Thursday, February 09, 2006

Into the Out Of

I just returned from three endless days at the hospital. It all started with chest pains on Monday while I was at work, bad enough that I finally convinced myself I should go to the ER. They did lab work, and admitted me so I could take a stress test on Tuesday. The ER doctor had seen me before for an unrelated condition, and he said that knowing that I am "stoic" and was complaining of pain, that he took it seriously. Tuesday morning my "family" physician came by, sneered at the program I was watching on TV, and proceeded to lecture me about over-reacting, since I'd had a full cardiac workup "just two years ago". He condescendingly told me that I should have gone to his office, he could have run an ECG, maybe done some labs, then sent me on my way. But since I'd come to the ER, it was "a free pass to be admitted" since no ER doc would send someone home that said they had chest pains.

Now I ask you, does this sound like someone you'd want for your doctor? I have only been seeing him since the fall, when my doctor of 25 years gave up her practice after developing stage 4 breast cancer. I'd only seen him once several years ago, and then about three times since the fall, but he is the one that she sent her patient records to. I reflected on the patient who, a few months ago, went to the clinic my daughter works in, complaining of chest pains; after he waited an hour they told him they wouldn't be able to see him that day, and he should go to the ER. Instead he went home, where he dropped dead in his front yard 2 hours later. Then there was the teacher who taught band at the kids' junior high, who was found dead in his car parked in front of the doctor's office, where he had been going because he had chest pain. So anyway, my doctor left, they did the stress test, which was abnormal. The hospital had withheld my BP medicine prior to the test, since taking it can give a false negative. When I got up to the floor again, I was really in misery, my pulse above 120, BP 165/95, and BAD chest pains. And found that lo, my doctor didn't order the BP medicine to be "held" prior to the test, but wrote "D/C" (discontinue)! And when they tried to page him, he didn't answer his page. Finally they contacted the doctor on call, who said to give me a dose that evening, and straighten it out with my doc in the morning. My doc didn't come in the next morning, but sent his partner, who was clueless as to why he would have done this, but wrote the orders for the hospital to reinstate the med, and ordered a cardiologist consult. The cardiologist did a stress echo-gram, said it was normal, and that as far as he was concerned, I could go home -- if --my regular doc concurred. So of course, neither he nor his partner returned their pages (it was 7 pm by then) and finally the doctor on call said I could be discharged. I think I'll find a new physician. It's probably just as well that I find this out now, for a fairly benign problem, instead of waiting to be in the ICU like I was in 2000 and 2002. My old doctor would never have questioned my judgement about going to the ER, even if she hadn't agreed that it was necessary in the end. I do, after all have TWO insurance plans I'm covered under, we pay thousands of dollars every year for coverage, it wasn't going to come out of anyone's pocket. And because I'm a medical technologist, and have worked in biomedical research for 30 years, in Memphis, San Francisco and here in WV, I have a reasonably good grasp of medical matters, and especially of lab tests. I'm not used to being talked down to about my conditions, and I am familiar with what physicians routinely handle for a given patient, and I know that my doctor dropped the ball this week. I'm going to make an appointment with someone that the nurses spoke highly of, and see if we have any kind of "rapport" to build on.

In the last year, I have lost my therapist after 5 years(retired), my doctor after 25 years, and last month my psychiatrist (retired), so I am feeling a little abandoned these days.

It feels good to 'vent' here some, just reading it all back over makes me feel better.

There's still my thoughts on roommates in the hospital, but I'll save that for another day.


brit said...

Oh my god!! that horrible! It sounds like you really need to get a different doctor.
I'm so sorry that happened to you!

jayne d'Arcy said...

kick the guy to the curb. I found my doctor by asking the nurses at our local hospital. Nurses give interesting, and pretty accurate reviews. You can also ask other people about their doctor. It's worth it to find a good one.

Carolyn said...

Marilyn, please do get another doctor and drop that bum like a hot potato! He sounds like he needs to "retire".

I hope you're feeling better now. And yes, venting is good. I just vented about a doc visit of my own this week, lol!