Laura..Dave...Michele...Tom in corridor in St. Vincents...on the way home.
OK….now where were we……Started out reflecting on my experiences involved with public health care….see the previous two entries. Now….would I have rather been home, in America. No question. Did it really matter that much to me what the expense was? Not really. The way our system works is that the expense….let’s project that it would have been easily $175,000 not $21,000…is an issue for the insurance company to absorb.
But, obviously, society ends up paying this price. In England and Ireland, everyone gets health care and clearly this has something to do with this delta. There are differences in the systems…which I got from my roomies. For a lot of procedures and tests, you have to wait and this can be for some time. The facility worked, but I wonder if Americans can ever get used to a six bed ward. Now, I liked it because I’m interested in people and…as I was sort of the sickest guy on the block, they all looked over me. This is not a bad thing and there was a sense of community that was established. I don’t think the public health system cares too much about who you are and/or how much money you have. So….it’s hard to jump rank. I’m not sure how I’d like that on a long term basis but I hope I could successfully adapt…particularly if it meant that everyone in my community (define community however you wish) had coverage.
Enough….on to the next chapter. We were flying Delta and were in business class. When we arrived at the airport…recall it is December 24, our plane was delayed. Anxiety began creeping in. We were flying to Atlanta and only had about 2 hours to clear customs and catch our plane. We finally got airborne. At this point, I was only living with about 5 feet of small bowel. What that means, functionally, is that I had a very difficult time staying hydrated. I’d drink quarts…literally…of sports drink and had to force drinking. While I was hospitalized, I was being given a drug called Sandostatin. This drug is injected subcutaneously in your stomach twice a day and helps with the absorption. Eventually, Laura and some nurse and doctor friends would come to the house and do this (I was too wimpy to learn how to do it). Looking back, they should have coached Laura and sent us out of the hospital with this drug and equipment. The upshot of this all was I got really dehydrated on the plane.
I’m guessing this was likely the second most stressful day for Laura. She was on the verge of crying a good bit. This was tough. We finally landed in Atlanta and had maybe 45 minutes to make the connection. The airport is loaded…Christmas traffic and bad weather. I get seated in a safe place and Laura goes hunting for help. I think she breaks down and a Delta supervisor (angel) takes over. We abandon the customs deal…the bags can just catch up. She gets a golf cart, puts me on it, and before we know it, we are on the tarmac (!!!) driving to the gate…the only way she could figure out to make this work. The plane to Charleston is slightly delayed. We make the connection!!!!!
Now…this is small commuter plane. I’m really fading…but finally we land. They get us off the plane. We have several folks waiting for us…but the only one I really recall was my precious son Josh. I fell into his embrace in the airport. Man….clearly one of the most touching memorable moments in my life.
Down to CAMC General we go. There is very little activity Christmas Eve in a hospital. My great friend Dr. Dave Seidler is there to make this all go quickly. Up we go…private room. They bring in the scales…I’m down to 141 pounds (from 170). I get hooked up to an IV and they run 2 bags thru me. I get the other drugs start flowing…..Laura and Josh make it home and she gets some Granny juice going (this is what granddaughter Zoe calls wine).
I got to admit…this all felt like the Four Seasons. Private room, special attention from the medical staff, family and friends nearby, and TV!!
I sent a letter eventually to Delta. If we had not made that connection, I would have had to go to an ER in Atlanta. I’m sure we would have made it but that was one chapter I did not need to write, if you know what I mean. Our love and eternal thanks to that Delta supervisor.
It’s been interesting to me sort of semi-publically reliving this experience. I’m guessing there is some sort of closure happening. Isn’t the whole new media thing interesting?
There are so many people that helped us. You know who you are or maybe you don’t but thank you! We’ll never forget you.
I eventually end up in the Cleveland Clinic. If I have the energy...I may write that chapter one day. Thanks for reading and for the many off-line comments. Bottom line...somehow....we need health care for all.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Posted by Dave Pray at 5:51 PM