Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Emergency Room Nightmare

The last week has been awfully challenging for Justin and me.. especially for Justin. Exactly one week ago, it all began.

After spending a regular Wednesday evening with our Shepherding Group, Justin had told me that wasn't feeling so hot. After group, we headed home, and I could tell he was a little 'off'. He ended up spending the rest of the night throwing up. Poor guy, I felt so bad for him. I assumed it was probably just something he ate, and he would feel better soon. He was sick all through the night and the entire next day. He almost never calls into work, so I knew he must have really been feeling nasty.

The afternoon, it continued to get worse. He had fever-symptoms and he started telling me about having really sharp pains in his stomach. After the pain kept hitting him about ever 5 minutes, I asked if we should go to the Emergency Room and he said "yes". I knew it had to be pretty bad, since he always seems to handle pain really well.

Lucky for us, the ER is literally 3 minutes from our place. We made it in, and the the room didn't have many people waiting, so we felt hope that we would get in to see a doctor soon. We checked in and waited. The woman at the check-in desk had gaudy blue eye shadow on, and the most chapped lips.. She was the perfect cliche for an ER Front Desk Woman. After about 30 minutes, we were called into an 'admission' room, where some dude asked him a bunch of questions, took a urine sample and sent us back out to wait some more. After about an hour of waiting, I asked Chapped Lips McGee how long the wait was, and that his pain was getting worse and more frequent. She waved me back to wait another 30 minutes. I asked her again, apologizing for seeming impatient, but trying to stress to her the level of emergency we were experiencing. She rolled her eyes and told me they "were full" and sent me back to wait. We waited. I asked again. We waited some more. Of course, waiting in an ER waiting room can drive a person crazy, but I was getting desperately concerned for my husband, who was barely holding on. 45 minutes later, we were called back.

We were put in a door-less room. Thankfully the thin curtain gave us an ounce of privacy. Justin continued to lay there in pain, everything getting worse. We waited some more. After waiting 2+ hours in the waiting room, it was hard to keep waiting, without anyone to even check on us or let us know that someone would be there in ___ minutes. 20 minutes later, a strange, older woman tromped into our room with extremely greasy/ratty hair, sloppy clothing and dirty boots on. I had no clue who she was, since she didn't bother to identify herself, but she had a clipboard. As if I wasn't even in the room, she just looked at Justin (who's laying on the bed, writhing in pain) and tells him she wants his insurance card. I looked at her and said, "Um, hi.. I'm his wife.. He is in severe pain and can barely speak". I gave her our insurance stuff, hoping she was actually legit hospital staff. Honestly, she looked next thing to a homeless person. I didn't trust her.

After 30 more minutes of waiting passed before I finally lost it. I stood in the doorway to our room, trying to flag a nurse down. There were about 4-5 people standing by the main desk area, talking and laughing. It wasn't so much the impatience, but the fact that we are suffering from an emergency and no one cared. We were both severely concerned, terrified something was really wrong, and no one was bothering to even acknowledge us.

I decided to go find someone, since Justin began moaning louder from the pain and I couldn't bear it anymore. I walked down the hallway, and approached the first person I saw - a guy - and said, "Please help me! My husband.. he's getting worse.. we need help! Please!!" The guy backed away from me with his hands up, as if I was a mental patient on the loose. Are you flipping kidding me?! He didn't respond, he didn't show any level of concern, and just walked past me. I began to cry and rushed to the next person I saw. It was a tall, very manly-witchy-looking woman with a look on her face like I was wasting her time. I wasn't even sure if she worked there. It looked like had a dirty t-shirt on, with a stethoscope around her neck. I started to cry, and pleaded for her to help, or help me find someone who can help. She responded: "MA'AM! MA'AM!! There's nothing I can do for you! What do you want me to do?!?! Only a doctor can give you meds!" I was shocked and floored that a person would react that way, (especially yelling at me!) in a situation of emergency. I remained calm, but still crying, and I continued to beg her for help. I was terrified! I told her I understood he needed a doctor, but something was seriously wrong. I asked her to just come to our room and make sure he was OK..anything! She moped her way behind me, as if I was telling her a boring story in a monotone voice. The woman looked at him, and continued to yell at me, "There's NOTHING I can do for you!" At that point, I began to seriously panic.

I stood there next to Justin, crying and shocked. I didn't know what to do. I didn't understand the point of an "Emergency Room", when we are ignored and completely disregarded as though we're just there for fun. I waited another 20 minutes, trying to comfort Justin, before I saw a nurse go into a storage closet. I went to her and asked if she would help...that something was wrong and it was getting worse. Not only did the woman roll her eyes at me, but she said, "yeah yeah yeah.. I'll be there in a little bit." Explaining this story in a blog doesn't even do justice. I felt like I was in a nightmare, begging for help, and everyone ignored me.

Finally, the rude storage-room nurse came to our room with a tray. I thanked her for coming and apologized again for appearing impatient, and explained how upset and panicked I was. I told her I was even more upset that the witchy-woman (a nurse??) was so rude and impatient with me, and we're desperate for help. With her back to me, and without even turning to face me, she stops preparing Justin's IV and says in the sharpest tone: "I don't know you, and no one is being impatient with you. I couldn't believe this woman. What was going on here?! I asked her, "I don't understand what constitutes an emergency, when we have been here for almost 4 hours and no one will help us!" She replied in here continued sharp, condescending tone, "People are unconsious. They are more of an emergency. They are more important. They. Are. More. Priority." Wow. I began to cry again, dumbfounded by the rudeness and professionalism of the ER staff. I really don't know how else to describe my frustration at that moment.

The woman carelessly gave Justin an IV and relaxant, as well as a pill for under his tongue to control nausea. Like the dirty-boots woman, she made attempts to talk to Justin, as if he's in any condition to have a conversation. Woman! Can't you see he's suffering?? Why would you ask him questions when I'm sitting 3 feet away?! Within minutes, he began to calm down and grow drowsy. I tried speaking to the nurse again, continuing to maintain my respect, while trying to receive an ounce of positive reaction from her. A smile.. some encouragement.. an apology.. Nothing. Just a heartless robot. It took a lot to not tell her what I really felt and thought about her and the entire worthless staff. The nurse mumbled a few things, still not bothering to identify herself (what is with these people?!). She finally looked at me and said something about Justin's urine sample.

Nurse: "Oh, did you give it to Ryan?" (as if I know who Ryan is!)

Me: "Ryan? Uhh..I have no idea? The guy who checked us in has it."

Nurse: "Well, where is it? Do you know where it is?"

Me: "Do I know where it is?? Are you kidding?" (I literally thought she had to be joking.)

She just walked out. She didn't bother to let us know that the Dr. would be in soon, nothing. I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs and shake her. Does it look like I work here?? Are you seriously asking if I know where my husband's urine is?! You have got to be kidding!

I wanted to be strong for Justin, as well as show unconditional patience and love for the outrageous people we kept having to deal with. After she left, I prayed some more with Justin, that God would allow me to see his plan, as well as give me some magical form of patience as I knew the night was just beginning.

Our rude nurse (was she even our nurse?) left, and not even 10 minutes later, Justin's pulse/blood pressure machine started to send of an alarm. Of course, I'm beginning to freak out, seeing his "pulse line" (is that what it's called?) dropping and shooting high. Of course, not knowing what it means, I began to panic. I tried to comfort him, though he was in and out of it. Another 15 minutes of the alarm going off, a mousy-looking woman comes in and hits the computer (Wow!). She introduced herself as the doctor and looks at Justin and in a baby-voice goes, "Who's got the CRUMMY TUMMIES???" She laughed. Because it was so funny at a time like this. She yanked the pulse-reader off Justin's hand and the machine continued to scream at us. She hit it a few more times and laughed some more, calling the computer "a worthless piece of crap". Great. I couldn't wait for this woman to examine my husband and begin help us after hours of waiting. Not.

The doctor continued to passively attempt to make jokes and asked if they "took his blood" (again, why are they asking me? I don't work here!). She left with no explanation.

Over the next hour or so, there were no signs of anyone. No doctor, no nurse, no witchy woman or shady woman with the boots. The machine continued to alarm. Finally some friends of ours came in to see how he was doing, give us some encouragement and pray with us. It was like a breath of fresh air to be surrounded by human beings that cared and tried to understand. The doctor finally came back, hit the computer a few more times and told Justin that it's just the "good ol' fashioned flue! Haha!" Wow. This wasn't the flu, and I knew it. By then, I was literally convinced that I was capable of running the ER myself as the head doctor and full staff. These people were a backyard circus act. I looked at the Dr. and said, "What about his appendix? What about internal bleeding? What about an ulcer? What about a scan..?" She looked at him and says, "Well, where's the pain again?" (So glad she had to ask that..). He explained it was all over, but occasionally on his right side. The doctor says, "Oh!! That's where your appendix lives!! Hahaha!" Oh my gosh. Ya think? I was just so thankful that Justin was still able to speak and was occasionally responsive, otherwise I would have been sure that his appendix had exploded or something worse. Our friends could tell what a nutcase the nurse was, and thankfully our friend Andy when to find a nurse to get some things rolling. The doctor continued to hit the computer and punch a "silent" button, which would silence the alarm for 1 whole minute. After she left to supposedly arrange a CT-Scan, we continued to push the button and manage the room since no one else bothered to.

Our friends left us with some amazing encouragement. Andy had said that the nurse he spoke with was our 'new nurse' and that there was currently a shift change - not like waiting 45-60 minutes before seeing someone was abnormal anyway. They encouraged me to be assertive and strong with her, although she seemed super sweet.

The machine continued to alarm, and I saw the Dr. walk past our room, so I grabbed her. I asked her to turn the machine off, if it's serving no purpose, or to identify why it was alarming us. She just replied, "Oh, just keep pushing the 'silence' button, even though it only gives you 1 or 5 minutes of silence, haha!" I said, "He's not even hooked up to the machine, which is why it's probably going off" as I lifted up the cord connected to his pulse and showed her the disconnection. What does she do? She hands me the other end and says, "Here. Thanks!" I was dumbfounded, again. What was going on!? Why was it, that our doctor thinks it's OK to hand me a random cord, and expects me to plug my husband into it, as if I work there and I possibly know how to do it?! I stood there with my jaw dropped, and she walked away.

After more waiting for someone to come get him for the CT-Scan, I went to find someone. Honestly, the entire night, no one came to our room to check on Justin unless I went to track someone down for help. How is this an Emergency Room? I approached the desk, where nurses were sitting and standing around, talking and laughing and debating over 'sugarfree gum'. I assertively asked for help, and reminded them of the scan he needed. Still, no one came for another 20 minutes.

Justin's new nurse was FAR nicer and better than anyone we had encountered the entire evening. She seemed to actually care, although she was impossible to find and she never checked on him when she said she would 'be right there'. They finally came to get him for the scan, in which he was gone for literally five minutes. More waiting. No doctor, no nurse. IV empty, machine still alarming.

I wait for 1 hour and 15 minutes before going back out to find someone. Our nurse told me it usually only takes an hour for scan results, so she would let us know soon. I went back to the room and waited another hour and 20 minutes. I went out again, trying to control my feelings (I was infuriated.) with the pure ridiculousness of the entire evening.

I saw the doctor sitting at a computer and other nurses just standing around laughing. A woman at the desk waved me back to my room and said someone 'should be right in'. Yeah. Right. 20 more minutes, and Dr. comes in.

Dr: "Well, it's Chron's Disease".

Me: "Chron's Disease? Is it for sure? Or just maybe Chron's? What is Chron's Disease??"

Dr: "Hmm..yeahh.. it's for sure. Sorry! Chron's is an intestinal disease. His intestines are inflamed. You can just google it! [smile]"

Me: "Google it?! What is it?! Is he OK??"

Dr: "Yeah, I'll get you some prescriptions so you can be on your way! Haha"

Before our incompetent, useless doctor - who just told me to 'Google' my husband's life-changing diagnosis - left the room, I stopped her and asked for more than just instructions to 'Google it'. My word. She gave me little information, telling me to schedule an appointment with a Gastroenterologist, laughed some more and left. It was now 1:45am.

Justin was shaking, freezing cold, so I cautiously went out to find a blanket for him. A man told me he'd bring one to our room, which he never did.

Waiting for 30 minutes was seriously a breeze. I was so used to it by then, that it was only normal for me to continue to wait and then track someone down for help. I went back out to the desk and asked the doctor, "Uhmm.. did you need anything else from me? I wasn't sure if you were coming back..? Or..?" She just replied as passive as usual, telling me she's getting our prescriptions to we could go. Whatever, lady. I asked someone else for a blanket, or tell me where I could find one. Again, I was waved back to my room. The entire time we were there, I felt like a total impatient nag. But I shouldn't feel that way at all! Every time I went for help, it would wait at least 30-45 minutes before asking for help, or reminding someone as if they completely forgot about us. I finally flagged down our nurse, who came in to give Justin more meds and Percoset. It wasn't a surprise to me that we had to wait another 1/2 hour before being discharged. Thankfully, she answered some questions for me about Chron's, since I honestly had no clue what it was or if it was fatal. She was nice, and helped me understand a little more. What was another 30 minutes of silencing a useless computer from alarming and waiting to go to home after an emotional and stressful evening?

The entire ER was dead quiet. I could hear the blood pressure computers screeching in other rooms, as well as ours. How can a hospital function like that?! I'm not talking a tiny little beep either.. It was the same sound as a school's tornado drill alarm.

Not even 5 minutes into our last 30-minute stretch, the inevitable happened.

I could hear a woman screaming - and I mean loud. She was directly outside our room, and the person with her kept peeking in our room, like we were a stinkin' science exhibit. I couldn't really see her, but I could only hear her screaming and yelling, "It hurrts..It hurrts..Oh Lord..Oh Lord..Aughh Aughhh.." Nonstop. She would scream/moan and then she'd hack a violent cough, gurgle and then spit. I was already pushed to my limit during the entire 7.5 hours of nonsense we had endured in that joke of a facility. Now, I'm listening to a woman on her death bed, just feet outside our curtain-door. I felt really bad for her. I have no clue where she came from, but all of a sudden she was there.

She was half on/half off a gurney parked in the hallway, and she lied there screaming and gurgling. I caught a glimpse of her, and she looked just like the grandma from Family Matters. Member that show? She moaned, screamed and gurgled every 3 seconds for the last 25 minutes of our wait. She sounded exactly like the infamous YouTube "Grape Lady". I'm not kidding. It's a miracle I didn't catch what she was hacking up. After listening to her for all that time, a nurse plowed into our room, randomly grabbing things and stopped to look at me. In a condescending voice she says, "We're out of rooms, ya know". I wanted to say: Uhh.. Sorry? If you would all do your jobs, I'm sure people would be in and out of this joke-of-a-hospital in less than 8 hours! But I didn't. Did she want me to feel bad that Justin was laying on a bed in a room? Did she think we wanted to spend hours and hours fighting and begging for help? The woman was finally placed in a room about a minute before our nurse came to discharge us to go home. Everything about the entire night was so backwards and so beyond unprofessional. A total joke.

When our nurse came back to discharge us, the papers she gave me said "possible Chron's". When I asked her about the solidity of the diagnosis, she said, "Oh, it's not for sure. They just think it could be since his intestines are so inflamed". Yeah, good to know that it's not for sure. It's good to know our doctor knew basically nothing and wasn't helpful in the least.

I am thankful, that in the 8 hours we wasted there, Justin was given 1 (5-minute) CT-scan, an IV and meds for pain. Do I believe that it's Chron's Disease, based on an idiot "doctor" who spent more time hitting the alarming blood pressure computer more than she acknowledged her patients? Hmm.. not so much. Justin's symptoms don't even match the symptoms of Chron's. Even my sister (who is a nurse at Mayo Clinic) can tell me that, and she's all the way in Minnesota.

We made it home around 4am. Oh, and by the way? Don't ever go to the St. Francis ER on Patewood. Duh.

After everything, we finally saw the Gastroenterologist yesterday. They put Justin on some antibiotics to test to see if it was all just a virus, or if there is something actually wrong. He had to get some more blood work and have some X-rays taken. He's feeling a bunch better. After we left the ER, he was told to stick to all-liquids for 3-4 days. That was pretty hard for him, since he hadn't eaten anything since Wednesday. He's doing OK now, though. Hopefully soon, we will hear results from the GI and whether or not they need more tests.

Honestly, all of the prayers and support from our friends and family has kept us going. Romans 5:1-5 has been a constant reminder to us as well. Hopefully it's nothing severe. We know God's in control. Don't stop praying..



  1. I am BEYOND offended on your behalf, friend! You have GOT to write to the head of that hospital and let him know about your experience. Even if there were people in much worse shape than JJ, that is NO excuse for them to treat you like that!!! Praying for you & JJ and the doctors who are caring for him.

  2. Ugh! It just makes me cringe what you guys went through! It's surreal. I'm glad you survived it and that JJ seems to be doing better.


Related Posts with Thumbnails