Doctors and Hospitals Make Me Sick
by Greg Perry by Greg Perry
Last week I strained something in my center chest area. Unlike most of the time when I strain something, I couldn’t pinpoint how and when I’d strained myself. I just know I had pulled something.
It hurt when I inhaled as a dull ache in my lower rib cage. I was able to function just fine but the pain was irritating.
So after 2 days of this, I called my doctor to see if he could help relieve the pain. With the next release of Microsoft Windows and Office coming out in a few months, I’m in the middle of a heavy writing schedule. Normally I’d ignore the pain but I needed to get full breaths and keep working while it healed.
My doctor refused to see me. Refused! He said I needed to go to the hospital right now. I explained that I’d pulled a muscle and it wasn’t my heart. He said go now.
Well, my first mistake is that I didn’t really make that call to his office. I had asked Jayne, my wife, to call. So when the doctor told her I was to go immediately there wasn’t going to be any debate because she began worrying.
His office said that St. Francis Hospital’s emergency room would be waiting for my arrival.
From Irritating to Unbearable
So we went. When we got there they immediately rushed me into their ER triage section and hooked up the EKG. I told them everything on the EKG would be fine because I had pulled a muscle and needed to get some relief so I could go back to work. They found nothing wrong with my EKG. So they said I needed medicine for my heart.
They gave me a nitro spray and a nitro patch which gave me a piercing headache. They made me stay there for hours on a hard stretcher bed in the heart ER. Every time they came in I said I pulled something. I said it’s not my heart. I said I wanted to leave. It’s then their nitro medicine really began to kick in. My head felt as if it was going to explode. The pain was so severe I began to get sick to my stomach.
They then did chest x-rays. My head hurt so badly from the nitro that I was in agony. I couldn’t breathe as easily as before because of the stretcher. My strain hurt far worse than before I arrived. I said I needed relief for the muscle I pulled. Every time they would do some test they would say it came back negative. Jayne was a wreck from worry.
I was a wreck from what they were doing to me. I may not even recall the exact order of things they did. But I sure vividly recall what they did and the results…
They said the chest X-ray came back negative. I told them it’s because my heart is fine and that I strained something and needed to relieve that strain so I could go home and work.
Since they didn’t find anything wrong with the X-ray they said I was perhaps not getting enough oxygen. They put a meter on me and said I was getting a 96% intake of oxygen, 100% was the maximum. The nurse said my oxygen level was as high as an athlete’s. I told her it’s because my heart was okay but I’d strained something.
Since the oxygen test showed I was getting plenty of oxygen, they put an oxygen tank on me. (This would make a good Monty Python skit wouldn’t it?) I kept asking how that was going to help the muscle I pulled. The oxygen burned my sinuses. I’ve never had oxygen before. I always figured it’d be nice. It burned my nostrils like matches.
They said they needed to run a full array of blood tests. They began drawing blood. It seemed like gallons of blood.
An hour later, they came in and told me that my blood enzyme tests for heart failure came back negative. I said it’s because I pulled something and I just want a little relief there. They said since the blood tests were negative they needed to admit me for more extensive tests.
I Give In
I was at that point hurting so much from the nitro medicine that I wasn’t talking much. They admitted me and drew more blood. When I finally got to sleep in the room out of sheer exhaustion from the nitro they came in loudly and said the extra blood tests they ran were negative. I said that’s because nothing is wrong with my heart, I pulled a muscle and I wanted some relief for that. (I am not making ANY of this up.)
Since the EKG was fine, and since my chest X-ray was fine, and since my oxygen level was fine, and since my blood tests were fine, they said that I needed a CAT scan. So they put an IV on me and shot me full of iodine. Have you ever had that done? Your entire body from the skin of your scalp to the bottom of your soles grows red hot when the iodine enters your blood vessels. They took me to the CAT scan room and pumped me full of rays for an hour.
They tossed me back in bed exhausted with my head still pounding from the nitro and still sick to my stomach from the nitro patch.
They drew blood every 6 hours during this to see if my enzyme levels would change to show heart failure. I said they wouldn’t show anything because my heart was great but I had pulled a muscle and I wanted something for that so I could breathe easier.
Oh, Maybe It’s My Perfect Blood Pressure!
They came in a little later and said that my blood pressure was as normal as an athlete’s. They said they couldn’t understand why my BP and oxygen would show such good readings with my chest pains. I said it’s because my heart is fine but it hurts when I breathe due to a muscle I pulled.
The doctor then came in and said the extended blood tests were still negative. I said it’s because my heart is wonderful and I pulled a muscle and I wanted to go home. He said he wanted to monitor me for a while longer. I asked again if they would do some muscle test to see which muscle I pulled so I could get a little relief when taking a breath. Neither he nor anybody else there ever answered or responded when I asked that 50—75 times during my stay at Camp St. Francis.
Finally, about noon the next day the doctor came in and said it must not be my heart and I must be right that it’s something I pulled.
The Hospital Says I Should See a Doctor
I asked him what could I do about my breathing pain due that muscle I pulled and he said there was nothing they could do but that I should see my own doctor…
I repeat, I am not making this up.
Then they released me. Feeling weak and hurting from the loss of blood they took, from the nitro medicine, from the hard bed, and from the searing heat in my hospital room. Aren’t hospital rooms usually cold?
My release day was Saturday so my doctor’s office wasn’t open. My pulled muscle was down to a dull ache, which is what that always feels like after 3 or 4 days. It slowly got better and now I can hardly feel it.
They Are Hunters — Their Goal is Not to Help the Patient
They didn’t want to fix me. They wanted a New Heart Patient.
They weren’t going to give up easily until they got a New Heart Patient.
The fact they never addressed my problem, even after admitting, finally, that I must have strained a muscle, further proves they don’t really care about making the patient better.
Why didn’t I just leave? Well, for one thing that nitro they pumped me full of after I’d been there an hour severely hampered my decision-making. Also, you must recall my wife is there with me and fearing the worst as loving wives can do. She told me when we were alone that I didn’t have to take their medicine. I knew that I could refuse. But then again, when these kinds of things happen, everything is so surreal. My usual belligerent self wasn’t functioning at my normal 100% belligerent capacity.
I know, I know, I know — I can hear the All-Wise, All-Knowing, All-Powerful Medical Profession screaming: “But what if it was your heart!” Yes, well, in general we know our own bodies. The fact that every test continued to confirm my story and completely negate their fears meant nothing to them. They continued and continued and never made me feel better and never showed any desire to do so. Their only desire was to find a New Heart Patient.
If, even at the end, they had done anything to address my pain, one could give them the benefit of the doubt for playing it safe.
They weren’t playing it safe. They were hunting. And I support hunting when it involves a .308, 30-06, or buckshot. I don’t support hunting when it involves making people feel sicker in order to build a new hospital wing.
With the government’s permission — perhaps even with their requirement via the FDA, Medicare, and Medicaid — most doctors and hospitals see patients as the intermediary between the insurance company’s check and themselves. The government hates monopolies when private businesses try to create them but the government loves monopolies when it furthers their causes such as state lotteries and the FDA approval process. Try to get a cash discount from a doctor some time. Their agreements with insurance companies and Medicare and Medicaid don’t allow cash discounts that would reward their honest and productive patients. As a matter of fact they charge more if you pay cash.