I find it ironic that as a student studying health promotion and education that I cannot do as I teach because I lack health insurance coverage. I figured that as a young health person with my knowledge level, I could forgo health insurance until I graduated and obtained a real job. Well, I was wrong. Two weeks ago I was rushed to the emergency room because I lost mobility from my chest down.The paramedics and doctors attributed my symptoms to “stress”. As my symptoms worsened while I laid in the hospital bed, no one was able to give me a definite answer.While in the hospital, I had every lab imaginable done. I also had a cat scan, an MRI, an EKG, an EEG, a chest x-ray, and a spinal tap. I was also seen by five separate doctors. With every test coming back normal the doctors (except for one) attributed my symptoms to “stress”.
During my four day hospital stay, I was scarcely seen by the attending physician. And when I did see him, he simply said to my husband and I that I was not going to die from my symptoms. I was bathed only once. I was pushed down on a bed and told to “calm down” while I was having an uncontrollable muscle spasm. I was asked if I spoke English. I was mimicked and laughed at. I was put on a diabetic meal (though not allowed to eat) and had my blood sugar tested four times a day even after I told the nurses I was not diabetic. I pulled my own ivy line out of my arm because the pain was unbearable after waiting over 10 minutes and telling two nurses and the tech. The excuse that was given was that my nurse had to see other patients. My bladder was bloated from the pressure of the catheter because no one had come to check on me for a long period of time.
My husband took better care of me during my hospital stay than the nurses. He took care of my bag. He fed me. He moved me into different positions on the bed to prevent bed sores. He exercised my legs.
I was eventually discharged from the hospital, but without seeing my case worker. I was sent home with nothing. Absolutely no resources. The nurse expected me to get up and walk out of the hospital even though I had only regained slight mobility in my arms and even less in my legs. She did not believe that I needed a wheel chair or a shower seat. The nurse sent an occupational therapist in to make recommendations for me, because, perhaps I was not trying hard enough.
Needless to say, my husband and I are looking into purchasing health insurance coverage and with the help of family we may be able to afford it. I have never felt less like a human being than during this experience. I hope no one else has to go through this type of treatment. It really tears at your soul. And even I at some points doubted my worth as a person in that hospital bed. I do not have to imagine how something like this can make a negative and lasting impression on someone’s life.
– Lona Loudon