Tuesday, July 02, 2013

A Comedy of Errors

I am pretty sure that calling an operation and hospital recovery a "comedy of errors" is not the type of thing you want to hear when discussing such serious happenings.

However, sometimes after it is all over, you have to laugh.

This all started about 10 days ago. I began having a lot of pain and nausea. On Sunday, June 23, I went to the emergency room. I started out at the urgent care in Daleville and they said I needed to go to the ER. So I spent most of Sunday having tests and things run.

An ultrasound determined I had gallstones. Gallstones form in the gallbladder and have something to do with bile from the liver. They can cause lots of problems, ranging from pain to blocking bile ducts. When they block ducts apparently that causes even more problems, some quite serious.

I spent last week in a lot of pain and feeling sick. I could not eat much - everything made my tummy hurt. I dropped about 8 pounds in four days.

I saw my regular physician as instructed and she made me an appointment to see a surgeon. The surgeon saw me Thursday. He looked at me and said, "I have some time tomorrow afternoon, why don't we just get this over with?" So he scheduled the surgery for Friday.

We spent several hours Thursday having blood drawn and answering a zillion questions about my health. This was the pre-registration process for surgery.

We arrived at the hospital at 11:25 a.m.; my surgery was scheduled for 1:15 p.m.

One of the nurses in the pre-op was named Mike. He was a nice guy but he insisted on putting in the IV under my wrist, which was painful. It also meant I had to hold my hand out completely straight or things would kink. He asked the anesthesiologist to put in a different IV while I was unconscious.

I met the anesthesiologist, who seemed nice but in a hurry. Then I met an operating nurse and the surgeon came in. They wheeled me off to surgery, and into the operating room. I could see the big lights, and they introduced me to two other people in the room. The last thing I remember was being told to slide over onto the operating table.

I woke up in recovery. Someone was with me, saying unintelligible things. I remember being nearly unconscious and saying "pain pain pain" or "water water water" at random times. After the nurse determined I was awake, he left me alone a lot (This was a different guy, not the pre-op nurse). I know at one point I was laying there going "hello is anyone there can you hear me I need some water I am in pain hello hello hello." I remember getting a little irritated because no one was helping me.

The doctor came in and told me things went well. He asked if I had seen my husband and I said no.

Later they took me to a room, and James met me up there. There we discovered that my surgeon had not left any post-operative medications for me. This meant the nurses could not give me any pain killers.

One woman stood there for 20 minutes going over my entire health history again (this would be the third time). I am not sure the point of this - do their computers not talk to each other? At any rate, I think in between every question she asked I said, "I need something for pain," but they couldn't give me anything. I just kept on answering questions.

I don't know how long I laid there hurting before they finally got that all sorted out. However, there was nothing allowed for nausea. So in the middle of the night when I started to feel sick, once again there was nothing they could give me.

In the meantime, we discovered that they had not brought up my clothes and shoes, which were supposed to have come with me from the pre-op room. We also discovered that the air conditioning system was not working in the room, and it was hot and stuffy.

They brought us a fan (which the hospital CHARGED us for and we brought home).

My husband was fit to be tied by this time. Most upsetting was the lack of pain medication. He was ready to punch someone in the nose, I think.

Eventually they found my clothes. My husband was afraid to leave me after all of this, so he stayed until about 1:30 a.m. when I insisted he go home and get some sleep. I grew nauseated around 4 a.m. and it was two hours later before they finally gave me something to help that. In the meantime they kept trying to feed me orange-flavored things even though I am allergic to citrus and kept asking for something else. I don't know if there is real citrus flavoring in their jello but it wasn't worth the risk.

After that bumpy start it was a relief to be discharged about lunch time. However, I think they let you go too soon and I would have been better off in the hospital for another day. But this is what happens with drive-by surgery as implemented by insurance companies, not by need.

I hope I never need another surgery.


  1. I'm not impressed by Lewis-Gale care. When my husband broke his collarbone and leg in 1997, they didn't even wash the red clay off him before putting the pin in his hip—except for a small area around where the pin was inserted. When I had surgery a decade ago, I had to tell the nurse to get the air bubbles out of the IV line before she inserted it.

  2. Except I wasn't at Lewis Gale. I can see where I left that impression and will change it, but I was at RMH for the surgery.

  3. Oh gosh, Anita, errors without question....but not any comedy. I'm so sorry you had to go through surgery in that way. I'm sure it could have been less stressful and more comfortable if they had all DONE THEIR JOBS!!

  4. incredible. tell them you want the charge for the fan taken off your bill, and if anyone gives you a follow up call about your stay be ready with what you want to say.

  5. oh my. that's a crazy clown car of a hospital.

  6. We use Lewis-Gale and love the doctors, staff and treatment we have received there. Always the best of care. Sorry your hospital experience at the other hospital in town was less than stellar.

  7. Hope you're feeling better by now! Gallbladder pain is so intense. I developed gallstones after I had my son and had to have it removed. I couldn't eat either but was happy I had lost all my weight. However...once I could eat everything, I did, and we all know what happens then.

    All hospitals stink in my opinion. I could give you horror stories from every hospital I, or someone I know, have been in. Be thankful you didn't pick up a hospital acquired infection especially with no air conditioning in the room...Egads!

  8. I was sorry to read that you are still suffering so much! Shame of Healthcare for leaving you in this to suffer alone after ditching and pitching you home! I have a great hospital but it's so far from home. Hope you get the help you need PRONTO! Have them check your liver and pancreatic levels!


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