I’ve had a number of surgeries over the past 7 or so years, several of which have required skilled nursing care & acute rehabilitation afterward to get me back to good health.
Or, rather, to the pretty-poor health I was already in prior to being in the hospital for surgery.
And normally, my experiences with all the doctors & nurses & aides & support specialists has always been absolutely wonderful!
To say the very least.
But there was one experience in particular that truly was an exception to the rule.
In October of 2014, I underwent 3 surgical procedures in 10 days time to remove abscesses (from a very sensitive part of my body) & undergo a colonoscopy (where your intestine is cut & redirected externally into a bag).
Not something I would ever wish upon my worst enemy, mind you, but it was a necessary evil, as they say!
Anyway, after spending a month at the Riverside Methodist Memorial Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, I was transferred to the Convalarium at Indian Hills in nearby Dublin, OH.
The Convalarium was (and, unfortunately, that is) a skilled nursing & assisted living facility.
In fact, I had previously spent a week there about 20 months earlier after a previous surgery for abscess removal. (I suffer from MRSA…Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, medically-resistant staph…and it causes all these infections. In addition, it has prevented me from having any artificial parts put into me, like the two replacement knees & right hip I was scheduled to have done but now can’t.)
The short experience then wasn’t too bad so I chose the same rehabilitation center this go-round.
Disclaimer: The Convalarium had some excellent, outstanding people. Knowledgeable & caring individuals, they were so eager & willing to help me out with absolutely everything.
And then, there were the others.
My first “uneasy” experience is the night when I was discharged from Riverside Methodist & brought over to the Convalarium on a stretcher.
They put the stretcher & all on this giant scale to weigh me (naturally, accounting for the weight of the stretcher & everything).
I insisted that the reading was incorrect.
“There’s no way that I could have gained 12 pounds while in the hospital for a month!”
Of course, they insisted that there were correct. Weighed me again with the same, stupid result.
The next day, I remember asking for my medications first thing in the morning. I was told that the pharmacy would be delivering them at 10 AM. I take a number of different meds, including quick-acting insulin at every meal & a long-lasting type at night.
At 11:00, I ask the aide to let my nurse, Patty, know that I haven’t had my meds yet.
At 12:00, I get my lunch, but my nurse neither pokes me to measure my blood sugar nor sticks me with a needle to administer my insulin.
1:00. Same routine. I ask the aide to let my nurse know. 2 meals & no insulin nor readings.
2:00, same exact routine.
At 2:30, a man I’d never seen before comes rushing into my room.
“Are you the patient that requested the _____?!?”, he asked in a huff.
“No”, I replied, “but I have been requesting my meds all day so far & no one’s brought me anything yet!”
“Oh, OK! I’ll check on that right away!”
He returns 5 minutes later.
“Your nurse said that’s she given you everything so far!”
“Impossible! My nurse hasn’t been in here since the first thing in the morning when she said that the meds were being delivered at 10! Can you PLEASE check with her again?”
Comes back about 20 minutes later, INSISTING that I’ve been given my meds!
“I have NOT! In the morning, I always check out all the pills as they usually look different than what I was given in the hospital…she did not give anything to me!”
He kept insisting that I was. Said that maybe I was napping.
“I’ve been wide awake, waiting for my meds. You don’t think that I would remember being poked 4 times…twice to measure my blood sugar & twice to give me insulin?!?”
He kept insisting.
“In fact, I checked your records & your nurse initialed the charts for every dose you were given. And today’s pills are no longer in their holders!”
(Each medication would be housed in the cardboard sheet, with separate plastic “shields” for each day’s dose. Each plastic shield, for each medication, was empty for today’s dosages.)
“That’s impossible! I haven’t had anything. Ask my aides. I’ve been requesting it every hour on the hour!”
Naturally, he keep insisting.
“Look, I’m not like all the old people you got here that don’t know what the hell’s going on! I have my full faculties about me. Goddamnit, I’ve forgotten more shit than you’ll ever know!
“Who the hell are you anyway?!?”
“I’m the nursing supervisor, sir, and you’ve had your meds today.”
“THAT’S IT!!! If you say that to me one more time, I’m gonna get outta bed & teach you a lesson!”
(BTW, there was no way possible that I could ever get myself out of bed.)
“I want you to get my nurse & bring her back to me! Do you understand? I want her to tell me to my face what she supposedly did today when I haven’t seen here since 7:30 this morning!”
“OK, she’s with another patient, but we’ll both come back here after she’s finished.”
Finally, I’m gonna get some resolution, I thought.
30 minutes go by.
An hour passes.
I call for my aide & let her know what’s happening.
30 minutes later, around 4:00, he returns to my room.
“Where is she?”
“She’s left for the day.”
“What!?! Are you kidding me? You’re her boss. Didn’t you tell her?”
“I did, but when I checked, she had already left!”
What the hell are these idiots trying to do to me?
“Get the hell outta here!”
A few minutes later, in comes Chelsea, my evening nurse. She is simply wonderful. In fact, Chelsea was here last night when I was being admitted & she was the best.
“Chelsea, they’re trying to kill me!”
I explained everything to her. She immediately takes my blood sugar.
Normal, after eating, should be around 150.
It should rarely go above 200.
300? Go to the hospital!
My reading was 440!!!
“There’s no way, Mike, that you ever got any insulin today! Just can’t be!”
She gave me 12 units of insulin to bring it down to normal.
I also got another reading & dose after dinner.
(About a week or so later, Chelsea comes into my room to talk with me.
“You were absolutely right about Patty not giving you your meds that first day. I checked the pill holders & she, indeed, removed the pills, but signed your chart as if they were given to you.
“But she didn’t cover all her tracks.
“When I gave you that insulin the first day, she had already initialed your chart for a morning & afternoon dose & even wrote in some blood sugar readings.
“But she never uncapped the insulin bottle!
“There’s a special tin foil shield over the top of the bottle that must be removed before the first dose can be withdrawn.
“It was still in place when I drew your dose that afternoon.
“And to tell you the truth, I’ve caught her doing this before, especially to the older patients who don’t realize or don’t know any better.”
I was dumbfounded.
“Look, I don’t care about myself. I’m not gonna die by missing my meds, though the insulin thing can be scary. I’m more worried that she’s gonna kill one of these old people!
“I’m not gonna report her to the Director of Nursing, but I’m gonna sue the ass off this place once I’m discharged. And I’m gonna need you to testify on my behalf. And I promise to share my settlement with you as I’ll know they’ll try to take revenge upon you.”)
But that’s not the only thing that happened to me during my month-long stay there! Not by a long shot…
> Had a really-nasty aide come to take my blood pressure.
Instead of using the new wrist cuff or even the normal arm cuff with the attached meter, Ms. Nasty Einstein uses the arm cuff, but with a stethoscope to manually measure my BP. Somehow, I sensed this wasn’t gonna work out well.
“Well, your blood pressure is 147…
…over 165.”, she says confidently.
“But that’s impossible! The top number must be higher than the bottom number. There must be a mistake.”
“ARE YOU SAYING THAT I MADE A MISTAKE? That’s exactly what my instruments are reading!”
“Well, it is physically impossible! The bottom number must always be smaller!”
Then she has the audacity to remind me that she’s been doing this for years.
And the equally-clueless aide with her doesn’t say a word & writes it down on the pad she was holding!
If my BP was an impossible number, I would think that, at a minimum, a nurse or a doctor would be immediately notified. If I was on fire, let’s say, would they write “Patient is on fire” on the pad & do nothing?
> I had another aide come in late one night as I needed my colostomy bag emptied.
She asked me where the towels were.
As I couldn’t get out of bed or even fully sit up, I really had no idea.
“I really don’t know, but either in the cabinet below the TV or in the bathroom.”
Without saying a word, she left the room.
And never came back.
> One day, I was scheduled for a sponge bath in bed. I’m lying in bed, facing the window, waiting for the aide to start.
I turn around & she’s going through the chest filled with my clothes & personal items.
“What are you doing? You’re supposed to give me a bath!”
“Oh, I was straightening up!”
“Straightening up what?!? The drawers were all closed with my stuff in there!”
She goes into my bathroom & starts to gather the stuff she’ll need.
A few minutes passed as I’ve been looking out the window again.
I hear her behind me.
I turn around in bed…and see her holding up my jeans in front of her!
“WTH are you doing now?!? I normally keep my cash in the front pocket, but I already took it & my wallet out yesterday & they’re in safekeeping. Pls just do the bath & stay the hell outta my stuff!”
As I’m lying on my right side, she proceeds to wash the left side of my leg & my left arm.
Then she leaves.
(Ladies & gentlemen, this is the 100% pure & unadulterated truth. Every sickening word.)
> After I had my catheter removed & was able to do wee-wee in the big person’s bowl, I could get myself out of bed to relieve myself.
I still had to wear adult diapers as while I still had the colonoscopy in place, I would, at times, get these small “clear discharges” from behind.
One evening, I could feel several discharges. At about 1:30 AM, I decide to call for an aide to have my diaper changed.
Another aide from Hell comes into my room.
“Now, what do YOU want?” like she was freakin’ scolding me.
“I need my diaper changed, Ma’am.”
She goes over to the bag sitting by the TV…and tosses me a new diaper from across the room!
I change myself (which my day aides said that I should NEVER do as that’s THEIR job!) as what else was I gonna do?
The Satanic Princess picks up the old diaper, throws it away & leaves the room.
About an hour later, I could feel more discharges. This was pretty unusual, but I always remembered what the day staff would tell me so I put on the special light to signal for my aide.
The same aide opens my door, “Now what?!?”
“I need a new diaper again as I’ve had more discharges.”
She went completely BALLISTIC! Totally unhinged…at 2:30 in the morning!
“YOU DON’T NEED A NEW DIAPER!!! THE OTHER WASN’T EVEN WET!!! WHY ARE YOU WASTING MY TIME?!?”
“The other diaper was, indeed, wet. You understand how diapers are made as they absorb the liquid & try to keep the surface dry!”
“IT WAS NOT EVEN WET & YOU DON’T NEED ONE NOW!!!”
Now I’ve had it!
“Are you calling me a f***in’ liar?!? Come over here to the side of my bed & say that to my face! I dare you!”
She ran out of my room as fast as she could!
I called my daughter in San Antonio (it was 1:30 AM there & I knew she probably just got off shift as an EMT.)
“Heather, its 2:30 in the morning. Why are they deliberately trying to drive me crazy?!? Why?”
She calmed me down.
I called for another aide who gladly helped me changing my diaper.
I mean, jeeeeez, it’s embarrassing enough & I’m in more than enough pain to not hafta be humiliated or accused of making up stuff!
> Last example.
It’s late one Saturday afternoon & I ask for my wound dressing to be changed. I have a 6” x 16” open would on the inside of my upper leg, right near the family jewels.
For over 6 weeks now, I’ve had a new dressing put on, twice a day, every day.
In fact, I just took a special trip down to Riverside Methodist to see my surgeon, Dr. Eduardo Dominguez, who specifically said that the dressing still needed to be changed 2x/day.
(Change of pace. When I was there in my hospital gown to see him, he commented on how good I looked, especially compared to the last time I saw him.
“Why, thank you, Doctor, but you should see me in my sexy tight jeans!”
It took a good 3, 4 seconds, but I got a wry smile.
Later, during the examination, he mentioned how “very lucky” I was since there was a good chance that, had the wound been just a few inches higher up on my leg, he would have been forced to remove my testicle(s).
I sat for a while, then said, “Ah, not that bad! I heard that the choir had an opening for a soprano!”)
I make the first request for a new wound dressing at 6 PM
Nurse is with another patient, I’m told.
Same story at 7.
“Where is this patient? In friggin’ Europe?!?”
At 11:30, I’m told that the evening nurse is now meeting with the overnight nurse as there’s a shift change.
At 12:00, they’re still meeting.
At 12:30, the overnight nurse comes to my room.
I explain that I’ve been asking since 6:00 PM for my dressing to be changed.
Then she says, “That’s not even necessary! Your chart says ‘once daily’ & you had it changed this morning!”
“Actually, my chart says ‘Once daily PRN’. And, besides, I was just at my surgeon on Thursday & he specifically said ‘twice a day’. Apparently, they didn’t update my chart as I read his orders on the trip back from his office.”
(BTW, “PRN” means “as necessary”.)
“Well, I don’t have the time! I’m already over a half hour later to dispense medication to my patients!”
“But it only takes less than 5 minutes!”
“No it doesn’t! It takes much, much longer!”
“Really? I’ve had it done, twice a day, for the past 6 weeks & I’m telling you it takes less than 5 minutes! I’ve been asking for 6 1/2 hours!”
“Well, I don’t have the time & that’s that!”
She leaves. Just like that. No “I’ll be back later when I’m finished giving out these meds”. Nothing.
I could only imagine what what my BP was then!
About a half an hour later, I get up to go the bathroom & while I’m standing there, mindin, er, doing my business, my wound bandage falls off.
Right into the toilet.
Now, it’s really PRN!
Though I’m not supposed to get outta bed, I do exactly that & head toward the nurses station.
As I’m getting closer, who do I see? Why, it’s my friendly “But I don’t have 5 minutes to help you!” nurse, standing on the hallway, next to her cart.
She sees me coming & instinctively takes a couple of steps back.
“It’s 45 minutes later & you still haven’t begun dispensing all those needed meds! How are they gonna survive?
“And my dressing completely came off so now you hafta help me. I have an open wound!”
She is white as a ghost…as if she just saw one.
“I told you I can’t do that for you!”
I interject. “Incorrect. You WON’T do it for me…not that you CAN’T do it for me!
She takes a few more steps away from me.
“Don’t worry, if I could catch you, I would’ve done it already!”
“Well, if you have any complaints, you can speak with my supervisor. She’ll be in at 7:00 AM!”
“Don’t worry. I’ll speak with her & the Director of Nursing & the head of this place for your refusal to provide me with needed medical treatment!”
I went back to my room. I thought to myself, What do I do? There’s not even anyone to call at this time of night!
I wound up improvising as best as I could.
I had never even looked at my undressed wound before! I was too afraid.
A couple of years earlier, when I looked at my forearm where I previously had an abscess removed in surgery (in the same hospital by the same surgeon), I almost passed out.
The nurse was changing the dressing when she forgot something & had to leave the room to get it.
I took my first peek & couldn’t believe how much they cut out of my arm.
You could easily fit a full potato wedge or large orange section into the hole they left behind!
I could only imagine what this wound looked like as they had to operate twice on me to get everything out!
But I hadda do something.
I found a nearby bullet to bite down on (literary license at play here!), grabbed the necessary supplies, including a hand-held mirror and sat up in bed!
I did my best to dress the wound as I could, then went to sleep.
At 7:30 Sunday morning, I was awakened by my weekend daytime nurse (NOT the Angel of Death who withheld my meds on Day 1!) who brought me a pill to take.
“The overnight nurse asked me to give this to you!”
It was the medication I usually took at 5:00 AM! She must’ve refused to come into my room & held off until the shift change!
BTW, I did meet with the Director of Nursing on Monday morning to review ALL this wild stuff, except for my not getting my meds on Day 1. I was saving that one for my massive lawsuit against this House of Horrors & was afraid that they would attempt some massive cover-up.
When she came into my room to see me, I said, “Lynette, I recommend that you take a seat. This thing’s gonna take a while!”
She was pretty horrified, but shockingly, not really surprised.
She openly complained about the quality of temporary workers she would get from the agency, especially to cover off-hours.
I told her she should disguise herself as a plant to see what really goes on here after she leaves for the day!
“It’s like night & day, no pun intended, between your day shift nurses & aides and the monsters that roam these halls during the evenings & overnights.”
She wound up disciplinomg the nurse who refused to help me, but mostly for not giving me my 5:00 AM medication & handing it off to my day nurse.
She disciplined the individual who actually entered “147/165” in my records as my BP.
“She should have known better!”
And like I said, she just shook her head about all the other issues as they were done by agency temporaries. She said she would request replacements & look at those agencies as well.
BTW, they weighed me ~3 weeks after I was admitted…when I walked over to the scale under my own power.
It said that I had lost 26 pounds!!!
I told them that they needed to recalculate what they believe that those stretchers weighed as I tried to explain to the young man who weighed me at admission.
And for the coup de grace, I contacted a prominent attorney in Ohio about filing a lawsuit…only to be informed that I was a week too late as I needed to open a claim with the Ohio Board of Public Health first within X months of discharge.
That would have been my 3rd opportunity to get rich (golf cart crash on wet grounds in San Antonio…Santa Rosa Hospital using sulfur-based ointment on Laurie & causing two emergency surgeries on consecutive Christmas mornings…and now because I neither thought nor acted in a timely manner).
Ah, I probably deserved everything I got or, for that matter, didn’t get.
Always a dollar short & a day late.
Story of my life.
As always, thank you for listening!