Doctor in the House?

Tim GilmerIn my May column, I disclosed that a virulent infection from a pressure sore on my ankle threatened my life. In June I wrote of the underlying cause — peripheral artery disease. Now I’m going to document the medical response.

The infection knocked me flat. A day later, when a doctor did not return my call, I self-prescribed an antibiotic I had on hand for cellulitis. It was the best thing I could have done, the right drug for the job.

It took several days for the antibiotic to harness my high fever, sickness and wooziness. During that time, nearly my entire leg became involved. From my calf down to my foot swelled tremendously, heated up, and burst out with multiple sores. I dressed the lower part of my leg daily with Silvadene, gauze pads, secondary absorbent pads, and Kerlix wrap. A week later I went to a wound care clinic.

A team of nurses freaked out when they saw my leg. They re-dressed it exactly as I had been dressing it, gave me a protective bootie to wear, and sent me home with instructions to make an appointment with a vascular surgeon. They didn’t wash, disinfect or debride any of the many wounds. In other words, they punted.

The earliest I could get an appointment with a vascular surgeon was two weeks away. During that period, in my weakened conditioned, I had a difficult time washing, debriding, and dressing my leg with no help. It took me three hours per day. I was still sick.

The vascular surgeon scheduled me for immediate surgery. I checked into the hospital and they implanted a stent to free up blood flow. The next day they grafted in a synthetic artery that ran from my groin to my knee, replaced the entire femoral artery. Although the crisis had been dealt with, I grew weaker from loss of blood.

After surgery they moved me to a too-small hospital room with an inaccessible bathroom. I complained that the hospital, 20 years after implementation of the ADA, had no accessible rooms. Oh, but we do, they said.

Then why am I not in one!? I shrieked. No one had an answer. They moved me to a spacious new room with an accessible bathroom. The next day I was discharged, but nearly passed out before leaving. I asked to see a doctor. My red blood cell count was alarmingly low. I needed a blood transfusion.

I gradually regained strength in the hospital, but a new, glitch-ridden computer system prevented nurses from giving me my regular heart medications. My blood pressure and heart rate went berserk. Once again, my life was in danger. I threw a fit and insisted that my surgeon be called at 2 a.m. Since he had no reliable computer information, I told him what to prescribe and how much.

I haven’t seen the bills yet, but I’m sure it will be astronomical. As for my services, how much do you think I should charge them?

In my May column, I disclosed that a virulent infection from a pressure sore on my ankle threatened my life. In June I wrote of the underlying cause — peripheral artery disease. Now I’m going to document the medical response.

The infection knocked me flat. A day later, when a doctor did not return my call, I self-prescribed an antibiotic I had on hand for cellulitis. It was the best thing I could have done, the right drug for the job.

It took several days for the antibiotic to harness my high fever, sickness and wooziness. During that time, nearly my entire leg became involved. From my calf down to my foot swelled tremendously, heated up, and burst out with multiple sores. I dressed the lower part of my leg daily with Silvadene, gauze pads, secondary absorbent pads, and Kerlix wrap. A week later I went to a wound care clinic.

A team of nurses freaked out when they saw my leg. They re-dressed it exactly as I had been dressing it, gave me a protective bootie to wear, and sent me home with instructions to make an appointment with a vascular surgeon. They didn’t wash, disinfect or debride any of the many wounds. In other words, they punted.

The earliest I could get an appointment with a vascular surgeon was two weeks away. During that period, in my weakened conditioned, I had a difficult time washing, debriding, and dressing my leg with no help. It took me three hours per day. I was still sick.

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