Monday, April 9, 2012

Half-assed Hospital

I was so upset at my treatment at the hospital yesterday that I literally cried twice.

The first day when I went to the emergency room wasn't so bad except that--surprise!--I had pneumonia. They had earlier drawn blood from that normal place on the back of your elbow, but to do a blood culture they had to draw more, and for some reason they decided to draw it from the back of my hand where my IV was going to go. That hurt. Then they drew yet more blood, this time from my other arm, thank goodness. Then I got to wait in bed for approximately three hours before they moved me into my room and gave me some medication.

The next day, I expected to feel better. I was on antibiotics, for Christ's sake, but my fever stayed high, my cough stayed strong (even when I did drink their opium juice), and I couldn't sleep through the night. In addition, I had a low-grade but constant headache (I still do, actually), and felt nauseous at the smell of food. In addition, I had a sore and bleeding perineum that I suspected was infected that hadn't been attended to.

So in the late afternoon, after a nice visit from some co-workers, they decided it was time for me to see the gynecologist. Luckily my boyfriend accompanied me. First we waited for about a half an hour to see the first gynecologist, who stuck something up my vagina to examine it before I told him the real problem was the skin beneath (not inside) my vagina. He prodded it a bit with his fingers. I don't know how it looks, but I was surprised that he hadn't at least tried to clean it off with antiseptic or something.

Then we were told to go across the waiting room to wait for a sonogram. I didn't see why I needed a sonogram, since I wasn't pregnant and I was pretty sure nothing was wrong with my vagina. This took forever, and I was shivering by this point. Finally I went in to ask. Luckily an orderly saw my IV and moved me up. The sonogram wasn't so bad, other than A) I thought it was unnecessary B) I had to take my pants off, which made me colder because C) in Taiwan they do sonograms by sticking something up your vagina instead of moving something over gel plastered over your abdomen.

Then we went outside to wait again. After awhile, a nurse came and asked us to move to the other side of the waiting room again to wait to speak to the doctor, but my boyfriend convinced me to just sit where we had been, since there were two seats next to each other there (it was a pretty crowded waiting room). After we waited for awhile longer, I started crying out of frustration and from the cold (and my escalating fever). After I calmed down, my boyfriend asked me if I wanted to just go back to my bed. Since we had been there for so long anyway, I said we could wait five more minutes, but my boyfriend convinced me to go up two minutes later. On my way out, I went to go speak with the nurse about how I was leaving because my fever was too high. She asked me to wait a little while longer, but I said no.

Back in my section of the room, I immediately huddled into bed. My IV was almost out, so I thought about calling the nurse, but Mike said it looked like one should come at 8, which was in 10 minutes.

So I tried to fall asleep. I stopped shivering about half an hour later, and figured now I would actually be able to fall asleep, so I decided to call the nurse. The call button has a wall button and a hanging cord. I pressed the wall button and it didn't work, so I resorted to calling out to people on my bed. Some kind lady found me a nurse, who while changing my IV did this weird test thing they do, where the squeeze the IV line so that blood goes into it. This was really painful for me. My hand had been sore for most of the day, probably because there was pressure being put on the place of insertion every time they took my blood pressure (which they did at least 3 times).

Apparently that's not normal, because she seemed surprised when I screamed in pain. She kept messing with it to test it, prompting more screaming and tears, so she said she would move the IV, maybe to my other arm. I said no, because I didn't want two fucked up hands. In the meantime she took my blood pressure (on my other arm) and took my temperature and discovered I had a really high fever. Also, when I told her the call button didn't work, she told me to use the button on the bottom of the hanging cord.

In any case, she switched my IV from the back of my hand to one on the side of my wrist, with a smaller needle. It's so non-invasive, I don't know why they didn't do it in the first place. She also brought the anti-bacterial gel for my perineum.

The nurse was nice, but I was still upset about the whole gynecologist waiting room debacle and now the neglect until empty IV and high fever, so I called my boyfriend to vent. He was really pissed off.

I was angry too. Like I told my boyfriend in the waiting room of shivers, I felt like I was in the hospital not because I needed to be (see CURB-65), but for the convenience of the doctors. Granted, nurses came in a lot to take my blood pressure and my temperature, and maybe the antibiotics they're giving me can only be delivered via IV, but doctors wandered in and out as they pleased in groups of at least two, sometimes asking for or giving redundant information. (I'll be in the hospital for at least three more days.)

The gynecologist part is the worst, of course. My boyfriend mentioned when we first went to the waiting room that he thought that they could have just sent a doctor up to look at me. It's not that hard; I'm in the hospital already. The waiting was ridiculous though. I appreciate that there were a lot of pregnant women there, but if I had gone to see my regular gynecologist, not only would I not had to have waited that long, but she could have done the checkup and the sonogram from the same set of stirrups.

I'm not sure if this is indicative of hospital culture, Taiwanese hospital culture, or nationalized healthcare (I suspect it's not this one). Thoughts?

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