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09 August 2008 @ 07:43 am
My Adventure in the ER  
Hello f-list loves! I'm doing okay, though a bit rattled. Wednesday night I was in the ER - I've been pretty much just relaxing and recovering since then.

So about mid-afternoon on Wednesday I started feeling a serious pain down in my lower abdomen. Like, in the bladder/uterus area. It got steadily worse and worse and worse, and I was nauseous, cold and clammy and lightheaded. I finally called the Kaiser advice nurse (which is a rarity for me, 'cause I HATE seeking medical help) and described my symptoms, which included vomiting while I was on the phone with her. Fun. She said to call 911 and that I wasn't stable enough to wait for my husband to come home to drive me to the ER. Of course, I disregarded this advice because a) I've never called 911 for medical help in my life and I didn't want to start now and b) They'd take me to a non-Kaiser hospital and then Kaiser would charge me a million billion dollars for the ambulance ride and the hospital stay even though their own nurse told me to do it.

So my husband got home a few minutes later (I'd called him on his cell to make sure he was close) and I staggered down the apartment steps to his car, and he drove like a maniac to get me to the closest Kaiser ER, about a half-hour away. I was moaning in pain the entire time - it now felt like someone was repeatedly stabbing me in the uterus.

Got to hospital, got through triage, which took frickin' forEVER, with me in excrutiating pain while they were trying to get me to verify my address and phone number and blah blah blah. Sample of the triage nurse's caring bedside manner: "Are you gonna puke?" me: "I dunno, I might." Her: [shoves a puke bucket at me] "Well, don't puke on me."

Had to wait in the waiting room for a good 15 minutes, then finally got to a room (well, a curtained off area in the ER), where a nurse told me to strip and get into the hospital gown, waited another good 15 minutes, during which I threw up EVERYTHING I had EVER eaten while my husband held my hair back and tried not to freak out completely. By this time the pain had spread to my left side and I felt like I was going to pass out.

FINALLY, a doctor came bustling in, and was like "Oh gee, your condition might be life-threatening!" so then suddenly everyone and their freakin' UNCLE was in there, taking a look at me while they gave me an IV (the nurse hit some kind of vein which ended up making a huge mess, spurting my blood everywhere), gave me a pelvic ultrasound, stuck a foley catheter in me, and generally fluttered around in and outside my room saying stuff like "Oh, check out 11 [that was my room] - it looks like a true emergent situation!" I was in too much pain at this moment to give a fuck what anyone was seeing - which was everything. I was saying "Please, give me drugs. Please, I need drugs." I have never been in such pain.

So the nurse gives me a few units of morphine along with an anti-nausea drug. I've never had morphine before, and she tells me that after a few seconds, a wave of warmth will hit me and the pain will recede. Umm, nope. Nothing. Not a goddamn thing. I still was in the most agonizing pain I'd ever felt. The doctor was like "oh, yeah, if it's an ovarian torsion [this was the first I'd heard that this was the probable diagnosis] morphine won't even touch it. Give her 6 ccs [or whatever the unit was] of dilaudid." So finally, FINALLY, they gave me massive amounts of a drug that actually seemed to do something. Not that it numbed the pain, mind you - it just made me so completely groggy and distant that I didn't CARE that I was in excrutiating pain.

So now that I'm doped to the eyeballs, they finally start talking to me. The doctor, Dr. Bush, is super-nice and shakes my hand and says they have a great team in the ER tonight and he's going to take care of me. He says I might have an ovarian torsion, which is just what it sounds like - the ovary can actually twist and then the fallopian tube gets blocked, which also blocks the blood supply there and requires immediate surgery or can be life-threatening. He tells me an ob/gyn consult is on the way to take a look. I'm too spaced out to really care, but my poor husband is freaking out and trying to stay calm for my sake. Still with all the nurses and extra doctors hovering around me.

So the ob/gyn gets there and he's super-nice too, and kinda looks like Kevin Spacey, when I can actually focus on his face, which is kinda hard at this point. He does the whole internal pelvic exam with hands and ultrasound and finally pronounces that it's not an ovarian torsion, but rather a ruptured ovarian cyst. The whole room breathes a collective sigh that's part relief and part - I swear - disappointment. I still don't know what the hell is going on, so I'm trying to ask what that means, and finally I manage to obtain the information that it is an excruciatingly painful, but not medically serious condition. Again, basically just what it sounds like. I know I have ovarian cysts (I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) but I've never had one rupture before, nor did I know that was a possibility. I was trying, in my practically comatose-from-drugs state to find out what the impact was on my fertility (I've been trying to conceive), whether it was likely to happen again, what I needed to do to follow up, etc.

The problem was that I was left talking to thin air. As soon as it became clear that it wasn't the exciting sexy life-threatening condition, everyone freakin' DISAPPEARED. No goodbye, no more handshakes, no more reassuring words. Just GONE. I'm left with a nurse, who is very sweet, but is either clueless or has been well instructed by Kaiser's legal department (curse them to hell) and isn't going to give a word of medical advice. So she takes out the catheter and tells me to get up and get dressed (the IV lead apparently comes out last). She leaves us there for another half hour or so while my husband picks up a prescription for me (vicodin for pain and aspirin for inflammation) at the discharge pharmacy, while I try to get dressed and go to the bathroom without swaying and falling. The janitor comes in and starts picking up the room with me still in it, and I seriously feel like a piece of trash that is being left to be swept out with the rest.

The nurse eventually comes back with the discharge instructions, only when she glances at them she realizes they're the wrong ones - they're for a patient who has had a C-section. So she goes back to get the doctor to print out the right discharge instructions for me. After about another 15 minutes, Dr. Bush, he of the kindly bedside manner, comes back - he's obviously one foot out the door, because he's in his leather jacket and carrying his satchel and generally acts very put upon to have to be talking to me again, so he pops his head in and shoves the discharge instructions at me and takes off. No farewell, no "I hope you feel better" or anything. I'm trying to thank him but it's like he doesn't even hear me. So then I look at the discharge instructions he's given me, and it's the EXACT SAME SET. the C-section ones again. He didn't even bother to reprint them, just gave me the ones that he knew were wrong. Of course, by the time I look at them and look back up, he's gone. The nurse comes back but I don't tell her about this because I don't want to wait another half-hour while she tracks someone down to try to get us the correct discharge instructions. She just chirps brightly about how I must be thrilled to be going home. Umm, not really - I still feel like I'm going to fall over at any moment, still in pain just too groggy to care, and now feeling like they can't get rid of me fast enough, almost like I'm some criminal drug-seeker who pulled a fast one to get shot up with pain meds. They don't even offer me a wheelchair to get out of there, so I kind of shuffle dizzily back through the ER, back through the waiting room, and out the door, where all the doctors and nurses who were so interested in me when I was supposedly dying now won't even look at me. I wait in the cold on a bench while my husband goes and picks up the car and takes me home. I fall into bed.

So that was my Wednesday evening. Thursday and Friday I mostly just took it easy as much as I could. The pain was almost completely gone, which was a HUGE relief. I mostly just felt shaken and bewildered by the experience, and I still don't know what the long-term implications are, if any. I need to call my regular ob/gyn and schedule an appointment.

I've come to the conclusion that just as surgeons are elitist bastards of the medical world, the ER docs are the adrenaline junkies of the medical world. They don't seem to care about the patient, only looking for the thrill of the next exciting, life-threatening condition. yay.

Yeah, I'm slightly bitter, how could you tell?

Anyway, the upshot is that I'm fine, I think. I hope.
How do I feel?: draineddrained
cicerothewriter on August 9th, 2008 03:46 pm (UTC)
Oh, my dear! *lots of hugs*

I don't have any advice, but I did have to get the pelvic ultrasound once. Very un-fun, but less un-fun than a pap.

That is the most terrible hospital I have ever heard about. I have never had nearly so bad an experience. *more hugs*
Sky: [spn] sam life sucksskyblue_reverie on August 9th, 2008 04:21 pm (UTC)
Thanks, hon. *hugs back*

Yeah, I've got the pelvic ultrasound lots, actually - when I was pregnant, when I miscarried, and then when I started seeing a fertility doctor I've had several. As you say, not as bad as a pap. And seriously, I didn't care *what* they were doing because I was in so much pain and then was too doped up to care. I'm not even sure how much of my perceptions of what happened to me were affected by those things - maybe the drugs made me paranoid? I dunno.

Anyway, yeah, it wasn't the most fun I've ever had. I rarely go to the hospital, thank goodness, and I hope that this isn't a typical experience!

Thanks again for the hugs & words of support!
cicerothewriter on August 9th, 2008 04:37 pm (UTC)
You're welcome, m'dear.

I've only done it once because my doctor thought that I might have had an ovarian cyst, but it turned up negative. It's possible that the drugs could have made you paranoid, or the intense pain could have screwed with your senses, but it's probably likely that you just got a bad crew that night. I've never had a whole staff of rude people, but on occasion I have gotten the incompetent nurse or the lost paperwork.

Thank goodness you usually don't! I hope that you never have to go through such a thing again!

You're welcome, m'dear!
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Sky: [edward gorey] N is for Nevilleskyblue_reverie on August 9th, 2008 08:44 pm (UTC)
Aww, thanks hon. Yeah, it was pretty awful. *hugs back*
two sex peas in a sexpod: [sam] brave little soldiermalcolm_stjay on August 9th, 2008 05:11 pm (UTC)
Oh my gosh! I'm so glad it wasn't life threatening (even if that does decrease the sexiness factor), and that you're feeling better now.

A friend of mine had a cyst that exploded, and it gave her something like type 2 cancer cells? Or something? Because apparently when it popped it released a toxin or something. I am making absolutely no sense, so I'm sorry. BUT, these possible cancer cells in her blood are supposedly from the cyst toxin.

I think the point of that was to say that maybe you should get that looked at too? But not to worry too much? I'm like, the worst commenter ever, telling you about cancer cells from cysts. IT WAS A FALSE POSITIVE, is probably a better way to phrase that. *headdesk*

Hmm. ANYWAY. Feel better, and stay healthy!
Sky: [spn] sam holding deanskyblue_reverie on August 9th, 2008 08:46 pm (UTC)
Love your icon! Aww, Sammy.

Yeah, I'm glad it wasn't serious too. Yikes, that's an important if scary bit of medical info! I'll add that to the list of things to ask my doctor about when I see her.

Thanks so much for the well-wishes!
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Sky: [house] house neckskyblue_reverie on August 9th, 2008 08:47 pm (UTC)
Aww, thanks. Yeah, stupid ER staff. *kicks them* Probably they were medically excellent, but their people-skills left a lot to be desired!
ennui_blue_lite: Supernatural_Sam Dean hugennui_blue_lite on August 9th, 2008 05:43 pm (UTC)
My honey! *curls up with you*. I swear, I've half a mind to march myself to California and kick all of those stupid, vanishy doctors right in the shin. >:( It's very important to take every patient (and their pain) seriously. That's their JOB, damn it! And, on top of that, I'm going to kick that bitchy nurse. And everyone who was ever mean to my sweetheart. *holds you*

I'm glad you're feeling better now, though, and I'm glad you took some time to feel better (I swear, some people just WONT!) You and me, we've got a psychic link. I got some bad stomach cramps/nausua at about 8 oclock that night, and spent the rest of the evening puking and other gross things, until about 2 in the morning, when it all vanished. I think I was sympathizing with you all the way down in texas. :)

*Cuddles you once more for good measure*
Sky: [fry & laurie] i love youskyblue_reverie on August 9th, 2008 08:49 pm (UTC)
Hee! I want to see the Wrath of Ennui descend upon the doctors here. They won't know what hit 'em! *giggles at the thought*

To be fair to the bitchy nurse, she said it with kind of a half-smile, so I think she was trying to introduce some levity into the situation, but I was SO not in the mood for humor. Hmph.

Eeeek - I'm so sorry to hear that our psychic link caused you such pain! And on your birthday, too. :( But it is a bit spooky, isn't it? *cue twilight zone music*

*cuddles you lots and lots*

Thanks so much for being such a good friend, angel.
silsbee329 on August 9th, 2008 07:16 pm (UTC)
Oh, for fuck's sake. Horrible people. *shakes fist at them*

Glad you're feeling less pain, hope everything will be okay as far as long-term implications go.
Sky: [little prince] landscapeskyblue_reverie on August 9th, 2008 08:51 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much, m'dear. ooh, love that icon! *le sigh*

Yeah, I'm feeling better now, so I'm crossing my fingers that there won't be any long-term negative consequences, and that it won't happen ever again.
topaz_eyes on August 9th, 2008 07:35 pm (UTC)
Oh, dear. I'm glad you're feeling better and that it wasn't serious. IMHO those ER folks deserve a slap in the face for that shoddy treatment. :-(
Sky: [house] house neckskyblue_reverie on August 9th, 2008 08:52 pm (UTC)
Awww, kitty! *pets the cute kitty*

Thanks, darling. Yeah, I'm glad to be feeling better too! I dunno what was up with the ER people - I got medically excellent care, I'm sure, but not so much with the reassurance or basic human compassion. I s'pose I should just be glad I didn't have House. :p
tourmaline1973 on August 9th, 2008 08:12 pm (UTC)
o_O *hugs gently*

Glad to hear you're feeling better though :)

(What's the difference between a Kaiser/non-Kaiser hospital?)
Sky: [custom] sky blue golden gate bridgeskyblue_reverie on August 9th, 2008 08:58 pm (UTC)
Thanks, m'dear. *hugs back*

Oh, boy, the vagaries of the U.S. medical system. Well, Kaiser is a huge HMO (Health Management Organization) - basically a private corporation that provides health care to its insureds (you either pay for insurance yourself or else you get it through your work). Kaiser has a systems of hospitals and medical offices throughout the state of California (and in other states as well.) As a Kaiser member, I have to get all my medical care through Kaiser doctors and Kaiser facilities, unless it is afterwards deemed "medically necessary" that I went to a non-Kaiser facility because it was an emergency. If the review committee, looking at things after-the-fact, determines that I didn't really need to go to a non-Kaiser hospital, then I will be responsible for the thousands of dollars of medical charges incurred for the ambulance, the hospital care, etc.

Basically, the U.S. medical system makes you weigh your money versus your life every time you need urgent medical care. Kaiser is one of the biggest (and, IMO, most evil) HMOs in the country, but by no means the only one.

Don't you wish you lived here? :p
Woffproff: Sugarwoffproff on August 10th, 2008 02:14 am (UTC)
Oh gosh, I am so sorry. I hope you feel lots and lots better, very very soon!
Sky: [stephen] kingdom pan animatedskyblue_reverie on August 10th, 2008 02:35 pm (UTC)
Thanks, hon, so much. *hugs you*
Fluffy: Chase Noooflufshepherd on August 10th, 2008 02:46 am (UTC)
Wow. What an ordeal. I'm as medically ignorant as a plum, so I don't know about the future, but I'm really glad you're feeling better now. And I'm *so* relieved it wasn't what all those doctors wanted it to be.
*more hugs*
Sky: [buffy] buffy hee animatedskyblue_reverie on August 10th, 2008 02:36 pm (UTC)
Hee, "medically ignorant as a plum." That made me giggle, so thank you for that! :D I am glad I'm better toooooo! I'm fairly ignorant when it comes to the medical realm as well, so I really need to make that follow-up appointment.

Thanks for your well-wishes, hon. :)
wemblee: RtED icon by sotoyawemblee on August 10th, 2008 06:26 am (UTC)
Dude, Kaiser sounds HORRIBLE. I hope there's some way you can switch somewhere better that is also not ridiculously unaffordable. (CAN WE HAVE NATIONAL HEALTH CARE NOW PLZ?)

I'm sorry you went through that, and I hope you feel better soon. {{{{{ }}}}}
Sky: [spn] dean stillnessskyblue_reverie on August 10th, 2008 02:39 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it's weird - Kaiser's kind of a love-it-or-hate-it thing. Up until now, I've never had a single bad experience, and I really love all of my personal physicians (my internal medicine doc, my ob/gyn, my psychiatric NP, and my fertility doc). So I'm willing to give them another try. Not that I have much choice, as I've got Kaiser through my work and then through COBRA for 18 months. And YES I agree with you on the national health care!!!

Thanks for your well-wishes, hon.
silksievesilksieve on August 11th, 2008 02:40 am (UTC)
Wow, what a frightening and horrible experience! I'm glad you're okay. Your poor husband! The hospital's behavior sounds copmletely callous and horrid; I'm sorry you had to experience it. But at least they were able to figure out what was wrong, and you were able to get home safely.

Hope you're getting plenty of R&R!
Skyskyblue_reverie on August 20th, 2008 10:53 pm (UTC)
eeek, how did I not respond to this earlier? I'm sorry, and thank you so much for your well-wishes. *hugs*
She who adores SFAHLmsliz4857 on August 12th, 2008 06:49 pm (UTC)
*hugs you close*

I'll write more later, but for now, *huge hugs*
Sky: [custom] beautyskyblue_reverie on August 13th, 2008 04:07 am (UTC)
hi hon! thanks so much. *hugs back tight*
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Sky: [spn] sam life sucksskyblue_reverie on November 3rd, 2008 12:30 am (UTC)
Hey there! Thank you for checking in, m'dear. Yes, I'm doing fine, just utterly insane with RL stuff. No more medical emergencies, thank goodness. Just run of the mill job/money/moving woes. Eh, I'll live. Hopefully things will settle fairly soon and I'll be able to return more regularly to LJ.

Thank you again for dropping me a comment - it means the world to me.