Friday, October 2, 2009

Public Health Care.....Part 2

This photo is taken the day before I leave for America! Happy!!! where were we??.....OK....St. Vincent's University Hospital in Dublin, Ireland. I'm fresh out of the ICU where I've been for the last 24 hours after life saving surgery. Big point....I was not at all aware that I came that close to dying....didn't get it. About 3 years prior I'd been in a very bad bike wreck that sent me to the hospital for two weeks. You might say I am experienced and I inaccurately equated the two events I guess. Laura on the other hand, had been told...point blank....50/50 if I was coming out of surgery alive. So...the trauma experience was not really pointed in my direction.

Back to health, the hospital does not have room for me in post surgical care, so I go to the lowest level of care. I show up in a six bed ward...meaning one room...six beds....very simple cloth screen that is occasionally pulled between the beds. Camp like....but with sick folks. I'm unique...i.e. non a bit of a celebrity but really not much.

When I show up, I'm basically telling Laura to get me out of here....just what she needed. I was honestly scared. I was not at all sure they would take care of me. It was so different than my previous experiences. We were all equals and there was no pulling rank. I had a good friend that is a prominent citizen in Ireland and the care is all equal. There are private hospitals that I guess are better looking, privacy, food...but the good docs are here and that's what I need. So I'm here...with my roomies. No TV...all pretty basic.

Here are some bullet points...Roomies....James...age 75....3 packs a day..dying....a wonderful man. An obsessive compulsive character...washes his hands like 15 times a day...had some medical issues but I think it was mostly mental.....a fellow that was there I think because he needed a good meal and a was like that...he'd go outside to smoke and then one day just walked out.....methadone addict in bed 5......would get VERY cranky if the drugs were not there ON TIME....and a teenager that had very serious kidney problems...a good guy...there were others that came and went. James and I were the old timers. Now I know this would be a BIG ISSUE for a lot of my friends. Honestly, it was all quite entertaining. It was way easier for the nurses and we sort of looked out for one another....or the other roomies did for me as I was the scary sick one.

I'm focused.....if I'm coming out of this...I need to step up and do it. Be a big boy and I think that mind set is important. I really think you need to...if you strong...and I think that singular mind set helps with all the other "stuff" that might be a distraction if you allow it to be.

The facility was just older. Checkout the beds in the photos. There was a pretty good range of skill with the nurses. the day nurses were frankly just great. Felicity, Candy, Penny.....Irish....good looking (sorry...sexist pig present) and kind. I had so many tubes coming in and out of me...I'm not kidding. My abdomen had been opened up...just had to count the sutures...55 and staples. For a few days this would cramp and it was very painful. I had tubes in my nose into my pissed one night and pulled em' out. Bad move cause they came and stuck back in.

The night nurses were not as skilled....not as well payed I think...not always Irish...there were plenty of Africans around which was OK but they were just not quite as well educated. I was scared at night early on.

The big time docs are not addressed as "Doctor Smith" they are called "Mister Smith" the Misters were a pretty sharp crowd. I was in the unusual position of being an interesting case, so all the big boys stayed in touch. I think I received very good care. I was being anti-coagulated and pumped with expensive antibiotics. There were a few tests too that were happening and there was no communication about letting me out. Christmas was coming and I wanted out....So Christmas is on like a Friday...on Monday I tell Laura....either we get out this week or I'm leaving. Hmmmm.

Well.....and god bless David Seidler my good friend and the Director of Emergency Services at CAMC....Dave worked out a transfer...they would not release me but they would transfer me...Once I agreed to pay 'em and my "Mister" agrees to let me go.

My physician shows up like Tuesday night. It's pretty 7:00 pm. Dark. He is by himself, which is unusual this is a teaching facility...he usually has a team with him. Solo.....he says I can go home....and then he more or less apologizes. Says he almost missed the diagnosis and was afraid that it was too late when it dawned on him what was going on. Can you imagine that very human thing happening in America? He talked to me all about the surgery...felt he had lost me...and I'm there reassuring him...until he left and then I quietly all came home that night...or at least most of it. Baby......

The deal with the $$$$ was becoming sort of a deal. As I was not an Irish citizen, I needed to pay for the work, and they wanted the payment before I left (they didn't know I already had a jail break roomies were going to show the way) Blue Cross was helpful but they really didn't care if I made it home for Christmas or not. But we worked it agreed to pay for ER...emergency surgery...tons of for 17 nights...etc. etc.....and the grand total is.....$21,000. No...not $210,000....$21,000.

You know......that is just so much less than care would have been in America. I still can't believe it. While this setup worked just fine for me I think a lot of Americans would not have liked this at all. There was a TV room where...once I could walk...I would go and guessed it..ER with the nurses...really.

I don't think Docs and Nurses made as much as they do here....relatively...but that's just a guess. But a big step in this direction just might make some sense and get a ton more care spread around.

So......the next stop was Delta airlines...then on to CAMC and then on to The Cleveland stay tuned.....and please...take care of yourself! Believe me...the story on the the flight home is worth checking back for.


Boggs said...

Pray, great story, I'm on edge of seat waiting for next edition

wgee said...

waiting with bated breath.

Tracey Seibert said...

Me too.....I remember we were working on SEL at the time and very worried about you. Never wanted to to pry, so am interested to hear the rest of the story!