Jody’s Jaw Journey – Part II

For my own sanity, after the lame visit at the oral surgeon’s office (which was on a Thursday afternoon), I decided to put the whole broken jaw issue aside and start again fresh the following Monday. I’ve learned that the worst days to make phone calls to any kind of business are Mondays and Fridays. So, in actuality, I waited until the following Tuesday.

Armed with the paper about the OMS division from the oral surgeon’s office, I called the centralized office. I was glad that it was a centralized phone number because I wasn’t at all certain which would be the location that was closest to me. I got a voice mail and left my name and telephone number. I did not hear back from them that day, even though I had called around 10 AM in the morning. I called again the next day, and the call was answered by a live voice. I explained why I was calling and that I needed to schedule an appointment at the closest facility.

The female, though not actually rude, was a bit terse as she told me that wasn’t how it worked. She informed me that I had to go to the emergency room of one of the St. Luke’s hospitals, that they would be able to take care of the issue of the dislocation, and it would be up to them to determine if I needed treatment from the OMS. Well, gee! She made me feel like I should have known how the system worked. I asked her which of the four listed hospitals I should go to, and she said I could go to any of the St. Luke’s hospital’s emergency room. This was the first piece of good news I’d gotten, since there is one very close to where I live that was only built 2 or 3 years ago. I’d been inside once to visit someone, and I liked the atmosphere and brightness, as well as the somewhat spacious private rooms (in 1987, when I was in-patient the last time, I shared a room with another patient). And again, I didn’t rush about getting there. I’d scheduled some other appointments that I wanted to get out of the way first, including a hip and spine scan and an eye appointment. I chose to wait, as both of those were late on a Friday morning, and head to the hospital’s ER afterwards.

On the Friday that I’d planned for all of these ‘errands’ (October 21st), I made the spontaneous decision to get another COVID booster, since my previous one was back in February. Some little voice inside my brain was telling me that I didn’t want to go into any hospital where there were sick people without being current on the booster. So, I did that first. By the time I got out of my second appointment (good news, no real changes in my eyesight from a year ago!) and drove to the hospital, it was around 1 PM. I registered, then sat in the waiting room for 45-50 minutes before being led back to an exam room. The person who took me to the room told me that a PA (physician’s assistant) would see me first to collect information and then a doctor would come in. It was almost 10 minutes before the PA came in. (For those of you who remember the TV show Doogie Howser, MD, that’s how young he seemed!) I explained everything that had happened to date, from the x-rays to the oral surgeon’s office that wouldn’t treat me to calling the OMS division and being told I had to go through the emergency room, and therefore, that’s why I was there. I gave him the copy of the x-ray I’d had taken at the oral surgeons’ office, and because of the St. Luke network, I knew he could see the original x-rays that had been taken. He left the room after telling me he’d be right back.

This is where the story gets really frightening. I hear a female voice in the hall – not shouting but certainly not whispering – saying, and I quote directly, “Is that a jaw or a pelvis?” I assume the PA said (in a much quieter voice) that it was a jaw. This same voice, at the same level of sound, then said, “Send the patient to an oral surgeon”. I didn’t hear anything after that from her, though I suspect the PA told her that I’d already been to one, who sent me to OMS who told me I had to go through the ER.

The PA came back into the room a short time later and told me that the hospital there was not equipped for the kind of surgery I’d need and that the only hospital who could do that surgery was in Bethlehem (one of the four hospitals on the list). Meanwhile, this hospital wanted to get an IV started and give me a liquid dose of an antibiotic, and then I would leave there and was to go directly to the Bethlehem hospital’s ER.

I said, “No.” I told him that, first off, I wasn’t willing to have an IV to give me a liquid dose of an antibiotic that I could easily take orally. I also told him that I wasn’t able nor willing to leave there and go directly to this other hospital. In my mind, I had several reasons. First, I had no idea where it was but knew that it was far enough away that I would be getting there after sunset, and that made me uncomfortable. Second, I was not given any hint that I would be expected to travel directly to another hospital from there, and I was unprepared for any overnight kind of stay. I also alluded to the idea that, since I would be arriving there who knows how long after 5 PM on a Friday (having to drive to an unknown location during rush hour traffic, on a Friday, no less!), chances are that I would be admitted but not have surgery until the next day, causing an extra day’s stay that my insurance might decline to cover. I was willing to go the next day, but not that evening. Someone did come in and give me an antibiotic in pill form and told me a prescription would be waiting for me to pick up at my pharmacy (I don’t know, either, why they were giving me an antibiotic regimen without having done any kind of treatment but no big deal in the scheme of things).

I was told that was fine, but that they would have to discharge me, and I’d have to re-enter the system at the Bethlehem hospital when I got there. Only after getting into my car and looking at the paperwork did I see that, according to the hospital, I was being released AMA (against medical advice). What the_____?? Nonetheless, I was tired and frustrated and just wanted to pick up the filled prescription and go home.

(Side note: As is always the case, when I got to the drive-through to get the prescription, I was told it wasn’t ready and it would be about 20 minutes. That has happened to me with every prescription I’ve had sent there – I use mail-order for my regular prescriptions – and it’s always 20 minutes wait time to pick up a prescription no matter how long its been since it was sent!)

I dilly-dallied around and then returned to the window, picked up the prescription, and happily went home. I was mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted to the point that I ate a bowl of cereal, my only meal of the day. I started trying to pull things together for an overnight bag, but I just didn’t have it in me. I sat down in my recliner and thought about everything that had happened and everything that was waiting to happen. I ended up talking myself into waiting until Monday to go to the Bethlehem hospital. To me, it didn’t make a difference, but I convinced myself that the staff would appreciate not having to deal with a “non-emergency” patient on a weekend since weekends are always busier for the ER units.

I spend Saturday and Sunday over-thinking, and therefore over-packing, an overnight bag. I made sure all of my emails were caught up and I didn’t have any bills to pay, watered my plant, and all of those little things so that once I left on Monday morning, I didn’t have those things on my mind.

6 thoughts on “Jody’s Jaw Journey – Part II

  1. Wow! Oh, my friend, what an ordeal! I am sorry they put you through all of that. I question the intelligence of the woman who could not tell the difference between a jaw and a pelvis! I understand x-rays are difficult to read if one is not trained to read them, but that is frightening. Hopefully she was brand new, and a receptionist and not someone who directly works with patient’s healthcare. 🥴😳

    I feel like our medical field is not as compassionate as they used to be. It’s hard to get direct answers, they run people all over the place, and none of the hospital staff talks to each other, leaving the patient to be the middle man and explain the situation. I feel your frustration. I am frustrated for you, but fortunately, you got through it.

    And look at you! Ending part II in a cliffhanger! I will try to patiently wait for part III.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There are compassionate people in the medical field, though I agree that they have become a rare breed. Part of that is our fault because, as patients, we acquiesce to the authority figures and don’t hold them to the higher standard that used to be the norm. So that you can meter out when to get excited, each post is going to be published 5 days apart (next one will be on the 23rd).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I did not mean to imply that there are no compassionate people left in the medical field. I do agree that some do exist. I am also finding that insurance companies have way to much power, as their focus is more on money than the care the patient needs. I have experienced this on more than one occasion. Thank you for the heads up. I look forward to the 23rd!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m sorry that you went through the pain of the injury and the medical hoops you had to go through!! Sometimes it is way more complicated than it should be. We have the same experience with our pharmacy. I wonder if it is how all of them operate.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This post is an unbelievable story of miscommunication and bad policy with little regard for the patient. And here you are, feeling the need to wait because ERs are busy on the weekends! I’m so sorry there was no one to help you through this nightmare. And the pelvis vs jaw comment is beyond the pale. You do have a way of building suspense in your readers! Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh Jo! This is crazy! I feel so bad for you and that lady that made the remark about your x-ray! “No comment!” Just rolling my eyes. I am late catching up on these but glad I don’t have to wait for the next part.

    Liked by 1 person

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