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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Home from Hospital Hell

It all started last Saturday, when my left foot was badly scalded by hot coffee. Then it became infected. Thursday morning I went to my doctor for a follow-up, and she sent me to Mountains Community Hospital for IV antibiotics. They did okay, but they did poke a needle completely through my vein and fill up my arm with fluid. That still hurts.

Then the real nightmare began. Mountains Community transferred me by ambulance to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, California. I was supposed to go directly to the burn care unit, but Arrowhead stuck me in the emergency room. I complained four times that I had severe nausea and I was going to vomit. Two staff members ignored my complaint. The other two promised to come right back with a barf bag and then disappeared and never came back.

Five different staff members asked me about drug and alcohol abuse, and the fifth one grilled me relentlessly, refusing to believe that I do not abuse drugs and alcohol. The cognitive dissonance was palpable when they insisted that they had to inject me with pain medication, even though Mountains Community had already done so. I strongly protested and refused the pain medication.

One of the staff members - I cannot tell you who they were, since none of them told me their names or positions. Most of them appeared to be technicians, and the only nurse name tag that I saw was pinned to a woman who was merely gawking at my open wounds, not treating me. You see, one of the staff members removed the sterile dressing from my foot, leaving my open wounds exposed to various patients and staff members who were walking by within inches.

After having my wound unwrapped for about 20 minutes, I sat up and replaced the used gauze wrap that they had left on the gurney beside my foot. I couldn't stop at the desk to check out because I had to go outside to vomit, since I still didn't have a barf bag.

Suddenly, five staff members ran outside shouting, "Stop fleeing! You can't leave!" (As if I were a convict escaping from prison.) At that point, I might have gone back inside to check out properly, since I had finished vomiting, but they threatened to physically drag me back inside. I stood my ground and told them I know my rights, and they were not going to treat me because they are incompetent, and that I was going to another hospital. They started talking about 5150, which is code for a danger to self or others. I was not a danger, and I knew that they could not make a case for that. I started shouting verbal abuse at them, calling them incompetent idiots and stating repeatedly that I was going to another hospital. I was surrounded by more than half a dozen staff members, including security.

The standoff lasted some time, but eventually they gave up. I have never done anything like that. Standing up to authority is very difficult for me. But my foot was at stake.

When they finally gave up, my family came and gave me a ride to St. Bernadine Hospital in San Bernardino, where I got excellent treatment. They are competent and caring.

My escape from hospital hell was an epic.

I am SO glad to be home! And I still have my foot.

~~~