Monday, April 06, 2009

I am home.

I am home.

I am safe.

Home is not where I’m supposed to be. There’s a bad infection, probably MRSA, in the lymphatics in my right arm. Three big lymph nodes and three lymph vessels, it looks like.

Back into the hospital, with a vancomycin antibiotic IV drip, is where I’m supposed to be. But it seems my safety as a patient has not been a priority at either one of the two hospitals and their ER’s that I’ve visited in the last month.

Here’s something it half kills me to admit: In this past month, I’ve been so physically and emotionally traumatized by the health care system that I’ll probably seek professional counseling. My hands and feet have little function remaining. I think I could handle that without counseling, if I weren’t so shattered by the backdrop of genuine malpractice I’ve gone through to get here.

By way of example, here’s the latest episode.

The lymphatic infection had been brewing for a week. Friday morning, it was slowly - but clearly - gaining headway against the oral antibiotics we’d pitted against it. Before noon, the nursing home arranged for me to be transferred immediately to the hospital for inpatient admittance.

Vancomycin drips, especially for a "special needs" patient, are inherently dangerous. I tried to talk them into doing the drip at the home, but they declined. Courteously and kindly, they declined nonetheless. And rightfully so. Maybe…

Not only do I carry the superbug MRSA, it’s one of the most virulent strains around. I almost lost my left foot to it in 2004. Back then, it stayed alive in my home for at least seven days while I was away at the hospital. A friend of mine cleaned my house then. It was probably while she changed my bedding that the MRSA entered her arm through a tiny cut, and it nearly killed her.

Few strains of MRSA can live in ordinary bedding for an entire week.

Add this: With an IgG count down to 294, I’m more immunocompromised than ever. And this: In the last 10 days I’ve tested positive both for tuberculosis and e. coli.

The reason hospitals isolate patients like me is simple. We are dangerous to other patients, because we can infect them far more easily when we’re sharing a hospital room. In my case, they’re also dangerous to me.

If your hospital doesn’t have enough rooms, they should be honest and say so. They should not put patients at risk by pretending it’s not medically necessary to isolate carriers of an extra-superbug MRSA, and of TB, and of e. coli. But hey. Maybe I'm not all that infectious!

Would you want a loved one in the same hospital room as me? I sure wouldn’t.

Early Friday afternoon, the latest hospital parked me in a corner of the ER, instead of admitting me immediately. No beds were available. The ER folks were nasty from the start, and made a big production of taking great volumes of blood for testing. Reluctantly confessing I did indeed have a high WBC, and that they "had to" admit me, they fed me one dose of vancomycin.

Friday night, I was still in the ER, waiting. Finally, a bed was "becoming" available. When they told me I wasn’t "allowed" to have a "private" room, I refused to go upstairs. To share a room with an innocent and uninformed bystander would, in my book, be immoral.

I went over my history with the senior doctor, including the difference between a private room and medical isolation, but he refused to isolate me. Given all that, and their clear antagonism, how could I possibly feel safe in their care? No. I would not stay.

I also refused to sign out "against medical advice." Declining to accept an unsafe medical practice is a different matter entirely, so that would have been an untruth. I’d caught three nurses and two doctors in a number of lies by then. I didn’t want to join their ugly ranks.

Several hours had gone by since I’d told Walter and my mother they were going to admit me. By Friday night, I should have called home again with my room number. Of course, I didn’t have one. Having tried unsuccessfully to call Walter, I was pondering my next decision. Not easy to do when all feverish with MRSA sickness.

Should I insist upon transport to yet another hospital? The same thing could happen all over again. Especially since it was now after hours. The nursing home staff who’d ordered the transfer had changed shift. My regular doctors, familiar with my MRSA history, were now gone for the weekend. I had no medical authorities to back me up.

At that point, I felt more vulnerable, more unsafe, more unprotected than most people could comfortably deal with. I closed my eyes and bowed my head and tried to think.

And looked up again out my door, and saw Walter striding up to my bed.

He’d been trying and trying to reach me, figuring something had gone wrong. An ER nurse, taking his phone call, got all rude and hung up on him. So he decided to come get me in person.

Looking up and seeing his face, people, oh! I have never seen anyone so glowing with Knight in Shining Armor aura.

He tore those jackasses up one side and flayed them alive down the other. And bundled me and my possessions up in wheelchairs, installed us in the Isuzu, and took us all home.

After stopping at Lotus Chinese Kitchen on the way.


Desert Cat said...


I hope you or Walter are this morning in touch with your doctors who are familiar with your case and can get you admitted to a hospital that will take proper precautions and proper care of you.

...I knew something was up--you were broadcasting fairly effectively--but what can I do but pray?

Jan said... awful!

I know exactly what you're talking about, though.

Once, my mom, suffering from MRSA, was hospitalized, and was supposed to be in a private room. None were available, so they put her into an empty semi-private.

After a few days, here came the crew from the OR with a patient just coming out of surgery, for goodness sakes!

I stopped them at the door, and asked them if they were aware that the patient in the room had MRSA.

Their answer: This is the room the patient is assigned to, so we have to bring her in.

I made them wait until I went to the desk, and asked if they were aware that the patient from OR had been assigned to a room with a patient with MRSA, and did they really intend to risk her life like that?

The person at the desk didn't have much to say, and didn't seem concerned at all, but after a few minutes, the OR patient was on the way to another room.

The really awful part of this story?

I think they knew.

Needless to say, I'm afraid for any of my family, or myself, to be admitted to any hospital.

God bless you and Walter, prayers are with you.

Joyce Ellen Davis said...

...they damn well SHOULD have been flayed! Good for Walter! K, I am so very sorry you are going through this hell with the health care system. I hope you called your regular doctor(s) and told them how you spent your weekend....and that they have somehow managed by now to find you a clean, compassionate and protected place to park your poor tired self for treatment. (like maybe, home).

I *heart* you. And your Knight in Shining Armor. Be well!

Joyce Ellen Davis said...

PS You might have threatened the bastards with a lawsuit--maybe that would've put the fear of God into them before you left....

Anonymous said...

Bravo, Walter, bravo.

I can't tell you how angry reading this made me. As DC said though, all we can do from where we are is pray, and that I *will* do.

Pretty Lady said...

Oh, good heavens. I've been thinking of you constantly and sending white light. Thank you, Walter, for being totally on the ball.

Pretty Lady said...

Also, your ironclad integrity is truly inspiring. As ill as you are, the safety of others is exactly as important to you as your own well-being. Would that all beings were like you.

Granny J said...

k, what can I say except take care of yourself. And thanks be to Walter for rescuing you. What a bloody agony. I want you well and funny and enjoying your garden. I'm sure that's what you want and what Walter wants.

Pretty Lady said...

k and Walter, is there a way you can alert the media to the dangerous malpractice of this hospital?

SeaPhoenix said...

Good to see you home, K. I'll be in Florida in about a week and a half...and I'm not coming home this time! I'm headed down to stay. You know I'm going to have to come see your liggy babes. Take care, I'll chat at ya later. Be Blessed.


Joyce Ellen Davis said...


John P. McCann said...

Walter rawks!

Happy Easter to you both.

Nancy said...

K is still home, still fighting infection, but is under doc care. She's been online a little this morning.

Desert Cat said...

Thank you Nancy for the update. I was }this{ close to e-mailing you to see if you had any updated info.

Take care, K. I miss you.

SeaPhoenix said...

We all do.

Pretty Lady said...

Indeed, Nancy, thank you.

Joyce Ellen Davis said...

Thanks, Nancy! :)