Monday, March 04, 2013

911? What's Your Emergency?

Whenever I'm stressed out, it manifests into something funky - like a weird ailments: pseudo chest pains, arthritic paralysis and all that fun stuff that brings me shuffling to the doctors or the emergency room.  When am I not stressed out? Last week, I woke up with this huge lump under my ear that extended down to the middle of my neck. The pain was absolutely excruciating. It felt hot and tender to the touch. I thought it must have been the q-tip that broke inside my ear a few months back and got infected. (Don't ask.) In my mind, all I kept saying to myself was, "It's near my brain! I'm gonna die!" My hypochondriacal manias started to kick in and I started dialing my primary care physician to get an emergency appointment. No ER for me, because well, it's flu season and hell if I'm gonna walk into a germ-infested environment and risk being sick. Not that a doctor's office is any cleaner, but at 8am, people are usually there for blood tests. The nurse said she couldn't see me till 11am, but I couldn't wait, so I went to an urgent care clinic that I've gone to for the past 15 years now. When I walked in, the nice young receptionist made me sign in and then told me to sit down and wait. I turned around and noticed there were like 15 others ahead of me. My mind: "Ok, I have my antibacterial gel in my purse. Don't touch the magazines. Don't touch the arms of the chair. Do not touch any doorknobs and sit next to the person who has the cast on. He may just need it checked. Safe." I started fiddling with my iPhone since I was bored out of my mind. When I glanced up, I noticed there were EMT and fire volunteer people waiting there too. Seemed strange. Were they there for themselves or waiting for a patient? Who knows.

"Debra?" My name was called. And they only say it once. Never, "Debra, the doctor will see you now" --- just "Debra?" I walked over to the door and this lady came out into the waiting room -- not even letting me into the hallway with the million tiny examination rooms. She had a bunch of papers on a clipboard and said, "We can't help you." I was baffled, holding my neck as I thought it was either going to choke me or travel up to my brain. "But look at this? I need medical attention. Why can't you help me?" She said, "Something's wrong with your insurance coverage so you'll need to take it up with them." So to make it easy peasy -- I said, "Well lemme' pay out of pocket because I'm really scared..." 
"No. Sorry."
"No, sorry? You're not going to take my money and let me walk out of here with a medical emergency?"
"Sorry." 
"Can you please get my doctor out here so I can ask him myself?" 

She huffed and puffed and walked inside the medical maze of hell. When she returned, she said, "Nope, sorry. Can't help you." I felt my blood pressure rising so I said, "I'm having a medical emergency and you won't take my cash? Then call 911 for me." She went into the office section to talk to someone in billing. My phone rang. It was Madelene asking how I was doing. When the nurse saw that I was on the phone, she said, "Oh, she's got a cell phone! Let her call 911 herself!"  

That. was. it. My cork popped. 

I stood in the middle of the waiting room, now with probably over 15 people sitting in their chairs patiently. I screamed out, "OK, so lemme' get this straight... You won't take me in for a medical emergency...won't take cash and won't even dial 911 for me?" A couple of people looked up and shook their heads in disbelief. I said loudly, "All I probably need is a steroid shot to stabilize this since it keeps getting larger!" 

"I'm sorry! WE CANNOT HELP YOU!" 

Again, I pleaded with her. "I will pay you cash out of pocket! You won't take my cash!?!?  The lady literally ran out of the office and into the waiting room and yelled, "FINE! YOU WANNA PAY OUT OF POCKET --- THEN GIVE ME $120 DOLLARS!"  Out of pocket for the urgent care isn't more than $70.00. At that point --- who would want them to help anyway? So, I trekked up to the emergency room and explained my dilemma. They were so disgusted by this clinic's behavior and told me to "look into it". The only thing I can really do is complain to the NYS Health Department of Conduct, which I did right away, but something has to be done with that vicious Pit Bull of a nurse. What if I went in there with anaphylactic shock? What if someone else was denied while going through an emergency? What if someone died right on their indoor/outdoor carpeting? The diagnosis was a stone in my parotid gland that was causing the swelling. They said to suck on lemons, sour candies and take Vicodin. Nice, huh? My point is, this is the second time this has happened to me with this urgent care place. A few months ago I had severe chest pains. I called 911, the ambulance came and they said, "It looks like a pulmonary symptom, get an x-ray over at the urgent care center." So, the ambulance pointed me to the clinic, and once I walked in, the same lady said, "Chest pains? No, we don't do that. Sorry. Go to the emergency room."  I explained that the 911 EMT workers told me they knew it was something other than a heart attack due to checking my vitals. She didn't care. When I drove myself to the ER (which is 30 minutes away), the staff was absolutely mortified over their behavior and decision to let me drive there. They should have called an ambulance to pick me up, they said, regardless if they thought it was something non-life threatening. I was stuck in the ER with EKGs, holtor monitors, a nitroglycerin pad on my chest, blood tests to see if my enzymes were up, Vicodin shoved down my throat and a chicken salad sandwich for lunch. Not bad. 

I'm so disgusted over this. I was in pain for about a week. I even developed a low grade fever because it was a little infected. I need stress management or something, so I finally bit the bullet and called the place that I used to get Reiki treatments done. I have an appointment tomorrow thank God. Stress can really frig' you up big time. I truly believe that sometimes, stress can even cause diseases, like heart problems and even cancer. The blockage and high blood pressure that creeps in when stress is overtaking your world is enough to just drop everything and get help - whatever it is to help you. Talk therapy for me doesn't work. It never did. What works for me is therapeutic remedies, such as massages, Reiki treatments, polarity treatments, etc. Some would call this a luxury, but I would call this a life saving medical treatment. Instead of paying my therapist $85.00 a shot to talk it all out, I now pay the same for my Reiki and massage therapist. And no, I don't feel one ounce of guilt doing so because it's what works for me. Antidepressants, medications and overpriced therapists do absolutely nothing for me. Do what works for you and never mind what others may think. 

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!