|That bowl of gruel that they are cheerfully passing off as Oatmeal?|
It's a $400 bowl of porridge. At least that's how much you'll get billed for it.
On Tuesday evening, Cookie found himself in the middle of an event.
And it's not the type of event anyone wants to find themselves in. It was not the Met Ball or some such. It was a cardiac event.
I had been feeling a little on Tuesday, my left arm just ached all day. Mentally I was feeling dull because of a change in my SADD medication (remember, this time of year is a period of pure dread for me) and the election had me going.
So, as I said in the post from that day that I ignored the election day coverage, I thought I had myself in a good place. Win or lose, we would endure.
I posted that to the blog.
About ten minutes later, however, my chest began to tighten. I stretched, turned on the TV and went back to editing pictures. With the sound off I couldn't hear anything but the pain in my arm distracted me. Then I looked at the TV and saw the faces of some people who looked concerned. I turned up the volume and Nate Silver said that "this district appears to be turning red and this was the one that we said if it went blue, the Big Blue Wave was coming and right now it isn't looking good..."
And then I got horribly hot, followed by a cold sweat.
Left-arm hurting. Chest tight. Clammy. Pale skin.
I went downstairs, the husband looked at me and he said that I looked like I was going to go pass out and went to the ER.
I was crying the whole way. I wanted to go home. I was in pain. I thought I'd never go home.
We got to the hospital, they got me in immediately.
They couldn't find a vein on the first attempt, or the second and by the fifth, my arm was black and blue and the triage nurse pushed aside the youngin and found a vein on the seventh time.
Now my arm hurt, and it looked like leaches had attacked it.
After about twenty minutes we all figured out that I was not about to go into cardiac arrest, and I did not have the jaw pain aspect of it.
So they got us back, I took off my clothes as instructed, put on the hospital gown, got on the horrible stretcher, which wasn't too bad, they brought me a hot blanket, which was pure heaven, and they took more blood.
By this time, because you can't get cell coverage in an ER, we turned on the TV and the Blue Wave was nowhere near the Senate beach, but the House beach was about to get it. My spirits lifted.
The doctor came in and said that my EKG was perfect, and compared to the baseline EKG that I got in July. The blood work showed no sign of the enzymes produced in a heart attack, however, it was now Midnight, and they needed to do another in a couple of hours and they wanted to admit me.
"Was it a heart attack?"
"We can't call it that, yet. But you definitely had a cardiac event.
Cookie was relieved, and concerned. If the numbers were good, save for my cholesterol and my blood pressure, and they weren't calling it a heart attack in the least, then what was it. And I wanted to go home.
But the doctor was insistent and brought in another doctor to tell me that they need four hours to six hours for valid third enzyme reading and they wanted me to do a stress test to see if they could replicate abnormal activity.
And my adoring husband was there, and I just wanted to go home, but I agreed that I would stay on two conditions. If it wasn't a heart attack, I wanted out by noon, and I wanted the stress test first thing in the morning.
The husband wanted to stay, but the dogs were home alone, and he had to work in the morning and I just told him that I would be fine, and to go home and let these nice people take care of me.
I was admitted and wheeled to my room, and unceremoniously dumped at the door of what had to have once been a broom closet. No, I am told. "This is the standard room for (name of the insurance company that paid for the fittings) members."
I thank God for being alive, and that said company is not my insurance company.
While I will not name the hospital, I was shocked by the condition of the room. So I must have been feeling better. I have visited elderly people Medicaid nursing homes that were better than this. And this hospital has more money than it knows what to do with.
By now it was 2:30 and I was dog tired, but the bed they assigned to me was a cruel joke. The "mattress" was much closer to an elementary school tumbling pad, hard as a rock, and about an inch and a half thick. The pillows were the cheapest fiber fill models. You know the kind, $2.99 at Target, and filled with a material that would not yield its fluffy shape. You can't be comfortable with these because they push against your head to return to their shape, you need to exert downward pressure to keep from having your neck snapped into a 45-degree angle.
They took more and more blood, and they wired me to the heart monitoring device, which I wore in a pocket on my chest. Now, remember, they port the IV port in my right hand, which is my dominant hand, so it hurt more than my arm.
At some point, I drifted off into an uneasy sleep of exhaustion, punctuated by my nurse, Caroline, coming in, waking me up to take blood oxygen reading, stab me in the stomach with blood thinners, poke pills down my throat, and draw more blood from my now ragged, and black and blue left arm. All the while the TV control was on in a low murmur telling me over and over that the blue wave was indeed securely taking the house back from the Republicans.
At some point, I conked out until 6AM when Caroline brought in Mary, my day nurse to introduce me. I could barely get my eyes open when I went back to sleep. At some point, Mary - who sounded exactly like Regan's speech writer, Peggy Noonan, came in and said that she needed to take my blood pressure. I was laying on my right side, and instead of getting up, remember shooting my left arm up into the air. I remember the tightness of the cuff, and Mary saying "Wow, that really went down from last night" (which was 156/100) to 90/70.
I conked out again.
When I did wake, I looked at the clock and saw it was 7am. The hospital did not come and get me by 7:30am, or 8am, or 9am or 10am for my stress test. And because you can't have any liquids before the test, my mouth was like corduroy.
Muscato texted me and said, "You have to be your own advocate."
In walks Mary and I start advocated on my behalf and told her that they were running out of time to give me the stress test, I was leaving at 12 noon.
And Mary kept saying "now we can't have you stressed after your coronary event, blah, blah, blah..." and I kept saying "Mary, it's not you, but the goal post keeps getting moved down the road."
Mary responded that "our computers were down until six so we couldn't get the stress test scheduled until 8 for 10:00 and that the stress test will take two hours..." and again and again, the goal line kept getting moved further and further down the line.
Finally, they got me, and I passed the stress test without a blip. They even gave me a can of Diet Pepsi. I was in HEAVEN!
I'm talking to Nurse who assisted in the stress test and I said that I expected to do it earlier, but that Mary told me the computers were down...
Nurse says, "I came on the floor at six and the computers weren't down. Most likely the doctors were in a meeting and didn't come out till seven and then you test was ordered at 8AM."
Back in my room, I started putting my clothes and called my husband to come to the hospital and in comes Mary who says that "the doctor wants you to stay in bed...and they may want to keep you a second night..."
"On that bed? No, no. Not going to happen"
Then she leaves and comes back and says "the doctor will be in, but she wants you to eat something first." Again, the goal posts are moved further down the field. I am forced to order something heart healthy. Something that I didn't want to eat.
The thing about hospitals is they are pretty easy to get admitted into, but they are Hell to get out of and on your way home. So to get Mary on her way and to get the show moving, I ordered Oatmeal.
"And fresh fruit?"
"Yes, fresh fruit would be nice." ANYTHING to get the ball rolling.
This one was no different.
The husband arrives and he wants to know what was up, and Mary comes in and tells me that the doctor will be in about 40 minutes.
I thanked Mary, but I make it clear that I know she is doing her best, and that she can't give orders to a hospitalist, if this was as serious as we thought, I would have seen a doctor long before this, save for the cardiologist who did the stress test.
She leaves, and a young doctor comes in, and he stresses that I needed to be careful after the "Cardiac Event" that I have been through, everything on the surface looks normal, that I need to take this seriously.
I nod and agree. I promise to contact my doctor right away and schedule an appointment to discuss my "cardiac event," which I have decided was not a heart attack, but a panic attack.
But I also point out that if the hospital really wants patients to be patient, that they need to provide clear communication and stop forcing people into something that isn't a bed by calling it a bed. But I also point out that everyone keeps telling me that I need to take this seriously, but no one around me makes me feel like I am a priority or that this was serious.
Oh, says Doctor, somewhat surprised. "Didn't you have your My Health app up?"
"Well," says he, "this app tells you everything we are doing and scheduling for you..."
"You mean they didn't tell you about that?"
And sure enough, there is the whole battery of messages going off in the app. Like 30 of them.
I had no idea because someone never bothered to tell me. It could have been a nurse at my doctor's office. It could have someone in ER. Or it could have been one of the many volunteers that came in to smile and have non-commital comments. But NO ONE told me that I WAS RESPONSIBLE because they put it in an app!
I mean, there could be something to this, and there will be most likely something that I learn when I see the doctor this coming week. And yes, I am not getting younger.
The bottom line is that the event was most likely a combination of a lack of sleep from the drug change over, a pinched nerve in my arm and two years of extreme stress culminating in a major, yet minor health event.
A hospital is not a spa, the nurses are not your personal caregivers, things happen in scheduling. But clear communication, a bed that doesn't hurt you, and a goal should be something that for the amount of the bill should be afforded you.
If something is wrong, then let's address the matter. If you don't know, say you don't know. But third rate care at a first-rate institution shouldn't be the outcome.
I can't wait to see the bill for this adventure.
Because I am not paying for that bed or for that $400 bowl of oatmeal.
And I know when the bill comes due, there will be no moving of the goal posts, then.