I don’t get headaches. I’m 42 years old and thankfully I’ve never suffered of headaches. Yes, I’ve gotten a couple of sinus headaches, but otherwise nothing, nada, zilch. Usually I don’t blog about health topics, but the reality is that gratefully, I have nothing to talk about. Until now… *queue suspenseful music*
The other day I was running around, as usual, and I started getting a headache. Which on its own stands out because I don’t get headaches. An hour passed. A couple of hours. I took a couple of ibuprofen’s and nothing. More time passed and his headache just got worse. It felt like there was a piano sitting on my head. It was horrible. Nothing I did helped, it just got worse. Now it’s midnight. I’m dead tired. Its been hours and I’m feeling nauseous. I can’t sleep. I can’t work. All I can do is sit in pain and hope my head did not explode.
So, I sought out help. I went to the emergency room as most doctors will tell you is proper protocol when you have “the worst headache of your life” which I did. Even with the ridiculously high threshold for pain that I have, the pain was so severe I was nauseous. I’ll skip to the part where yes, it was a migraine, my first one and it was fierce!! This evil thing wanted its presence to be known and was not going to be ignored… I on the other hand was.
I sauntered in with my PPO to an empty emergency room and thought great! I will be seen quickly! I was triaged within moments and promptly placed in a room and in a lovely hospital gown. The nurse asked me a couple of questions and told me that the doctor would be in momentarily. Meanwhile I continued to work because distraction was the only thing keeping me sane, and I was keeping my husband updated via text. And I sat there in my gown, relived that I was going to receive help.
Ah, but what I didn’t know was that Northwest Community Hospital did not read from the same protocol book that I, and many doctors did. Apparently the course of action for someone that comes into this hospital with the worst headache of their life is to stick them in a room, and leave them there
to rot indefinitely.
After sitting in the room for an hour and fifteen minutes and literally NO ONE coming in to see me, check on me, see if I was breathing, had passed out from an aneurysm or to even tell me that they were too busy laughing and gossiping to tend to me, I got dressed and walked out. Thankfully my headache had subsided. As this was my first experience with a migraine I don’t know if it’s because it was time for my headache to subside, or if it was the OUTRAGE of being put in a room and ignored. I mean really. IT’S THE WORST HEADACHE OF MY LIFE!
As I was leaving I told registration and the triage nurse that I was leaving because no one would see me, but I wanted to be sure that neither my insurance nor I would be charged, and that I wanted something in writing. They offered me a “Refusal of Service” form, which I explained was not the case. I was not refusing service, they were not offering me any service so I was leaving. AT NO TIME did anyone ask me how I was, if my headache had corrected, if I wanted to see someone right away, nor did they even offer to rty to fin someone to see me. Even now, as I’m typing this I am furious by the irresponsibility of this hospital.
What if I had died? Or had a stroke? What then? And this was not because I am uninsured, I have a PPO!!! So why did I spend an hour in the room without any medical attention? Apparntly I will never know. After speaking to the Director of the Emergency Room the following day, I was told “all the right things”. every phrase you would want to hear after an experience like that, “so sorry”, “I can’t imagine what happened”, “I will investigate”, blah, blah, blah. Meanwhile the patient advocate wasn’t really advocating for me at all. Apparently she wasn’t interested in my being a patient there either, or I don’t know the meaning of advocate, because she was rude and couldn’t care less about my complaint. I also called the state to file a complaint, but they didn’t care either. It’s a wait time and they don’t get involved with that. But here’s my question… if I (American, speak perfect English, well insured) was ignored and essentially denied service at an emergency room – albeit through omission – what happens to someone that is uninsured? Or that doesn’t speak English? Who’s to say that if I have a real emergency they wouldn’t just let me die?