Sunday, August 12, 2007

US Medical System:On the one hand...

...it is terrific, if you arrive at the ER on the right day with the right diagnosis. I know first hand, at least for Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, as I have just had my first, hopefully only, heart attack. I have learned much this past week. I have learned that women display completely different symptoms when having a heart attack. For instance, I had no heart pain, just extreme fatigue, jaw, neck,left arm and upper chest ache. I could barely move, but did not have that heavy weight/pain in the heart muscle itself that most men experience. Because of the lack of pain, I initially ignored the symptoms. Except for lying down for a few hours, I did nothing different. Then I went to the beach to gather seaweed for mulching the garden and, then...whoa!... big jaw,chest,left arm ache and extreme fatigue. I almost could not move to get home.
I finally decided to call my MD who did immediate enzyme testing and sent me to the best hospital in the area, bypassing the hospital with which she was affiliated. Because of the diagnosis sent ahead by my MD, I spent almost no time in the ER waiting room, going first before others in more obvious pain but whose diagnoses were not life-threatening. Everyone was very kind and attentive. The ER wasted little time setting up endless bloodwork, taking rather repetitive histories (I must have told the same story at least 6 times on admittance along with my list of current meds (there is way too much redundancy), doing physical exams, monitoring heart rate, BP, etc. Was admitted to the floor after about 6 hrs (waiting for a room to open up) where more of the same questions and tests were repeated. I was scheduled, after talking to the primary physician, the cardiologist, the assistant cardiologist, and some other members of the team, for a cardiac catheterization and possible stent placement for the next day, though I was told it probably not take place until the day after. Fortunately, I did get the procedure done the next day and all went well, the 3 stents were placed in the RCA, and I made it through recovery without problem. Though I had to do some fast-talking, I was released from the hospital the next afternoon on a ton of new meds. I pushed for the release as I knew the bill was already going to be more than I can ever pay for in this lifetime. And, because I had not slept since entering the hospital as the endless treatments and bloodwork had me on an every hour to 2 hours schedule around the clock. Sleep is necessary for healing, and, I was not getting any.
So, on the good side, the service provided was excellent, though there was really massive redundancy which might be cut back. The professionals were great and all involved in my care were thoughtful, attentive, and responsive to my needs. Great care!
On the other hand, the negative side, living on a meager monthly check and no insurance at this time, I will be in massive debt for the rest of my life. Not easy to live with, especially since this all happened about 3 weeks prior to my getting on Medicare.
Great timing, eh? Still, had I not listened to my inner voice and taken myself to the MD, gone to the hospital, and had the stents placed, I would have gone off on a month tour of the USA and a date with Burning Man with my trucker son, spent the week at BM biking and walking miles; probably would have had a massive MI instead of a smaller one, hundreds of miles from the nearest hospital, perhaps dying on the road to somewhere.
Sure wish we had a single payer Universal healthcare system; and, so do all my doctors.

3 comments:

Susan said...

Oh, my! Prayers ascending for a swift healing, many blessings and peace of mind.

Bill Tchakirides said...

So sorry to hear about your heart. Please get well soon... we need great bloggers!

Under The LobsterScope

gbreez said...

Many thanks. I am healing quickly and hope to be back on track soon.