Wait, you’re bleeding?! (Hospital Stupidity and Trigger Warning)

Okay, so, I have been wanting to write all week. I am sick however and have expended my writing energy in other ways such as whining and sleeping when no one was looking. Very productive if they fix what ails you. The whining I tried to do only to myself and M, because hey what are best friends for if not a whinge every so often? Plus I think he would worry if I didn’t whine about stuff just a little.

I ended up in the ER because my uterus is trying to work. This would be fine if it wasn’t shooting clots out like a machine gun that are the size of my fists side by side. That’s a very large clot and my vagina wasn’t made for those. I am in more pain than I want to handle, but I am handling it in my way. So I went to the favored ER that has never been bad.

It was as bad as UNMH the local travesty of medical studies. The nurse in intake didn’t even ask me what medications I take, which is a big no no. They presumed I was taking the medications I took last time I was there, almost a year ago. She laughed at my list of diagnosis, which I gave the short list of the ones that matter. This should’ve clued me in that they have hired idiots. I found out after we were there, we being M the carer, that there was a recent scandal with a drunk nurse. Wondering if she was the one doing intake though she seemed sober if incompetent.

So, I am left to wait for three hours before intake, in which time my legs turn a very nice shade of blue which gets me in the back before Mr. I broke my ankle, see it’s dangling by a thread and creepy lady that wanted to touch me after she coughed. I almost hit her, but M the Carer is good at what she does and interceded and moved me out of range of creepy. I was already considering a sequel to the horror script I wrote about mental health hospitals (currently being cast at Pendant Audio.com if you want to act in it). I am afraid a fiction could not out weight the reality.

Once I get in the back it’s three hours before anyone even says boo, and they demand a urine sample. It is presumed that I can do this, and I manage. This is where I discover that the hospital is not ADA compliant (though I already saw manifest wrongs and horror but more on that later). The bathroom could not fit a manual wheelchair into it and close the door. The door is also heavy. My carer helped me manage the situation, and the staff were off put that she used gloves to do so. Since sanity and sanitizing stuffs are bad here. Keep in mind at this point I was already imagining Dr.Zombie and his chorus of Brain Devouring Nurses.

I question the futility of a pee sample that is the color of cranberry juice, but we deal with it anyway. An hour later Nurse Pain returns. She looks at my sample and says, “Wait you’re bleeding?!” This is when I mimic Spock’s eyebrow raise and my carer and I say in unison, “Well yeah, that’s what she’s here for abnormal vaginal bleeding.” So, I end up chugging a 20 oz soda, because that’s healthy and I couldn’t stomach anything else they had on hand in mass quantities. A catheter later and hey my pee sample has barely any blood in it and that was probably still external since I had flooded the world with red. So usable urine sample.

The thing was, during this cath process the nurse was upset with me for not crying out, grimacing, yelling, or generally acting like she expects. It was painful but she decided I wasn’t in pain if I wasn’t doing the usual dance and scream she is used to with her typical patients. I have never been typical and I even stated when asked by my carer, who I felt was translating body language very clearly, “Why bother? I hurt now, I will hurt later, if I waste that energy then I can’t deal with being here.” It’s truth. It obviously disturbs Nurse Pain.

So it’s back to waiting, Nurse Pain decides she had best get the doctor because I obviously wasn’t making it up. Then she tells us the doctor has left the site. Well, it turns out this ER has ONE doctor on call. One. Not two. Not three. One. Who has LEFT. This is when I start considering abusing my power of phone and mp3 player that takes voice notes. Yep. I started recording things, and we took pictures of things.

Things we took pictures of include the wall made out of mold. Not joking, they put me in a moldy wall room. The bloody pen that is on top of the sharps container, instead of inside it or in another biohazard containment. I think there were others. There’s yet more however. Nurse Pain wasn’t the only in ER bungler, aside from Nurse Giggles.

Now lets talk about Nurse Nasty. Nasty is a male, who doesn’t change his gloves or wash his hands between patients. M the Carer and I are watching him, he doesn’t close curtains so we can see proceedures, he shouts out what is wrong with people. I see him as a walking germ factory. He comes in to take my vitals and I say “Sure, but can you wash your hands?” His expression is the one I call dumb shock. I can’t really read much more past my question liquifiying his brain with it’s sheer fantasticness. So as his brain melts he agrees to do so, overlooks the sink and clean gloves in my room, walks out and ne’er returns. I never once had my vital signs checked while I was there, and I did pass a few monster clots.

Other things of grossness, they didn’t want me to use the absorbant pad things. Those pads are there for me and you. They didn’t understand the idea of wiping myself clean so I could put on my clothes and leave their atrocity. I mean hospital. Now, eight hours have passed before Doctor McLeavy decides to do his job at least with me. I get it, he’s the only one there and the place is packed, dirty, and did I say inefficient yet because wow. So he takes a look and says, “Well there’s a lot of active bleeding, you really should get this checked out.” Since you know, I called my doctor during the weekend and left a voice mail, called again first thing and was told she would call me, called a third time found out she had not been given the voice mail since she answered herself and was sent to the ER. I am obviously incompetent and unable to concieve of the idea that this is an issue. I resist the urge to kick the doctor in the head, because that might end up with Nurse Pain and Nasty returning to rescue Doctor McLeavy.

So, that was my … Monday. Monday… evil monday. I think it would’ve been more productive had I just done what was planned. Which was done today. My carer and I also spent extra money on things that absorb gushing amounts of blood while I called the health department, the hospital’s patient relations people and tried to get an appointment with a female gynecologist since when I specify that due to PTSD this is a requirement as McLeavy already triggered my PTSD. McLeavy asks if I am sure I cannot take birthcontrol because that might fix the issue. Or it could you know, make me so sick I end up in hospital anyway.

Now I run into Dr.Receptionist.

Dr.Receptionist tells me at 9 am she will call me right back. She tells me at noon when I return to calling her that she is working on finding an opening before September. She’s getting downright bitchy. I am working on not telling her to shove her head into her uterus and see if that makes her have any abnormal bleeding, because she seems to think she is qualified to doctor me over the phone.

Third call, fifteen minutes before five, she calls and still has not figured out a way for me to have the accessible room (of which there is only one). She has not found a female doctor with an opening because “we only have two.” Instead of asking them if they would accomodate me. She even tells me, “This would be so much easier if you would just take the next availible instead of insisting on the wheelchair room and a woman.” Little does she know, when she calls me tomorrow I am recording the call. She is going to face the burning rain of hellfire that I am sending the way of the hospital via every legal channel. I may sue once I get a diagnosis. Dr.Receptionist prattles on about how I am just being difficult for a while, and then says, “You know since you are 25 I wouldn’t worry about waiting until September.” Mind you no appointment has been scheduled, she continues. “No one gets cancer at 25, you are just too young.” I did respond now, though not as fluidly as I wanted, It was more of a growl that probably was picked up in the phone, then, “Really? Since you know my medical history so well and every risk factor I have that is above normal you can just decree this cancer?” I wish I had said, “Oh when did you examine me, when did you go to medical school, did you take tissue samples or even a pap? I don’t recall having any of that done since the ER refused as that’s not their job.”

So tomorrow this continues. Of course I left out some tales of woe such as Nosferatu Sucks at Drawing Blood and a few more but you get the drift.

I do have this to say, Hospital Internal Affairs, when I told them I had proof jumped to. They were already but they managed to jump faster and higher. In fact the woman told me she admired my not leaving. When I told her there was no nurse call button and pointed out that I cannot walk out of my room to fetch a nurse so if my carer had left like the office was pressuring her to do so (incorrectly but we got through to the right people to get that fixed) I would not have had anything done yet. I probably would still be there growing cobwebs, well the IA person expressed her utter horror and mentioned that I could sue them and if I did she doubted they could fight. The fact is, when she said that she added legal liability to the hospital. I just need to get this problem fixed before I decide just how much to make them pay.

I am still haunted by Nurse Nasty. How many people got sicker because of him? How many people will handle the tools he used and put back? I wish he’d given his name but he did not. I did describe him and I know what vehicle he drives since he had a purple biker jacket and a shiny helmet. There was only one motor cycle in the parking area for the employees and I took a look. So that cuts down suspects greatly. I am going out of the system to find a doctor next, because I need a specialist and I am discovering that in the year since I started seeing only my pain specialist … well… Lovelace Women’s Hospital and Lovelace aka ALBUQUERQUE HEALTH PARTNERS has fallen into crapville. Though I could add a fictional twist, this is no laughing matter for dancing zombies but is a serious breech of all sorts of ethics and fun stuff. I think I will be fine, given that this has happened before and yet I also know that when they told me I needed a hysterectomy at 16 but they insisted on waiting incase I wanted children, that need likely hasn’t gone away. I still don’t have or want kids and this is one of the worst times I have bled like this. Not as bad as the time I ruined an entire mattress because I couldn’t get up, the wheelchair is making a difference but my pain level is far too high, and with my PTSD triggered there are other complications. Plus my cramps are so bad I can’t pee. I told my carer I may have to go back to the ER tomorrow if I still haven’t gone. I will update when I have the energy. I wanted to write this out so that you all know, and the details are there.

Nymph and Sprite are also helping as much as they can, neither is pressuring me for snuggling but if I let them they are like velcro. Nymph even let me trim her claws for the first time today and didn’t even try and run. Once it was done she just sat beside me and looked a little sad until I petted her. I know my health is in that dangerous spot between Oh Crap and Uh Oh, so I will try to stay towards the oh crap side on the woopspometer.

Oh and the names of the Guilty HIPAA and health code and common sense violating zombie medical staff have been altered to protect the names of said Guilty parties until I sue their pants off or do something else equally deserving with spite and fury.

The Antidote for Discrimination Is…

I have felt the urge to blog repeatedly, but until now I have not given in. Blogging can be as personal as writing. I have spent the last week in preparation mode skimming the internet reading other blogs, seeing what I liked, what I didn’t like, and the power behind the words. Some of these bloggers brought me to tears, and that is no small feat. Others made me laugh, some caused me to feel sorrow, and a few gave me the chance to feel angry.

I wasn’t sure how to start my first post, but, since I am an advocate for all disabled, all women, all men, all people in need I will start there. The topic nearest and dearest to my heart is Service Animal Law. Some of you who read this might think you know about service animals, and you might be right. Others will presume that a service animal is only for a blind person. You are not correct. A service animal, by the federal definition, is any animal trained to assist a disabled person with a task. This does mean that if you have a seizure alert dog, it has to do more than that. The law even gives behavioral guidelines.

I have a service cat. She is trained to do things including retrieval, seeking assistance from specific humans in the case of an emergency, medication reminders, object retrieval, and she has also been trained to help me balance. A lot of these tactics came out of her instinctual responses, but those needed to be honed. She also had to be trained to handle a crowded mall. Now she handles it better than I do. People often ask me why a cat, and my response is simple. I am not allergic to cats, most of the time but I am allergic to dogs. I also trust cats, and I haven’t trusted many dogs in my life. I have to trust my service animal partner.

I have faced some serious discrimination because of being disabled. When I was still walking most of the time, it was harder because I was in extra agony since forcing myself to walk through a store took all of my energy. The more tired I am, the more pain I feel. There have been times when I have had shopping carts jerked out of my hands, causing me to either fall or nearly fall. I have been denied the right to buy groceries, and recently I have been illegally denied medical care.

I am perusing legal action but I am well aware that other people might not know how. Today, one of the blogs I read, reminded me that not every person is trained in how to handle discrimination. When you are disabled, you might feel more vulnerable to attack, and when people threaten to take away your service animal or refuse access, it can be terrifying. I feel often as if I am going to be hit if I push forward. I was an abuse victim for most of my life, but, adulthood came and I found a way to break free. Not everyone is that lucky.

So, here it is, my guide for other disabled people with any LEGAL service animal on how to advocate their rights. A side not before I begin, if you do not need a service animal, do not lie. We will catch you eventually, and the crime has a punishment. Depriving people of their rights through your shallow behavior is the worst thing you could possibly do, and, whether you believe in Karma, Hell, or just recriminations in this life from other people, you will pay for it. The law will get you, Advocates will get you, and if Karma gets you, it will be worse than anything I could dream up.

The Guide– Dedicated to Renne, Helen, Aimi and Snow, but especially Bree. (All Links will open in a new window/tab.)

Step 1. Stay Calm. This is for me the hardest part of advocating for your rights. Sometimes I want to run, other times I want to scream and cuss. Neither tactic is helpful. As hard as it is, you have to be the bigger person, and stay nice. You can have anger in your voice, do not deny the emotion but do not let the emotions over ride your goal.

Step 2. Calmly as you can, state that they are breaking the Federal Law. This is what I have practiced saying in the Mirror daily for the last two years. “You are violating the Federal Law. The Americans With Disabilities act provides protection for my use of my service animal.” When I say this I hand them a copy of the law. You can get a copy of the service animal laws from the ADA.  I  have the business brief printed with my state law on the reverse side. You can obtain access to your local service animal laws at http://www.animallaw.info/ I carry  my print out in aUSB case on my scooter keys. You can also buy laminated cards from various businesses with the law on it that explain your rights. For some people this is easier. Those cards are usually kept on your animal’s harness.

Step 3. Explain the law in simple terms and how they are violating it. This does mean you need to know the law. Not only does knowing the law protect you from discrimination, but, it lets you educate people. The biggest cause of discrimination in my experience is a lack of knowledge. If someone isn’t willing to learn, or admits they know, then you have a larger problem. One of the main causes of confusion with service animal awareness is that few businesses train their employees. It is illegal to require a service animal to wear a vest or show an ID tag. When someone asks me for this for my cat, I show them the law and educate them. Often, they will try and state she cannot enter because she is not a dog. My local laws state only dogs can be service animals. The laws are written so that the stronger law prevails. This means that if the Federal law says I can have any animal, that is trainable and meets the standards and the local law does not, we refer to the federal law. However if you live in a state like California that requires ID tags for all service animals, then, the law requires you have an ID tag. This is another source of confusion, but, it is an attempt at increasing the rights of many.

Usually by this point I am either in the building or they are just going to break the law anyway. If you have reached this point, it is time for Step 4.

Step 4. Take a very deep breath, and remember Step 1. Then ask to speak to their supervisor. If they refuse or are the supervisor you can try explaining the laws again, or calling another advocate to try and help. I keep the number handy to the local advocacy organization, and they have helped me countless times. Even knowing I can call day or night, is helpful because I do not feel alone. At this time I have no national links, but if you are in New Mexico, contact Service Animals and the Law. (Link forthcoming). If you have links nationally to websites that can help, post them in a comment. I want this page to be a resource for any person in need.

At this point you should be through the trying time, most managerial staff listen well and correct their employees. Recently I had to fight my way into an apartment complex using this tactic for three months. Even when I had food poisoning I had to try and follow my rules, but, eventually I prevailed. Advocating for yourself is the hardest part of having a service animal.

Not every person responds to this and if you still cannot get through to them, you need to contact the ADA. You can email them a detailed complaint, include names, addresses, contact information for both parties, and send it to ada.complaint@usdoj.gov . If you would rather call you can contact the ADA via their hotline using these numbers: 800-514-0301 (TTY-800-0363).

Remember, you are strong, you are beautiful inside and out, and you are not alone.

Other posts in this series: What is a Service Animal?

Additional Resources will be added as I find them:

Information:
http://www.assistancedogsinternational.org/
http://www.deltasociety.org
http://www.ada.gov/svcanimb.htm
http://www.ada.gov/qasrvc.htm
http://www.equipforequality.org/resourcecenter/ada_serviceanimals.pdf

http://www.animallaw.info/
Service Dog Vests and Supplies:
http://www.pettop.com/
http://www.raspberryfield.com/
http://www.activedogs.com/servicetherapyvestharness.html?gclid=CI-6iKm7rpgCFQEpGgod3QL9Ug
http://www.ldsleather.com/patches.html
http://www.petjoyonline.com/ADA_Federal_Law_Information_Card_for_Service_Dog_p/svd-0054.htm The Law Info Cards
Scholarships
http://www.assistancedogunitedcampaign.org/scholarship.html
http://www.keystonehumanservices.org/ssd/ssd.php
Blogs:
http://www.servicedogblog.com/

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