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One Comment

  1. Jack Armstrong
    October 20, 2014 @ 4:44 pm

    I have two snafu stories and one hero story to share.

    My one experience in hospital was caused by a medical error (doctor prescribed the wrong medicine) and I laid in a hospital bed, wide awake and hallucinating intensely due to a combination of drugs, for four days and nights trying in vain to attract some kind of actual medical attention, as one stranger after another trotted through performing some procedure or another which somebody somewhere seemed to have called for. Finally on the fifth day a nurse came in and said, “I’m going to get you out of here.” She told me what I needed to know, I called my wife to come get me. The moment she wheeled me out that front door, in a wheelchair, vomiting on and off, was one of the happiest moments of my life. I will always be grateful to that nurse.

    We have a friend whose husband died of brain tumor two years ago. That was bad enough, but her treatment by doctors and hospitals was immeasurably worse. She spent two years fighting for him, being shuffled from one facility to another like a hot potato, vainly searching for one doctor — any doctor, anywhere — willing to take responsibility for David’s care. She was ignored, neglected, lied to, and outright betrayed. Not to mention bled of every penny by a score of procedural specialists. Personal bankruptcy, lost her home, kids flunking out of school. She ended up living in her car in the woods, half-coherent. She looks twenty years older. Fortunately, her life has finally taken a turn. Her boys are settled, and last week we helped her move into a lovely new apartment. But holy Christ, what an ordeal.

    But then there is the birth of my daughter. Everything was going fine, but at the last minute, her umbilical cord snapped. In the few seconds it took the (very calm and competent) midwife to get her out and get her cord pinched, the baby had lost a third of her blood. She had a seizure. By some miracle, the hospital had just that week opened a neonatal intensive care unit. Dr David Kaufman, the “NICU” pediatrician, was in the birthing room after less than a minute. In another minute, he had her in the NICU, and was plugging in oxygen and IVs. He decided not to try a transfusion, for good reasons which he explained to us in detail. But it was a risk. He sat by our newborn daughter’s incubator all that night watching her monitors, tweaking her inputs. And all the next day. And all that night. And all the next day. For fifty solid hours he did not leave our baby’s side. Finally, when he was sure she was out of the woods, he went home and slept. With that two-day vigil, he bought Emily her whole life. It still gives me the shakes every time I remember it, which is all the time.


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