The Beating of Our Hearts Is the Only Sound 1


Right around Christmas, I made the decision to go to a privately-run (through Humana) version of Medicare. It’s basically Medicare that has been HMO’d. Some doctors don’t accept it. Some do. I never thought that making the decision to go with them would end up really impacting my care in a negative way. I just needed a way to see doctors without getting that judgmental, anti-Medicaid look that I would get so often. I also needed dental insurance, which the Humana offered. Well, today, I learned what my decision could have caused me.

Today was my appointment with my gastroenterologist. This is the doctor who I’ve seen since my gallbladder “died” when I was thirteen. He was the only one who believed me on that. I always knew that he had my back. I knew that he wouldn’t really let me down.

I was wrong.

He let me down. Actually, his billing people did. When I showed up for my long-needed appointment, I was told that they didn’t accept Humana and that I would have to leave. I’ve had doctors tell me that they didn’t take an insurance I had, usually with the Medicaid or when I was younger with PPO and HMO coverage, but I have never had one tell me that they didn’t take my insurance and that (because they didn’t take it) that I would have to leave.

I left, in tears. They had given me two phone numbers for doctors, but I know what the wait is for new patients to see specialists. And I felt hopeless and sick. I was in pain. I was nauseated. I felt weak, and I knew that, at the rate I was going, I might not make it to that appointment. And I told my dad that I would be better off going to the ER.

My dad took me to the ER. Even though I was going in the afternoon, when they weren’t super-busy, I knew it could be a long wait before I saw a doctor. Surprisingly, it didn’t take that long. It was about twenty minutes until the triage nurse saw me. When she got through doing her part, she rushed me back to a monitored bed. She was worried because when she had done my vitals, my pulse was at 146. I didn’t feel woozy or anything. I was too busy concentrating on the stomach pain and nausea and overall crappy feeling. My blood pressure was 146 over 86, which basically meant that I was in a good deal of pain. When I got back to the room, my pulse dropped the longer I stayed seated. When I was laying back, my pulse ranged from the 80’s to around 106. When I would sit up, it would go between 115 and 125. When I would stand, it would go up higher. The nurses in the ER didn’t really know what to do with me, so they had me wait until the doctor “examined” me. He ordered some blood work and a urine test. While I waited for the results, he had the nurse put in an IV fluid drip and administer some Morphine and anti-nausea medicine.

The nausea medicine helped long before the morphine did. Of course, what the morphine did was a little more sinister, in the long-run. At first, it felt pretty good, with the pain lessening and my brain feeling a little giddy. (I believe my exact words to my dad were, while giggling, “there are fireworks going off in my head.” That could have been dehyrdration, though, because I can seem extremely high or drunk when I’m just really dehydrated.) About a half an hour after the drugs were administered, I felt like someone was trying to cause my chest and upper abdomen to explode. I was having to actively remind myself to breathe. My blood pressure had gone from being in the 140/80 area to being 85/35. It was checked again, after more fluids had gotten into my system, and had gone to 91/58. The top number continued to increase to a relatively normal number. The bottom number never got over 60 again and had dropped back to about 36 right before I was officially sent home. (The top number was about 114 when I was discharged.)

The doctor said I was a little anemic. The nurse had said the same thing, but had asked if I had ever had to have blood for my anemia before, so I was a bit freaked out. (My anemia can get pretty severe, but I’ve never had a transfusion before.) He said I wasn’t really dehydrated, though the nurse said I was and his ordering of fluids kind of indicated that he thought I was, as well. The nurse had said that they had been discussing giving me another thing of fluids, but apparently he decided against that. She checked my pulse after the bad of fluids and it was now only maxing out in the 120’s. So, I think that the fluids helped that a little.

I’m supposed to take 2mg of Imodium for my ongoing abdominal issues. I’m also supposed to get an appointment with a local GI doctor–one who takes my insurance. I have a feeling that, in the mean time, I should start taking iron again. Or at least get some better quality multi-vitamins to counteract the anemia.


About Janet Morris

I'm from Huntsville, Alabama. I've got as many college credits as a doctorate candidate, and the GPA of some of them, too. I have a boss by the name of Amy Pond. She's a dachshund. My parents both grew up in Alabama.


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