Saturday, September 22, 2012
I'm Not Gonna Take It Any More
I have been attempting to work for my ex employer as a contract employee. They were generous enough to offer this to me, and it was a better deal than unemployment. However, this week has been a very hard week to remain working.
Travel is difficult, even now just commuting to work at the office is too much. I am foolishly trying to work, thinking maybe I should just hang up my dancing shoes permanently - I'm like a ballerina with too many injuries and way too old trying to keep those twinkle toes twinkling. Maybe not such a good idea.
I was working Friday, and everything was normal. Too much work with too little time. The usual lately for me. I was on deadline, and had just finished a project getting ready to send it securely via email when BOOM The Headache hit.
I went from slightly nauseous (my normal state of being) to projectile vomiting in a split second. Every time I threw up, the pain increased, big leaps with each yuck up. In just the span of a couple of minutes I was on my knees screaming in pain. Not your normal scream. A scream where you are holding your head, your teeth are tightly clenched to stop yourself from screaming, yet screams still go out. I went from my normal aggravating 4 to a 10 in those few minutes.
When I am this way, I cannot think, I cannot talk, I can barely walk. My brother, who had not really ever paid attention to how bad my headaches (bless his heart, I really think he thought I was on all these meds because I am an addict. How I wish that was true! I'd rather be an addict I think than deal with the kind of pain I am forced to) didn't know what to do. My Mom, who is having problems thinking due to multiple small strokes, can't dial the phone. I go over and get the phone to autodial my sister, and I was able to get out that I needed to go to the ER. Next time, after my experience this time, I think I am going to go by ambulance. It will be easier on her than what she had to put up with this time.
She gets here in about 15 minutes which is a miracle from God. An ambulance generally takes 20-30 minutes (I have all this timed in my head since I have been at these levels of pain before, and everything you do can mean more time spent in Headache Hell with no escape) so I was as happy as someone who was in that much pain can be. I asked her to take me to nearest emergency room.
I have gone to this ER in the past. It is at a small local hospital, and the staff have always been prompt and understanding. I don't mind waiting my turn to be seen, but am used to being triaged within minutes of presentation. Triage in ER means the most urgent are prioritized even as to who gets traiged before someone else.
There must have been turnover in management since the last time I was there (last spring sometime). I go in and there is someone I had not seen before sitting at the admission desk. To my pain crazed eyes this person (and I am not sure of gender) looked just like Jabba The Hut, a Giant Jabba The Hut at that. Jabba said something to me in Hut language I didn't understand but I did croak out my name and Jabba asked in English this time for an ID. Jabba enters it into the system while I am sitting with my forehead banging on the desk in front of Jabba's protective glass cage. I am weeping with pain by now. Jabba mumbles something else Huttishly and I say "I am having a very very VERY BAD HEADACHE!". Jabba then says "You will see a nurse in a couple of minutes, have a seat in the waiting room." Here is my impression of Jabba as I am sent out to the purgatory of the waiting room and after I asked for a vomit cup:
I go out there. I see a couple of families with sick kids, nothing that looks urgent other than the poor sick children with ear aches and sore throats. I am too busy trying to stifle screams of pain, as the headache has taken off again. I am melting down, swimming in pain, waiting to be traiged. I see parents trooping back and forth from Jabba's cage, complaining about their wait time. I say to myself "Joy, I am here on the night they do not have any help or maybe just lazy help working the ER" while mentally I am ticking away how long it will be until I get some relief of pain.
I am vomiting and vomiting into my cup, at the same time this sets the pain crazy. I actually scream a couple of more times, and go and bang my head against a few walls. My nose is running, and my left eye is tearing, and they used some kind of industrial cleaning solution I can smell over even my throwup cup, making the nausea even worse. I am truly losing control because of pain. I sit and tremble and my sister comes in and tells Jabba I am in terrible pain. Jabba says "The nurses know she is out here." What the hell does that mean?
To me that says the nurses know I am out here in THIS kind of pain and they are not going to do ANYTHING. They are not going to triage me and they are going to make me wait until I am the last person in the ER because they have prejudged me as being medication seeking. Yes, at this point I AM medication seeking. However I have TONS of medication at home, but right at this moment they are of NO HELP. I need injected medications to stop the pain and the nausea both, because once The Headache jumps the traces there is no way to put the Genie back in the bottle without major medication.
I wait and wait and wait. It seems like hours, but I estimate I was about 45 minutes in the waiting room waiting to be triaged. I tell Jabba the Hut, "I am in extreme pain. Do you have any idea when I am going to be triaged?" Again I get the reply, "The nurses know you are here." They spit out one person with a bunches of stitches in his finger who met another radical dude friend of his in the waiting room talking about seeing the bone. Ewwwww. Then the nurse finally comes out to traige the next person AND starts with the next person per sign up time. I lose my cool.
I am not normally a shouter, I am not normally a screamer, I am not normally short fused. However, this was not a normal situation. I was in an abnormally large amount of pain. An amount of pain that was beyond my ability handle physically and emotionally. The nurse calls one of the sick kids back to be traiged and closes the door. I normally am sympathetic to sick children, but I am past - way past - being sympathetic to ANYONE. I approach Jabba the Hut again I am told "The nurses know you are out here." In all this time I have not seen Jabba move from Jabba's throne. Jabba has not picked up a phone, Jabba has done NOTHING but put my name in the computer. Jabba is pretty worthless.
In losing it, I became profanely angry. I shouted at the top of my lungs "What kind of idiots are hired here?" Then follow it up "Can you NOT SEE I AM IN TERRIBLE PAIN?" Then (cover your eyes those who don't like foul language) I am pretty sure I shouted "Someone could come in here with Their FUCKING LEG CUT OFF BLEEDING TO DEATH and YOU FUCKING IDIOTS WOULD JUST IGNORE THEM!" All of sudden all the healthcare people who had been staying away from the triage room, away from the waiting room, and away from ME, come jumping out of the woodwork. Not to assist, but to stare at me. Jabba apparently remembers that Huts can use a telephone because I think Jabba was scared and calling for security.I swear if I had a chain to wrap around that Hut's neck right then, it would have ended up just like in Star Wars.
To top it off the idiotic triage nurse sticks her stupid head out of the triage door looks at me like I'm disturbing HER and I say (as my sister tries to hustle me out the door before I am arrested) "YOU DON"T FUCKING KNOW HOW FUCKING MUCH PAIN I AM IN AND NOW I AM GOING TO GO SOMEWHERE ELSE TO WAIT HOURS MORE BEFORE I CAN GET ANY HELP! YOU FUCKING IDIOTS! YOU FUCKING DON'T CARE" or something to that jist. I am pretty sure someone was on their lunch break, and none of the lazy gits back there would move their butts to take a turn doing triage. And I am certain they didn't care. I am also certain they thought I was drug seeking. Idiots!
My sister drove me to my regular big city ER 45 minutes away, where I was triaged within two minutes of hitting the door. I didn't get seen for another two hours, BUT at this hospital they put me in an area where I could sob and bang my head against the wall and vomit for hours in relative solitude. They kept me supplied with ice packs and hot blankets and towels to cover my head. I was not asking to be seen before other people at the first ER, I was asking to be TRIAGED as a true emergency, not like someone using it as a walk in clinic, taking a number and waiting my turn. If you aren't going to actually triage people, then don't call it traige.
I will say, after the hours and hours of extreme pain, it only took minutes before I had pain medication, anti nausea medication and benedryl injected at the big city hospital. I have injectible phenergan, wonder if I could injectible benedryl and injectible dilaudid to keep at home for emergencies?? I have benedryl and dilaudid in pill form, but when the pain hits like it does, I have no choice but to go to an ER for injections. I probably also needed an IV but that would have taken more time, and my poor sister had waited long enough.
I am sorry my sister had to sit and wait with me for hours. It is not pleasant to watch, She gets a medal for big sister of the year from me. Also from not laughing too much at my meltdown. I am sure it was memorable. I am generally the model of self control (Ha!) and this is the only time I have done this in an ER.
I was at my limit when I lost it, and I"m not proud of it, but dang I'll bet it was humorous to watch. My apologies to my relatives that are nurses, but you should have seen the looks on their faces! They were all standing around (which tells me they didn't really have any acutely ill patients in the back - professional nurses don't leave a patient to go gawk at someone spectacularly burning bridges in the waiting room.) My sister managed to keep a straight face. I have seen her go down in flames and do burn outs a few times over the years. She just isn't used to seeing me do it! Ha! We ARE related after all!!
I have decided to go on the offensive. I refuse to be treated as a third class citizen because somebody thought if they made me wait long enough I would burn through the migraine and it would be gone by the time they had to deal with me. I refuse to be treated as a third class citizen because Jabba the Hut is not trained to escalate issues with nursing. I refuse to be treated as a third class citizen because someone who doesn't know me or talked with me thinks I am exhibiting drug seeking behavior. Hell YES I was drug seeking - they would be too if they were in that kind of pain.
I am writing letters. I am sending it as high up the ladder at the hospital association that owns this ER as I can. I am taking names and kicking ass as well as I am able to, at the same time I am going to try to educate these imbeciles on what type of headache disorder I have, hemicrainia continua. The pain doesn't go away and it is worse than any I had with migraines over the years. I can be at the level of pain for hours and hours and hours (as I was) and it will not go down until I force it down with medication. They need a primer on how to treat an acute headache patient. They need a procedure to follow that would have them properly triaging patients. They need education to know the difference between someone Jonesing for their addiction of choice and someone who can't keep still because of the level of pain they are in.
Leaving you all with my anthem song for the weekend. TwistedWinny and Twisted Sister - We're not going to take it anymore!!!