Nothing she can do. I was flabbergasted.
By this time Tracey is home so I call to tell her my mom and dad are on their way to pick her up and get something to eat. I let her know they’ve released me so they need to come back and get me. The nurse comes in to tell me she will give me a strainer, takes out the iv and escorts me, still in my night-clothes, to the billing office. That’s the last I see of that nurse. No strainer.
I pay my bill and I tried but there was no way I could sit in that full emergency waiting room in my night-clothes. I was so damned uncomfortable. So I went to sit in front of the reception window. The woman asks me if I’m waiting and I said no and asked if she was kicking me out. She said no. A minute later the security guard came and kicked me out. It was either the waiting room or outside. The waiting room was out so next thing I know I’m standing outside the emergency room entrance. Full of morphine and still in my night-clothes. Great.
By this time Holly has been told where I am. She calls about the time I’m ready to burst in tears. We talk for a few minutes and I tell her I’ve got to go because my charge is getting low. A few minutes later she calls back and says she complained to the hospital and someone should be out in a minute. About five or ten minutes later a security guard comes out and tells someone on his walkie that he doesn’t see anyone in night-clothes out there.
Well that’s because I’m hiding behind a pillar. After two tries he hears me calling him. He walks over and asks what the problem is. I tell him I’m in my night-clothes and shot full of morphine. That I’m too uncomfortable to sit in the waiting room with all those people because they’re staring and I’m embarrassed. Humiliated to be truthful about it. He asks if I want to make a complaint. I wanted to say, what do you think? But I’m good, just say yes and he leaves.
Fifteen minutes or so later a pretty young woman comes out. She is the hospital’s Spanish interpreter but she says she will try to help. Again I tell her what happened. She offers to bring a blanket and a chair for me to sit on why I wait for my ride. I accept and fifteen minutes after that she brings a chair and blanket just as Paul pulls up to get me. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. I didn’t fell like laughing so I burst into tears instead.
This should not have happened. I accept some responsibility because I know better than to assume anything and I should have insisted on answers. But I have an excuse. Two really: not feeling well and the morphine. Randolph Hospital can’t say the same. Their equipment evidently doesn’t work, their medical staff doesn’t appear to be trained to take blood pressure manually and their cleaning staff should be fired. They also need to work on their communication and customer service skills. They suck big time.
So what do you think? Am I totally out of line? Have you had a bad or worse experience with the medical community you would like to share? Would you go back to Randolph Hospital or drive an hour to the next nearest hospital?