celebrity · Emergency Room · epilepsy · Healthcare

Adventures in Healthcare: or where is George Clooney when I visit the ER?

Let me just say this first: I hate having to go to the Emergency Room. In the past, when I had no insurance, and would have a seizure somewhere, the paramedics would show up, and about half of the time, even though I was fine, and steadfastly refused to be taken to the ER, they’d end up taking me anyway. Usually this was because I’d had a seizure in a public place,and their insurance insisted I be seen. Of course, for some reason, their insurance always resisted paying that hugely expensive bill: both for the ride and for sitting around in the ER. I’m epileptic; I know what to do after a seizure, and unless I’ve fallen and injured myself badly, the ER docs really can’t do much for me, other than tell me what I already know. They never even gave me any good drugs for the headaches or muscle aches that usually follow a seizure. Getting charged $50 for a Tylenol that doesn’t help my headache at all just pisses me off; if they’d just let me have my purse, I could take my own headache meds, and not have to get charged for them! But every time, it was the same thing–I laid on a cold table for hours, waiting for some doctor to tell me “You had a seizure.” At which point I’d say “Well, yeah, duh. I’m epileptic. I told the paramedics that I knew what happened. I’m fine, can I go home now?” And then i’d get to leave. A month later I’d get a $400 bill for the ambulance ride, and another $1000 one for the ER (sometimes more, depending on how determined the doctor had been to see how I was.). I’ve had to threaten to take them to court twice to make the “Public places” pay these bills; since I had refused to go and they took me anyway, it’s been determined I shouldn’t have had to pay. This is not really why I dislike Emergency rooms, not the money part, anyway. Most of my experiences in them have consisted of being told to wait, and then have nothing done. I realize that there really isn’t that much that can be done after a grand mal seizure–there isn’t much going on on the surface to fix. Afterwards I’m mostly tired, with a headache, and by the next day, some severe body aches. All I really need or want is my bed, a couple of Imitrex (to kill the headache), and sleep. And sometimes sleep doesn’t even happen. It drives my mother crazy–I get up after a seizure and come out to the kitchen for a glass of water, or something to eat, or just to talk. She (and dad) think I should be in bed, sound asleep. For some reason, my body doesn’t want to do that anymore.

When I was 15-years-old, and first started having seizures, I’d have a killer headache after every single one, and would sometimes sleep 48 hours after. That when on for at least ten years, I’d say; I don’t really remember when the headaches stopped being quite so bad after every one, but I do know that by the time I finished college, I was able to get up and do things within a few hours after a seizure. These days, the headaches are back, but not the sleepiness.

I ended up in the Emergency Room yesterday. I was sitting here, watching Downton Abbey online, drinking my tea, and all of a sudden I couldn’t breathe. It felt as if something was stuck in my throat–like when you swallow a pill, but it doesn’t quite go down all the way. Of course, then this pain moved down from my throat to right behind my sternum, and then radiated out through my ribs, diaphragm and back. I called my sister, and she came down to check on me, and decided that I needed to go to the ER. Mom drove me over to Providence Milwaukie, and they saw me right away. They took an EKG, did some blood work, and chest x-rays. The doctor then gave me a few baby aspirin, and a big ole shot of an anti-inflammatory. That seemed to do the trick, because within a few minutes, I was able to breathe better, and the pain eased up.

While I hated sitting there not knowing what was wrong, and stressing everyone out, I will say that this ER was better than the last few I’ve been to. I was in and out in under two hours, and everyone was so nice! It was fast, clean, and competent. If only George Clooney had been there…..

Actually, any one of these three doctors would have made my visit perfect. Eric LaSalle, George Clooney or Noah Wyle.
Actually, any one of these three doctors would have made my visit perfect. Eric LaSalle, George Clooney or Noah Wyle.

They said everything looked normal, and sent me home with a prescription for Ibuprofen, and told me to follow up with my doctor. I’m seeing him on Friday. I’m sure he’s thrilled–I was there last week, too. Poor guy; he gets to listen to me whine, and tell me nothing is really wrong with me. And then I’ll say something totally embarrassing again, I’m sure, and at least he’ll have something to laugh about over drinks later that day. I will never live down commenting on his awesome purple pants. It wasn’t the pants that I embarrassed myself about. I said, and I quote “I’ve never seen a…well, I’m assuming you’re a straight man,  wear purple pants.” At this point I realized what I’d said, and turned  bright pink. He just grinned at me, and laughed.  Last week I tried to apologize, and he smiled at me, and said “If I’d known you were coming today, I’d have worn the purple pants!” He really was rocking those pants. I feel safe saving this here, because I’m fairly sure he’s never going to read my blog, but Dr Jeff is HOT. And the pants worked for him.