Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Blast from the Past...

Middle of Feb 2005, home a few days.
When I first awakened in a brightly lit hustling room, my eyes wouldn't focus. There were people there and everyone was doing something and seemingly very busy. My son Brad was there and said to me, "Do you know how long you've been sleeping"? I did not! I didn't even know WHERE I'd been sleeping. My son lived in California, what was he doing here? I tried to speak, but nothing would come out. Was this why I was in this strange place? I was in a hospital and couldn't speak and I'm not sure anyone knows. Was I in an accident? The most predominant thing that I remember now is the vast confusion of everything. I motioned that I wanted a pen and paper to write a few questions upon and was given them. I couldn't coordinate enough to write out a message. My depth perception wouldn't allow me to get the pen to touch the paper. The first thing I needed to convey was that I had to pee and I mean it was serious. After trying to form an upper case P for about 5 minutes, Brad finally said, "You have to pee"? I shook my head up and down. The nurse advised me that I had a catheter in and I should just relax and let it out. OHHHHHH..... what a relief... The next bit of business was to find out why I couldn't speak. Over the years I'd become rather used to it and it seemed a shame to lose that ability. I was told that I was on a respirator and that I'd had heart surgery and suddenly everything started coming back. The things that I had hoped were just a bad dream. I found out that I was in a medically induced coma and had been asleep for about 10 or 12 days. I looked down and there was a large gaping scar on my chest that had already begun to heal and the staples had already been removed. Where were my dogs??? Were they okay, I remember asking as soon as they removed the long tube from my throat. It reminded me of a serpent coming out. It must have been 3 feet long too. I was immediately given a vacuum to spit into. I gave the nurse my confused look because speaking was difficult. She explained that I haven't been able to cough or clear my throat for 2 weeks and I'd need to get rid of the phlegm. HUH??? A mass the size of a football came up and was sucked into the vacuum tube as soon as I coughed, ugh!!! I was now good to go. I started talking and haven't stopped yet. Eventually they removed my catheter and I'll never understand where they found the room to hide that thing.

Now it was time to try to recreate the past 2 weeks...

If I recall correctly, I had been suffering from a congestion problem. A month before that, my right leg had swelled up and I never did find out why. I went to a vascular specialist and he said it wasn't a vein problem. My doctor, a friend of mine, put me on a diuretic for the swelling and it seemed to go down. He also gave me thyroid pills after a blood test. So, it's 1/23/05 and I'm pretty congested and I'm thinking that if this congestion gets any worse, I might not be able to breathe at all. I got kind of scared and called my friend, the doctor in the middle of the night, about 3:30 AM. He didn't answer, but called me right back. He asked me if I could drive, but I didn't have anywhere to go. He came right over and literally threw me into his car. We went to Paradise Valley Hospital, a BIG mistake! He dropped me off and went to park the car. They totally ignored me. When Sam got there he asked if anyone had talked to me and I said no. He disappeared into the break room and came out with about 5 people in uniforms and scrubs. I think he told them I was a rock star!

Within seconds they had me on a gurney and had wires hooked up to me and they were telling me I was in cardiac arrest. I told them they were mistaken, I felt fine, just a little congestion. They shot me full of nitro-glycerin, hey what do I know? For the next hour they prodded and poked and finally they were sending me to a place called the Cath Lab.

The Cath Lab was a hospital operating room setting with everyone wearing masks. Pretty soon a maniac came prancing in screaming at everyone, myself included. I remember him telling me that from now on he's my doctor and I'm not to listen to anyone else but him. Do I understand? What would you say? I said, yes! I was asked if I were allergic to iodine and I asked for a better definition of what he wanted to know. He said, are you allergic to shrimp? I thought he was ordering out! I told him no, I love shrimp. He told me to sign there, then! I signed what turned out to be a permission slip for him to kill me.

The next thing I knew they were stripping my clothes off and shaving me. Then it was a needle that went into my groin and that was not the worst of my problems. The needle was to go tracing through my body and it had a camera on it. Geez! I was watching the whole thing on a monitor and it was better than the Discovery Channel. Suddenly everything clouded up and we lost our picture. At home I would have called the cable company, but here I just asked whathappened. He said he tore my heart! What? He tore my heart, just matter of factly. I tried to compute the ramifications of that. I asked if I were going to die and he calmly said, "I don't know" with his Indian accent! I was getting pretty concerned about now as the blood that was supposed to be going to one place was now not getting there, but instead was flooding into my chest cavity as I had a hole in my descending artery of my heart. I started to get some pretty serious pain in my chest and now I know what a heart attack feels like in case anyone wants to know ahead of time, just ask. Why wait? Now I asked this asshole doctor what his next plan was. He said they were going to air-o-vac me to another hospital, as they do not have a cardiac department there. WHAT? No cardiac department and they do this sort of procedure here?

The next thing I know they're boarding me onto my very first helicopter ride and the sun is now coming up over Phoenix and it's beautiful and I'm on my way to open heart surgery and I've never had anything worse than a root canal. I still enjoyed the sunrise and was truly hoping it was not my last..

Evidently the staff on board the helicopter were related to the doctor that poked a hole in my heart, as they proceeded to close the door on my foot at least 3 times before they would listen to me as I was screaming, it's hitting my foot! I had so much morphine in me that I couldn't even feel the pain any longer. My $17,000 ride to the next hospital was slow as we hovered over John C. Lincoln Hospital awaiting permission to land.

The staff at J. C. Lincoln was polite, attentive and good listeners. As soon as I spotted someone with an authoritative look, I asked if I could have whatever it is that will put me out of my misery. The next thing I knew, a nurse was shooting something into my IV and 10 or 12 days had gone by! That was some shot!

It wasn't until I was already discharged from the third hospital and was already researching things for my first lawyer that I found out some of the things thathappened to me from the hospital reports. I went to John C. Lincoln Hospital and secured them. I learned that my kidneys had failed and I had been on dialysis for 3 weeks. I also learned that my son was told that I was going to die and to be prepared for that, as my blood pressure could not be stabilized. I learned that I had several surgical procedures after the heart surgery to remedy some of the after effects of the botched initial surgery. I learned that my heart surgeon was about 30 years old and had not even made it onto his Medical firms stationary at that point.

According to the hospital reports, they botched the attempt to put the balloon pump that supplied much needed oxygen to the vital organs after heart surgery. It states in the report that the unruly patient pulled it out and it had to be reinstalled at a later time. That time was about 3 hours later when they realized my kidneys had failed. Subsequently they sewed the pump to my leg. Yes, youread that right. I have a scar on the inside of my right knee to prove it. I then formed a blood clot in my right lung that had to excised to enable me to breathe and of course the 2 surgical procedures to drain the accumulated fluid from my lung cavities. All of this was done while I slept. I'm glad I missed it. I'm really quite glad to have survived all of this, but I am amazed that all of this went on and I was never ever told.

Let's discuss the reason that all of this happened. If you recall back at the beginning of this story, I was told I was in cardiac arrest and I doubted that it was the correct diagnosis. It seemed that my heart was only infected. It was enlarged from infection. No one caught it until they opened me up and drained a liter and one half of fluid from my peradiem, the sack around my heart. I was then administered an anti-biotic directly into my heart and all was soon to be well. They repaired the hole in my heart with a tire patch kit from Wal-Mart, did a triple bypass while they were in there and closed me up, leaving a 10 inch scar down the front of my chest that isn't even straight. (It wanders to the right.)

I'm missing an important body part!

I thought that might get your attention. You know that bump that is on the inside tip of your clavicle? You have 2 of them directly down from your neck. My left one is missing, just gone! What did they do with that thing. It doesn't even have a name and it's missing just the same. Did it break off while they were drilling or sawing? Did some big goon snap it off with his thumb? And what did they do with it? Was there some guy waiting in the wings for a clavicle tip transplant? If you see it, please send it home. I miss it.

You're probably thinking that this guy really made out with the law suit, right? Well, there wasn't one. It turns out in Arizona, the courts LOVE their doctors, even the bad ones. 7 out of 8 malpractice law suits go in the way of the doctors here. In order for me to sue anyone, they wanted me to cough up with about $150,000 in expert witness fees to bring in a doctor from out of state to testify that I did not get a minimum of care, and it was more likely than not that I was going to lose, too. Seven separate lawyers all told me the same thing. There is a 2 year statue of limitation that was up almost a year ago. Not only did I not benefit 10 cents from this, but it chewed up a large portion of my savings, as well. Getting sick ain't cheap!

At some point in my stay at John C. Lincoln Hospital, they determined that I was no longer a candidate for the IC Unit and they were going to transfer me to a regular room, however the computer would not allow it. It turned out that my insurance wasn't good there for anything but Intensive Care, so at about 2 or 3 AM they called an ambulance and offered me a ride to Good Samaritan Hospital where my Cigna Insurance is accepted. I begged to wait until morning so that my son wouldn't come in to see an empty bed and think it was okay to drive my red Corvette! Not only that, but the attending nurse told the guys that were driving the ambulance that I was a bed wetter. That really pissed me off.

So I arrive at Good Sam's with all new faces and little tiny TVs, no wonder it's cheaper. At this point, I was no longer on Morphine and I was no longer hallucinating. Suddenly the drugs washed out of my system and I was included in a room full of people that apparently had been there the day before, but I was seeing them for the first time. My ex-sister-n-law Patty was there and I hadn't seen her for years. Business acquaintances showed up and they had been there the day before too. As my head cleared, I looked in the mirror and saw an old man that looked frail with almost 3 weeks of beard and almost a half inch of hair growing out of his ears! I asked for a razor, shaving cream and a brush...

I think I was discharged on about Valentine's Day, Feb. 14th, 2005. Aunt Pat was gracious enough to come home with me and care for me. I couldn't have done it on my own and I will forever be grateful to her. I had to go to doctor's appointments, get blood drawn on a regular basis, get that damned catheter removed from my jugular vein as I no longer needed dialysis, thank God. I had to go to the lung guy 3 times a week to get my lungs drained, it was no picnic. They put in a permanent drain into my side and all they had to do when I came in was hook me up to the pump. I was good until one day they wanted to remove the plastic line. Did that ever hurt?

I recall one day that I decided to take a bath, shortly after I got home from the hospital. I ran the water and got into the tub, but when I was finished, I wasn't strong enough to lift myself out of the tub and I didn't feel I knew Aunt Pat well enough to call for help! After sitting there for who knows how long, the water was getting cold. I finally figured out a way to slither like a snake out of the tub and onto the bathroom floor. That may have been my most humiliating moment.

After about a week, Aunt Pat went home and my son Brad came to care for me for a week. It was a long week for him, I'll bet. Then Patty returned from Chicago and took back over the task. I think when she finally left a week later she had had enough of me. My friend Randi then came and took care of me for a while and then I was recovered enough to handle myself. To these people I will always be grateful, particularly Patty that let me drive her crazy...