When an E.R. Doc Treats You Like a Junkie (and an updated pic of my deformed leg!)

When an E.R. Doc Treats You Like a Junkie (and an updated pic of my deformed leg!)

After my major live aboard accident two weeks ago, my leg is still very swollen but the pain is better. The bruising is MUCH better! That large 8″ x 5″ black bruise I had is already gone!

Can you see why they called me E.T. Toes in high school? 😉

I bet you all never imagined I’d be postings pics of my thigh online…and my boat bathroom floor! 😉

This week, I’m sharing my emergency room experience because it was not at all pleasant.

First, as I have shared before, I have severe health anxiety, which is also known as white coat syndrome, or the more degrading label (in my opinion), hypochondria. I wasn’t always this way. The events that led to my diagnosis of PTSD and health anxiety, followed by two years of therapy for this condition, are described RIGHT HERE. I have a deep distrust of medical personnel because of misdiagnoses of myself and my loved ones (one misdiagnosis almost killed me a few years ago), under-treatment, and over-treatment. Under-treatment happens when something is very, very wrong and they don’t believe what you’re telling them. Over-treatment usually happens to people with really good insurance.

Whenever I must go to a doctor, dentist, or any other medical professional, I have very high blood pressure, a rapid pulse, nausea, and more. After my recent injury, on the way to the emergency room, I opened the car window because I thought I was going to hurl (I did not). When we drove up, a nurse ran out to help with a wheelchair. The nice man at the registration desk gave me a barf bag (which, thankfully, I ended up not needing).

They immediately wheeled me into triage, took my vitals, and checked my grotesquely deformed leg for noticeable blood clots. My pulse was 160 and my B.P. was off the charts. I told them of my embarrassing “condition” and they understood. They then put me in the waiting room for about 15 seconds before coming back, and wheeling me to a room.

A nurse came in the room first, and then the doctor. I told them exactly what happened, and showed them my horribly misshapen upper thigh, which hurt like a you-know-what, and also demonstrated how I had no use of my right shoulder though, oddly enough, it only hurt when I tried to move it. When I was sitting still, there was no pain. I told them I have a very high pain tolerance. They pointed out an abrasion on my forehead. I had grazed a stanchion on the way down. It wasn’t bleeding. There was a small scratch, maybe 1.5 inches long. No bump. No swelling. Just a scratch. The nurse and doctor were very nice and understanding of my condition. He asked me if I needed pain killers. My leg felt like it had been sliced in two but I don’t like taking pain meds so I asked for something non-narcotic. They offered Tylenol.

A few minutes later, a man walked in, saying he was taking me for a head and neck CT scan. WHAT?! Do you know how much radiation is in those?! (According to WebMD, a CT scan delivers the amount in 100 to 200 X-rays). My dad died of a brain tumor at the age of 30. No, thank you! I had a scratch with no bump at all. I told him no, I did not want nor need a CT scan. He said okay, and went to tell the doctor.

The same man came to take me for my x-rays. Three of my leg, and three of my shoulder. I was then wheeled back to the E.R. and we waited a little over an hour for the x-ray results. During that time, the nurse walked in with a syringe. She said, “I have your tetanus shot.”

HUH?! I WASN’T BLEEDING ANYWHERE! One of our children has a vaccine injury and I have researched vaccines extensively over the years. I’m not talking about the anti-vaccine groups. I’m referring to actual scientific studies. I said, “I’m not bleeding. I don’t need a Tetanus shot.”

She said, “You know what Tetanus can do to you, right?”

I said, “Yes, but I also know I’m not going to get it because I am not bleeding anywhere.”

She said, “Oh, so you won’t take a Tetanus shot but you’re okay with taking Tylenol?”

What the HECK?!?! Did she really say that out loud? Yes, she did!

She harrumphed, and walked out. Also, she never explained that it wasn’t just a Tetanus shot. I’ve done enough research to know that they don’t give “just Tetanus” shots anymore. It’s a DTaP. Diptheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis – none of which I needed.

The doctor came in next and his demeanor had completely changed. He was very cold. He said nothing was broken and that I was being discharged. I guess I messed up his CT scan quota for the evening? What he should have done next was order an MRI of my leg and shoulder but he did not.

My leg was still throbbing and, despite my aversion to pain killers, I told him the Tylenol wasn’t doing anything for the pain. He said, “We only give pain killers for breaks now.” And, he walked out. I recognized that attitude. The E.R. doctor thought I was shopping for pain pills! I experienced the same treatment a couple of years ago after another injury.

I remembered I had a bottle left over from my toothache last year so I didn’t push the issue.

The nurse came in right after that with my discharge paperwork. She didn’t go over it with me. She didn’t give me any verbal instructions at all. I was not advised to check in with my doctor within a certain number of days. I was not told what to look for in the event of a blood clot. I was told nothing at all. What she did tell me was to sign a form saying I was leaving against medical advice because I refused the CT scan.

Richard had gone to get the car so I slowly limped out of the room (no wheelchair discharge for me!), down the long hallway, and outside where I sat on a bench until he pulled up. After we got home, I wanted to see if I could suck it up, and go without narcotics. I tossed, and turned, and moaned, and cried out each time I moved all night long. Neither Richard nor I got any sleep. When the sun came up, I asked Richard to dig through the bin of extra medical supplies at the bottom of the closet…and find the drugs. I only needed them for two days and now the bottle is back in the closet, waiting for the next time a jerk doctor treats me like a junkie.

A couple of years ago, I tore my ACL. I could NOT walk. I dragged my foot behind me. In addition to the excruciating pain, my leg simply would not work right. I went to Urgent Care, and got the same type of treatment. I was only given an x-ray, and told it was a sprain. No pain meds. That doctor also treated me like I was pill shopping. Several days later, knowing something was seriously wrong, I made an appointment at a sports medicine office and they ordered an MRI. I came in the next day for the results and the doctor couldn’t believe I was actually on my feet because my ACL was ripped. It looked like a torn piece of chicken.

Two days ago, I receive a letter from the hospital, asking how my experience was. Boy oh boy, they’re gonna get an eye full when they receive my response!

I am still on my butt all day every day because, each time I get up, my leg starts to swell again. But, I can tell from the pain that it’s starting to slowly get better. The nerve damage is unsettling. There’s a large part of my leg where the skin has no feeling at all. But, just underneath the skin, it feels like a metal brush is scraping my insides. Very weird and very uncomfortable. I feel the inside brush pain every time a dead part of my leg skin touches anything.

The sport medicine place I went to a week and a half ago said it would take “several weeks” to heal. My shoulder pain comes and goes, and still keeps me up parts of the night. Lifting my arm from the keyboard to the mouse is very painful but I have a new lap desk (on adjustable legs) that’s helping and a big, fat pillow under my elbow.

I hate being a burden on everyone but, if I don’t stay off my leg, it’s never going to get better so I’m getting used to asking for help, which is something I’ve never been good at.

We are planning a small, quiet Thanksgiving and, just today, I realized something awesome, VERY awesome, about my injury! I don’t have to do any Thanksgiving cooking or dishes! HALLELUJAH!!!

Seriously, though, this year we are reflecting on how very thankful we are for all of YOU! Our readers and our authors make us smile every single day. We all love our jobs so much that each day doesn’t even seem like work! We get to “go to fun” every single day! So, THANK YOU!!! 🙂

Have a blessed, gluttonous Thanksgiving, everyone! 🙂

XXOO!!!

Have you, too, been treated like a junkie while getting medical care? Or, have you received too little care, or too much? Please share your experience in the comments box below! 🙂

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Angela Hoy lives on a mountain in North Georgia. She is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, the President and CEO of BookLocker.com and AbuzzPress, and the author of 24 books.

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