Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Do Doctors Realize How Stupid They Sound?

Me being still obsessed with my complete inability to eat anything, I'd like to share two conversations I had in the ER early Tuesday morning. Both of these happened while I was on a lot of dilaudid, mind you, so I was a bit more, um, direct than I usually am.

Conversation 1:

Dr: We need to test the function of your gallbladder.

Me: Okay.

Dr.: We can't do it right now, you'll have to schedule it later.

Me: Okay. So what does that involve?

Dr.: They'll inject a nuclear dye into your gallbladder to make it spasm-

Me: Wait, wait, wait. Isn't spasming what's going on right now? That's what's causing the pain, right?

Dr.: Well, yes, but we need to see-

Me: So you expect me to walk into a room knowing that I'm going to leave feeling like this, only without the dilaudid and the toridol?

Dr.: Well, yes, but in order to-

Me: Just how many different kinds of crazy do you think I am?

Seriously, how do you say that to someone? "Hey, I've got a great opportunity for you to deliberately feel the sort of pain that makes you beg for death! Sign up now!" Um, no, I'd rather not.

Conversation 2 (after 4 shots of dilaudid and 2 of toridol):

Dr.: If we can't get your pain under control, we'll have to admit you.

Me: And do what?

Dr.: What?

Me: What are you going to do on the 8th floor that you aren't doing here?

Dr.: Um, well, we can work on controlling the pain.

Me: You just gave me enough dilaudid to knock out an elephant, does the dilaudid work better the higher up you are?

Dr.: No.

Me: I can't sleep on dilaudid. I can't stop grinding my teeth on dilaudid. I'd like to go home, wait for the dilaudid to wear off and sleep in my comfortable bed with my pillow that smells like me. I don't see how being in some overly bright room with some roommate who wants to watch Fox News at top volume would be any better.

Dr.: I can't release you with uncontrolled pain. It's against hospital regulations and it's unethical.

Me: and I have insurance, so those things matter, I suppose. My pain's all gone now, get this IV out and send me home.

Really, pain? Don't make me laugh. Me and pain are old friends, the kind that can't stand each other anymore, but we've been together so long we don't know what else to do. Ethics? Every doctor I've ever seen undertreats my pain deliberately because they're scared of the DEA or they think I'm lying, but all of a sudden undertreating pain is unethical? Like you'd care if I didn't have insurance? Fuck off.


  1. Does it make me a bad person if I thought this was really, really funny?

    I ask purely for informational purposes.

  2. No, the nurses were trying not to laugh, too. Dilaudid completely destroys my filter between "things I say in my head" and "things I say out loud".

  3. On the plus side you're a good advocate for yourself. My 80 year old Aunt survived pancreatic cancer last year and navigating the system stinks.

  4. When my Mom was dying of congestive heart failure (we all knew she had weeks left at best) the doctor found a breast tumor and wanted to do several tests, including a bone marrow biopsy "to see if it was spreading". We had already decided that chemo for the breast tumor was not an option; it would only have made her more miserable.

    I asked why he wanted to put her through a monstrously painful (and expensive) procedure when the results didn't matter. We weren't going to try to treat any further cancer.

    He said, to gather more information, and besides, she has full coverage for all these tests, what can it hurt?

    WTF??? "It will hurt my Mother!" (I think I was almost screaming at that point.) We took her home from the hospital the next morning. Her utmost fear was dying in the hospital. Within two weeks, she died peacefully in her sleep, knowing she was home.

    We found a new doctor for my Dad.

  5. You are my goddamn hero, PF.

    Regarding the stupidity of doctors, my sister-in-law recently fell and broke her hand. She went to the ER, they splinted and wrapped it, and sent her on her merry way. Fine. Next morning, she tries to get out of bed and discovers (quite painfully) that she cannot put any weight on her foot. At all. Another trip to the ER reveals that her foot, too, is broken. So they give her crutches.

    CRUT. CHES. With a broken hand. How exactly IS that supposed to work?

    And let's not get started on the VA. All they care to do is throw pills at you and hope you go away. My brother is barely able to move these days, has lost almost all bladder control, and has sharp, electrical pains shooting down his right arm and leg, but when he tries to get anyone down there to investigate further (MRI, anyone?) they refuse to even look past the x-rays (which they decided were "unremarkable"), tell him it's "just a muscle problem" and send him home with some Vicodin, and some Trazodone so he can actually sleep.

    It's fucking criminal.

  6. "Dr.: Um, well, we can work on controlling the pain.

    Me: You just gave me enough dilaudid to knock out an elephant, does the dilaudid work better the higher up you are?"


  7. That sucks. I'm sorry you went through that. Also sorry for laughing at the zings.

  8. ...

    this is why i won't go to the ER unless i'm DYING. last time i went to the ER, it was with the giant MRSA infection, and i swear to you - i'd have been SAFER trying to clean it at home.

    wtf is WRONG with medical people? *sob*


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