Monday, December 2, 2013

Come Monday...No Confidence

“Come Monday…” is a weekly series that will involve a review of (or commentary about) websites, movies, documentaries, television shows, sports, music, and whatever else may tickle my fancy at the time.  Be assured that these reviews will be generally positive, as in accordance to the Jimmy Buffett song “Come Monday.”  This is subject to change, however.  In fact, I would be most derelict in my duties to neglect going on a rant every once in a while.  For rants promote change, and change can be good—right?  Therefore, since good is generally considered as being a positive force in 99.3% of the parallel universes that I am aware of, even a rant could be considered as being something positive, and a genuine hissy-fit would be even better (so I’m told).

We have two major health care providers located in Springfield, Missouri.  I have not had any confidence in one of them for years on account of how they have treated my ailments.

A good example of that is when I finally broke down and went to one of their doctors about the problems I was having with my right knee years ago.  The radiologist, who viewed the x-ray images taken of it at the time, came to the conclusion that I was merely suffering from arthritis, which my primary care physician concurred with.  When I asked my primary care physician if arthritis would cause my knee to hyper-extent and buckle backwards to almost a 45 degree angle at times when I failed to keep a close eye on just how I was stepping, he did not even acknowledge the question—let alone give me an acceptable answer.

I do not remember how long it was between then and when I was able to see what the other major health care provider could do about my bad knee, but I most certainly remember the x-ray tech asking me if I had of been in a terrible car accident after she had finished x-raying my right knee.  I was told later on that a full replacement of the knee would be the only course of treatment available since there was just too much damage to try to repair all of the torn ligaments.

A better example of why one should have trouble having confidence in the quality of care they could receive from the major health care provider around here that I started out talking about, which will be hereon referred to as being HCP-A, has to do with the image above.  For it is of what happened to one my family members, who went to have a hernia repaired, along with the removal of several inches of skin that was just hanging around after she had lost well over a hundred pounds a year or so before.

The scheduled surgical procedures went well, but then the incision site became infected.  The surgeon refused to acknowledge it, and if it was not for an attending emergency room doctor, who knew what rotting flesh smelled like, she might have died (naturally-speaking, of course).  No, no photo-shopping of the colors were made of how her wound looked after she started receiving treatment for the infection from another doctor, who was independent of both of the major health care providers in the area.

Be assured that I am sorry for being so vague with much of this.  Nothing is being made up, but I have been advised to not say too much for the time being.

The rest of this will be about some of our experiences with the major health care provider in the area that provided me with good treatment of my right knee, which will be hereon referred to as being HCP-B.  I do not know what has happened to them since, but it is not good.

A little over three years ago, I think I felt a muscle in the back of my right thigh tear when I started to lose my balance while trying to change the page on a calendar in our living room.  Since it has not really bothered me all that much, I have not seen a need to seek medical treatment for it.  I have mentioned it to my HCP-B doctor a few times, but since his focus is completely upon the treatment of diabetes, he has never had much to say about it.

Just as a reminder, the main thing that I physically suffer from is extreme exhaustion, and simply going to a doctor’s office to seek treatment for something like the possible torn muscle in my thigh is like traveling 50 miles through a blinding sandstorm in the hope of obtaining a cold soft drink when some water is available at my desert camp.  In other words, a cold soft drink would sure be nice, but it is not worth the necessary effort to obtain it.  So, please do not think that I am an idiot for trying to tough it out too much when relief may be readily available.

Anyway, around three months ago, I either tore an adjacent muscle or made the old tear worse by not having my right leg braced properly in advance of an approaching sneeze, which turned out to be three rather violent sneezes.  It got to where I could no longer endure the continuous pain, and since we were now qualified for Medicaid, I did not see a reason for not having Arlynda take me to the emergency room around seven weeks ago.

It would appear that I am in desperate need of getting some new glasses.  For the fun (being sarcastic here) started when I told the medical personnel in the emergency room waiting area that I was in no shape to fill out any forms, and that my wife would be in from parking the car in a few minutes.  For the lady (again with the sarcasm) at the front desk started piling papers while glaring at me for not making an effort to fill out any of them.  Yes, it would have been different if there was a long line of people seeking medical treatment at the time, but except for the medical staff on duty, the place looked almost deserted.

After Arlynda filled out enough forms, I was wheeled back to an examination room, where I attempted to explain to the doctor that I was not seeking to score some good pain pills.  For I honestly wanted them to fix what was wrong.  Evidently, he believed me.  For before he had me taken to radiology, he gave me two percosets to take some edge off of the pain I was in, which didn’t happen.

I do not how they can do much of anything with anyone unconscious or dead.  For the two fairly large (and male) x-ray techs in the room expected me to move myself off of the gurney and onto the x-ray table.  No, I do not think it is a figment of my imagination to remember that they stopped just short of telling me that they did know what I expected of them, along with pointing to the fact of the matter being that it was my idea to go there.

By the time the x-raying was completed and I was wheeled back to the original examination room, the pain was becoming quite excruciating.  All of my pleas for help with adjusting the way I was lying on the gurney in the hope of taking some pressure off of my right thigh and hip were ignored, but the original doctor wound up giving me a fairly large shot of morphine, which did not cut the pain a bit.

By the time we made it back home that evening, I was completely drenched with sweat, and I think I suffered another minor stroke before it was all over with.  For the vision in my left eye became very poor again, along with fine motor control on the left side of my body being somewhat less than normal.

Oh, and my hearing became rather poor.  Despite all of that, I asked Arlynda to get me an appointment with a primary care physician so that I could obtain a supply of pain pills when they were needed, and that turned out to be a joke.  For the only doctor willing to take on more Medicaid patients at the time wanted to treat everything but the pain in my right thigh—not to mention being another doctor added to the list of those who have shown no reaction to me telling them that I feel like I have been suffering from a fairly severe case of the flu every minute of every single day since the spring (or so) of 1993.

In all fairness, I suspect that my physical ailments are strictly of a spiritual nature.  In other words, no cause will be detectable by a medical test, nor will any relief be gained from medical treatments.  Yeah, I may also be in need of a padded cell.

It is different with my wife, however.  For I have not been given any indication that seeking medical treatment for her physical ailments are a waste of time.  Well, at least not if she could see a good doctor, who is associated with a good health care provider.

Let us start out with how long it took for her to be correctly diagnosed with non-alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver.  For it is in her medical records that she was diagnosed with fatty liver disease over 10 years ago, but it was not determined that she was suffering from non-alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver until after she lost her job last November (I think) when I would think that a genuine diabetic expert (like her main doctor is supposed to be) would have seen what was coming long before then.  For even a blithering idiot like myself can see that there is a high likelihood of a diabetic with fatty liver disease suffering from non-alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver before it is all over with because of the psoriasis of the liver actually being caused by high levels of sugar in the bloodstream.  After all, does not alcohol break down into sugar during the digestion process?

Oh, but wait, there is more!  For Arlynda had been telling both of her doctors that there were times when she could not remember what she was supposed to be doing as she tried to reach her quota of processed insurance claims each day.  This finally led to her dismissal, and one of the main symptoms/problems to cirrhosis of the liver is an excessive accumulation of ammonia in the bloodstream, which causes a person to slip into what can be appear to be a drunken stupor.

Another one of the main symptoms/problems to cirrhosis of the liver is ascites, which is the dumping of fluid into the abdominal cavity instead of out through the kidneys and bladder.  Yet, neither one of her doctors suspected that there might be more going on with her than just eating too much until it started looking like she was carrying a large litter of full-grown Great Danes in her womb.

It was actually another HCP-B doctor who diagnosed her with non-alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver.  We were very hopeful that she would get to feeling better soon after the other doctor had her undergo a paracentesis, which is a medical procedure that draws off excess fluid with a long needle.  If I remember right, over 36 liters of excess fluid were collected the first three rounds.

Then our enthusiasm over paracentesis started to wane.  For they started collecting less and less excessive fluid when it appeared to be obvious to us that there was a lot they had missed.  During one round, the doctor announced that they had removed it all, and by the time she made it back home, a clear (and rather foul-smelling) fluid was pouring out of her belly-button, which is not where any of needle punctures had been made.

A couple of weeks ago, it was looking like Arlynda might start pretending to be a fountain again.  So, her liver specialist had her come in to have some tests done on her blood ahead of time.  A couple of hours after she had left the lab, the liver specialist wanted her to go to the emergency room immediately.  When we asked what was wrong, his main nurse just said that some of the results from her blood tests did not look good, and that the doctor had already made arrangements for her to be taken care of when she arrived at the emergency room.

So, Arlynda and her mom headed down to the emergency room, and they were greeted with the blank stares of the medical staff on duty.  For they had not received any instructions from her doctor, and they insisted that the results from the blood tests they did came back fine.

It was several days later before we found out that the potassium level in her bloodstream was high, and that it was on account of her liver specialist fearing that she was on the verge of having a heart attack that he wanted her to go to the emergency room.  We still haven’t found out why that was held as such a deep, dark secret for as long as it was.

Be assured that Arlynda still became quite serious about discovering which foods are rich in potassium so that she could avoid another scare.  Other than already knowing about bananas, she found that such things as tomato soup and some cold cuts can have a lot of it.  Would you like to guess what they fed her while she was in the hospital?

Yes, Arlynda was admitted into the hospital for observation before this round was over with.  It was not so ordered until almost 10 P.M., which had all of us in a tizzy.  Not the least of the disturbed was Stewie, our 12 year old Pomeranian/Chihuahua mix, who whimpered and wailed for several hours.

A few days after Arlynda was released from custody, she started having a sharp pain around a foot below her left arm-pit and toward the front of her body, which prevented her from getting much good sleep.  When it looked like she was finally getting some good sleep, I did not try to wake her up until after she had been asleep for around 12 hours.

By the time she was finally awakened, around 18 hours had past, but it was not until I saw that she was acting like she was still on a three-day bender that I started becoming quite concerned.  Now, please accept that I fully understand that it was not her fault, but this does not take anything away from her being such a lousy drunk.

I immediately started trying to get her to take extra doses of Lactulose, which is what she has been prescribed to lower the amount of ammonia in her bloodstream, and she was not having any part in it.  Before I found where a funnel might be hiding, her mother got her to take some, but it appeared to be having no effect.

The drama played on throughout last Tuesday night (I think).  When 9 A.M. rolled up, I called the office of her liver specialist to see if there was something other than Lactulose that she could take on account of thinking that it was the Lactulose that was causing her to lose control of her bowels.  His main nurse told me to take her to the emergency room again, and again, no one there knew a thing about her condition.

Would someone please explain to me why there was so much confusion when anyone with access to the HCP-B  computer system can pull up her chart?  Yes, it would be different if it still was as it used to be not so very long ago, but one of the things that HCP-B brags about in their television ads is having patient records easily accessible to doctors when they need as much information as they can get in order to make an accurate diagnosis and start proper treatment as soon as possible.

Ironically, it was on the same day as her next paracentesis was scheduled that Arlynda went to the emergency room again, and we thought they would take of it while she was down there.  What a foolish thought.  For despite looking like she was a Christmas parade balloon, it was said that no pockets of excess fluid could be found in her abdominal cavity.

Although Arlynda having no comprehension of what was going on around her was what I was the most concerned with, she had other problems that were potentially much more dangerous.  For a loud rattle could be heard coming from her lungs when she tried to breath, and there was that thing about her losing control of her bowels.

She was finally released from custody again last Friday afternoon/early eveining, and she came home weighing close to 40 pounds less.  They never did another paracentesis on her, but giving her Lasix through an I.V. resulted in getting rid of a bunch of excess fluid.

No official diagnosis of what caused her to lose control of her bowels was made, but I am fairly sure that it was caused by some of that excess fluid pouring into her intestines.  I am also fairly sure that it was excess fluid pouring into her lungs that caused her to have so much trouble breathing, but I do not have any diplomas from medical schools hanging on the wall.

Alas, it is easy to believe that we have the best health care available anywhere when one is not sick or injured.  I hope you do not experience what we have.

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  1. so sorry you have had so many problems. It's no wonder so many people put off going to the doctor.
    I personally rarely go because when I do they only tell me to take ibuprofen

  2. Thanks for stopping by, my dear Ann!!! Yeah, and they get to charge hundreds of dollars for telling you to take an ibuprofen/Advil, too! Um, back when my right thigh was hurting the worst, I was taking around 12 full-strength aspirin and 20 ibuprofens a day.

  3. I gave this some thought and still have nothing to say.
    You canny blame Obamacare for this, but you can blame people!

  4. Thanks for stopping by, my dear Adullamite!!! No, Obamacare cannot be blamed for the amount of incompetence and corruption to our health care system, but it can sure waste a lot of money while the status quo is allowed to continue.

    Alas, I wore down before attempting to make any points in this piece, and there are several that can be made. For the two major health care providers that we have in this area are quite representative of all of the major health care providers in this country. For in their systems are major and minor hospitals, along with dozens of free-standing clinics that are advertised to specialize in the treatment of everything from mental health issues to urgent care that doesn't require the resources of a level 1 trauma center. Hey, just in the last 10 years or, so over a billion dollars has been spent on massive building projects by both of them, and yet, those huge buildings are staffed by many who appear to not have a clue about what they are supposed to be doing.

    Yes, that can be blamed on the people involved, which could go all of the way to the top. For instead of making every effort to insure that every patient receives the best possible care, the top administrators of both seem to focus all of their attention upon making it look like they have world-class facilities. The fact about the surgeon who refused to acknowledge and treat that pictured infection still being on staff and promoted as being one of the finest anywhere goes a long way toward proving that to me.

  5. Hello Jerry,
    I thought I would come over to your site today because you just came into my mind. I thought I was reading a horror story, which I was. The medical profession in the US sounds much the same as the one in the UK. There are some terrible stories of people suffering under doctors' hands here. The only people that appear to be really benefiting are the drugs companies. That is not to say there are not nice doctors and nurses, but they are limited as to what they can do and some don't care at all.

  6. Thanks for stopping by over here, my dear Brenda!!! You make some excellent points. A good example of the system keeping medical personnel from giving all of the care that they can is Arlynda's liver specialist. For when she first started with him, he was wonderful. In fact, he even called her after office hours from his own home a couple of times, but he has been distancing himself from her lately without giving any reason for it, which I attribute to someone higher up telling him to.

  7. Oh! My God! What a terrible time for Arlynda...for you both. I'm rendered speechless.

    I never go near doctors, either...and little wonder after reading your story, Jerry.

    Your experiences are grotesque, to put it mildly!

    I'm so sorry Jerry...I hope that light at the end of the tunnel soon shines brightly for you both!

  8. Thanks for stopping by, my dear Lee!!! She is doing somewhat better. Her own energy levels have declined considerably, which has left her 76 year-old mother as being by far the most healthy person in our household. Thank you for your concern, and I hope you remain a vigorous as you are for a long, long time.

  9. Oh my. I don't even know where to begin.
    And here i was thinking my country was the only one lagging sorely behind in this sector.
    Your tale is rather heart wrenching and very much depressing sir. I was merely searching for some random pictures for my blog and stumbled on the one up there of your wife's post-surgery wound.
    I have no words for how sad your tale makes me.
    From the comments i see this was posted quite awhile ago and my hopes are that both your conditions are drastically improved. Whether or not this is so, you'll be very much in my prayers and i hope you find lasting healing.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, my dear Kwiksie!!! Be assured that your sympathies are greatly appreciated. That picture is actually of my wife's sister's wound, and it took over a year for her to fully recover from the ordeal.

      Alas, the problems we are having with our healthcare is a direct result of the medical profession becoming a business--not a calling. For it is now just a job to far too many from doctors on down, and with administrators looking at the financial bottom-line instead the physical cost to their patients, "do no harm" goes right out of the nearest window. I sure hope it gets better in your country much sooner than later, but if it does not, please hang onto our Heavenly Father's promise that the miseries we are subjected to in this world are not for nothing.


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