Emily M. DeArdo


Les Incompetents

healthEmily DeArdo4 Comments

(Credit to my mom for the title of this post!)

This week has been, for various reasons, Full of Wrath. There was general annoyance from having a busy week, trying to get a lot of things done pre-surgery, and my sinuses being silly, which laid the groundwork. Then my hockey team played two EXQUISITELY CRAPPY games. Super enjoyable. (NOT.) But they redeemed themselves Wednesday night and are going to the conference finals. 

However, all of Wednesday (before the Penguins won) was just terrifically wrath-y. Because some hospitals are terrible. Namely, adult hospitals that aren't used to dealing with people who have a complex medical history! 

Settle in for the story. 

As we know, I am having surgery next week. Now, the docs set the surgery date three weeks ago. And at that time, we (meaning me, my family, and my transplant team) asked the surgeon and his staff if I would need any pulmonary testing (like PFTs).  Do I need to see my doctor ahead of time? Etc. etc. 

"No, no, nothing like that. We have our pre-admission testing and that's all you need," they said. 

So I wake up yesterday at 5:15 and get myself to the hospital for pre-admission testing. It is in a small room off, quite possibly, the ugliest hallway in creation. 



After filling out paperwork and listening to a guy have a very loud conversation  on his cell phone in the waiting room, I got called back to register. Here, I was asked to give a "down payment" of $320. 

Yeah. I was thinking a co-pay of like, $40. NOT three hundred and twenty smackers. But I fork over my credit card. You would think, right, that if something like this was coming, they might have told me ahead of time? I've never had to give a "down payment" of any type before.

I'm then seen by a nurse, who goes over my stuff (meaning my paperwork and my med list), takes my vitals, and does an EKG. She is inordinately concerned about whether or not I have sleep apnea. I don't. 

Finally the doctor comes in. This guy is a "hospitalist", and from what I can tell, his job is to basically make sure that I'm healthy enough to survive surgery. He verifies this by listening to my chest and checking my throat. He tells me I can take my meds the morning of surgery, which I knew, but I trust but verify. The guy's nice, but basically useless for my intents and purposes. I have to explain to him how prednisone and immunosuppression affects blood sugars, which is why the last time I was at this hospital, I was on insulin, but now I'm not.....

So at this point, this morning has been a total waste in terms of actual surgical prep, but whatever. We're almost done. 

Now it's time to take blood. 

The nurse had asked me if I have vein access other than my port. "Um, you can try," I said. "Well, we don't access ports up here," she says. * 

At this point, I'm thinking that, if these people had been on the ball, I could've had a blood draw at the Resort, from my port, and had the results faxed over to this hospital. But I had no idea what was involved in this visit, because Adult Hospital told me nothing. So obviously, I could not have made good preparations, because I am not a mind reader. 

My veins are very tiny. My veins are very scarred. My veins are basically terrible. If you want to torture a person, ask him to take my blood. It can take over an hour. For IV insertion, it can take all day. And no, I'm not kidding. There was one time, pre-port, where it took about four nurses all day to get any sort of peripheral line in me. (A peripheral line is your basic IV.) Ergo, I like to save my veins for when we really really really need access and really really really cannot use the port. This doesn't count as a really really really need situation. 

"Our guy is really good," she says. Internally, I roll my eyes. Some people are magical, it's true. But they are few and far between. 

So, the "really good" guy comes in. I know this is most likely not going to work, because he won't have needles small enough for my veins. Which he doesn't. He will also have to be creative in finding a good vein. Which he's not. Sure enough, he sticks me in the back of my left hand ( in a tiny tiny tiny almost invisible vein), which doesn't work. So he sticks me again, near the crook of my right arm, and does manage to get blood. "That might bruise," he says. 

(Yeah, it might. At the moment it's a lovely shade of black, deep purple, and yellow. It almost looks like a spot of velvet. There's bruising, and then there's bruising. My hand looks OK though.) 

So I go home, get lunch, and decide to go over to my parents' house to apprise Mom of the morning. This was a good idea. 

Because, at my parents', Mom gets a call from Riverside. The "really good" tech had ruined my blood samples by allowing them to clot. So we can't use them to run the blood tests. I now have to have more blood drawn

Imagine Beeker swearing, and you'll have a good picture of my reaction. 

Imagine Beeker swearing, and you'll have a good picture of my reaction. 

But at least I can go to Children's and go to infusion. So I finish my lunch, and, in full Wrath mode, drive to Children's. In infusion, my labs are drawn competently! Yay! They commiserate with me, and I leave.  

What makes this even worse? The Adult Hospital didn't even apologize for this massive inconvenience. Not even a form, "We're sorry that this happened."  And what if I was working? I'd have had to convince my boss to let me leave work again to go and get blood drawn. Because, obviously, it must be done that very second. (Seriously. The woman asked my mom when I'd be at the hospital--she wanted a time. I had an image of her hovering over a fax machine, breathlessly awaiting my results....)

(Just a note about blood draws: It's not the blood draws that were bothering me. I've been having blood taken from me regularly since I was a toddler. I'm not afraid of needles and it doesn't hurt. What made me angry was the sheer incompetence and idiocy.) 

When I get home post-draw, I find out that Adult Hospital has now decided they need me to see my pulmonologist before surgery. Meaning, before Wednesday. Meaning, Monday, which is the only post-transplant clinic day. 

Remember how they said I didn't need to do this? Yeah. So do I. 

So clinic, magically, wonderfully, arranges for me to be seen on Monday morning. (And, again, imagine if I was working. I'd have to tell my boss that now, I also need all of Monday morning off. When I was working, Monday morning was one of our busiest times all week.) 

This is why Emily doesn't like adult hospitals. They have no idea how to deal with a medically complex patient. NONE.

Les Incompetents, indeed. 


*For the record: ports are not hard to access, once you know how.  My mom was taught by the NCH nurses, and we access it at home every month, to make sure it's working and give it a nice Heparin flush to keep clots from forming. I could probably do it**, if I had the right materials. (I do de-access myself, a lot of the time.) I could definitely walk someone through it. I hate that hospitals don't teach more nurses how to do this. IT IS NOT HARD. It's not like brain surgery, here. It can be taught to any competent person, and performed by a competent, detail-oriented person. My mom does it every month without any issues. But then, she's sort of magic like that. She's also learned to change burn dressings and clean them, give and constitute IV meds, and all other sorts of magical things. 

** Many people do access their own ports. Mine is in a sort of wonky position, so I don't do it. But I know how, if I ever had to.