A MORNING IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM
AMBER LOVE 21-JULY-2016 Yesterday I spent a few hours in the ER because of back pain that rendered me unable to move or even lie still without pain. There was no relief in sight on Tuesday, but I thought I could tough it out and it would pass eventually. I even considered driving myself to the ER late Tuesday but talked myself out of it. By morning, I went in because it wasn’t improving.
I’ve talked about my pain issues before in context of back pain and PMS/PMDD and migraines. Pain, like mental health “care”, is an area of medical practice that is completely, historically vilified. People who suffer with debilitating pain are labeled drug-seekers; the opioids that allow people to function are considered too dangerous to let patients have them.
I’m probably preaching to the choir here.
So there I am, hobbling through the swishing automatic ER doors to get to their reception desk. Was I offered a wheelchair, cane, or walker? No. But there was a fleet of them off to the right side of the reception desk. The receptionist on the 4AM shift was polite otherwise; she spoke softly and courteously to get all my information since I was new to that hospital. A nurse came right out, I forget her name already. She needed to get my vitals and get me into a gown but I told her that if I sat down, I wouldn’t get back up so I stood for a while. After I gave a urine sample to a second nurse (I guess they wanted to rule out kidney disease which my aunt is currently suffering with) I was able to lie on the gurney still in tremendous pain and unable to find a comfortable position.
Before I got up there, they asked for a little more medical history and I explained about the PMS and said my extreme anxiety was taking over and I was trying not to fall apart on them. Well, that didn’t stop it. I was a mess. The pain and anxiety had me in tears non-stop. Thankfully that nurse got a shot of Valium in me as soon as possible with a shot of Toradol, one of the only drugs that has ever worked on my pain. Later I got a third shot of steroids and a pill for I don’t know what.
The doctor didn’t talk to me until after I was drugged up. I remember specifically stating where the pain was — I may have forgotten a considerable amount of anatomy and physiology, but I still know what the sacrum and pelvic bones are. I was specific. She still started her palpitations up in lumbar region. When she hit the spot where my finger was already pointing, I screamed. The doctor, like 99.99% of doctors had no bedside manner at all while I fell apart in a puddle of tears from the agony, gripping the side of the gurney.
The doctor asked if I had a fall. No, I have not. Several people asked if I had a fall. No, seriously, I have not fallen. I said I sit all the time in uncomfortable chairs, especially my terrible desk chair. “Why do you sit in an uncomfortable chair?” the doctor asked as if I was a masochist. “Because it’s what I have,” I answered.
After a while, they sent me for a CAT scan, my first ever. That tech was also very kind and sweet. Results would be an hour wait. The results are that I do have a bulging disc in my lumbar spine which I suspected years ago from the daily pain, and I should go see an ortho doctor. Gee, have I mentioned how much I hate doctors by this point?
They gave me a ton of prescriptions and I was free to go. The entire team that worked on me were women of a wide range of ages. The trophies and raises should go to the nurses and radiology tech though.
When I got the prescriptions, they didn’t seem correct. There was another Flexeril bottle, the drug I said I had already tried but wasn’t working anymore. The doctor tried to prescribe me something else. The pharmacy, instead of calling me to ask if a substitute was acceptable, called the doctor. The doctor didn’t call me either — though I gave the house phone instead of my cell, but the courtesy of asking would have been appreciated. The pharmacy made the switch because my new state insurance wouldn’t cover what the doctor wanted to give me. If it wasn’t going to be expensive, I would have paid out of pocket (or rather, I’m sure my parents would have without any problem). Instead, I, the patient, was not consulted. Wasn’t there a Patient Bill of Rights issued many years ago?
I’m grateful that the bag of prescriptions didn’t cost me anything because of the state aid (yes, I’m one of the those people on government assistance — white educated woman without work), but I’m not pleased with the decision to give me a drug that I don’t want. I will continue to talk about how “health care” is really “profit care.” I will continue to discuss the insurance industry the same way I talk about the Mafia and the government corruption. These areas are run the same way and the pay outs need to stop when people lives are at stake.
My next Vodka O’Clock episode will be the recording from Garden State Comic Fest with Joy Taney as we discussed being artists with disabilities, an artist I’ve interviewed before. Thoughtful posts like this are sponsored by the generous backers at Patreon.com/amberunmasked. Become a backer to get to read some posts before the general audience.