Monday, July 13, 2015

Hospitalization, Take Two

Apparently I was not quite fine after last weekend's adventure in the Emergency Room.

Throughout the week I have been feeling curious soreness in my lower back on the sides, but I brushed it off to being sedentary for too long.

This Sunday morning (though some may have called it Saturday night still) I woke up in a pool of sweat and found out that I was peeing blood again, only worse than before in color and pain. Upset, I ended up in the hospital for the second time within a week. I was a crying wreck, which I think helped me get help a lot faster than the week before...despite the overdosed druggies and drunks permeating the ER floor again. I was answering questions between sobs and a flood of texts messages and phone calls to family in the US.

The doctors speculated that my previous doctors were not as thorough as they should have been, and that my antibiotics dosage was not strong enough for what I was battling. Ultimately, they thought that the UTI had crept into my kidneys a bit.

I ended up staying there for about 7 hours and got an IV drip with some powerful antibiotics, bled a good amount, and was kept in a more private room until later in the day for a thorough ultrasound evaluation.

What a harrowing experience.

The good news is that my kidneys are alright, aside from the infection, and I was released with a prescription that should stomp out my infection (finally). I have to go to the doctor in a few days for a follow up to make sure the medicines are actually working this time. After this fiasco, I hope to not need a doctor again for a while.

This time at the hospital, doctors were not shy to observe/admit that last week's doctors messed up on me. I heard doctors say with scorn, "Why on earth would they have prescribed you with that antibiotic? That would not have done the trick! Is that even used for UTI cases?!" And, "They didn't do an ultrasound on you last week??" Let me point out that I was in the same hospital as I was in the week before.

In another instance, I heard one young doctor admit that hearing someone referring to her as "Doctor" was soooooo weird. And another doctor said to me, "We clearly did not do right on you last week since you're back in here."

Throughout my confusing and tiring journey through the corridors of the hospital, I felt confronted with a lot of apprehension whenever I heard doctors made these remarks. I kept thinking in response, "If they said that in the US, they'd have a malpractice lawsuit on their hands!" Part of me was relieved to hear the doctors criticize their fellow medical colleagues because it helped me feel like it was not my fault I was in the hospital a second time for the same problem (despite trying really hard to take care of myself). Another part of me, however, felt less sure of the treatment I was getting because of their doubts around their predecessors' treatments on me. Weren't they all working on the same team?

I talked to an Aussie I know in the medical world, and they let me know that Australian-based doctors do joke about how so many things in the US system - in words or actions - would get them sued.

During my stay, locals have questioned me in amazement about the lawsuit culture of the US, and have asked me questions about people living in fear of getting sued, or living with hopes of suing. What is it like to know that no one is safe from the legal hounds?

It is kind of a joke that Americans are so susceptible to lawsuits, I agree. However, as a scared and sick short-stay patient, more votes of confidence from the medical team would have helped me ease my anxiety while I was there. My blood pressure was wild as I battled minor panic attacks, and I felt like I had to think of even more questions to ask before leaving the hospital to make sure that I was getting the right treatment. With little to no sleep all night, making sure that I had asked enough questions was frustrating and only made me more worried.

Also, this is the second time in the last few months (if you recall/heard) where I have had to go to the doctor's office soon for a persistent problem, and the more recent doctor begins to question the actions of the previous doctor, as I was not given the right treatment.

It is so bizarre to miss the American healthcare system while I am in a developed country with a perfectly acceptable medical industry, simply because I am not quite sure the doctors are doing a good job of ensuring my healing process.

Edited note: I understand that doctors in the US likely make as many mistakes as they do in Australia. What I am trying to illustration is that how they express it to me as a patient did not make me feel better, but more anxious. Wording their thoughts differently to me, I suspect, would have given me some more peace of mind while I managed the pain and fear I had.


Cici said...

Sorry to hear you've had some rough stuff to deal with. Just something to think about, though...just because docs in the U.S. are not as forthcoming doesn't mean they don't make similar errors. The fact of the matter is that the body of medical knowledge is so expansive, and bodies are so weird and only a little predictable, and humans are ALL so fallible that physician error happens a lot. Everywhere. I think often enough we recover neatly in spite of sub-optimal care, so we really only notice the errors when that doesn't manage to happen.

So I guess my point is- try to remember it's the HONESTY that is strange moreso than the errors, and that a doc who can articulate what his predecessor did wrong is likely in a good place to correct it. And also, your body is tougher than it seems sometimes. By and large, it knows the way. Feel better soon love!!

A Traveler said...

While I agree and understand that notion, it's the way in which the honesty is mentioned to a patient at sensitive moments. I would have felt more confident if they simply stated that my body did not fully heal with the antibiotics given. That is honest as well, and makes me feel more comfortable in a period of uncertainty.