Sunday, June 6, 2010

It was bound to happen sooner or later

The good- Free wireless in the ER!
The bad- one mistake after another and no central communication

Last week we had our introduction to Israeli hospitals. I know it was bound to happen sooner or later, but we are all generally healthy and so it always sort of seemed like something we would just get away without having to deal with.

Anyhow, Thursday of last week I woke up with a really sore spot on the back of my neck. It felt like a terrible bruise, but I figured I must have banged myself without realizing it. By that night there was a big bump and it was tender, but, as I really hate doctors, I decided to continue ignoring it. Friday was much the same, but by shabbat I was in so much pain I decided I would call after shabbat to see when I could get an appointment.

The first one I could get with my doctor was for the following Thursday. Ok, I would stiff it out.

I woke up Sunday morning and could not turn my neck. MY head hurt all up the left side to my ear, and moving my shoulder would send spasms of pain down my arm and my back. I called the doctor's office and said I needed to see someone, anyone, ASAP.

they put me in with a new doctor for later that day. Within about 2 minutes of seeing me, she said we needed to go to the Emergency room at Hadassah Ein Kerem (HEK). That it was an infected abscess, probably caused by a scratch or something, but it needed to be dealt with immediately. She gave me a piece of paper that I needed to gain admittance to the ER, and off we went.

Great, how does one get to HEK on short notice with no car? Fortunately we have amazing friends and Lorien offered to loan us their car and to watch Channah. We drove off on what is a stunning drive that I could not particularly enjoy. Got there, saw the entrance to the hotel, found parking, walked through the giant mall to get to the emergency room.

At the ER, we checked in and opened a file. They took the letter she sent, detailing everything about why I was there. Scanned it in to the computer, than apparently added a "DO NOT READ" stamp since apparently no one ever looked at it again before sending us to triage.

Triage was fairly standard, except for the fact that my normally VERY low blood pressure was elevated. No worries, said the nurse, it is probably because you in a lot of pain, I am sure it is temporary (incidentally, she was right. The next morning when I went to the local nurses station to have the bandage changed, it was back to well within normal ranges)- however that does not mean that I did not hear about how terrible my high blood pressure was from everyone else all night long!

I was actually really impressed with how efficient the ER was- we were seen really quickly. They said it did need to be dealt with, gave me a painkiller and said see me in 45 minutes once it had time to kick in. They used a local anesthetic, dealt with it, bandaged it up, gave me a dose of IV antibiotics and a script for pills the next morning. I tried to tell them I was pretty sure it was not drained properly as I knew how big it was and saw how little they got out of it, but they insisted I was wrong. They gave me a form to take back to my doctor, and off we went. Start to finish about 4 hours.

Jason went to fill the script the next morning. Apparently, it could be filled, but not at our insured rates because it was not written as a maccabi script. So Jason ran with the script down to the doctors office (he took the form also- she looked at it and then gave it back) to have it transferred. While there he mentioned I could not turn my head still, so they told him I should come back in right away.

So I went to have the bandaged changed at the local nurses station. I was in AGONY. She told me it was bandaged really badly. Much too tight and it was cutting off circulation and not letting me move my arm/neck at all. She re-bandaged it and ordered in some of the good bandage she was using, told us to get it in the morning, and home we went.

Spent all day in worsening pain. Next morning Jason went to get the bandage that had been ordered. The doctor I saw was there and when Jason mentioned I was still in pain she pretty much ordered me back down.

Down I go. she takes one look at it, tells me it is not drained, and sends me back to the ER RIGHT A WAY. Now how do we get there this time. No one we know with cars are available. We ended up taking a taxi. No idea how we would get home. That was for later.

Went through the whole thing again, again with the high blood pressure (although only half of where it was the first night) and the nurse being the only one to recognize that it was because I was in obscene amounts of pain (and now had not slept since Thursday!) only this time, I also got yelled at by every single medical professional for not bringing back the release paper from 2 days earlier! Of course they could not just look up on the computer what antibiotic I was on or who I had seen previously- that was impossible.

I got put in line to see an orthopedic surgeon. Why? I have no idea. I tried to tell them that is not what I needed, but they told me he would be there in 15 minutes. Ok, so I waited. An hour and 45 minutes later he calls me, rips off the bandage, pokes at the thing for minute or two, then tell me it is not his problem and goes to yell at the nurse who put me in that line. Another hour to wair for a regular surgeon.

Finally see the right doctor, he looks at it, yells at me for not bringing the release papers from the earlier visit (I had no idea I am supposed to bring my whole medical file every time I go in!) Drains it, bandages it, puts me on a different antibiotic, and sends us home. Thankfully, Lorien was able to come get us.

So I now have 2 huge nasty incisions on the back of my neck and a bandage that is killing me every time it is changed because the adhesive is destroying my skin- but, other than the ache from the cuts, I am mostly pain free. I do have a list of complaints that is much more detailed that I am sending to the patient advocate at HEK (you know, like trying to give me medication I am allergic to and not listening to me when I say NO!) but on the whole it was better than I expected, but not as good as I would have hoped.

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