Why I do not trust doctors anymore? My sister’s personal experience

My youngest sister who lives in New Jersey suffers from idiopathic anaphylaxis. Her last attack was 2 months ago in May when I had my jury duty. It happened in her jobsite after a meal most probably loaded with the stuff that she is allergic to. The manager at her work place called 911. They do not have epipen, or had it but did not give it correctly so that my niece was called to deliver epipen from home.  Many minutes were wasted at that time alone. Anyway, the epipen came and the EMT injected it in my sister’s thigh. She would not wake up, became very lethargic and eventually stopped breathing, so the EMT decided to intubate her but unsuccessfully because, she was fighting and resisting intubation. When they came to the hospital finally, my sis was being bagged and they tried intubation again. Instead of checking her oxygen saturation level, the ERMD decided to intubate her, of course, she was fighting again and resisting, a clue that she was still awake. The staff gave her diprivan ( MJ’s drug) over and over again until she slept, successfully intubated my poor sister who cannot fight and resist anymore as she was totally knocked out  as if she was in a coma.

She was on the ventilator / respirator for the entire night. According to my sis she was asleep from 4pm to 7am, but could not remember much except when she was fighting with the staff when she was being intubated. The following morning, she felt that both her legs were very heavy, a symptom of rhabdomyolysis (muscle breakdown due to diprivan). The staff summoned the neurologist at her bedside, even he commented, ” they should have checked your O2 sat before intubating you.”  I called that Bingo! They were too aggressive, they should have waited for the epipen to work. She did not need that  intubation!

I was confident enough to say that she did not need the intubation because, she had an episode of respiratory arrest due to anaphylaxis  in my home few years back and I gave the epipen myself, just waited and she was back breathing and conscious without any problem after a few minutes. We called 911 though, just the same, as a fall back position. She was only in the hospital for a few good hours.

Another very recent experience of my sister was in the doctor’s clinic. She was summoned by the doctor, an allergist, for some skin tests, since her blood work was normal. She was given three types of  allergens. Her arms became very red, she became ill, vomited and felt warm all over, eventually complained of shortness of breathing. The MD specialist called 911, informing my sis and her family that they do not have the equipments for emergency and resuscitation. In the meantime, he said that the skin test was negative and my sister was just upset because my niece is leaving for college the next day. The Md suggested that my sis leave thru the back door of his clinic to go with the 911 staff. Of course, that would be embarrassing for his patients to see that he was not able to successfully treat my sister and has to call 911 for emergency services. While my sis was in the ER, the allergist was calling frantically asking about how she was doing. He still insisted that the skin test was negative despite my sister’s symptomatology including laryngeal edema. The ERMD mentioned, it must be “false negative”. She was given solu-medrol (anti-inflammatory) and another epipen in the the ER.

She was home after a few hours, and called me. I advised her to take benadryl  (antihistamine) 50mg as soon as possible, and repeat it in the morning if she still does not feel right.

I am too afraid now to go to the hospital. It is either because of their aggressiveness to charge my insurance or their experience is not very good or plain incompetence. I hate emergency rooms, I know better because, I was a certified ER nurse for 6 years before I became an ANP.

How to release your frustrations

The heart is the reservoir of all emotions: Love, anger, sadness, frustration, etc. etc. You do not want to have a heart attack, so, you need to unload the burden in your heart from time to time.

Some strategies I have learned to release strong emotions from my heart especially frustrations:

1. Scream at the top of your lungs. Whenever I feel frustrated, I go to my room or the bathroom and just scream until all the  steam has been released. I feel better afterwards.

2. Cursing also helps. You let out all bad emotions from your heart. Cuss to your heart content, and feel that release from your heart, but, be sure that nobody is in the room when you cuss.

3. Walk away when you know that you have been defeated. You cannot be wrong and strong.  Accept your defeat and say ” I am sorry”. Asking for an apology is also a release of emotion. You cannot be carrying a heavy heart all the time. Forgive your enemies, and move on. I forgave all my enemies but I still could not let them in  into my kingdom. I stay away from them because I do not want them to bring me down, like the crabs in a bucket!

4. Punch your pillows 100 times and act as if the pillow is your opponent. Trust me, you will feel better afterwards.

5. Divert your attention to something more productive. Go to the gym, take a walk in the park, run around your neighborhood, in short, just do something.

This will release your frustrations and the bonus is you will burn more calories so you will lose some weight without even knowing it. Now, that is the best form of releasing frustrations !

Ways to prevent medical mistakes while in the hospital

Gone are the days when the hospital is considered the best place to get treatment when you are sick. In fact, studies show that medical mistakes contribute to high mortality and morbidity every year in the USA.

There are steps to follow to avoid being a statistic or casualty of medical mistakes:

1. Educate yourself about your illness. The best consumer is the educated consumer. Read about your illness, the etiology, treatment and possible areas of consideration like surgeries, chemo and the like. Choose your doctors wisely, read their credentials carefully.                             

2. Get a second opinion, at all times. A hammer will always see everybody as a nail. So, do not get fooled by the “words of doctors”. They also make mistakes and may prescribe treatment based on their expertise. I had a lump in my left breast long time ago, the surgeon wanted to do surgery right away. I refused and seek another option/second opinion. I went to an MD of different specialization ( the breast), she just did a needle biopsy and everything went well, until now, the lump has not recurred.

3. Look up your medications in the internet and study the side-effects yourself. If the side-effect is worse than the effect, why take the drug? There are deadly side-effects that your doctor might not tell you. Some diseases do not need heavy dose drugs. Some patients die from side-effects also especially the very young and the very old. Still, it is better to know what you are taking. It is better for you in the long run, trust me.

4. Have a friend or relative by your side when you are undergoing sedation/anesthesia. Hospital staff will never accept their mistakes when worse comes to worst. They can make differential diagnosis in a rush just to cover their tracks. I used to work in the ER of a level one city hospital for six years.  Doctors and nurses are so busy that errors were always made. Needless, to say some patients became sicker or have been statistics to medical mistakes. It is very difficult to pinpoint who made the mistake in a hospital setting. When the blame game starts, the patient is always on the losing end.

5. When you are hospitalized, be sure to learn your nurse’s name or CNA’s name.  Most of the time, it helps to let the staff know your credentials, they will be more careful with their tasks with you. Let them know you are not an ordinary patient. it will make them tiptoe and watch their moves. When I was hospitalized in a very prestigious Queens hospital, I was shocked to learn some staff being disrespectful to me. The RN just asked me whether I spoke English. Well, I look and act “Asian”, so I must not speak English. When I informed her that I was an NP, she apologized right away for her behavior. From then on, I got a better treatment. The CNAs were nonchalant, they do not care who you are actually. I overheard them saying that they are just in this job for the “paycheck”.  I can interact with them, call them, let them know my needs, yet, the treatment is somewhat substandard. How much more if the patient is a lay person or in a vegetative state? Will there be somebody watching over what they do to these poor people?

6. Mark your body part to be operated on. A few instances happened when the non-diseased part have been removed. These were documented instances: wrong amputation, wrong breast removed, wrong side of the brain operated on. The outcome is devastating, especially for the wrong side of the brain, the patient came out in a vegetative state. You do not want to be in that predicament all your life: a living dead!

Aging: Very few things are beyond our control

I am not ready to look old yet. My patients told me I only look 29. To tell you the truth, I look and feel better now than when I was 35 years old. My secret: I work only one job now, plenty of sleep, stress management, maintain my weight thru wise food selection, moderate exercise ( I exercise a lot at work because I use the stairs all the time instead of using the elevator. This is my daily exercise.) Funny, but this is true. I used to belong to fancy gym memberships which i do not even use. Now, when I get the chance I go to my basement to get a real good work-out. Otherwise, stair climbing works for me.

My best secret is being happy despite any circumstances in my life. I was happy even when I was single, but happier now that I am married.  A  lot of love also helps in staying young. Studies show that married people have better longevity than single people. So, if you are married, plan to stay married all your life. It does not hurt to have a partner in your bed when you sleep. Kissing before sleeping is also very healthy. It gives you a goodnight’s dream and better REM (deep sleep). That is the time when you renew your body cells thereby, strengthening your immune system.

Kindly click on the link to give you a better perspective on how to avoid the aging process or at least slow it down. I have been practicing a few of them even before I found this link. Remember, you only have one life, one body, and you need to take care of it. Good read and good luck!