Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My Experience With Public Health Care

In December, 2004 Laura and I traveled to Ireland to visit a variety of friends we knew from school and business. First stop…Dublin. We are pretty experienced travelers and Laura in fact was very active in an Irish business for about 15 years…..so we have flown a good bit and understand and have plenty of experience with jet lag…let’s face it…we’re talking Ireland…not Asia or Australia! So…when I got off the plane and didn’t feel quite right…well I was a bit concerned.

We were off the plane by 7:00 am….I was in the emergency room (A&E for Accident and Emergency) by 4:00 pm. My abdominal pain was a 9 on a scale of 1-10. The A&E was incredibly busy and I was in bad shape. They put me on some good drugs and I recall a close call when my blood pressure dropped down to 70 over 40 (“Come on David…stay with me…you can do it”…says the head doc into my ear).

Well….they don’t do anything except observe me over the night after I almost go into shock…keep me on morphine and run the experts in and out. Luckily…I’m in a teaching hospital. The pain does not subside. I’m in a total haze around 10:00 am and recall going into surgery and saying goodbye to Laura….this is all surreal but I’m aware I’m in tough territory. I’m sort of aware this may be it…but I’m detached…almost out of body. They waive signing the releases….”We don’t have time!”

I go to sleep………

And wake up…. “David…David…a young doctor is whispering in my ear. You are in intensive care and you will be OK. You really gave us a scare…..but you are OK.”

Now…I can’t really move. I’m in close quarters and the ICU has quite a few folks around me…I mean patients and staff.

“We had to remove about half of your small intestines and you now have two pouches on your abdomen. This should be temporary. Ah…but your brave!” (recall…Ireland…super macho). I had an infarcted bowel http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bowel_infarction . 73 percent of the folks that have this condition die. Very tough diagnosis.

Man….wow! Whew…..too much. Five years later and I can’t really believe it.

The ICU is quite different. The deal is I have my own nurse and she attends to me and when there is nothing to do, she sits at the foot of my bed. I’m on morphine so this is all quite blurry. I get it that there are some folks nearby not as lucky and there is death in the air…close by…literally.

But I’m alive…in Dublin….and about to go into their public system for the next 17 nights. More to follow……..

1 comment:

Mary Warner Cook said...

more to follow??? is that it??? I lived through it once, but I want more!!! Mary