Monday, January 08, 2007

Moving Along

We're doing okay here, but ran into a few setbacks recently.

Two days after we went to the ER, I woke from a nap to find Walter curled up in a ball of muscle pain. A fetal ball. This was after he took 6 painkillers in 3 hours.

That is NOT a Walter thing to do. They usually make him throw up.

All those serious pain meds didn't even touch the pain.

Apparently that muscle pain is a *rare but serious* side effect of Vytorin and some similar meds. Vytorin is a combination of something called ezetimibe, and simvastatin.

I know nothing of these meds, it's all new to me. But we googled the Vytorin side effect of muscle pain and it was pretty serious stuff. OTOH they said NOT to stop taking it unless the doc said so. Only stop if you get an allergic reaction, blurred vision, or discolored urine.

Of course, this kind of thing generally happens late Friday afternoon or Saturday. This happened late on the Friday of the New Year's weekend.

At the same time, I'm getting sicker again from this blasted MRSA in my right arm lymphatics. Fevery. Weak. Sleeping a lot. Braindead.

We were the blind leading the blind.

After he's done so very well recovering from the surgery, it was heartbreaking to have this happen. And scary.

So we talked, and he stopped the Vytorin, doc advice or no. Slowly, he improved. Monday morning, first thing, we called in to the cardiac doc's service. The doc on call returned the call right away, *whew.* And she said to stop the Vytorin, and call Walter's regular cardiologist back on Tuesday to get ready for blood tests and things. Walter already had an appointment set for Friday but maybe the doc wanted him in earlier.

So we called and left a message with the doc's medical assistant (MA), whose recording assured all and sundry that she checked her messages throughout the day...but, that call was never returned.

On Friday the doc said Walter needed blood tests right away. It'll be hard to get good results now, since several days elapsed since he stopped the Vytorin.

He didn't explain to the doc that he'd left an urgent message that was never returned. He'd already thrashed it out with the stupid MA. She said, oh, she'd been out of town.

So apparently she didn't arrange to have anyone else checking her messages.

Idiot.

Then she said she never heard any message from us.

Could be a liar, too.

Walter's not happy with this cardiologist. Me neither. The extraordinarily high quality of care he got at Deaconess in southern Indiana kind of highlights the difference down here. This cardiac practice is pretty well regarded, locally. But you see, we have way many elderly and disabled and sick people running around, and perhaps after a while the health care workers just get desensitized.

When we were at the Holy Cross ER together, we noticed something. An elderly, shaky, slow black lady was in the ER too, not sure what for. But she had only one cane and needed two. When they called her to the triage office, she got up from her chair painfully slowly, cripping along around an inch an hour...and the assistant who'd called her just stood and watched her.

Instead, you see, of getting her a wheelchair. There were a good eight or ten unused wheelchairs lined up not twenty feet away.

I was on my scooter with the laptop on, trying to pick a new Medicare health plan before the 12/31/06 deadline, and Walter noticed the old lady and pointed her out to me. He said, --In Indiana there'd be five people JUMPING to bring this lady a wheelchair. I stopped surfing and watched too. I didn't know what to do about it. I didn't want to embarrass the old lady by objecting, but this was hard to watch. She finally made it to a wall, where she used her free hand to hold herself steady walking the rest of the way, while she braced herself up with her cane in her other hand.

Walter talked to the same assistant himself later on and said, --She's a perfectly nice person. It just didn't occur to her to get a chair for this sick old lady.

The old lady came back to sit in the waiting room some more. I knew she'd be called in again for the paperwork part. So I had a little time to think this thing over.

When that happened, a different assistant did the same thing: stood there and watched as Auntie got painfully up from the chair...cripped her way forward...and I said to the assistant, --Would you like me to get her a wheelchair?

Whereupon said assistant said, Oh, I can do that, that's okay! And finally the old lady sank into a wheelchair, with a look on her face not of embarrassment or of gratitude - just pure unadulterated relief.

Was the assistant embarrassed at her own lack of compassion?

Sure didn't look like it.

We need to find Walter a cardiac practice that doesn't have this same attitude. Your patients' welfare should effing MATTER to you. That's why you're in business, folks. And down here, health care is a very, very big business indeed.

Here we see a case where the competition that's supposed to keep private enterprise at its best is not working. It's just as private enterprise down here as it is in Indiana. These aren't government-run facilities. In fact, one reason I prefer Holy Cross, a Catholic facility, is that they're far more kind and patient-friendly than most of the other local ER's.

This kind of stuff is just WRONG.

8 comments:

Nancy said...

harrrumph!

I told you to get to the ER!

grumble...grumble

Y'all take care.

BTW folks? This lady K shore duz know her stuff. Thank you my dear Lady K!

pepektheassassin said...

K, glad to hear that you're both still kickin'--more or less. I was starting to worry (and rightly so, I guess). You've been on my mind a lot. Hope things start looking up soon!

pepektheassassin said...

Hey, that rhymes. They don't call me a poet for nothing! :)

Livey said...

Dammit! I've been worried about you! Take care of yourselves! Anything I can do to help?

Desert Cat said...

Hi-o silver! Let's see what it can do.

k said...

Nancy - well, thank you! Often one's advice is not so well appreciated. And we really were all ready to go to the ER, too. We figured if Walter made it through Sunday night, and the doc called back right away Monday, we could save ourselves the effort of another ER adventure. So that worked out.

Miss Assassin, you just can't help yourself. And Walter's dying of curiosity about your possible Czech connection. I keep telling him to leave a comment for you, but he's shy about his English.

Livey, thank you. I think we're okay, really. I mean, kind of shuffling along, but we're getting better. I guess most of what we need is lots of nap time. And no one can get that for us but us our own selves.

Naps are GOOD.

DC, I'm hovering over my mailbox. Sending out mental messages to it, calling it home...

Cindi said...

Shame shame shame on those health care workers just watching that poor old lady walking in pain! You would never see that happen at the hospital where I work. No way! How can they just stand there in good conscience and not feel a sliver of compassion? That just irks the hell out of me!

So sorry you and Walter have been having a rough go of it lately. I have been wondering how you two are doing.

k said...

Cindi, when we were sitting there watching all this, that's exactly what I told Walter. *At CINDI's hospital this would NEVER happen! If she weren't jumping up on her very painful diabetic feet to get that wheelchair herself, I bet five other people would.*

We're shuffling along okay, really. Just a bit slow. But it's getting better.

I think!