For those of you who’ve been following my posts, you know that we got bad news about my sister, Kate, having cancer a few weeks back. The good news is that she was able to come home from the hospital just 2 days after her first chemo treatment, and her voice, which was being affected by the cancer, was dramatically better from all the medications she’d started receiving to shrink the tumors. She was tired, but she looked pretty darn good for someone who’d been in the hospital for 2 solid weeks going through a battery of tests that almost make giving birth a sprightly dance in the park on a sunny afternoon. Almost.
When hubby, the kids, and I went to see her last week for her daughter’s sweet-16, I learned more details about her transfer to Northwestern hospital. I knew there were some difficulties getting a bed there because the oncology unit was packed full. I also knew that at some point, the oncologist (who shall remain nameless, because if I really knew his name, I’d have to report him to the state board for Complete and Utter Stoooopidity) had actually suggested that Kate check out of the hospital she was at and go to Northwestern’s ER. Northwestern wouldn’t be able to turn her away then, and he thought that might be a good way for her to get a bed.
What I didn’t know until my niece’s party was that this Complete and Utterly Stooopid doc had said to my sister, “you should check out of the hospital here, drive 30 miles to Northwestern, go into the ER complaining of pain and shortness of breath, but don’t tell them you’ve been in the hospital or that you’ve been diagnosed with cancer.“
Mind you, this is after she’s had a surgical biopsy, has a 4 inch long incision in her chest, bruises all over her arms from all the tests, the arterial line they put in for the surgery, and the IVs, and A CHEST TUBE HANGING OUT OF HER CHEST. Hello, McFly!!!!!
Imagine this conversation once Kate arrived at Northwestern ER following Dr. Stooopid’s suggestion:
ER doc: I see you’ve come in for pain and shortness of breath. I suspect this 4 inch surgical incision in your chest might be part of your problem. How did you acquire that?
Kate: I had a bit of a kitchen accident. It happens when your husband tries to stab you with a butcher knife.
(David’s eyes pop out, he faints, causing a concussion, and is promptly wheeled into the next ER bed for treatment, followed immediately by cops with some handcuffs)
ER doc: Hmm, that can be problematic. Would you like to explain this chest tube in your chest?
Kate: Oh, I saw that on an episode of ER. I figured I had some bleeding going on, and decided it might be a good idea to put one in myself to keep my lung from collapsing. I just happened to have a chest tube set in my federally-recommended Disaster Preparedness Kit. My kids helped me sew it in. Aren’t they talented?
(ER doc writes an order for a psych consult)
Fortunately, the nurses at the first hospital saw the Stoooopidity of this ‘doctor‘s’ recommendation. They made arrangements to get Kate a bed the intelligent way–by calling Northwestern to, (imagine this!) EXPLAIN the situation and ASK for a bed. The fact that Kate had a very rare cancer, and thus was of Great Interest to the oncology department, probably didn’t hurt, either. It took an extra 24 hours, but she got a ride in an ambulance and door-to-door service. God bless those nurses.