Monday, March 18, 2013

The ordeal (part one)

About this time 4 weeks ago I started having severe stomach cramps.  At first I wrote it off to some kind of virus or something and I assumed they'd go away.  The next day I began vomiting after I ate.  I figured I had the flu, except I didn't have any flu like symptoms.  By Wed. I felt a little better but still not right, but nonetheless I went about my daily routine as best as I could.  Thursday brought me low and by Friday I knew something wasn't right so I asked Sparky to take me to the hospital, she had wanted me to go a couple of days earlier but I wanted to ride it out.

We went to the newest hospital in town, Franklin Woods Community Hospital.  They got me in right away and pretty much diagnosed me with a blocked/obstructed bowel right away.  The mousy little nurse practitioner told me they may have to operate if it didn't take care of itself.  She said they'd have to put a tube up my nose that went down to my stomach to drain it and see if the stomach and bowel decompressed.  I'm not sure about you but to me that sounded like hell so I told her no way was I getting a tube up my nose.  So she ran out and wrote on my chart that I was refusing treatment.

A few hours later a nice young abdominal surgeon, the first and only MD I saw that day, came in and explained to me just what was going on with me and what needed to be done.  He explained that I needed the tube to drain my stomach and that in many cases the draining would decompress the stomach and bowel which would result in the dislodging of the obstruction.  He told me that if it didn't dislodge naturally, then they have to operate and cut out the obstructed portion of my bowel and reattach the bowel that was left to my stomach.  Once he explained the gravity of the situation I quickly agreed to the tube, which is called an 'NGT Tube.'  He went and wrote on my chart to admit me to the hospital and to get me the tube.

Not too long after he left a new nurse practitioner flounced into the room in the ER where I had spent all afternoon.  She was all attitude and by gawd she knew what was right, the patient, me, be damned.  She demanded I tell her my symptoms, even though I had told them many times to others.  Then she demanded I tell her my medical history in detail.  Not content to leave me alone in my pain, she then demanded I tell her what day it was, the date it was, the city I was in, and much more.  She was rude, officious, and high handed.  She ignored Sparky and acted like she wasn't the room with me.  She left in a huff, I assumed she had more sick people to aggravate. 

A few hours later I was taken up to a room and deposited in a bed.  Bear in mind that I hadn't eaten anything, wasn't allowed to drink anything, and I hadn't pooped in a day or two.  We sat waiting for someone, anyone, to come in and put the tube in my nose but despite a parade of nurses, no one ever did.  Finally at nearly 9 PM Sparky had had enough, she buttonholed a nurse and asked why they had not put the tube in my nose yet.  The nurse, not used to being questioned, looked shocked.  She looked at my chart, which was on a computer, and she said it said that I had refused the tube.  We told her in no uncertain terms that I had not refused the tube after I spoke to the surgeon.  After another half hour they decided they were finally going to put the tube in my nose.  Sparky and I both told them we wanted to know why it took them so long to get their shit together.  We wanted to know why it took nearly 4 hours to get the tube in me.  They looked down at their shoes and shuffled their feet and told us they'd get back to us on that, we're still waiting today for an answer.

When they greased up the tube and stuck it up my nose and down into my stomach it was hell.  I screamed long and loud.  It felt like the tube was going to go into my brain and then it felt like it was going gag me until I vomited again.  Finally when it went into my stomach I could taste and smell the plastic-ness of the tube and every time I swallowed it hurt like hell.  I felt like shit, no food, no pooping, and I had a tube that was making me sick up in my nose.  I knew Sparky was freaking out despite her brave face, so I sent her home around 10:30 PM.

I tried in vain to get some rest and to drift off to sleep that night but my pain was great and that damn tube was killing me.  Finally around 1 or 2 AM I asked them to take the tube out.  They did and I finally fell asleep.  But you never get to sleep through the night in a hospital.  The kept waking me up to take my blood pressure or to take blood or to make sure I was alive.  All that shit coupled with my pain made me one irritable mofro and around 5 or 6 AM a nurse woke me up to ask if she could take my blood pressure.  I snapped.  I had just a few hours of sound sleep, no food, hadn't been able to poop or pee, was hooked up to an uncomfortable IV, and I said, "Jesus fucking Christ just get it over with."  The nurse must never have heard a curse word before because she squealed, "Oh no, I'm not gonna do anything for him if he's going to cuss at me."  Never mind the fact I hadn't actually cussed at her, I was cussing about being woken up yet again and because I was in pain and was severely irritated. 

Around 8 or 9 AM that Saturday morning the huffy high handed nurse practitioner from the day before led a coterie of nurses and one mealy mouthed doctor into my room and they all surrounded my sick bed where I lay in agony, not being able to shit or eat really fucks with one's mood.  She started jabbering at me about cursing at 'her' nurses.  I told her I didn't curse at her nurse, I was cursing about being sick and woken from a sound sleep.  She kept on and and on expecting me to apologize.  I refused.  I told her my reaction was a perfectly normal one and that I was an adult who used language from time to time that others might find offensive and if she or her nurses didn't like it, tough shit.  She kept on and on until I finally told her to leave.  That was the last I saw of that brunette bitch.

A hour later the surgeon came into see me, and by this time Sparky was back by my side.  He asked where the tube was and I told him I could not stand having it in.  He told me it was a necessity and he reminded me that I might not have to have an operation if the tube helped decompress my stomach and bowel.  He said there was no way I could not have the tube.  So I reluctantly agreed.  Once again it was hell on earth getting it up my nose and down into my stomach and I screamed even more than the night before.  But this time the nurse who put it in me was able to get it down me in such a way that I didn't gag every time I swallowed.

I tried to rest after they got it in me but the surgeon's warning that I couldn't go home until the blockage was gone and that I could not eat until I had a bowel movement, which might not be for a week to 10 days after the blockage was gone rang in my ears.  I knew I was in for more of an ordeal than I originally thought.

To be continued...

8 comments:

Flannery Alden Jenny Shaw said...

Oh, Dr. I hate that you had to go through this.

Tim Barnes said...

I am reading this with dread about your interaction with the staff. This is not going well at this point. Ready for the next installment.

Caffeinated Joe said...

Honestly, it all sounds quite horrible. So sorry for what you have been going through.

C said...

This is just awful. My heart goes out to you...

gmb said...

The lawyer in me says sue that fucking bitch. Or file a complaint with whatever licensing board has to accredit her. Or demand the hospital ombudsma--they all have them--and file a formal complaint. Seriously, she's there to help you not act like doctors used to act years ago. My blood is boiling.

Brewella Deville said...

My mom had intestinal surgery for a blockage, and unfortunately one of the complications for that kind of surgery is another intestinal blockage. Three surgeries later from one of the best surgeons on the west coast and things sorted themselves out as well as they could have, and then it was time for chemo and radiation.

Communication between the staff never seems to go smoothly in a hospital, and it's frustrating as all hell to keep answering the same question over and over again. Even more frustrating when you don't get any answers yourself. Keep fighting, there's a long road ahead.

Margaret Benbow said...

It's good Sparky is with you. A friend who is a nurse advised that anyone going through a hospital experience should try to have an alert witness (relative or friend) with them as much as possible. They can keep track of treatment, and behavior of staff. She said that there is often bad communication (as you described), and sometimes careless mistakes in medication.

Life As I Know It Now said...

No one deserves to be treated like that. When you are not feeling all that great the people around you should be compassionate enough to help you try to feel better or at least feel understood and helped as much as possible.