Category Archives: ambulance

Car accident exacerbates injuries Part 1

The one thing I really didn’t need this week was to be in a car accident.

There I was driving along minding my own business when I noticed the traffic behind me wasn’t coming to a stop after traffic in front of me had already done so.

It was cold  outside, but it wasn’t icy. There was no excuse for them not to slow down.  I managed to turn my wheel to the left to try to get out of the lane before I got hit but, it didn’t happen.  I got hit and then he got hit, and then she got hit and there were five cars in the pile up… and every time the car that hit me got hit, I got hit again…

The ambulance, fire department, and police department showed up on the scene and I allowed them to put me in a neck brace because my back and neck felt out of whack.  I could feel pain in my ankles, my wrist, my elbow, and my shoulder as well.

But alas, as the medical crew removed me from my vehicle to place me on the gurney they moaned, whined, and complained and I could feel them exchanging looks and sneering about how much I weighed…

They put that awful brace around my neck to stabilize it but whoever  designed it didn’t realize that you probably shouldn’t put metal pieces along the part that rubs against your chin…

So there I lay on a gurney out in the middle of the cold weather with metal pieces rubbing against my chin barely able to breathe, while so-called professionals are whining and complaining about having to lift me.

I’m shaking from head to toe, partly from the shock but also from the cold.  At this point I’ve already had a good cry while sitting in my car, because it’s the nicest car I’ve ever bought for myself with all the bells and whistles.  I’m imagining my financial situation preventing me from getting a rental car or from replacing the car if it’s totaled.  I’m thinking about being almost a hundred days late on my car payment and how easy it’s going to be for the finance company to just repossess it right from the auto wreck lot.  I’m imagining that the garage door opener stored in the overhead compartment, my keys which were sitting on the passenger’s seat, and my lunch which had been neatly packed in a temperature-controlled lunch box, and all the other things of convenience that I keep in my car,  might never be seen again.

I’m also thinking about the car in front of me which I managed not to hit, where ironically sat my student.. both of us were headed for  our 10 o’clock class.

The pain was radiating from my wrist and I could barely hold a thing.  And all I could think about was the pain and trouble caused by such a careless accident.

Once we got into the emergency room, finally, I had to endure yet more people having to lift me and roll me from side to side with sheets and boards and other contraptions, both in radiology and in the emergency room… I got so tired of listening to their grunts and complaints.  I was hungry and I haven’t taken my medication for the morning yet as I plan to do it at my desk as I normally do before I go to class.  And to be honest I had to pee something awful!  Although I mentioned it to the nurses 3 times, no one took me seriously until I finally said it had to be done.  One nurse suggested that I wait until the radiology had finished and then they could take my neck brace off and I could go to the restroom on my own.  This kind of made me feel like she didn’t want to do her job as a nurse… yet another slap in the face a — rejection of my body?  When the doctor came in and started doing a physical exam by pushing down on my abdomen, I  warned him that it would result in a bed full of pee.   No response.  By the third time I was much more adamant that I really had to go.  My foot was shaking and I wasn’t clear how this was going to happen.  Finally nurse ratchet went and got a bedpan. it seems like I peed for hours but when I finally finished she looked at it and said wow you really did have to go, and she proceeded to walk out of the room with my pee in her hand and I could hear someone that she almost bumped into in the doorway also making a comment about how much pee was in that pan… I felt like yelling out, “Hey quit looking at and talking about my pee!” I’m beginning to understand from that experience what it’s going to be like to be incapacitated and be serviced by nursing personnel… I had better get my legal paperwork together to be very clear how I wish to be treated and what I want done.

But the insult to end all insults came when we finally checked out and I looked at the check out paperwork.  It  said I was treated for neck pain, back pain, and … obesity!  The doctor had the nerve to list obesity as something else I had been treated for, but I hadn’t been treated for that, I had only been treated badly because of it.

I was never weighed. I was never measured. How in the world can he make such an assessment about my physical appearance?  Just on spec?  And if he was so concerned about my physical appearance, why didn’t he say anything about it to my face?  Why did he simply write it on a piece of paper and then give it to a nurse  with instructions to pass it to me, so he wouldn’t have to face me?  Coward and quack.

Shouldn’t I hold his feet to the fire? Since I didn’t receive any kind of treatment or consultation about obesity why should my insurance be billed for such?

Isn’t it bad enough that I could barely walk out of there without pain?  In fact I didn’t walk out  of there without pain!!!  I missed work all week long during the first week of the semester when I’m supposed to be getting to know my students and laying the foundation for everything they’re supposed to learn for the rest of the semester!  It was a major interruption of my life and I’m insulted and angry and still hurt about my car.  I’m worried about the additional expense that my family is going to have to incur and about the lawyers that I’m now going to have to hire in order to have all these medical bills covered!  X-rays and full body cat scans?  That’s going to be a good ten thousand dollars!

why can’t medical professionals be accountable for their actions?  now on top of everything else I need to write a letter to the CEO of the hospital and I need to call the building department and make sure that they have not coded this thing wrong.

And I can barely use my right hand… remember, chronic pain syndrome?

Seems like this week it’s chronic pain in the ass syndrome!

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Car accident makes everything worse Part 2

There I was, just minding my own business, driving along on my way to a 10 a.m. class.  It was about 9:40 and I was one minute away from the college parking lot.  I slowed to accommodate the long line of cars at the stop light, all headed toward the same goal, the often unattainable hope of finding a spot which isn’t located in the mud.  As I looked in my rear view mirror, I could see the driver behind me in a large, old truck, not slowing, not stopping.  I tried my best to quickly turn the wheel and get out of the line of fire, but to no avail.  He smacked me right in the bumper, and when he was hit by the car behind him, he hit me again, and when they were hit, he hit me again, and that cycle repeated itself three times.

I’m not going to exaggerate — I was apoplectic!  Imagining the damage to the nicest new car I ever bought myself and premonitions of the total disruption of my life, led me to get out of the car, limp to the back, while yelling, cursing, and screaming, “No fucking way!  Are you fucking kidding me!???”

His car is lodged under mine

His car is lodged under mine

I took a snapshot, and then felt my neck snap … What the hell was I thinking… I got back into my car and felt the back of my body writhe in pain, sharp jabs coursing through my right side.  Ankle, knee, wrist, elbow, shoulder, neck … aching, pulsing … Shit!

I felt at once both ashamed and enraged.  What now?

That question was soon to be answered.  Ambulances, injured parties, people knocking on my car window.  A tear-filled call to the insurance company, and an attempt to reach my husband at work.  Earlier that week, he had dropped and broken his Christmas gift, a brand new smart phone, so I had to call 411 to get the number to his store … I felt terrible for cursing and crying when he called.  He kept asking me questions and I kept not knowing what to say or do.  So unlike me.  I am usually good in crisis!  I’m the friend you call when your shit falls apart, yet… I didn’t understand basic questions people asked me.  And that stressed me out and made me angrier as the day went on.

The ambulance arrived for me and the tech got in the back seat behind me and used his hands to hold my head at a certain angle.  I could no longer see my phone or purse or keys and could do nothing but sit there and watch the rubber-neckers stare.

Sitting in the car in front of me, a car which I did not hit, was one of my students.  I’d only met the class once as the semester had just started, and we’d been on a “snow day” schedule.  She remembered me, though, and tried to comfort me.  She also wanted to know if she could go… I couldn’t blame her, she needed to find a parking spot on campus.

Finally the ambulance arrived to take me away.  This would be the first time I’d ever been put in an ambulance, though I’d imagined it with dread my whole life.  After they restrained my neck with the worst-designed neck brace ever (who thought it would be a good idea to put metal pieces on the part of the brace that touches your chin?) they struggled to get my body onto the gurney.

worst neck brace device ever invented

Worst neck brace device ever invented … and yes, this is a selfie!

 

Oh please!  I can do without all the grunting and straining.  Seriously?  Have you never had to pull a large-boned person out of a car before?  Angrier.

They ask me, as my uncovered body is freezing in the wind, if I minded sharing an ambulance with another crash victim.  Seriously?  If I say yes, I better receive only HALF the bill!

Little did I know they were planning on putting me in with the guy who hit me!  And taking our physical histories in earshot of each other … So I learned he was 67 and had a stroke before and heart disease and diabetes… And he learned that I had chronic pain syndrome, Sjogren’s, and RA … Oh, the lawyers will have a good time with this!

The ambulance crew, while calling ahead to the hospital, listed him as “patient #1” and me as “patient #2.”  Is it bad that that made me mad?  I am always number one, dammit!  Why did I feel like I’d just been demoted?  Foolishness and mayhem, I confess.

Nonetheless, I stared blankly at the roof of the ambulance, the roof of the covered emergency room shelter, the roof of the hallway of the emergency room, and the hundreds of squares on the ceiling of my room.  As they rolled me through the hallways for X-rays and CT scans, I counted the squares on the ceilings, while pulling desperately at the poorly designed rim of the neck brace, gasping for air and growing more annoyed and angry as the day went on.

 

IMG_20140108_130203_924 IMG_20140108_130154_948 IMG_20140108_130158_614

In each room, at each juncture of the humiliation, people grunted and gossiped, talked about me as if I weren’t there, treated me as invisible, addressed me as “hon,” “sweetie,” and “sug,” and generally provided the worst, least sensitive care ever.  It was no longer early morning by the time I was being poked and prodded by the doctor, and to be honest, I had to pee.  Something awful.  I thought about it and thought about it and couldn’t stop thinking about it.  I heard every faucet and water fountain and soda can open … I really couldn’t figure out what I was going to do… I mentioned it the nurse several times, but she wouldn’t take me seriously.  Finally, the doctor, poor inexperienced thing, started to press on my abdomen and I warned him that it would not end well.  I couldn’t see his face, because of that damn neck brace, but I could feel his disgusted, frustrated vibe.  A nurse arrived with a bed pan.  I had absolutely no idea how the whole bed pan thing is supposed to work, but I had on my good black corduroy pants, my favorites, with a sharp slate blue turtleneck and matching suit jacket.  I felt SO good that morning!  And I didn’t want urine on my clothes, so I could lie around all the rest of the day smelling like a nursing home patient.  The nurse assured me that she had it.  I asked her how she was going to avoid getting my clothes wet, and she quite exasperatedly said something to the effect of, “Hon, I’ve got you down at an angle!” And she reached over enough for me to see her arm heading in a downward direction.  “You just haven’t noticed because of the neck brace.”  Yeah, that’s not the only reason I haven’t noticed, I thought.  She couldn’t get my super tight corduroy’s unbuttoned and really didn’t seem to want to try to help me pull them down, in spite of the fact that I was bound!  My arms and legs and shoulders were literally tied down to the gurney!  Ugh!  Finally, she noticed and un-restrained me.  But she didn’t make much of an effort to help me, and with all the pain in my right side, I managed to pull them down a bit.  Enough.  I let loose a wonderous and abundant flow, one which had surely never been recorded in the history of emergency medicine, or so you would have thought by the reaction she had to the full container.  It was confirmed by whomever she almost knocked over at the door trying to get out of there.  They both remarked about it and seemed quite impressed with the amount of urine I had produced.  Almost had me thinking I should feel proud of such an indubitable accomplishment, but really, all I could feel was anger.  Stop talking about my pee!

How I cleaned up after that debacle I shall spare you the details, but I can assure you, it was equally as humiliating and ludicrous.

At the end of the day, they gave me Valium and Hydrocodone.  I didn’t understand the Valium, but chalked it up to their perception of me as an angry Black woman?  I really had no idea.  When I asked, the nurse mumbled something about calming me down.  What the hell?

My husband and I left, and a nurse came running through the parking lot with my release papers, prescriptions, and instructions for care.

As I sat in the car reading it all, I noticed the last straw.  That which added insult to a full day’s worth of injury!  The doctor had written, as the reason for my visit that day, “obesity, neck strain, back strain.”

There they were.  The words that cut and kill.  How in the hell did he feel justified writing obesity as my reason for being seen that day?  And why didn’t he have the nerve to say it to my face?  Coward! Did he weigh or measure me?  Did he offer any treatment for my evident obesity?  Was he marking me as a fat woman on spec?  Engaging in fat shaming for sport?

My head hurt too much to focus on the anger boiling up inside of me.  My blood pressure in the ambulance had been something like 177/121… And I could feel it rising.

But no rest for the weary or injured, for that matter.  There are insurance adjusters, claims to be filed, rental car needed, alternative work arrangements to be made, students to be answered and warned… It was all so much, but it had to be done.  But I was fading.  Fading under the strength of the prescription meds.  I would have to wake another day to deal with the shame and anger of my experience that day.