A 1-Star Rating

I’m talking trauma today. But, not the usual mental flavor, no today is gonna get real. Real, real.

Think about a place where you really don’t want to see a one-star rating.

Ting! You guessed it. A hospital.

I discovered, after my little adventure, that our local hospital has a one-star rating. And, wow, deservedly so.

Hey – Great news! I Didn’t Die!

Although, there were some moments in there where I certainly wouldn’t have minded.

All my lovely intentions to write, to blog, to query went right out the window on Wednesday, November 16th. Actually, the wheels started coming off earlier, like the week before. Pretty much the last coherent thoughts I had about anything was the post on November 12th over on the In the Trenches page.

Hmmm. What to reveal vs. what to avoid boring you with?

Sticking with the bare bones seems the best course of action.

In the post from November 9th on the In the Trenches page, you will see I mention that cats are assholes. I do love the furry critters in my life, but honestly they are assholes, and completely unapologetic for the fact.

I had been recovering from my latest bout of exceeding back pain when I got out of bed without thinking through the entire process from beginning to end.
Mistake. I ended up with my back so seized up that poor hubs flew up the stairs to see what appendage I had lopped off. I was still in essentially one piece – but I was completely broken.

So. Broken. That was Tuesday evening, the 15th.

Wednesday morning was worse. The point to take action was well past its due date. So, hubs and I debated, not if I was going to the hospital but more importantly how was I going to get there?

You see, the bedroom I was in was upstairs. And, of course, as in most traditional farmhouses, the front door was on the first level.
(Unless of course you live ‘upstate’ or you’re a snow-belt architect. But I digress.)

Walking down the stairs under my own power was not going to happen.

Hubs carrying me? Thirty years ago I might have gone with the stupidly romantic notion – but age made me see the folly in that idea before it even got floated. Thank Heaven, for both our sakes. It could have ended with two tangled bodies at the bottom and the retriever having to survive by eating our corpses.

That left the rescue squad as the only alternative. Ok, that was the one option available, so that is what I opted for.

This is one part I am going to leave out. I’ll give you the summary – they broke me coming down the stairs to the street. Yes, there was screaming. And several concerned neighbors emerged onto their front porches. Nothing like an ambulance ride to create drama in a small Southern town.

I will say, I appreciate all the efforts of our local rescue squad. They were professional. They were caring and are deserving of all praise. But they do need to practice with the stair chair.

At the hospital I was wheeled into the emergency room, and there wasn’t a single bed. Not one. I had the unfortunate distinction of arriving just after the last bed was filled by another desperate person needing immediate medical attention.

An important reason hubs and I had opted for the ambulance was to avoid sitting in the waiting room. Well, that didn’t work. Maybe I should have tried the stairs on my own. Anyway, speculation at this point is useless.

I was shuttled into the public waiting room where I sat in a wheelchair, with no support for my back, so I guess slumped is the better verb to use, for two hours. Two hours.

If you don’t think American medical resources are stretched, then I wish you continued good health.

Where was I?

Oh, yes, slumped over in a wheelchair among all the folks coming in with Covid, influenza and RSV. I was doing the only thing you do when you are in severe pain, enduring.

Finally, they had a bed and I was rolled back into the ER.

Thank Heaven, I thought – now I will see some relief! I really had no idea about emergency services in my little neck of the woods.

Hubs- emergency professional that he is- was prepared for the drill. He described my symptoms, dehydration, nausea for over a week, three months of back spasms, and on down the list.

Another hour passed before an I.V. was started. Then they were slamming hydration into me so quickly my body temperature dropped precipitously. Ah, fun times shivering uncontrollably from cold while your back is in spasm. Don’t do it. I do not recommend.

And, as you know I am relatively good with words and self-expression, I was way past the talking point.

Then, joyous hour, came the CT scan. Again, I’m going to leave most of this part out but I will give you a summary.

They broke me getting me from the CT scan back to the stretcher. I screamed. And I kept screaming. I have no shame admitting that. And I have no shame hoping that every person in the waiting room, the ward, the hospital heard me – because the pain they CAUSED me was completely avoidable. Shame on them. I’ll be talking more about this situation later. Enough for now.

Back into the ER bay, still screaming, still crying (also hard to sob and attempt to vomit from pain while the back is in full spasm, make a note) to wait, without any pain management, for hours. The medicos finally thought it justified to try to find me a bed when at 5pm that night I was still vomitting uncontrollably.

Mom joined hubs watching over me in the ER bay. Thank you, Mom.

Hubs had to go take care of the house and animals, leaving mom and I alone, waiting. A young male nurse informed us about 8pm that they had found a room, and I would be going up – IN A WHEELCHAIR – shortly.

Mom and I both balked.

Me: Wait? What? No. Can’t you wheel me up in the stretcher?
Mom: Hold on there.
YMN: Well you see the bed and the size of the doorway.

Oh, my Bullshit detector pegged over the 100 mark instantaneously. You see, I had already been wheeled through that door, on that very stretcher twice already that day. Re: the CT scan. I did avoid using the word ‘bullshit’ in my reply.

Me: No. Don’t give me that. This bed has already been through that door twice today.
Mom: That’s rubbish. (Did I mention mom’s English? Oh yeah, he threw her into full Britishness.)(Also she was an occupational therapist for decades and knows medical bullshit when she hears it.)
YMN: It’s procedure that –
Me: No it’s not. I’ve watched three other patients go out of here–
YMN: You’re going up to a room when the wheelchair gets here!
(And yes, he -no other word for it- flounced.)

Mom and I both dive for the phone. (Well, Mom handed me my phone, is more accurate.)

Me: Call Hubs.
Mom: Who are you calling?
Me: Our realestate agent.
Mom: ??

And here I will explain because you are probably thinking I was delerious with pain. Possible, but there was method in my madness.

You see. In the tiny spec of a town where I live, everyone knows Betty (not her real name) and Betty knows EVERYONE.

She would know the person capable of droppping a hammer on Young Male Nurse and getting him to see reason. Instead of getting his testes in a wad and trying to steam-roller a woman flat on her back and an octagenarian.

Hubs showed up soon after Mom got ahold of him. He is an emergency professional so does have a relationship with the emergency folks in the town.

Lo and behold, fifteen minutes after hubs is in the door – things are different. I am wheeled out of the emergency department and up to the floor of our little local hospital via the stretcher.

Wow, the door hadn’t shrunk. Amazing.

And then- up on the floor, transferring me from stretcher to bed, they broke me. Again.

There is a big essay coming on the state of American health care in my little pocket of the nation. And probably a few rants

Post Script: As for YMN: There was a hammer drop. It was more along the lines of a tackhammer as opposed to a sledge, but that’s ok. As I understand it, someone important strongly encouraged him to reflect on the meaning of compassion and not allowing his ego to get in the way of patient care.

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