Monday, April 15, 2013

My Life as a Water Balloon

Here's my story about the latest crap that has happened in my life.
Pull up a chair and pour a cup.....this is going to take awhile.

First let me say that I am not in the best of health.  I have chronic conditions that necessitate that I make regular visits to my doctor.
Sometimes that's once a month, sometimes I can go about 3 months before needing to be seen.
I was under the care of a doctor that was monitoring my health, or so I thought.
I have high blood pressure and I'm overweight.
I am prone to develop cellulitis in my legs. About 5 years ago I was in the hospital for antibiotic therapy for it. I also have a swollen foot.  I've had it since #2 Son was a baby.  Stuff doesn't circulate in and out of it well, so it is always swollen.

I started feeling not quite right sometime in January.  Just more tired and lethargic than usual.  I started having trouble climbing the stairs in the house.  At my Jan. visit to the dr. I mentioned it and nothing was noted and no action was taken.
Then in February I noticed that my legs were swollen, I was even more tired and I was having trouble breathing, especially at night in bed. The last of this also meant that I was waking up at night constantly(which would explain why I was so tired; I was not getting deep, restorative sleep.).
I didn't have an appointment in February and thought these symptoms would keep until my appointment in March.

Also in February, #2 Son got sick with a sore throat.  After more than a week and no improvement, I called late in the month to make a dr. appointment so we could rule out strep and/or get some drugs for it.

Some background information before I continue.....
Our doctor had recently undergone a total office reorganization with a new receptionist, new nurse, new business manager.  I got off on the wrong foot with the receptionist.  She is a little 20 year old and came into the practice with an attitude and the ego the size of a doctor's.  Her first day on the job she argued with me(though she didn't know anything about the practice or my insurance copays)and insisted my copay owed was double what it has been for the last 2 years.  The office never updated our insurance information file so instead of taking to me like a person, smiling, and trying to figure out why her information wasn't lining up with mine, she stood there and just proceeded to bark at me that I owed $XX because her file said so and I was NOT leaving until I paid it.
Yes, she pissed off this family of 5, who had been longtime customers for the last 12 years.
Great new support staff, huh!

So back to February.....
I called for an appointment for #2Son and I get a voicemail, so I leave a message to call me back about setting up an appointment.
And no one returns my call that day.
So I call the next day and get the voicemail again and leave another message.
Late that day I get a phone call from the Nazi Receptionist.  She says that I can't make an appointment because the doctor is out of the office all week and she doesn't know when he is returning.
So I ask her to give me the name of whoever is covering for him.  NR says that he no longer has another dr. or group taking his patients.
So I ask her, so what do I do?
NR says to go to an Urgent Care or the ER.
And she says it in a snippy, exasperated tone, like she is talking to an imbecile.

Now let me give you a little background about my doctor's office.  Up until this shake up at his practice, the doctor has always had a voicemail message that said, "We can't answer the phone so leave a message. If it's a medical emergency, call xxx number and I will return your call right away or go to the emergency room."  If he was on vacation, the message would also have the name and number of whichever doctor was seeing his patients in his absence.

The new voicemail message was just "This is the office of xxxx. Please leave a message."
So I lay into her........first off, nobody called me back for a day and a half.  If you had put a voicemail message up that noted the dr. was out of the office for an extended time period and there was NO coverage being provided by another doctor I could have not sat for the last day and half doing NOTHING to get my son better, I could have sought treatment elsewhere sooner and had him recover sooner.  Not only that but since Dr. xxx has chosen NOT to have a doctor cover for him, I am going to have to pay more to go to an Urgent Care or an ER, even though he doesn't need that level of care.
This is just bad office management.
All she said was, "I'm sorry".  And she said it in a very cold and unfeeling sort of tone.
So I screamed into the phone, "You are NOT sorry.  Your 20 year old ass couldn't care less!"
And I hung up.

So #2 Son went to Urgent Care and $20 worth of antibiotics later he was over his strep throat.
But I was still not feeling well.

By March, I am feeling progressively worse.  I now notice that my stomach is getting hard and swollen.  It's so swollen that I can hardly get behind the steering wheel.  I don't have a scale so I can't weigh myself.  I hadn't changed my eating habits so I don't think I could have possibly put on that much weight in 1 or 2 months. 

Thankfully I had calmed down by the time my next doctor appointment rolled around in March.
I walked into the waiting room and noticed right off that most of the furniture is missing, as well as the magazines and the artwork on the walls.
I checked in and sat down.
And a few minutes later the nurse comes out and I ask her what's going on with the furniture.
She tells me the office is moving.
Evidently they are moving down the road about 1/2 mile into a small house that was being turned into a doctor's office.
And they were starting to see patients the very next day at the new location.
And nobody had ever mentioned the change in location to us!
Good thing my appointment was not the following day or I'd have showed up here to a locked door.

About then the doctor saunters out into the waiting room, which is empty except for me.
He sarcastically asked how I like the new look of the waiting room.  I said fine except there are no seats.  He mentions they are moving and then goes over to the Nazi Receptionist.  I listen to them a bit and honest to goodness, he is flirting with her!  He's not talking business......he's talking about her skirt and how she should wear her hair and I feel like I need to go shower I'm feeling so icky.

I get called back by the nurse and she takes my blood pressure and temperature.  She doesn't weigh me(nor had they during my last appointment).  I tell her about my breathing problems and the swelling in my middle and she puts me in an examination room.

When the doctor comes in instead of asking me how I am feeling and what my complaints are, he talks about the new office, asks me what I think about the receptionist(isn't she cute?) and then goes on to tell me he is going to buy a little house on a river and go fishing and he'll bring me some fresh trout.
I notice that he is slurring his words and just sounds goofy, beyond what he is talking about, which is also goofy.
He does listen to my lungs and doesn't say anything is not right.
He goes off on a tangent, asking me about my Daughter and college and then without another word starts to leave.
I stop him and tell him my complaints.  He writes an order for a respiratory test and leaves.  Never even examined my middle or my problematic legs which are very swollen.
He tells the Nazi Receptionist I am to come back in a month and goes back into his office.
I make an appointment and go home.

Over the next few weeks I continue to feel worse and worse.
About 10 days before my appointment, my daughter says she tried to make an appointment with the doctor for a check-up(before she leaves to go to Louisiana)and she got a voicemail that the doctor was on an extended medical leave of absence with no other directions or information.  I guess he still had no doctor covering for him.

2 days before my appointment I called to confirm it and I got the same voicemail about being on medical leave until further notice.
You would think the office would be calling and telling patients with appointments that they were not going to be honored!
At this point I told Hubs that I can't wait to see this doctor any longer and he needs to take me to Urgent Care.

So he gets off work a bit early and take me to the local Urgent Care.
They have since stopped doing x-rays at that Urgent Care so they tell me to go to the ER.
So we toddle up to the ER.  I tell the front desk triage nurse I am having problems breathing and take a seat in the waiting room, which is packed.

There are 3 ways to get seen right away at an ER--Be in active labor, be having a heart attack or stroke, or not being able to breathe.
The nurses called me back about 5 minutes later.
My oxygen saturation at rest on room air was 88%.  I was weezy and swollen.  Even my eyelids were swollen.

I spent the next few hours being poke and prodded, stuck with needles and given meds.  Something or other important was 1000% the level it should have been.
I was admitted.  I was filling with fluid and going into right side heart failure.
I ended up spending 24 hours in the ER waiting for an open bed on the cardiac floor.
The doctors there feel I have severe sleep apnea(even though I had a sleep study done 8 yrs. ago and they had no recommendations since it was a mild case).  The apnea leads to fatigue, less oxygenation, which leads to the heart working harder to reach all the cells and supply oxygen rich blood, which leads to fluid  retention and breathing problems....or something like that.
It's all a big vicious cycle, or should I say a big vicious spiral that leads to death if not treated.
Not fun.

After multiple diuretics in the hospital I lost 18 lbs. of fluid. 
I am required to keep to a low sodium diet, since sodium makes you retain fluid.
I am also on oxygen 24/7.  And a slew of drugs.  And I have a bonus of a slew of doctor's appointments in the coming months.

The restrictive sodium diet is why I am having to change my eating habits. 

I've been home 10 days now and I've dropped an additional 22 lbs.  I suspect it's mostly fluid and not "weight" so far.  My swollen foot is no longer swollen.  My legs and middle are no longer hard and taut, my eyelids are normal again and I can fit behind the steering wheel in the car again. ;-)
My oxygen saturation on room air in the hospital dropped to 56% when they walked me down the hall.  The Advair(mediation)helps and I hope to get off the oxygen eventually.

Now here's the crazy part--
While being examined by the nurse assigned to me in the ER, after they had decided to admit me, they started getting my medical history and doctor information.  When I told her who my doctor was, she just stopped and looked at me, then said, "Oh!"
I said, "What?".
She said, "Didn't you hear?  He lost his license."

It seems that in this little town, if you are "special" and get into legal trouble, it is covered up.  And when it does hit the newspaper, weeks later, it is buried deep inside next to the travel ads and the bingo parlor hours.

Here is from one paper online
Doctor arrested

Here is from another paper online
Doctor arrested

All I can say is Medical Leave my ASS!!!

I've since heard he was abusing prescription drugs and/or giving out fraudulent prescriptions.
We do know that he has been seen drunk in various restaurants in town.
This all happened in late Feb., about the time I was trying to get an appointment for #2Son for his strep throat.
Of course, I don't read the local daily papers(just Sunday's edition). 
I guess things didn't go well for him at his hearing since the nurse knew he had lost his license to practice.

And it's no wonder I ended up in the state I was in.
I didn't have a competent healthcare provider now, did I?

And add in to all this fun that my computer died the day I went to the ER.
Thoughtful Hubs went out and bought me a brand spanking new first laptop, while I was in the hospital.
So I came home to yet another challenge.....learning the ways of the laptop AND Windows 8.

So that's what I've been up to.
I've had my fill of excitement.....bring on boring for a change!
What's new with you?

An addendum to the story--
I just got a letter from our insurance company informing me that my healthcare provider is no longer participating with our HMO.
Ya think?




  1. I don't even know what to say. That quack of a doctor is lucky you went in. Can you contact your insurance and ask them not to pay for the last appointment? His nurse sounds like a real bitch.

    I'm happy for you that you were given the care you deserve and they figured something out.

  2. Wow! I have no words except I hope for your health to continue to improve! Thinking of you!

  3. Wow, sounds like me. Oh sluggy, I did the same thing. I ignored symptoms for a month blamed it on arthritis and I was close to death. I would have thrown my religion to the wind to get better. I am still weak and so sick. My twin sister and I just knew it was bad. I cannot imagine losing over 40 lbs of water weight. You must feel so much better. Your fight was gone as you were too sick to think like my Sluggy.... As smart as you are you did not switch doctors? I am ready to switch rhuematologists as I think mine is just overwhelmed and depressed. Keep up the fight. Cellulitis is not easy to treat.

  4. Oh, Sluggy, I am so glad you at least now have found out the problem and are on the mend. That doctor could have killed you by neglect. Thankfully, you sought other help.

    If I were drunk and hassling people in the store and being belligerent to an officer, I would have been hauled off to jail. But, I am not "special." I thought if a person threatened a police officer, the person would be jailed.

    If I heard my doctor advising/complimenting the new, young, belligerent-to-me receptionist on her hair or skirt or whatever, I would have left immediately. Are you going to file a complaint about your medical care?

    Congratulations on the new laptop. I have heard people take laptops back if Windows 8 is installed. I hope never to have Windows 8. Your husband is the best.

  5. Hey...just want you to know I've been a reader for prob half a year. Since about 2 months ago, sick of being 'sick', I googled 'foods that heal', 'foods that bring down inflammation', yada yada. Am 50; my hubs soon to be 54 and has his own health issues. While I'm not overweight, I had horrid allergy/sinusitus issues, requiring cat scans, unworking scrips and the like. Hubs is very overweight, high end of normal bp and cholesterol. Anyway...please think long on this: consider jumping off the way you eat into a plant-strong diet. Keep the fish and chicken, if you need. Dairy INFLAMES our joints!!! You're reading from a gal who's knees would LOCK UP crossing the street in front of my home. You will NEVER find anything to back up my claim. Since going on the Engine 2 Diet almost 3 weeks ago, my sinusitis HEALED. The follow-up ENT could find NOTHING after I'd gone vegan for only 1 week. The cat scan was 2 wks prior to her, and it showed the 'hiding under a nasal tissue' infection. My knees. OMG...PERFECT. My arthritic-beginnings wrists...PERFECT. My allergies...hahahahahaha...practically non-existent.

    This is NOT AN ADVERTISEMENT. I am a real person. Just a reader. And I feel for you!! Just baby step away from something...if you love dairy, as I did, it's not easy. But...almond milk (flavored or original) is tasty. There's a lot of spec over soymilk, but none with almond.

    It comes down to: what do we I want to live regretting I never gave changing to a plant strong diet a shot?

    Google before/after vegan health success stories.

    Trust me....please. Google Rip Esselstyn. Texas firefighter/author of the Engine 2 plan.

    I am attempting to improve my thyroid function now... my high triglyceride levels are at perfect level. a matter of weeks.

    You only have one life....and I hope you'll look into the above. ;o)

  6. Oh my goodness, Sluggy. What an ordeal! Definitely makes me terrified of ever needing serious medical care... I am thankful for my health. I would have left that Dr's office pretty quickly though. As infrequent as I go, I feel no loyalty to anyone yet. You can request a downgrade to Win 7, which is infinite+1 times better than Win8. Congrats on your first laptop, and continue to feel better!

  7. Oh my you are one lucky lady... I am glad he lost his license but am sorry that you had to suffer so. I missed you when you were gone. Can't wait to watch you get better.


  8. Wow! Just wow!! As I've started reading your post, I immediately thought that you needed to get another doctor... But this is crazy! I'm glad you are feeling better! I hope you can find a good professional who can actually help you with follow-up appointments. Hugs, my friend!

  9. I'm glad you're getting better. Thanks for updating us! What a terrible story. I hope you will post some healthful recipes for us since you can't eat much salt, and I'd like to know how to make food taste good without much salt. I can use all the help I can get with recipes.

  10. Oh, Sluggy! I am so glad you finally went to the ER! Hope your health continues to improve.

    Thank God your dr lost his license before he killed someone.

  11. Wow Sluggy! Holy sh!t. Things could have been even worse! As I read about your doc I thought... sounds like he's writing his own percriptions... yep and those sob's cover for each other like crazy.
    I am so glad that you are feeling better! Please consider getting yourself a scale to keep track of fluid retention. I am not a weight obsessed person, nor do I think that anyone should be - but it is a good way to track if you are prone to retaining fluid. That and the obvious difficulty breathing and swelling in feet. (Unsolicited advice over...)

    Your husband is so sweet! I would be thrilled with a new laptop!

  12. That is terrible. I am so sorry you went through all of that. I hope you continue to heal.

  13. My goodness! I'm so glad that doctor lost his practice sooner rather than later - you probably would have gotten even worse. My husband's best friend died from doctor neglect. He went to her for months trying to find out why he dropped 70 pounds in a matter of months and had pain and trouble eating - she just kept ignoring him until his sister made him go to ER. He found out he had a tumor the size of a grapefruit, stage IV cancer and by then it was too late. I'm so glad you got in and are seeing new doctors and starting to feel better. I really don't like doctors much

  14. Oh my dear woman!!!! I got fed up with a doctor who was trying to impress a young intern and ignored my daughters swollen tonsils. I took her to another town and P.A. who took me seriously and she had her tonsils out in 2 days.
    I'm so sorry you suffered like that!
    And So glad you're better!
    What a sucky doctor!!!

  15. OMG OMG, I literally threw my hand over my open mouth when I read the part about him losing his license. You are lucky you lived!!!!!
    It really is amazing what these idiots get away with. You would think that your HMO would have to contact you sooner about a doctor that is having issues. They can take our money and not do $Hit! That is really what pisses me off. I want a job where I can collect money and treat people like idiots.

  16. Holy crap! You were loyal to the end. I'm sure I would have walked out after the Feb. appointment. He should be in jail. I'm so glad you are doing better. Don't wait so long next time!! Listen to your body go to ER! You are more important than messing with an idiot.

    Anyway, I'm so glad you are okay, and getting better!!!

  17. That is a horrific story - I am so glad you are OK!! (well, you know what I mean - he was unfit to practice medicine!!) Hope you can get rid of the oxygen tank soon!

  18. Just catching up after being out of town.... Thank God you went to the ER Sluggy. I am sure you are feeling much better than on that day. So glad that you are on the road to recovery. Good luck with your diet.

    BTW, that Dr. should never be allowed to get his license back. Talk about malpractice.....UGH!


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