I was repeatedly amazed at the incompetence and general unprofessionalism of some of the people I dealt with during my gastric bypass surgery complication.
Here are just a couple of examples, I could give more. I could talk about the nurse that wanted to know who I was going to vote for, didn’t like my answer and tried to debate me. I’ve already talked about how bad the ER was, and the crabby blonde chick that said my room was ready when I came back infected when in fact it would not be ready for another hour and a half.
But these are the most frustrating examples of bad care that I received. Writing about them gives me a chance to vent. The lesson for you, dear reader, is to never blindly trust your medical personnel. Don’t take crap from them. You have rights and they are not always looking out for them.
I also must say, in the beginning, that other than these examples I did receive good care. My surgeon, along with his senior partner, were awesome. So was most of the rest of their staff, with the single exception of this PA:
The PA In Need Of An Attitude Adjustment
Well, from the time I’d arrived back in the hospital with the wound infection, everyone had been saying I’d probably have to have another surgery. It looked as though I’d be in the hospital for several days again. So the next morning, when the shift had again changed and the nurse offered to change my bedsheets, I asked for a washcloth and bucket so I could give myself a sponge bath.
While I was doing this, the PA from my surgeon’s office came by. Nobody spoke to me, the nurse just told her I was taking a bath and she left. I figured it must not have been that important.
But as I settled into bed, it was already time for my next dose of morphine. The PA came back and brusquely announced that my CT scan had come back normal and she had to remove my dressing. If she saw nothing that looked like bowel movement I’d be going home. And she reached for my tape.
I freaked. “Oh, no you don’t! I have to have my morphine before you do that! It’s due and it hurts and you’re not touching me till I get it!”
Well, she got mad at me. “I came in here before but you were taking a bath. I have other patients that I have to check out so they can go home and I can’t wait.”
“Well,” I said on the verge of hysterics, “you can just go deal with them and come back because you’re not touching me till I get morphine!”
Then she really got ticked. But I was too petrified to be bullied. She paged my nurse and began pacing in my room. She paged repeatedly, saying, “ASAP! ASAP!”
Again, I’m shaking, crying, petrified over having my dressing changed again. NOBODY is touching me till I get drugs.
It took about 10 minutes for the nurse to arrive with my morphine. The minute it touched my IV the PA was again pulling at my tape. I covered my nose and eyes so I wouldn’t accidentally look again at my wound. Miss Thang got the gauze out, sniffed that it looked fine and snapped her gloves off. “Can you re-pack this and get her discharge ready?” she says to the nurse as she’s already on her way out the door.
“Wait a minute!” I say, “are you going to give me some pain medicine to take home?”
“You’ll get a prescription,” she says and is gone. Why yes, I did have other questions, but obviously I’ve wasted enough of your precious time, so I’ll just have to leave them unanswered, won’t I?
“Wow, she’s pissed at me,” I say to the nurse.
“That’s tough,” the nurse replies. “You do have rights, whether she likes it or not.”
So Who’s Going To Change My Dressing?
I ask this of my nurse, because I obviously can’t do it. I think I’d pass out at the thought. She says she doesn’t know but will find out.
Instead of being discharged right away, I wind up waiting several more hours while that very detail is attempted to be worked out. Finally I’m told a home health care company will come to my home once a day (up till now it was supposed to be changed every 12 hours) and change my dressing. I am assured that they will come every day beginning tomorrow.
By 1:00 in the afternoon on tomorrow, however, I still haven’t heard from them. So I fish out my paperwork and give them a call. Guess what they say? “We’re not coming until tomorrow, I told that to the discharge nurse. We can’t come every day.”
So I have another panic attack – you can see the drainage from my wound on the outside of my dressing. It’s dirty and it needs changing. “The discharge nurse told me you WOULD be here today, my dressing must be changed, it is dirty. My doctor ordered it today and every day after. Who do I call to freak out to?” I ask.
They agree to come. But when they arrive, they again say they cannot, will not, come every day, and that my husband must be trained to do this. I begin to shake and cry just thinking about this. My husband will NOT be doing this.
That hurt his feelings just a bit, and I had to apologize later. I understand. I know that, theoretically he could do it just fine. But I am still having panic attacks as soon as the tape starts to come off the dressing. It is the thought that my intestines are hanging out. It is the thought that there is a gaping hole in my stomach. I just cannot handle it, and it’s hard enough for me to deal with actual medical personnel messing with it. I just cannot handle the thought of him doing it, even though I know he’d do everything right.
The bottom line is that the home health people insist that my insurance company will only pay for a certain number of visits. And they still insist that they will not come every day.
“Fine.” I say. “I’ll get another company that will. Where’s the phone book?”
“No company is going to come every day,” I’m told. But I know that’s BS.
They change my dressing, my husband holding my hand and intently watching. He is confident he can do it if he has to. I don’t care because I start sweating at the thought. It doesn’t hurt anymore, not even a little, to have it changed. It’s all in my head. Nonetheless, I shake and cry.
The next day a different nurse comes, and as soon as she says hello she says, “I know you want this changed every day, and that you don’t want your husband to do it. But your insurance is only going to give us a certain number of visits. I’ve been told to tell you that you are welcome to pay for additional visits yourself, but each visit is $150.”
“Actually,” I say, “My Doctor wants it changed every day, that’s what my orders say. And again, if you don’t want my business I’ll find another company that does. Have you heard from my insurance company yet as to what they will pay?”
“Then I really don’t want to have this argument every single day. You don’t know that they’re not going to approve 10 or more visits. When we do find out, then we can talk about how best to use them. I would prefer using them all at once, and at the end, when I am more healed, my husband can take over.”
In the end, my company wound up approving 6 total visits, but I wound up needing only 5. My Doctor noticed how badly I freaked out over having it changed when I went in for my follow-up visit and ordered a wound vac. It’s this neat machine that actually allows the wound to be more closed up, there’s a sponge inside and a drainage tube. And it only needs to be changed 3 times a week.
God Bless him, he also gave me Xanax for anxiety, and that has helped tremendously.
Bottom Line: You Have To Stand Up For Yourself
This applies to any medical treatment, whether you have gastric bypass surgery or not. You must educate yourself and be willing to stand up for yourself when dealing with any medical personnel. Because there’s a lot of bureaucracy involved, and no matter how much your doc or nurse cares, you are still only one of dozens of other patients.
Never take crap from any of them.