When you have chronic abdominal pain, every ER visit turns into a hospital horror show!
In last week’s blog post Why I fear hospitals, doctors, and test results I shared some of the ways that the medical profession has failed me and in some cases almost cost me my life.
Who knew when I scheduled that post that I would once again be mistreated and misdiagnosed just a few days later.
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My attempts to avoid a hospital horror show
Because I have a history of abdominal pain caused from adhesions (the result of endometriosis, surgical scarring, and continued scarring as they ripped from my abdominal wall) I don’t run to the emergency room when abdominal pain strikes.
I don’t typically schedule an appointment with my doctor either, because he, along with a handful of other surgeons, and my HMO decided back in 2016 that they would do nothing about it. They said that I have had too many abdominal surgeries and that the adhesions would just return.
I have had a total of eight abdominal surgeries. Two cesarean sections, one appendectomy, one to address ovarian cysts and adhesions from endometriosis, a hysterectomy, and three to fix the mistakes made in the hysterectomy.
It is the opinion of my husband and I that having two surgeries that left me with long-term injuries at the hands of the surgeons is the real reason for not wanting to approve any further surgeries.
I fully recognize and understand that the adhesions will return, but that is not a reason to never listen to my complaints when a new abdominal pain arises…. yet that is exactly what happens each and every time.
Waiting until the last minute…..
I didn’t run to the ER the moment the pain in my abdomen began disrupting my life. One reason was that with my history I knew I wouldn’t be taken seriously and the other being that it needed to be something that stood out from or couldn’t be compared to my “normal” pain.
To be honest, I was ready to go to the emergency room a week prior to when I actually went. However, those of you who understand the importance of having a witness and advocate with you will understand why I waited.
My husband was out of town for work. There was no way that I would have been able to handle what did end up occurring without him.
There are only two other people I would trust to have my back and they are my children. My kids and husband are the only ones who didn’t doubt my sanity after the botched hysterectomy and are the only ones I trust to this day. Unfortunately, my son lives out of state and my daughter is a minor who they wouldn’t have listened to anyway.
Finally reaching the point of not being able to sit or stand for a few minutes and not being able to keep the tears that pain was pushing out of my eyes from rolling down my cheek, I finally gave in to the fact that I needed medical attention.
My husband and I braced ourselves for what we knew was going to be a tough experience, but even knowing what might happen wasn’t enough to help get us through another nightmarish visit.
Is it any wonder why I need a therapist??!!
Hopeful to avoid a hospital horror story
Filled with fear of having my pain ignored, I made my way to the check-in desk. After hearing my physical complaint, the admin asked if I still had my gallbladder. Upon hearing that I did, she joked that I may not for long.
Next up was the triage nurse. She and the attending doctor also came to the same conclusion and ordered an ultrasound, x-rays, and pain medication.
So far so good! Nobody was immediately jumping to the conclusion that this pain was one of my past pains that they typically refuse to treat!
I purposefully did NOT medicate for pain when I awoke that day. Even though cannabis is legal in California for recreational and medicinal use, hospitals and pretty much every doctor employed by my HMO disapprove of medical marijuana.
I also wanted to make sure that my emotions and pain were not being masked in any manner. When asked how I was treating my pain until that point, I was honest and said with medical marijuana and pemf therapy. The attending doctor’s response? Well, you can’t do that here. Um, did I ask to? No!
I asked him to find the source of my pain and to make it go away!
The ER was busy, way busier than one would expect on a Wednesday afternoon. Unfortunately, this meant that there was a lack of beds in the department, leaving those of us without beds out in the waiting room.
This wouldn’t have been too bad had it meant that we could have pain medication. However, that is not the case and those of who were in pain just had to suffer.
I had to wait TWO hours for my low dose of pain medication and by the time I received it, it did NOT reduce my pain.
Make the hospital horror stop
During the two hours that was spent trying not to vomit on the patients next to me, the ER was surprisingly efficient when it came to running my tests.
The first test was an ultrasound.
The technician was nice, but her disposition doesn’t make what happened next okay.
Now, I have had my fair share of ultrasounds in my lifetime and not all took place during my pregnancies.
I had some pretty nasty abdominal pain going on for some of those tests and never, never, never have I experienced the pain that I felt during this one.
Each time she pressed on the point of pain or any portion of my ribcage, I would gasp from the additional pain it created. I not only gasped, but I literally lost my breath and tears poured from my eyes.
The tech kept commenting with, “You are super sensitive!” Um, no!! I wasn’t super sensitive, I was in excruciating pain!!!
Waiting for an answer
After the ultrasound, I was taken two doors down for my x-rays. If you don’t follow me on social media, the answer to why I wished this test had been run and read first will become very clear in part two of this post. Those who have seen my posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: Can you imagine having the injury that I have and then having someone deeply push an ultrasound wand on it for 20 minutes??!!!
With the tests done, it was back to the waiting room……
By this time my pain had escalated. The meds barely took the edge off and they did nothing for my nausea.
Finally, the moment my husband and I were so patiently waiting for….. the doctor enters my room…..
And the diagnosis is…..
Not that I wanted something to be wrong, but knowing something was, I held my breath hoping to hear what the problem was…….
Then he said it….. “We can’t find anything wrong. Lose weight and follow this diet for a non-alcoholic fatty liver.”
I fought back…. “My fatty liver was discovered in 2015 and has never caused pain, you need to figure out what is wrong”
Doctor: “We are done here, follow up with your primary.”
He and everyone in that emergency room department failed to find the source of my pain.
They gave up after two simple tests and were okay with sending me home with a pain level that even morphine couldn’t touch.
This is not healthcare. this is cruel and unusual punishment.
I left in a rage. My pain level was higher than when I had arrived….. I still had zero answers.
My hospital horror story does not end here……
Click here to read part two, where I share how rage and pain led to a real answer.