Self Advocacy and the ER
If you are reading this, you probably know some things about my ovaries, uterus, and the interesting things they put me through.
After my initial terrible experience at the ER for Glop (my cyst), things were relatively calm. I saw my OB/GYN, who I will call out by his real name–because he is awesome–Dr. Gebhardt. Although we both were fairly certain that I would be having Glop surgically excised, Dr. G wanted me to do a round of progesterone heavy birth control pills to try to shrink the cyst, making it more manageable and easier to take out.
It did shrink the cyst, which we found out in the previously mentioned ultrasound with that super creepy security guard.
Unfortunately, all of the jostling around from the ultrasound enraged Glop. I struggled through the week, even taking a trip out to the Natick Mall to acquire assorted containers. In my Vicodin haze, I tipped a sofa in the mall. It was a Saturday, and the pain was unbearable, but i just kept popping pills and hoping for the best–because my invisible pain and I had no desire to spend another 13 hours in the emergency room being ignored and treated like an addict.
I spent the night alternating between huffing, panting, and holding my breath. As soon as I lay down, the pain would spike. I finally passed out hunching over “indian style” (is there another way to put this?) with pillows propping up my torso. It was a long and miserable night.
The next day, I went to have lunch with Caitlin. We got calzones and intended to watch some American Horror Story to prepare for the new season. I didn’t make it through the DVD extras before she needed to bring me home. I was nearly out of my pain medication–so I called the doctor. At the very worst, I would have to go the ER on a Sunday afternoon. Much better than weekend, late night.
I spoke with the on call at my GYN office, and she told me to go to WETU–The Wesson Emergency Treatment Unit–an ER just for GYN concerns. I was fortunate to see two reasonable doctors who had me do an ultrasound–to make sure the whole ovary hadn’t flipped or that Glop hadn’t burst–and pumped me full of Morphine once it was clear there was no physical danger.
I went home and was fine for over a month before another Glop attack. I had two more visits to WETU where i was fortunate enough that Dr. G was the on-call. He had me do an ultrasound, during which we learned that Glop had grown from 6.5 cm x 9 cm x 7 cm to 12 x 10 x 10 cm. For reference, a softball is 9 cm. According to my friend Liz, I have the rough equivalent of an 18 week fetus in there.
The week following that Gebhardt visit to WETU, I had to deal with a different doctor. I was in pain. I had taken all of my piles of pills. When the doctor called me, I told her as much. This is where the advocacy bit comes in. The woman took my full medical history–which she has. The listened to my lungs–Which, last I checked had very little to do with the ovaries. This was after I had been sitting in my johnny for almost an hour. Then she gave me a med that is basically jacked up Aleve (which is already part of my pain meds). All the while, I was thinking, “Why are you doing this? Can’t you just read my chart, do the things that work, and let me go home?”
But I didn’t say it out loud.
I had to pee in a cup. She thankfully did not make me do an ultrasound. As the time wore on, she finally gave me the narcotics that are proven to knock my pain out immediately. However, it also gives me intense nausea. Previous nurses have told me that I can have 8 mg of the anti-nausea medication in 8 hours. I know that I need all 8 of those mgs to tame my nausea. And I need it in my blood before the narcotics.
But I didn’t say that out loud. I did ask for more pain meds, but it was too late, and I spent a good portion of my night throwing up. As I gazed into my trash barrel full of things I didn’t even remember eating, I was angry at the doctor. Why wouldn’t she read the chart and just do what it says. Why the extra stupidity.
Once I finally stopped vomiting, I reasonably put the blame partially on myself. I knew all of these things about my care, and I just let the doctor do whatever.
So, when I went in today, I left reasonable Erin in the car. Actually, I left her standing somewhere in my mom’s kitchen where this attack came on. I drove over to WETU after calling the doctor. I was a little testy with the reception lady who stood talking to her coworker for about 5 minutes before acknowledging my presence.
I reigned it in with the women in the WETU. When the woman who escorted me into my room instructed me to pee in the cup and put on the johnny and remove my pants, I said, “I’m sorry, I’m not trying to be difficult, but I’m not going to do that.” She kind of eyeballed me and repeated herself, and i did the same. The nurse, having gotten the heads up from the desk lady, made it clear that she didn’t think i needed to take off my pants either.
I persevered in my refusal to remove my pants, and eventually, Dr. G came over, even though he wasn’t actually on call, and hooked me into an IV and the drugs that work, preceded by anti nausea meds to keep me from vomming all over the place.
So now, I sit here, drinking my broth and counting down to tomorrow’s surgery.