I have been having some strange abdominal pain that just won’t go away. I went to my local ‘doc in a box’ (BetterMed) and the doc there instantly thought that it was my gallbladder, so he prescribed some pain meds and ordered an ultrasound. Getting the ultrasound scheduled was a nightmare itself. It seems in my area of the U.S. (near D.C.), they are several months out for any specialist. It was going to be over a month just for an ultrasound, ugh and I’m in major pain and I only have 20 tramadol
The pain is a constant ache about 3-4 on the chart, with an intense sharp pain like I’m being stabbed in the mid right side of my chest. This sharp pain lasts 20-30 seconds and it really high up on the pain charts. I also have a corresponding pain in the back side of where I’m being ‘stabbed’.
When I finally got the ultrasound I was still having pain, in fact nothing changed. The results said that everything was fine and that my gallbladder, pancreas, right kidney (I have horseshoe kidneys BTW), intestinal tract, appendix and liver are all good. I have a small cyst on my liver, but that is it. The next day the pain was worse than ever so it was off to the ER. Mistake #1!!!
The ER in my town is a mess and I mean total mess. I get there and have to go through COVID screening, which determines what side of the waiting room I go to. Non COVID to the right and COVID to the left, and the room is separated by a glass partition.
The waiting room isn’t full, but fairly busy. I wait about an hour and they take me back to take my vitals and start the triage process. Once they have my story, they kick me back out to the main waiting room and let me rot there along with the other dozen patients for close to two hours.
Now it is time for triage, where they take blood samples, a urine sample, put in an IV line and then send me back to the main waiting room. This time we rot there for four more hours, but before we get to that part, let me tell you about what happened in those four hours.
First the patients in the waiting room are irate, one for having to wait for so long, two for the waiting room being cold, we are talking in the low 60’s, three for the occasional COVID positive person who is hacking up their lungs sneaking into the non-COVID side of the room and possibly infecting all of us. Fourth for the lack of concern from anyone that works there. In my case, my pain was getting worse and worse and when I was in triage, I asked for something for the pain and they told me that they would have me in a room in a few minutes and they will take care of the pain then.
The entire time we (my wife and I) were there, we never once saw anyone clean anything. So here we are in the height of a pandemic (or so we are to believe it is a pandemic) and no one is out cleaning the waiting room. They removed the vending machines some time ago, so you can’t get anything to eat, unless you leave the hospital grounds. Sure you have the cafeteria, but you can’t get there from the ER, without someone who works there letting through the locked doors and you can’t even get someone to take the elder lady in a wheelchair to the bathroom so she can pee, well enough to open some doors for you.
So, I’m standing in the corner in tears now, because the pain is intense and I’m sure my anxiety isn’t helping me much either. My wife goes and asks the nurse about my pain meds and they of course just blow her request off. An hour later a team of three enters the waiting room and starts taking everyone’s vitals. They get to me and I inquire about the meds and she tells me that she will check my chart. I was shocked when she came out 10 minutes later and said that it is too soon for me to have more pain meds. I said, more? I haven’t had any yet. She said that they should have given me something in triage. I said I asked and was told they would get me into a room and give it to me. She went to check my story and I guess it held true as they called me back about 10 minutes later and gave me some Percocet which did help me. After a little over 7 hours in the ER, they got me back to a room and the doctor came in to see me, no less than 3 minutes after I arrived in the room. He makes it sound like it is a slow day and he isn’t seeing many patients (WTF). He tells me that my tests are normal and to follow up with my gastroenterologist who I have an appointment with in a month. I ask for something for the pain to hold me over and he gives me a script for 10 Vicodin. He tells me that he will discharge me with undetermined abdominal pain, which is the same thing I came info.