Monday, July 11, 2011

Has this happened to you?

Going to the emergency room in the middle of the night is NO FUN for anyone, but so much worse for those of us that suffer with chronic pain or any illness that causes pain. I thought I would pass on one of my ER stories that I will never forget. I was reminded of this story after my fall on July 4, 2011 that took me to the ER to rule out broken bones. On the 4th, I was waiting for over 5 grueling hours, and not one doctor ever asked me what medications I was on or if I needed any pain meds for the plate size bruise on my hip. I did NOT have any broken bones and since I had meds at home, I just blew off their oversight. Unfortunately, nothing has changed since 2006 when my ER trip was again in the middle of the night, but back then I did not have a prescription for muscle relaxers or anti-inflammatories. I was in severe pain from what was determined two weeks later to be 2 additional herniated disks in my back. This second pair of herniated disks led to my degenerative disk disease diagnosis and had me file for disability finally. So it was April 2006, I am in excruciating pain, and was forced to wait almost 3 hours just to be taken back to wait for another hour to finally be seen by a doctor who looked like he could be my kid brother.  He was nice enough until he asked why I couldn't sit down. I told him it was probably another pinched nerve or sciatica cause the pain was running down my legs. Naturally he wanted the back story on how I could possibly try to diagnose myself. I told him about the emergency surgery in 1996 and how my right leg had gone completely numb so surgery was set in 72 hours to prevent me from being in a wheelchair if it was possible. The doc listened and gradually a broad smile came to his face as I was finishing the back story. Now you need to know this little smile really pissed me off. I was in severe pain, talking about other severe pains I had experienced in my life, and this butthead's smile only seemed to be getting bigger and bigger. I finished the story and asked him why he would smile at my pain. With the smile still on his face, he basically said that no matter what I told him he would not help some jumpy drug seeking person who couldn't even sit. I need you to know that I lost it here. I was standing up already while this guy sits comfortably and spins back and forth on his little stool with not a care in the world and obviously never suffered with back pain or scaitica himself.  I stepped towards this guy (not gonna even respect him by calling him a doc now) and told him that if he lived with my pain even one day, it would kill him and he would be glad to be dead and away from this pain. He stood up, and put his head down, and literally covered his genitals with his hands as he took the rest of my tirade. Understand, I did not notice any of his reactions, because I was still going on about how I was the last thing from a drug seeker and the reason I couldn't sit was pinched nerves in my back.  Needlesstosay, those of you who know me, know that being quiet is not in my nature and when I get upset, I just get louder. I never cussed at him, nor threatened him at all, but he took my tirade that way, because he sent hospital security to escort me out. Luckily, Jason could foresee this and had me ready to go and we were already walking out when the security guards walked up. I have never been back to that hospital and I have never missed an opportunity to bad mouth them to anyone who would listen over the years since then. It was in the car on the way home, when Jason (my hubby of 18 yrs) told me about the body language that screamed I was intimidating and threatening even though I was just telling that doc the truth. Its been a source of laughter as time has passed for me and my family. Yes, this story is famous and gets brought up at family gatherings occasionally. I am not proud of the fact that I scared this doc, but I am proud of the fact that he will NEVER forget what its like to accuse someone in pain of being a drugseeker. Who knows if it changed the way he dealt with other patients, but, in my heart, I hope he is still at least slightly afraid of smiling at anyone's pain.  

1 comment:

  1. Liz - I’m laughing (you tell him, girlfriend) and crying (why can’t a woman get respectful care when she is in so much pain?)
    Yes, Yes, Yes. Baby Docs are particularly good sources for lousy experiences when seeking medical care (although it was a few supposed “experts” who have probably done the most damage, probably due to their intersecting traits of omnipotence and legitimacy in the medical domain, which allows their behavior to have more long reaching consequences).
    The top of my "Baby Doc’s to avoid list" is Doc NY. He looked to be no older than my undergraduate college students (I was a sociology professor at a liberal arts college), and had the apparent maturity to match. Doc NY was new to the pain clinic that I had been a patient at for about three years; I had met him briefly once before during a previous visit and I remember thinking he was particularly condescending, especially for someone who had apparently only finished his medical training in the recent past. At any rate, I was at the clinic for my monthly follow up visit, which was necessary to get a prescription renewal for my pain medications. I didn’t have an official diagnosis yet, although it seemed that it was likely that I had an auto-immune condition or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I am also very careful about allowing doctors to label my condition as I have been really hurt by those labels in the past. So Doc NY saunters in, straddles the back of the rolling chair, glances at me and said “so what brings you in today,” Now recall, I’ve been coming here every month for three years, and over the years I have had to “tell my story” about a hundred times too many. And with a maximum of five minutes with the doctor, I really didn’t want to waste it as I had a list of symptoms including a new difficulty with swallowing that my primary physician felt could be side effects of methadone or evidence of MS. I barely began to describe the symptom when Doc NY interrupts with, “well, you’ll have to see a specialist about a swallowing problem, we don’t deal with that kind of thing here.” I was dumbfounded, I stammered, then began to suggest that perhaps this symptom was somehow connected to my health problems or medication. Doc NY looks at me like I’m stupid, and says, nope, you have fibromyalgia, and that has nothing to do with swallowing. I immediately begin to protest, “I haven’t been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, that we were still trying to figure out what I had. Again, he interrupts, and with some equivalent of an obnoxious eye roll/sigh, demands why I can’t just accept that I have fibromyalgia. Now, I admit that maybe I was being a little sensitive, but this infant was really making me upset. So I again began to protest, and in response, this obnoxious little brat rolled his chair over next to me, jumped up and began poking at me hard and quick all over, repeating “does this hurt, does this hurt,” in his nasally baby Brooklyn mean voice. I blew up. And I did Cuss. Loudly. And I Cried. Because I always cry when I get really mad. And I told him that he could not talk to me that way, that not only was I a patient, an adult (unlike him) but a PH.D. with tenure (which means I’ve got more education and intern/probation time under my belt than he does) to boot (yeah, my own status conceit). He pulled back his shoulders, pushed out his chest, and in his most demeaning voice, told me that I needed to get myself under control (ok, so I’ll give him that one, I was out of control). He marched out the office, went to get Daddy Doc (the lead Physician/neurologist) and brought him into the room to show him what a bad girl I had been. Sadly, Daddy Doc tended towards being condescending himself (with his “hi darling” and other sorts of familiarities) so I got a verbal spanking for cussing.

    I suspect that I was not the only one dissatisfied with Doc NY as he was no longer working at the Pain Clinic a few months later.

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