The Yoga Teacher's Heart Attack
Chapter 5: When Bad Doctors
Happen to Good Patients (part 1)
I shouldn’t hold a grudge against Close Hospital. But I do. A deep, enduring grudge.
For starters, I had a yoga student who was an experienced ob-gyn nurse. I made an offhand comment about going in to labor during a yoga class, and quipped that at least the Close Hospital was less than five minutes away from the yoga studio.
Pregnant nurse yoga student announced that she would rather birth in the gas station parking lot rather than set foot in Close Hospital. She had two grandparents permanently injured during their separate stays at Close Hospital. Additionally, she said she had worked at Close Hospital briefly and and, no ... she's birth in a gas station first.
I tried to keep an open mind. I did consider giving birth to my twins at Close Hospital. James and I went on a tour of the maternity wing when I was pregnant. The nurse leading the tour looked to be in her 60s; short, spiky hair. Reminded me of Kristen Chenoweth, if Kristen drank a little too much and tanned too much in the 1980s.
Close Hospital tour nurse showed the group a nice, spacious room with a large tub for a water birth, adding “Do keep in mind, though, women pregnant with twins are prohibited from water birthing… or soaking in the tub for that matter.” And laughs a smoker’s raspy laugh, as though this is funny. Which it is not.
Okay, I’ll admit, I had hoped for a lovely, soothing, warm water birth. And, yes, several birth centers told me that there was some state law about requiring twin moms to birth in a hospital. But ban me from the water tub suite?
Then she showed us the operating room where c-sections are performed. She scanned the group and asked “Anyone here having twins?” I raised my hand. I’m not even sure if she saw me as she prattled one “We usually keep twin moms in the smaller rooms as they all end up here in the operating room. No matter what twin moms think, there’s no such thing as a natural birthing of twins … eventually a scalpel is involved.” Then she made this weird raspy throat noise and drew a finger across her throat, mafia style. And then laughed at her own joke.
What a batshit crazy thing to say. Plus which, the epic job of growing two humans at the same time should not automatically doom me to a smaller room. In fact, I’d argue the case that perhaps twin moms should earn the suite on the floor. Seriously, why is it okay to discriminate?
And then, hello? Joking about a major abdominal surgery is just plain wrong. You'd like to think that in the modern era of 2008 Anti-Twin Nurse had been to a few sensitivity trainings.
So, okay, whatever “open mind” I had about Close Hospital snapped shut after that maternity tour.
But first, I decided to let data decide for me. I took a deep Google dive and learned that Close Hospital’s rate of episiotomy (slicing the muscle between vagine and rectum) was triple that of the national average. Triple! Apparently Close Hospital was scalpel happy when it came to rectums, too.
I remember telling James that, yes, we are a 50/50 partnership. However, I decided to let my rectal muscles have a 1% tie-breaking vote, and they voted to not birth at Close Hospital. I happily birthed at Better Hospital.
Two weeks after birthing my twings, I developed infected milk ducts, which is about as fun as it sounds. My doctor had given me a prescription for penicillin just in case the infection turned south over the weekend. Which it did. The only thing more fun than infected milk ducts is trying to “nurse through it” while chilled with a fever of 101.
I called the ask-a-nurse hotline at Better Hospital after I take the penicillin and develop this god-awful burning in my throat. It almost felt like the penicillin capsule had stopped right at my Adam’s apple and lit itself on fire.
At Better Hospital, the ask-a-nurse hotline will set up your paperwork so you can glide in through the ER like a princess. So the nice nurse tells me that the throat burning sounds like an allergic reaction. She recommends I head on over to the ER, “in a timely fashion.”
I ask “Hey, can you get the paperwork set up at triage the way you did when I was in with my twins? That was marvelous.”
There’s an awkward pause and she says “I think that you are better off going to Close Hospital.”
And I mewl about how horrible they are and she says “If this turns into a full blown allergic reaction and your throat starts closing, you are better off going to the Close Hospital. That extra driving distance to drive here, that might be critical if you are having difficulty breathing.”
I remind myself of the importance of giving everyone the benefit of the doubt and I comfort myself with the knowledge that the crappy twin-moms-get-small-rooms maternity nurse won’t be on call at the ER.
I present at the check in, the nurse comes in, I tell him of my fire in my throat, which is burning and he says “Okay, so you've got heartburn.”
I reply, “Um, no. I just birth twins two weeks ago. I had insane heartburn starting at week 14, this is nothing like that.” I mention that I had called the ask-a-nurse hotline and that they were concerned about this being an allergic reaction.
He gets snippy. “We don’t have a nurse hotline here at Close Hospital and we don’t take advice from Better Hospital staff. I’ll be right back.” And he stomps away and then reappears with a Dixie cup and says “Drink this, it’ll squash the heartburn.”
I explain that I’m gluten free and dairy free and ask if what he’s giving me is gluten free.
He does some serious huffing and eyeball rolling.
"I can't run any other tests until we rule out heartburn. Just drink this."
I explain that my reaction to gluten is seizures, so I really need to be certain that the stuff in the Dixie cup is free of that allergen. I think he huffs louder by the minute. About every 20 minutes he checks in with me and reminds me that I cannot advance to the next step of bloodwork if I don't drink the crap in the Dixie cup.
Bloodwork isn't even run, not even the basic CBC and Chem 7. That would have at least shown if I was having an allergic reaction.
And three hours later, he confirms, somewhat sheepishly, that he was able to contact the drug manufacturer and that, yes, his Dixie cup product did, indeed, have wheat starch as an ingredient.
“Do you want to still try it and drink it, just to see if you’ll react?”
Almost as though he’s a bartender trying to talk me into a flaming tequila shot.
"This does have wheat in it ... do you want to try it anyway and see if you'll react?" asked the ER nurse at Close Hospital.
As my darling prince reminds me, even med schools have class clowns at the bottom of the class.
No, I don’t want to try and have a seizure … because did I mention? My milk ducts were infected and I had spiked a 101 fever. So, dude, no.
I waddle home, miserable, untreated, appalled that someone who works in an emergency room could be so incredibly inept.
(And also, spoiler alert to all you future parents, big shocking thing about parenthood: when you are sick, you get to drive yourself to the hospital because who wants to schlepp brand new babies into a cesspool of germs or illness?)
So that’s the backstory to why I loathe Close Hospital. Husband James no doubt realizes that I’m in a world of hurt if I willingly agree to go to Close Hospital.