Monday, April 30, 2007

Gross Negligence (in my humble opinion)

One of my very best friends recently decided she didn't want anymore children and made the decision to have a tubal ligation. I should probably throw in there that following each of her three boys she had made the decision not to have anymore children, but she, like myself, proved herself to be completely inept at practicing effective birth control. And so, now that she is turning 30, she has decided that she's excited that all of her children will be in school full-time in September and, although she loves babies and often sighs with baby lusting (thanks for a new term, Niki!), she absolutely does NOT want to revert to diaper changing and all-night feedings (her oldest is starting middle school and will be turning 12 in September, her youngest is currently in kindergarten). If ever there was a person with zero contraceptive luck, it would be my dear friend. She's gotten pregnant on oral contraceptives and Depo-provera. Three times she has become pregnant while using some form of birth control.

And so, she called her doctor to talk about sterilization.

Her surgery was set for Friday, April 27. She went in and endured a seamless operation that would permanently change the course of childbearing, woke up to her loving husband and came home to a peaceful house (one of her boys was with me and the other two were with their grandparents).

Friday night she hardly slept a wink.

By Saturday morning, her pain was so bad that, although she had taken two of the Darvocet prescribed by her surgeon, she was unable to rest and was feeling extremely dizzy because she was literally high on pain medication that did nothing for her pain. Her husband began searching for the non-existent emergency instructions (I feel that I should interject that she gave birth to three boys at home with no pain meds at all--and one of them was 11 pounds--so, she's no wuss when it comes to pain) and found only a piece of paper listing two phone numbers. One for the office where the surgeon works, and the other for another office. There was no "after-hours" number and no instructions for what to do in any kind of abnormal situation. Nothing that detailled what was expected during recovery, or signs of problems that would indicate an emergency room visit. All they were given when they left was a precscription for Darvocet (100 mg) because, "it is the only pain med that doesn't make you as dizzy or nauseous as the other ones."

So her husband called the office number only to get an answering service that told him that he had dialed the wrong number and there was nothing that could be done for them via that number (he checked with the person on the phone to make sure he dialed right, he was just given the wrong number). So he called the other number and got another answering service that told him that, since the surgeon who performed my friend's operation was the doctor on call (for the hospital, I think) at the moment, she was not available to write out a script for a different pain medication. The nurse told her to take two more Darvocet (following the two already ingested) and four Ibuprofen (?????????). He (sort of) calmly explained that the Darvocet were making her sick and not doing anything for the pain, and so the lady told him that they'd have to go to the emergency room.

More money spent, more time wasted while this post-op lady is in excrutiating pain.

But, there was nothing else they could do.

After a while in the waiting room, my friend's father-in-law went to find out what was taking so long. He was told that they were waiting for a bed. He began yelling at the receptionist, telling her that she didn't need a fucking bed, she needed a goddamned prescription for something that would help her to not be in so much fucking pain. FUCK!

But he was told that they would still have to wait.

So, when they finally got my friend settled into a bed, two hours later, a nurse walked in with a glorious pain pill for our dear, pain-riddled heroine. However, the nurse looked at her and said, "I can't believe no one's started an IV on you yet."

And walked out of the room, pain pill still in hand.

About 45 minutes later, another nurse walked in holding a pain pill. This nurse also noticed that no IV had been started. And also walked away with the golden, shining prize in hand.

Finally, over an hour after she was assigned to a bed, someone came in with the proper machinery to start an IV on my dear friend's arm. As the IV was being placed, something went awry and sent intense shooting pains down the patient's arm, making her feel as though someone had just sawed her arm off with a butterknife. She thought a nerve had been knicked, but wasn't entirely sure what had happened. Great, more pain, and still no pain meds.

With the IV in place, my friend was finally given a high dose of pain medication and began to feel a little more comfortable.

Then the bullshit continued...

When the doc came in to see her, he decided that she needed a cat scan because sometimes people get bowel obstructions following general anesthesia. Um, excuse me, doc, but I believe he only thing this lady needs is her own bed and some FUCKING REST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

But she had to endure a cat scan anyway. Of course, nothing was found, so she was wheeled back to her bed.

Not long afterword, the nurse came back to take out the IV. When the bandage holding the IV in place was taken off, it tore about three layers of skin off, leaving a nasty abrasion on her arm. When the doc came in to talk with her one last time, he noticed the botched landscape of her arm left by the extra-sticky IV bandage and started talking about more tests to make sure she's producing enough of this and enough of that because her skin looked really bad. So it was explained to the doc that it was a result of the IV bandage and that they'd be going now. Just give them the goddmaned discharge papers and a fucking script for something that will actually work without making her sick. Are we displaying the model of drug-seeking behavior at this point? Well, what the fuck would you do? No, she doesn't have an addiction to pills.

But, she did have a very invasive, MAJOR FUCKING SURGERY, umm, like, yesterday. Um, ouch, she hurts like hell, as anyone freshly post-op most likely would, and the pain pills prescribed by the surgeon are not killing the pain, but they are making her quite sick. Shall we explain it again? One more time so you can understand?

Finally she was sent home with a prescription for vicodin. Finally, she got some sleep.

I went to see my friend last night. When I walked in she was getting a gentle massage from her mom, who is a massage student. So I cleaned up their kitchen while they were finishing that, and then sat down with her for a while, listening to her story, trying not to get exceedingly angry. Then I brushed her hair and braided it, watched part of a movie, let her know to call me anytime (still mean it, lady!), made sure she was comfy and headed home.

It's really quite amazing, actually. Her third son was my first doula experience, and now I am with her for the cessation of her reproductive years. Damn, I love that woman. I know we'll be close friends for the rest of our lives.

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