Adventures in Health Care

Back on July 26, 2010 I had a massive coughing/allergy attack. I coughed so hard I nearly threw up not just once but twice. A friend suggested that I steam my sinuses which eased things a lot, and then I took a Benadryl Allergy KapGel which knocked me out.

The next morning I wasn’t coughing but my entire upper body felt like somebody had taken a baseball bat to it repeatedly. Finally about 3:00 that afternoon I took some Advil and a short nap, that seemed to take care of all of the pain.

In the days following the allergy attack, I continued to have pain under my left breast. I assumed that I’d pulled a muscle or perhaps cracked a rib, but it wasn’t getting any better. The only position I could find any relief from the pain was lying flat on my back in bed.

Finally on Sunday August 8 2010 I went to the emergency room. I was placed on oxygen immediately and they started a battery of tests. After an EKG, lung function test, nebulizer treatment, blood test, urine test, and a cat scan it was finally determined that I had clots in both lungs. I was admitted to the hospital itself at about 5:30 pm Sunday evening.

An IV heparin drip and IV saline solution was set up; the saline solution was to keep me hydrated and the heparin is a blood thinner.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that being in the hospital is restful. My blood sugar was tested every 6 hours, my vitals (blood pressure, temperature, pulse) were taken every 4 hours and my INR (a measure of how fast or slow my blood clots) was taken at regular intervals.

The power packs for the IV pole often chose to start beeping (occlusion in the line or low battery power) in the middle of the night and I would have to wait for a nurse to reset them. Now I can sleep through a lot of things but the beeping from my IV power packs wasn’t one of them.

I urinated often due to the IVs and that was fun, dragging my IV pole and oxygen tubes to the bathroom!

I got more sleep in the middle of the afternoon than I did at night. But no matter when I slept, I usually got no more than 2 hours of sleep at a time. Being in the hospital is hard work!! My room had a great view but that didn’t make up for the lack of sleep.

The food was great too, except for the one bowl of cream of mushroom soup that had NO salt at all, and I really liked that they have you order off a menu so you can kind of customize the meal.

Somewhere along the way one of the nurses and/or cna’s missed the note in my chart that it was that time of the month for me. As everything I eliminated was monitored, the nurse/cna apparently freaked out when she saw blood in my urine. So bright and early on Monday morning –but not before I’d ordered my breakfast– I was sent to ultrasound for a totally unnecessary scan of my bladder and kidneys. Everybody including me assumed this ultrasound was for my legs since that is where most blood clots start; I didn’t know that it was for my bladder and kidneys until the ultrasound technician said to me ‘You’re here for a scan of your bladder and kidneys?”

Finally I got back to my room where my breakfast is now stone-cold. I had been told that I could re-order my breakfast so I did as the thought of eating cold, wet (condensation from the lid dripped onto my food) toast and a cold omelet did absolutely nothing for me.

I also smelled like an very ripe old goat as they hadn’t allowed me to take a shower. I finally got a shower on Tuesday afternoon and then I was discharged late Tuesday afternoon. I’ve never been so happy to see my house as I was that day.

My cats aren’t used to being alone either, and I’d never dreamed that I would be admitted to the hospital. So the first thing I heard when I got in the door was Percy’s mouth, and the last thing I heard before I went to bed that night was Percy’s mouth. Neither cat let me out of their sight for several days after I got home.

I’m currently taking Metformin twice a day because I am pre-diabetic in addition to all my other problems. My blood sugars were quite high in the hospital, my A1C is 6.5 (anything over 6.2 is considered bad), and I weigh nearly 300 pounds.

I am also taking two blood thinners: Fragmin which I inject into my abdomen every day and warfarin (also known as coumidin). I also take my anti-depressant (Celexa), an iron tablet (I am anemic again), and Tylenol as needed for the pain under my breast. They have now added a medication for high blood pressure, which makes me drowsy.

And I am on oxygen 24/7 although yesterday I had a doctors appointment and my blood oxygen saturation was at 95% without being on the oxygen (the little backpack canisters are not delivering oxygen to my lungs so there’s no point in using them). At first being on oxygen made me feel old as methuselah but after my first attempt at getting the mail without it, I decided I’d rather look OLD as compared to being DEAD!

I received the bill from the hospital today. Mind you, this is only what the hospital itself billed, as the doctors are all independent contractors. I was in the hospital from noon Sunday to 3 pm Tuesday and it cost $11970.00. Throw in the $2000.00 for doctors and lab work equals a total of around $14000.00; I could have gone on a nice vacation for that kind of money


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