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.