Monday, July 25, 2005

Tin God Syndrome: The Caligula Tin God

Yes, dear ZPT fans...I've run into yet another Tin God: the Caligula Tin God.

Last night, I was in so much pain that I couldn't stand it anymore. I hadn't had more than an hour and a half's worth of sleep at a time in two weeks. I couldn't eat, could barely speak and had begun to panic. And I don't panic easily.

Enough was enough. Time for another ER visit: my first in almost six months.

So I went to the ER, waited for 2 1/2 hours to be seen...and in comes the Caligula Tin God.

Caligula Tin Gods are of the opinion that pain is a minor concern. I stronly suspect this is because Caligulas have never been IN any chronic, debilitating pain themselves. Caligulas are also the first to suspect you are "drug seeking," because once again: they don't think much of your, or anyone's, pain. They look at people coming into the ER for pain relief as bothersome, crybabies and potentially, drug addicts. In any case, a complete waste of their time. And whereas other
Tin Gods who think this way simply try to get you in and out of their ER room as quickly as possible so they can treat "real" patients...Caligula wants you to suffer for it. Caligulas are rare beasts, but when you do come in contact with one...they quickly turn your bad situation into something far worse.

The first thing Caligula says to me is that he's read my ER Cheat Sheet, and although I have requested not to speak...I am going to be required to speak so he can "rule out speech problems." He is also annoyed that the nurse didn't force me to wear a gown (pulling my shirt over my face at that moment was more than I was capable of). The interrogation (because that's what it is: Caligulas turn any exam room into a torture chamber) begins:

Caligula: You have a pain management contract?

Zen Angel: (speaking through a clenched, painful jaw) Yes.

Caligula: And what does it say?

Zen Angel: (wondering if he really DID read my Cheat Sheet, because it's written there in plain English) To come into the ER if my meds don't work.

Caligula: Your pain meds?

Zen Angel: Yes.

Caligula: Are you out of Oxycodone?

Zen Angel: No. They just aren't working.

Caligula: When did this bout begin?

Zen Angel: Two weeks ago, when I burnt my hand.

Caligula: Which hand?

Zen Angel: (wondering if this guy is a moron, as only one hand is wrapped
in gauze) My left one.

Caligula: How did that occur?

Zen Angel: My leg went out on me, and I spilled chicken soup on my hand. Second-degree burns.

Caligula: (in a condescending tone) Who told you that?

Zen Angel: My doctor, when she treated it.

Caligula: I see you've been to this ER before.

Zen Angel: Yes, but not for about six months.

Caligula: Where have you been going in the meantime?

Zen Angel: (confused) Nowhere.

Caligula: Which ER have you been going to in the last six months?

Zen Angel: NOWHERE. I haven't needed to. My meds were sufficient.

Caligula: I'll have to call around and check on that, you know.

Zen Angel: (flabbergasted) Go right ahead.

Caligula: Have you seen a neurologist?

Zen Angel: Yes, three.

Caligula: What are their names?

Zen Angel: I don't really remember right now.

Caligula: (condescending) And WHY is that?

Zen Angel: I'm in too much pain to think straight, Doctor.

Caligula: (rolls eyes) I'll have to examine you now.

Zen Angel: (thinking he meant the sort of exam I usually get: a few touches to the face to rule out trigeminal tumor or paralysis; painful but not unbearable) OK.

Caligula goes to a drawer and begins rummaging around. I am getting worried about what he intends to do.

Caligula: Lay back on the pillow.

Zen Angel: Why?

Caligula: (sighs) I have to examine you now. (pulls out a large tongue
depressor and a light)

Zen Angel: (horrified) I can't open my mouth wide.

Caligula: You have to.

Zen Angel: (begging) Please, don't do this. You have no idea how much it hurts.
I am already diagnosed.

Caligula: Well, that's what you get for coming in on a weekend.

Zen Angel: (thinking, what the fuck?) Please, don't.

Caligula: Open your mouth wide.

Zen Angel: I can't.


Zen Angel: (opening as wide as I can) This HURTS.

Caligula: (ignoring me) Say "ahhhh."

Zen Angel: (writhing in pain) AHHHHHHH!

Caligula begins taking the tongue depressor and painfully moving it all about my mouth, scraping my gums, tapping on my teeth and pulling my cheeks in many directions. I am in agony, and pull away from him.

Caligula: Have you even SEEN a dentist?

Zen Angel: (offended) Yes. I am in the middle of having all my teeth removed. It's on my Cheat Sheet.

Caligula looks at me blankly. I realize he hasn't really read it.

Zen Angel: I lost my teeth due to contaminated reservation drinking water.

Caligula looks at me in disbelief. I would elaborate, but the "examination" has left me curled up in a fetal position and crying my eyes out in pain.
Caligula ignores this.

Caligula: Sit up.

Zen Angel: (sitting up) Why?

Caligula grabs my head with both hands and begins SHAKING it back and forth, forward and back. He does this so hard, he makes my hearing aid feed back, which he ignores. He then begins tapping on my face, and only then proceeds to the usual facial exam that I am used to. By this time, I am beside myself with pain.

Caligula: I'll be back.

Caligula leaves the room. I am in worse pain that I have EVER been in from the neuralgia. I can't stop crying, and call my husband. He is pissed, and tells me he is on his way. I curl back up on the bed, staring in anger and horror at a little sign which reads: "Your comfort is of UPMOST importance to us! Please let us know if there is ANYTHING we can do to make you more comfortable!" I think to myself, yes, there are two things you could do: give me my damn shot, and then shoot Caligula.

Twenty minutes go by: twenty minutes of the worst pain I can recall ever being in. I am nearly hysterical. Finally, the door opens: it is not Caligula, thankfully, but the very sweet and understanding nurse who first spoke with me.

Hallelujah, she has my shot.

Nurse: The doctor spoke with your regular doctor, and ordered your shot. It's Morphine and Phenergan. Is that all right?

Zen Angel: YES!

The nurse then gives me my shot, and tells me she'll check on me in 20 minutes to see if it's working. She never does. I don't think this is necessarily a shortcoming on her behalf, as it was a shift change and the new nurse didn't seem as on the ball as she was.

My husband arrives. I am so relieved. The shot has just kicked in. The pain isn't gone, which is unusual as Morphine usually does the trick. I strongly believe that it would have, had not Caligula put me through his diabolical "examination," which might be against the Geneva Conventions. I'm not sure. The pain is, however, bearable...and I can finally get some much-needed sleep.

That is, if I can ever get out of the hospital.

The new nurse comes in twice over the next half-hour, to let me know that Caligula had STILL not typed up my release forms. My husband is getting more and more pissed off.

FINALLY, the new nurse comes in with the forms. A single sheet of paper, with several typos. I don't even have to sign the freaking thing.

We dash out of there and head home. I slept most of the day, thrilled to be able to do so. The pain came back around 7PM. I am unwilling to go back to the ER after my horrific experience, but I don't know how much longer I can hold out. Hopefully, until my doctor's office opens at 8AM.

Now I am left with a connundrum: I very much want to complain about Caligula's treatment of me, which is very much contrary to the hospital's policy on pain management and treatment. I was left feeling humiliated and violated by Caligula's behavior...and that's saying a lot, because I've run into a shitload of Tin Gods in my time, and haven't felt violated by one in this manner EVER. But this time, I do. I feel...attacked. He did everything in his power to make my condition WORSE, to worsen my pain and agony, for no fucking reason whatsoever. When the pain DID come back, it did with a vengeance I haven't ever had to deal with before, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Caligula is to blame.

My problem is, I need this ER. Badly. There are times when I simply cannot wait for my doctor's office to open. I need relief NOW. And I'm afraid to rock the boat. I'm afraid that if I complain about Caligula, the next Tin God will simply refuse to treat me at all. And I hate, hate, hate that I have to feel that way. I hate that I have to worry about such a thing, that I can't simply expect to be treated humanely for a legitimate, chronic illness referred to by nearly every medical authority as one of the WORST pains known to mankind.

And I hate Tin Gods, for putting me in this position in the first fucking place.

I haven't yet decided what to do. I'm leaning towards making a complaint anyway, because although I worry about rocking the boat, I am MORE worried about running into Caligula the next time I need a shot.

And I'm worried about the next patient, who comes into the ER needing relief and finding only the inhumane hands of this bastard Tin God.

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At 12:42 AM, Blogger Angel said...

OMG OMG OMG I am sick to my stomach. I'm so horrified and sorry (((((((Angel))))))). I wish I could go and teach HIM the meaning of pain :X

You're in my thoughts and prayers hon.

At 1:58 AM, Blogger AGFH said...

That is just awful.
If I were you I would SERIOUSLY consider calling a lawyer to see what they have to say.
I am so sorry that this happened.

At 6:55 AM, Blogger Mia's Mom said...

I am absolutely floored by the treatment you received. Violated is a perfect description! And there was no reason for it!

Uneducated Bastards!

I understand your hesitancy on filing a complaint, because of what could happen to you on future visits, but something must be done. Maybe your husband could file the complaint on your behalf? Would that help? I like agfh's idea of speaking to a lawyer.

This sort of shit shouldn't happen to anyone, regardless of their condition & needs! It's inhumane!

I truly hope that you get the help you need from your regular doctor - and I hope that he has a suggestion for what to do in an ER-Caligula situation. There has to be something!

At 6:54 AM, Blogger Pixie LaRouge said...

Oh Angel!!!!!! I'm literally in tears for you. How DARE he! How DARE he do that to you!!! Obviously he has no brains, decency or compassion. Worse still, he appears to be critically lacking in training.

Complain. You simply MUST complain. Get that rat bastard out of there, so neither you nor anyone else must ever face him again.

Call a lawyer, call the state medical board, and, if you must in the end, call the news. Remember that it could be your babies in there facing him next time (I'd hate to see what he does to a child who broke a limb).

Stay strong, Zen! I hope this go 'round with pain passes quickly. I hope, from this day on, you find doctors who treat you with gentleness, compassion, and perhaps even humor. But most of all, I hope you find doctors who treat you with KNOWLEDGE.

I'm mentally hugging the pinky of your uninjured hand, hoping to keep from causing you further pain

At 7:26 AM, Blogger mdmhvonpa said...

Ummm, Next time bring in a business card from your lawyer ...

At 8:34 PM, Anonymous Synesthesia said...

I'm sorry you went through that.
Make him pay...

At 4:32 PM, Blogger Sharon said...

This is really an outrage. I really have no words.

At 9:33 PM, Blogger exfbonnie said...

what an aweful humanbeing. no he is definitely satans spawn.

At 5:18 PM, Blogger KTB said...

Hi, I've just come across your blog as a result of - there was a link to your babynames blog on one of the forums.

I cannot believe that that doctor is even practicing - has he ever heard of empathising with his patient? I really hope (as this is as far as I have got in your blog so far) that you did complain and get at least an apology from the ER. Reading this post I was so incredibly angry on your behalf, and I don't even know you!


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