Medical fun

So, the job I thought I was getting didn’t happen. Unanticipated budget issues have pushed the hire date to January, “would you still be available?” (Umm, I sure HOPE not.)

It’s been frustrating trying to dig out of this hole, and every so often I get a reminder how bad it could be. Case in point, my daughter had her appendix go nuts in the wee hours this Friday. If I’d had twitter I’m sure there’d be a great deal of humor looking back, along with the anger.


She comes to me at 3:30 am and says her stomach hurts (lower right abdomen) and she’s nauseous. She’s 17, so she helped me narrow the location and knew what I was seeking. Thing is she’s had two cases in the not so terrible past where exactly the same symptoms turned out to be something else. I came within a hair’s breadth of getting her a strong laxative. Then I realized she (unlike her parents) has medical – she’s on Medicaid (for another 11 months unless something breaks). So I took her to the emergency room. Check-in time 4:20. We’re in the exam room at 4:25. Nurse takes temp and such, gets basic stuff. We see a lab specialist at 5:05. (Yes, I logged these times). About 5:30 my daughter feels like she’s going to throw up, so I go hunting for a basin. 5:45 the nurse comes back saying her shift supervisor wanted to know why she wasn’t checking on us and what did we need. (Note that we’ve had 45 minutes this time without a nurse, so…) The next time I see anybody is at 7:15 when I tell the nurse that according to the rules I’m reading we should have seen her every 30 minutes or so instead of nothing for an hour and a half. And by the way, where’s the doctor?

7:25 – new shift – the doctor shows up. Apologizes, claims the previous shift physician (only one in the emergency room) had been armpit deep in something. (ahem. Possible appendicitis? emergency? If he’s armpit deep, isn’t there an on-call? But I digress.) This doctor moves things along swiftly, reviews, examines, and tells us he thinks it’s appendicitis so they’re going to do the CATscan of the region to make sure. (In the long run it’s cheaper than operating and finding it unnecessary.) There’s this delay has to happen as you drink the Magic Fluid before the scan so it can get where it needs to get, and some time for the scan itself, but that’s finished by 10:25. At 10:26 (according to the log) appendicitis is diagnosed and a surgeon is to be notified. We get told the surgeon is called but has not responded yet, but as soon as he is things will move.

At 12:15 the surgeon arrives. He says he just got the call 15 minutes prior – since his office is on the 5th floor it’s a quick response. At this point I get a bit testy, and when I explain why so does the surgeon. The prep nurse for surgery comes in, so while my daughter changes and gets initial prep the surgeon goes on a short warpath, asking for the call log. And on seeing the BLANK call log, he gets the shift supervisor and makes a phone call to someone else commenting about two sets of almost two hours each in a potentially life-threatening situation.

From here on things tick like they ought to tick (other than MY DAUGHTER IN THE SURGERY. sigh) Laparoscopic surgeries are good. Two 5mm holes plus a 10mm for the withdrawal, and she’s home by 4 pm.

Neither my wife nor I have had our appendix removed. We’re not on insurance. If it had been us, we’d be screwed six ways from Sunday. I’d have just started calling an attorney for the bankruptcy proceedings from the hospital bed.

And yet, even that wouldn’t have angered me as much as if due to some people – laziness, incompetence, overwork, it really doesn’t matter why – my daughter had had her appendix burst from just having to sit around. Had the procedures been followed we’d have been done between two and four hours faster. This time no harm came of the extra time. They – and we – were lucky.


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