Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Mating Call of the Bronchial-ly Afflicted

Or, my time in the ER last night.

My brilliant doctor, who I'll affectionately label Dr. Douchebag until we can find another family practitioner and then I'll be happy to plaster his name all over the internet, decided to send me to the ER to rule out a pulmonary embolism. I've had lung cancer TB the plague this awful cough for just about a month now. It's not getting better. At times it appears that it's getting worse. Five prescription drug interventions, two rounds of blood work, a chest c-ray and a nasal-pharyngeal suction have revealed nothing. I asked the genius if he could instead call the hospital to schedule an outpatient CT scan, which was what I was being sent to the ER to have done, and he refused. Apparently that's not the way they do things in Western New York. Ohhhkay. Because it was early in the day, I was assured by my husband that I'd be in and out.

I was there for 10 hours.

The hubs dropped me off so that he could take baby boy home. As soon as I walked in and said I needed to be seen, the greeter took one look at my swollen belly, asked how far along I was, and told me to go to the Mother-Baby floor, as anyone over 20 weeks automatically gets sent there. I told him this wasn't related to the baby, I didn't know where the M-B floor was, and if he wanted me to go there then he'd be arranging for someone to take me. I was, after all, having some obvious shortness of breath and a bit of pain...I wasn't going to be walking all over this giant hospital, breathing in the air of death and the stink of illness. He arranged for someone to take me upstairs. The bitch in command Labor and Delivery Charge Nurse asked if I was in labor, I told her no, and she told me to go back downstairs because they didn't deal with pregnant women not in labor. Ohhkay. I told her to call downstairs and to get the story straight with the ER, and if she wanted me downstairs then she could arrange to have me taken back down there. Long story short - I was waiting in the waiting room for 5 hours before I was taken back to a room. Four of those hours were spent sitting next to a 3-year-old girl who fell in the tub, split her chin, and was bleeding all over the place. For the entire 4 hours. Hello - OSHA would have a friggin' field day with that one. I was in utter disbelief that no one took this poor little girl back to have sutures.

Once I was in a room (they don't have enough ER rooms, but each room does have a nice flat panel widescreen television) I could hear that the patient in the room next door was having about as much fun as I was with a awful cough. For much of the night, when I would cough, he would cough...hence the title of this post. It was much like the Dueling Banjos, except instead of the twangy plucking of the strings it was a dry, hacking, non-phlegm-producing cough that is so forceful it raises your blood pressure and makes a pregnant woman worry that one more hack is going to bring forth her child. It was almost as if he was trying to one-up me on my coughing spells. He won, though - he got the steroids, got better, and got to leave.

The doctor told me he'd order a CT scan with radiation. Yep, had those before. Many. When you're pregnant and in the ER and require any kind of x-ray, you're made to feel like a horrible person when you give your consent to have the procedure. You must sign about 70 pieces of paper stating that you are aware of the potential devastating effects of the radiation on the fetus, and that you can not hold us responsible if your baby comes our with a hare-lip, unibrow, and undying love for Tiny Tim. Of course, if you elect not to have this procedure we can miss a life-threatening blood clot in your lung, and if you were to have one and die...well, you can't hold us responsible for that either.

In the CT room, the tech explained that he'd shield my belly the best that he could, that he'd reduce the beam to only focus on my chest (stop staring at my boobs, dude), and that he'd go as quickly as possible so that I wouldn't have to be on my back (you know you want me) for too long. He threw the lead blanket over me and went in back to do his thing. I moved through the tube, he ran the first set of scans, and I noticed that the fetus jumped as soon as the machine started to whir. I told her silently that it was okay, not to be scared, and that I was sorry I had to do this but I had to make sure we were okay (shut up, Hubs) when I suddenly heard Whoops, gotta move THAT up more. Jesus. The guy didn't put the blanket on high enough and part of my uterus and the baby showed up on the scan. Way to go, Dick. If my kid is born looking like Bert from Sesame Street, foam filling and all, I'm a-comin' after you.

Long long LONG story short, I was discharged at 2:30 a.m. with the all-clear. But I still don't know what the hell is causing this cough. I did, however, have the pleasure of listening to a man pass a kidney stone. Wuss.


Momma Mary said...

Hi there!!

Are you sure it isn't some sort of allergy? I read a blog today on BlogHer, and the lady sounded just like you... Except her medical 'professionals' were incompetent. And we know yours weren't. At least not until you find a new one, right? ;)

Read #2 in her list:


SOrry about that. I think that docs are getting worse or the degree is getting easier to get. I recently called my doctor about a rash that he misdiagnosed. I gave him the cause of the rash, what it was called and the meds that he should prescribe. He obliged, and I am rash free no thanks to him.

Matter Of Fact Mommy said...

though i am not 16mos pregnant (ha), i can't imagine taking myself to the ER for a cough. not judging, just saying! have you been to the ER with your little one? if so, then what, on god's green earth, possessed you to put yourself through the same 6-10+ hours of torture by enduring the emergency room?!

McKenzie said...

Mary - W and I are allergic to the exact same things, and he's fine. So I'm guessing it's not allergies. Thanks for the link - I'll check that blog out later. :)

Working Mom - I've wondered about the ease of obtaining the MD these days. Seems as though it's becoming easier for people to become doctors!

MoFM - Because my asshole doctor refused to call the hospital to schedule this test as an outpatient - "that's not the way they do things in Western NY" is what I was told. Because of my history with blood clots and the symptoms I was having, though, I needed to get this test done to rule it out. Blah. Yep, I've taken the little one to the ER before, but at a children's hospital, so the wait wasn't that atrocious. Crazy crazy times here!