Hospital awesome

28 Oct

Let me begin by saying that this is the most banal story in the world, so if you are doctor or don’t care much about how hospitals operate, then move on along, pardner. Move right on along*.

Baby mama calls me in the late morning, to let me know that she has a pain in her calf. She had a blood clot once before, and at 30+ weeks pregnancy, this was enough to generate concern. A couple of calls later, and she is at the hospital, getting a sonogram of her leg (negative result, which meant that if ever there was a clot – unlikely, since she’s taking medicine for that – it wasn’t moving upwards).

And then hospital routine kicks in. Maybe just a quick bit of fetal monitoring, just to make sure that all is on the up and up. And once you’re in the hospital, no food or drink, since at any moment you could get whisked away to surgery, and aggressive, life-saving anesthesia is best administered on an empty stomach. So no lunch, no drinks. Which means baby mama is thirsty and hungry.

At which point, Braxton-Hicks contractions set in. Naturally. Braxton-Hicks contractions are, well, like a fart that doesn’t turn into a shit. I mean, sometimes it does. You never can tell, really. Once when I was a boy, my older brother tried to show us how awesome his farting skills were, dropped his pants, spread his cheeks, and pushed. And a tiny bit of poop came out. But I digress. Mostly, they are ‘practice contractions’ that are irregular, sporadic, and can be brought on by dehydration.

Which leads to a cervical exam, which leads to more monitoring, which leads us (us? Did you say us? Yep. Around 7pm I got a call from baby mama that she’s getting monitored, maybe she’ll be there for a couple hours more, why don’t I join her. And I did. Because, baller that I am, that is how I roll. How. I. Roll.) to be still sitting in the hospital labor/delivery triage at 10:30pm. At which point, I find myself asking the on-call resident what actually would happen if instead of waiting for an attending to be scrounged up to give us the all-clear signal, we just pulled the IV and, you know, went home.

And then she said ‘nothing, really.’ Except that you have to sign a form that says you’re leaving Against Medical Advice, and the way it is said is all in caps, more like AGAINST MEDICAL ADVICE, YOU FUCKING MORONIC ASSHOLE WHO OBVIOUSLY CARES MORE ABOUT YOUR OWN FUCKING DINNER PLANS THAN YOUR BABY AND YOU’RE AN IGNORANT DUMB FUCKER WHO PROBABLY ALSO DOESN’T BELIEVE IN VACCINATIONS AND CROSSES THE STREET AGAINST THE LIGHT AND DID WE MENTION IT’S YOUR BABY FOR GOD’S SAKE BUT IF YOU REALLY WANT TO THAN SURE IT’S YOUR OWN WIFE’S FUCKING FUNERAL.

Faced with this insidious piece of institutional power-grab, we waited another 45 minutes to get out all proper like. And then we had dinner, down at Route 66 on 9th Avenue. Which was nice. I had a veggie burger and some onion rings. Baby mama had a chicken quesadilla, which was a little too chicken-y and not quite enough queso-y.

Home at 1am. Everyone’s fine. Oh, and I saved the long fetal monitoring scrolling paper, because one day I’ll show it to our baby and let him/her know how craaaaazzy medicine was in the days before teleporters and hovercrafts.

* If you’re a doctor reading this, particularly a doctor friend who specializes in terminal patient care, and your response is to shrug, roll your eyes, and say something to the effect of ‘fucking upper-middle class white people, that’s what happens when you have decent insurance,’ resist the urge to do this. This kind of medical practice is surprising, even if you’ve heard it a million times. I mean, can this really be the best way to set things up? Can it?

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4 Responses to “Hospital awesome”

  1. Davin October 28, 2010 at 8:35 pm #

    Are you kidding? We fuckin’ LOVE LOVE LOVE it when patients sign out AMA. Ain’t no liability, homes. Everybody there was secretly hoping that you and Baby Mama would have the stones to sign that form, believe you me.

    Ironically enough, your insurer would’ve been the happiest of all, because they could then refuse to pay a dime for any treatment Baby Mama received during your whole long day down the medical rabbit hole.

    Best health care system in the world, dammit.

  2. Ivy October 29, 2010 at 12:17 am #

    Loved the poop story. Actually made me laugh out loud.

    Btw, also love Route 66. It used to be a regular brunch place of ours, before it got all gussied up. If you’re back there (which I suspect you will be in about two months or so) be sure to check out their extensive smoothie menu.

    Oh, and I’m glad everything turned out alright. Mostly, I’m glad we got an awesome story out of it, without any actual medical scariness.

  3. Peter October 29, 2010 at 7:23 am #

    Yeah, the poop. Good times, man, good times. You know you grew up in a household of all boys when your childhood games are things like ‘I smell a smell.’

    Davin, wow, so AMA means no payment? This somehow seems crazy, like eating your dinner and then at the end claiming they took too long to give you your dessert, so you don’t have to pay. Except here, dessert is getting a last cervical exam and getting the IV pulled from your arm..

  4. Davin November 1, 2010 at 1:12 pm #

    Well, you should take everything I say with a grain of salt. It’s been almost 2 years since I was a hospitalist, and I was jaded, cynical, and largely checked-out then. Not now, though.

    Anyhoozle, don’t get the wrong idea. The hospital might not have gotten a dime from your insurance, but they would DEFINITELY have tried to get paid. Sheesh. Baby Mama would have received a series of increasingly vaguely threatening letters from the hospital’s billing dept. Not that THAT woulda mattered either, really. People ignore those letters all the time.

    I think the stats were that my old hospital didn’t receive a nickel of payment from something like a quarter of the patients we treated.
    Best health care system in the world, dammit.

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