Suddenly, I wake at midnight struggling for breath. After an hour of tossing and turning, I turn on all the lights and pace, certain that will kickstart my breathing. When that fails, I march outside in 29- degree weather, confident the cold will startle my windpipe open. By the time I call 911, two hours later, I’m so breathless I can’t form words and sound like a barking seal.
Within minutes, both an ambulance and fire truck arrive. Several, young men strap an oxygen mask on me and whisk me to the hospital. Despite my protestations, they try and fail to start an IV en route. It will eventually take six, misdirected stabs from four different people to complete the task. The cost of this 5-mile ride to hell? $1628.49. They even charge for the IV which they fail to insert and which I don’t actually need.
Once in the emergency room, I am COMPLETELY IGNORED. Apparently, if you’re breathing and not bleeding, you’re fine. For almost 8 hours, doctors and nurses pass my open door without seeing me madly waving my arms. I have to beg for water and yell out to passersby—including the cleaning crew—to please unhook me from the machines so I can pee, only to find no toilet paper!
Finally, I’m wheeled into my room where only a threadbare curtain separates me from my 80-year-old, incontinent roommate. She defecates in a plastic tub just as my dinner arrives and they clean her with washcloths from our bathroom. The smell makes me gag so I pace the halls to regain my composure. However, several, different staff tell me to return to bed, “in case you fall.” Seriously? Later, I’m woken every 2 hours to have blood drawn and vitals taken. These fatuous interventions only add to my sleep deprivation. At 5:30 AM, a cleaning crew actually turns on ALL our lights to empty the trash cans!
My diagnosis? “Laryngeal paroxysm: a rare but frightening disorder of the vocal cords.” The bill for this 32-hour nightmare? $18,000! Any wonder we have a health care crisis.? A night in jail is infinitely nicer! Trust me, having experienced both, I know. Some advice? Keep oxygen handy and don’t call 911 if you can help it. A friend joked, “You should have stabbed yourself with a pen for a homemade tracheotomy and saved yourself the nightmare.” He has a ‘point;’ ballpoint no doubt.
Oh gosh Helen! I think some Maui spiritual healing time is in order! Be well my friend — I’m so, so sorry to read about your experience! 😦
I’m super but hospitals are not nurturing or healthy places to go. Avoid if you can!
Oh Helen, so sorry you had this happen.
Jon Lee here (Tennis player from the Tucson Racquet Club)…
Sorry to hear of your medical emergency… I hope you are feeling better today.
Just curious – What Hospital / ER Room did you go to? Your entire ambulance and ER Room experience is sad to hear…
Stay strong… Jon
Jon Lee 3161 N Hill Farm DR Tucson, AZ
I’m super great. This happened last month. I was at TMC.
Might want to read this story – sounds similar to your medical experience…
Thank you for this piece I do hope you are all right and yes, your experience is dreadful and unfortunately all too common. It’s not until something happens do we learn how awful help can turn out to be. Pray for good health! Thanks again, Tasha Halpert
I do find it interesting that ALL of my doctor and nurse friends tell me they would “never” want to have to go into a hospital themselves. Pretty telling, right?
Welcome to Obamacare!!!