Thank You to the ER Professionals Who Treated Me With Caring and Respect
I think many people who have dealt with chronic illness for a long time could share stories about some really horrible experiences in the emergency room, or when inpatient in the hospital.
Today, though, I want to share a story about the incredible doctor, nurses and orderly staff I had in the emergency room last week.
I was so incredibly sick. Had been to the ER the night before. It was an OK experience, but they weren’t able to help me. My blood work looked fine. The next night, we wound up having to call an ambulance. When they got to my place, they did an ECG and took my temperature. I had a fever of 105.9.
I wasn’t sure if they’d help me but I was too sick to not be in a hospital. I couldn’t keep any of my antibiotics, pain meds or other meds inside my body. I was sicker than I’ve ever been in my life, and that’s saying a lot, because I’ve had septic infections that were easier to deal with than this.
The nurse came in and was very nice and said I was one of the few people there on that busy night who actually needed to be there. Then, the doctor came in and he said, “OK. You’re going to be here for a long time and I’m going to help you feel better. Your dental infection should not cause this high a fever, so I’m going to be doing all kinds of tests, and you are going to wonder why, because it’s not what you’re here for. But I want to know what’s going on. I’m going to get you IV antibiotics, IV pain meds, zofran and some fluids. Hang in there. I’ll help you feel better.”
For the first time, a doctor said it in a way where I believed it. He was going to help me feel better.
I was so relieved. I expected the pain medication would not be as strong as what I’m prescribed, because I’m prescribed a strong one, but he actually gave me stronger pain medication than what I take. The pain relief after so many days of agony was indescribable. I truly believe that him getting my pain under control helped me over part of this illness hump that four and a half weeks of antibiotics hadn’t yet helped. He also did two identical sets of blood cultures, from two separate veins, to ensure adequate results. This led to him knowing exactly which two IV antibiotics to start pumping into me. The zofran he gave made it so I could finally stop heaving. Tylenol got my fever under better control.
He was amazing. Friendly. Very meticulous. Helpful. He came to talk to me after getting some results in, and he said, “Your main blood work is fine, but that doesn’t mean nothing is wrong with you.” The blood cultures showed it was purely a bad dental infection plus gastritis. But my main, basic bloods did not show much, so, if he hadn’t done those cultures, I may have been sent home without the proper antibiotic treatment.
I went in thinking I would be very sick and in the hospital for a least a couple weeks. The doctor seemed to think so as well. But, his incredibly accurate antibiotic choices, due to him doing blood cultures, his pain control and fluids, and getting my fever under control, made it so my body was starting to recover just six hours later. It was like a miracle. I went from being so sick and feverish that I wanted to escape the incessant hot/cold skin and thinking it would take ages to recover, to feeling almost euphoric that I could stand being in my own body again. My swelling in my face, from the infection, started to improve. It was amazing. I felt well enough to go home.
But another thing that helped was being treated kindly. With caring. I wasn’t judged for being a chronic pain patient, on chronic pain medication. Given a more than adequate substitute for that medication because my body was unable to take my pills. This was such an enormous blessing, to have some relief from the agony and to not be made to feel ashamed about the medication I take.
When I was allowed to go home, I couldn’t stop myself from constantly thanking the doctor. Telling him I was so grateful. I felt so much better! I heard him go and tell other doctors, “Isn’t this nice!!! She just thanked me so much, and said I’ve helped her feel so much better!! When does that ever happen?!”
I wish it happened to doctors like him all the time. Because he was truly phenomenal. I will never forget him and his treatment of me and how much he helped my health and my being. My dignity. It will make it easier for me to go to the hospital in the future, instead of delaying until it’s almost too late, like I used to do because of awful experiences. If I have another bad one, in the future, I will remind myself that there are also good ones, like him.
Knowing there are amazing doctors and nurses out there who truly care about helping you feel better makes being sick a little bit easier. Medical professionals like this should be celebrated as often and as loud as we complain about the poor ones.
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Thinkstock photo via Spotmatik.