Monday, December 31, 2012

Letter from an American Hospital

It is 3:08 am and I am sitting in bed in a luxury hospital thinking about writing an open letter to the doctor who woke me three hours ago to express contempt for my conviction that I cannot take steroids or contrast dye, though he had accepted that to the extent of cancelling the scheduled scan.

Dr. Doctor:
Okay, you're short.  I wouldn't have noticed except that you were so aggressive, so angry at the possibility that I thought I know something about my body that you don't.  So had to be on top. Contemptuous.  What?  You're short, animals recognize power in size, it is not fair.  And you know what?  Nobody cares if you are king of your little mountain of being right. Get over it.  We're grown us now, we don't care who's tallest.

So you were so pissed off when the nurse told you at 10 p.m. that I refused steroids and cannot have a test with contrast dye, that you came bustling into the room two hours later to wake up a deaf 70 year old lady who has apparently had a heart attack for only one reason: to do your power thing.  You and the fiery nurse who had already talked to me like I was an idiot, "Do you have any idea what you're risking?"

Yes, I do.  If I let you do the test you so imperiously wanted, it could damage my kidney - the only working kidney I have or ever will get.  That would be a sentence to death. You didn't know that, and it really pisses you off that a woman, an old woman yet, would think she knew something you don't.   Okay, you won.  You woke me up.  I can't get back to sleep. Good for my health.

You're playing doctor here as if it were a war game.  Interested only in towering over me, not in discussing the other ways we could examine the issue, or in calling my transplant doc. Did not want his name.

That nurse earlier informed me she would be giving me a heparin shot.  I know all about that, Christ I was in and out of hospitals for ten years.  It's a blood thinner.  I said, "I just had four aspirins two hours ago.". Oh. (And why didn't urgent care give me an aspirin at noon when they saw symptoms of heart?  Why didn't the ER they sent me to?  Don't you people watch TV?  Everyone knows you take an aspirin.  I knew it, but didn't know vertigo was a symptom, but you knew that.). No heparin shot.

No use trying to go to sleep now. Someone will wake me to do another blood draw because that's protocol no matter that I only have one arm you can stick.  Then someone will wake me to do vitals.  Then someone will come in shouting at me to rate my pain. This is Western medicine.  It has a great kill rate.


  1. Heart attack? Oh, dear. Thinking of you, and wishing you a swift recovery.

  2. Wonder-woman!
    Continue, and make sure your husband can help being pro-active. He should also come massage your legs and feet to calm you.
    The only reason I am alive is for the hell my Mother and Sister made during my hospitalization keeping unneeded billable fun like a tracheotomy and spinal tap, while in ICU fighting for my life.

  3. My thoughts, my heart with you today, tonight, as you endeavor to take care of yourself. May your efforts at self-advocacy be beneficial to all, especially those in positions of power. May those charged with your care re-connect to their vows of service and humanity.

  4. Thank you, friends. I got home today with no diagnosis for the odd vertigo, but heart and lung problems ruled out, and somehow encouraged. Jomon, thank you for the lovely prayer. Best wishes for the coming year.

  5. Sorry this had to happen to you, but thanks for sharing your story. Hospitals can be a major health hazard as you know!