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PerBlog April 10, 2013

Trying to come up with some radical new idea (ok, maybe “radical” in this day and age was a bad term) – a BIG new idea for research for my next FME article.  With everything happening in the news, I should not be at a loss for a topic, however my fear is that I will just come across as repeating the same news we’ve been hearing every day.  What would YOU like to read about, or hear a fresh view on?  Tell me in the comments!

Just to drop an update on myself, ever since my boss passed away on December 28th and the company subsequently closed on January 2, I have been seeking work.  For 3 1/2 months, I have been living on my tax return and the grace of friends and charity however that is all running out quickly.  If I don’t find viable work *this month* I will be facing very dire circumstances.  

The stress of this has caused my blood pressure to shoot up as the worry is constantly there, 24/7, and I have rarely been able to sleep at night for the past couple months.  A week and a half ago, I ended up having to break down and go to the doctor with the joints in my right wrist severely inflamed – I was unable to move my wrist, hand or fingers at all.  The wrist was treated and cleared up in a matter of days with a brace and a prescription anti-inflammatory but we still don’t know the cause of it.  X-rays showed no fracture, blood tests showed no elevated uric acid and therefore no possibility of gout, and the doctor also ruled out arthritis.  It remains an excruciating mystery but at least I have leftover meds to treat it should it recur. 

While at that doctor visit, whereas the wrist was treated quickly enough, the focus of the visit quickly turned to my blood pressure when my vitals were taken.  Back to that – my BP was 210/140.  YIKES!  The doc immediately gave me a Clonidine and told me to go to the emergency room however if you’ve ever read my previous post about Lawnwood Regional, you’ll understand why I was loathe to even consider stopping in there.  In the end, I did not go to the ER, taking the prescription for Clonidine and hoping that would start to lower my numbers.

Like an idiot, I started right in on the full prescribed dose.  Had I remembered the problems I had when starting on another BP med several years ago (heart rate below 60, fainting, inability to walk more than a few feet without severe difficulty in breathing), I would have started small and worked my way up to the full dose.  The first 3 days of full-dosing this time, same thing.  I was fainting, could barely breathe due to very slow heart rate, and (thankfully this was over the weekend) was barely able to stay awake for more than a couple hours at a time.  My thinking and reaction times were very slow so driving anywhere was NOT an option.  By that Monday, I was vomiting and fainting and I stopped the med completely (another stupid thing, but I did consider how my BP would shoot up in doing so). I called my doctor and told him I *have* to do this my way.  By stepping the dose up slowly over the next few days, I was fine on the prescribed dose.  Hitting my system all at once though is something my body just couldn’t handle.  

In taking my BP every couple days over a week and a half, I saw the numbers were going down but not nearly enough.  I called the doc and reported the latest readings and he still *insisted* that I go to the ER.  It was either that or drop another $60 at his office to be seen for another reading and a dose adjustment.  I did not have $60, I’d just dropped my entire unemployment check at his office at the initial visit, so this time I had no choice – I had to go to Lawnwood. 

Checking into the ER, my initial reading put the staff on alert:  240/120 – Hypertensive Crisis.  The previous afternoon’s reading was around 203/116 – I am willing to bet that just the thought of having to go to this hospital spiked it.  Immediately, I was in a bed hooked up to a monitor, getting about a dozen vials of blood drawn, the works.  The odd thing is, I *felt* fine, but this is why they call hypertension “The Silent Killer.”  They ended up doing a chest X-ray on me and an EKG.  Bloodwork came up clear, X-ray came up clear, I don’t know what the EKG said.  After receiving additional medication, 3 hours later my BP had reduced to 174/91 – the lowest it’s been since this whole ordeal started.  That was enough for them to discharge me with two new medications in a combo pill to be added to my original one.  

Because of the urgency in getting those numbers down to stay, I have gone headfirst into the full dose of the new med(s).  Since I lack a way of checking my BP at home (can not afford a home device), I have to go to a pharmacy or a fire station to get it checked for free.  Driving right now is not an option, so it’ll have to wait until my head clears from the new med.  What a headache this has all been, especially thinking of all the medical bills when I’m trying to survive on a tiny unemployment check that pays my rent but nothing else 😦


They Call Me A Hero…

Sunday night…  I don’t know what it was that made me feel the urge to go outside but something unseen directed me to get up, go outside, look left.  I can’t describe the sheer horror when I did go and saw the smoke pouring out the front door, window and wall of my next door neighbor’s apartment.  Within seconds, the fire was also visible through the wall.

Cue panic.

Within seconds, I was dialing 911 and running to wake my neighbors C. & B. on the other side of the fire.  Those 2 minutes trying to wake them felt like forever. Once they were safely outside and substantially in shock, I ran back to my place and – still on the phone with 911 – and turned my hose on the fire (which was now clearly visible through the front wall and clear that the hot spot was a faulty electrical outlet) then onto my roof and outside wood walls and back onto the endangered apartment.  B. then turned his hose on the area my water couldn’t reach and we held the fire back until the fire department arrived a full six minutes later.

I went to talk with B. and C. while the firemen took an axe to the burning front wall of I.’s apartment to expose the fire.  The source was indeed a faulty outlet that blew with a power surge.  B. & C. had reported these power surges to FPL and to the landlord repeatedly and neither had done anything about it.  Now it became a real threat to life and property.

That night after the power was cut to that duplex and all was quiet, I was still too much of a nervous wreck to sleep.  Monday morning, A. and his mom picked me up early and took me down to West Palm for the day to try to get my mind off everything.  I almost had myself convinced that it was an isolated incident and that we were safe.  That idea didn’t last long though as I spoke with C. that afternoon and she told me the landlord and the maintenance guy came out and did a “quick fix” by simply splicing a new outlet to the burned wire, replacing the front wall wood panels (only on the outside) and turning the breaker back on.  This is a violation of fire code, it remains a fire risk and no inspection was done to ensure its safety, not to mention the maintenance guy is NOT a licensed electrician – Code Enforcement will have a field day on this  C. promised to call CE this morning and I provided her the number last night.  I called this afternoon (Tuesday) to follow up after learning that she had not called because she did not have her phone.

Monday night saw no sleep either.  This event has really gotten to me mentally and emotionally and my nerves are frayed, so much so that Monday night I tried calling around for a 24-hour free counseling line to try to find a way to quell the fear and anxiety.  The only place I could get was a Consult-A-Nurse line and all they did was tell me to go to the E.R.  Well, I did.  My blood pressure was spiking, my head was pounding, my stomach twisted in knots.  I had been in a full-blown panic attack for a full 24 hours.  The Triage nurse tried twice to get my BP but could not get a reading.  He told me it was “too high for the machine to read.”  He told me to relax (yeah, right) and they’d try again in a few minutes.

The next nurse who saw me briefly told me the chart said my BP was 117/20.  Um – what?  It’s never been that low – I have uncontrolled high blood pressure and no meds for it.  I told her the guy who just tried to take it said it was so high he couldn’t get a reading.  She said, “Oh, well it says here you’re normal,” and would not check it again to get a real reading.  They falsified my chart!  They refused to treat me for the anxiety or the BP and merely sent me home with a script for Vistaril which I wouldn’t be able to get until the next day anyway.  I went in there because my pressure was so high it was making me sick and because I was in a panic attack too scared to sleep for 2 nights straight – and they refused to treat me.  This is what hospitals do to people with no insurance – they leave them for dead.  I almost wished I’d have had a stroke in the parking lot on the way out.  Let them be accountable.

Now it is Tuesday night and I still have not been able to sleep.  The landlord and his secretary and maintenance guy are trying to say someone threw a Maletov cocktail at the building.  What a load of crap.  Even fire and police reports state the cause of the fire was faulty wiring.  Maintenance also tried to assure me the building is safe now and that my building is safe, stating mine was inspected “when it was all done,” whatever or whenever that means.  I don’t feel safe.

Even today, my neighbors are calling me a hero.  Yes I stopped a fire from spreading.  Yes I got my neighbors out safely.  But to be such a wreck afterward… Idunno… doesn’t feel very “heroic.”  All I need is Valium.

Lawnwood Regional Medical Center: Guilty of Religious Discrimination?

The purpose of this post is to poll the public in regards to the possibility of religious discrimination occurring in a hospital setting.

On February 28, 2009, I was admitted to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center in Fort Pierce, FL with an injury and subsequent serious infection on the lower leg. During the majority of my stay (seven days), I was consistently the butt of religious-based comments from the hospital staff. This began with the admissions nurse after being seen in the Emergency Room, when she asked the usual, “What religion are you?” This is asked in case there is a need for religious/spiritual counsel at any point during the stay. When I advised her that I was pagan and would not need religious services, she looked at me funny and remarked, “Oh, you’re not Christian? You’ll have to look into that.” (No, lady, I won’t.)

On March 2, 2009, between 1 and 2 p.m., a respiratory nurse came to my room to discuss the dangers of smoking, which is also standard “patient education” in this facility. The nurse noticed that I had a walking stick at the foot of my bed, which is decorated with feathers and a small leather pouch (your typical walking stick purchased at a Pow-Wow vendor). She asked me point blank if I was a witch. I said, “Well, I am Pagan, but I am not a ‘witch,'” and she glanced over to my day nurse and began commenting that she would “have to pray for me,” and other such things. I said, “with all due respect, again, I’m not Christian, so I would appreciate it if you didn’t offer to pray for me.” This led into the day nurse beginning to grill me with all sorts of questions about witchcraft and I said again, I am not a witch. At one point, she made the comment, “why don’t you use all your hocus-pocus {complete with hand gestures} to get better?” Truly offended at this point, I asked them to leave the room.

About an hour later, the day nurse came back in and I let her know that I was upset with the respiratory nurse for starting that conversation, and that religious talk did not belong in a hospital unless the patient requested counsel, which I had not. She said she did not know that such things had offended me, lightly apologized and went about her business. Shortly after, the respiratory nurse who started the debate came in and apologized. It was at that point I explained to her that religion is a very sensitive topic to a good many people and explained to her that I am an ordained Reverend and do counseling with people of many different paths and faiths, and that each one is just as valid to the next, that we had no right to judge what another chooses to believe. She agreed, but I never saw her again.

During the course of that day, the day nurse who joined in the chiding became notably physically rougher with me as the day progressed, taking a leaking IV and roughly shoving it back into my arm, causing bleeding and further leakage of medicine which she ignored for the next two hours.

I finally begged her to change the IV site and she took the bad one out of my arm and installed another into my hand, so physically rough that it caused undue pain to the point of my crying out, screaming for her to stop and prompting my fiance to run out of the room for a new nurse.

The supervisor returned with two new nurses, saw the way the day nurse was handling the IV and demanded she stop immediately. After I calmed down a bit, she taped the line into place and was not allowed to provide my nursing needs for the rest of my stay.

Over the next few days until the day I was released, I had several random nurses and CNA’s come into my room asking if I was a witch. I would ask them, “where did you hear that?” and explain that no, I am not a witch. They would reply that “they just heard about it.” Even as I was being released, the CNA taking my final blood pressure was asking me questions pertaining to my religion, again saying, “oh I just heard that…” After the third try of taking my blood pressure so that I could be released (it was quite elevated by that point), I laid on my left side, got a lower reading by a full 30 points, and stood up to leave. The CNA’s parting comment? “Did you PRAY for that to go down?” Unable to comment, I only glared at her and walked out.

The day after I returned home, I took a walk to the end of my block (just the other side of the house next door) and a woman who was a CNA at the hospital came up to me on the street (neighbors had gathered to view an accident that had just occurred at the end of our road) and mentioned to me that a bunch of people on the floor were talking about “me and my witchcraft” after I left. At this point, I was appalled. Then, the daughter of a neighbor (who also works at the hospital and saw me there) advised me that the entire floor was talking about me after I left, saying “that witch is finally gone.” The tone of her voice was discomforting.

So not only did I have to deal with constant religious harassment while in the hospital, now my neighbors are talking about me in my own neighborhood due to religious information (actually MIS-information) that was discussed about me behind my back at the hospital. This makes me extremely uncomfortable now that my neighbors are looking at me funny and talking about me.

Opinions? Feedback?