Monday, April 20, 2015

A little injury, a lot of trauma...


Hold on to your butts, because this is going to get long and it's not a happy story, but since I can't get the hospital to listen to my story, at least I can tell it here.

About a month ago I was injured playing in a hockey game, I took a hard shot puck to the side of my right hand, where the glove padding ends. I immediately got off the ice and called for a medic, the medic said he thought it could be broken and he gave me ice and he splinted it. If you know me, it's not surprising that I had an anxiety reaction, but luckily this was immediately recognized by the medic. I told him I had a diagnosed anxiety disorder and would be able to take my meds once I got back to the locker room, but I wanted to stay and watch the rest of the game. The medic was awesome and he helped calm me down by distracting me with other topics, like puppies. I finished watching the game and got to be there when my teammate proposed to her girlfriend. My hand hurt but it was magical to be able to stay for the special event.

Once I did get back to the locker room, I took some meds and I called my husband and my parents to let them know what had happened, then I was driven by a teammate to Methodist Hospital ER in St. Louis Park (yes, I am calling them out by name).

I checked in and was fairly quickly seen by the admitting nurse or nursing assistant, who was somewhat preoccupied discussing her upcoming vacation with other staff as she was taking my information. I had to update her on my medications because the ones in the system we're not up-to-date but she was not paying close attention to the changes I was telling her and they did not all get recorded. I told her that I had a diagnosed anxiety disorder, among other things, and that I'd already taken some an anti-anxiety pill. It barely seemed to register with her, she didn't even ask what dosage I had taken! This should have been a red flag, in retrospect, and I should have gotten somebody to come meet me there asap at that point. But I didn't. Instead I let them shepherd me off to one of those little alcove "rooms" where I waited until it was time to get x-rays.

When I got back from x-ray, I was feeling increased pain from the necessary positions my hand was put in to get the x-rays. The nurse from before came back and asked if I would like a warm blanket I said yes (I was shivering because my sweat from hockey had soaked my clothes and was now cold). I also asked if I could have some pain medication because my hand was starting to throb, between a 7 and 8 on the pain scale. The nurse replied “oh now you're going to be demanding!” I thought she was joking, but I never did get any pain meds. Instead I was left alone for what felt like an eternity.

As time passed, the pain kept going up and so did my anxiety. When the nurse finally returned, I reminded her that I had an anxiety disorder and I was starting to feel the effects of my disorder. She only responded to tell me the doctor would be in shortly. When the doctor came in he was very abrupt. He got right up into my face, closer then I felt comfortable with, and told me it wasn't broken and when I tried to ask for more information he gave me some small printouts of my x-ray and with some exasperation pointed to the lack of visible breaks.

Normally finding out your wrist isn't broken would reduce a person's anxiety. You'd think so, right? Not in this case. His demeanor was so aggressively dismissive, more like scolding me for overreacting to the injury than reassuring me it would be ok. When I asked questions he got very defensive as if I were trying to argue that he was wrong (I was not, I just didn’t understand what he was saying). Just writing about it is making me shake. At this point I tried to tell the doctor that I was feeling anxiety over situation and it tried to tell him about my mental health issues.
Without acknowledging my concerns, the doctor then turned things over to a tech, a young man, who was there to make a plaster splint (I still didn't understand why I was even getting a plaster splint!)

This is where things get a bit fuzzy in my memory because of my anxiety level, I was in bad shape emotionally. Again I tried to explain my anxiety, this time to the tech, but although he seemed sympathetic all he could do was explain how he was splinting my arm. By the time the splint was complete, I was really upset, my mind was swimming, I felt like I was going to burst out of my skin. I was having thoughts of minor self harm (all noraml precusors to a full panic attack) I told the tech I would like him to stay with me until the nurse arrived but he didn't and once again I found myself alone. 

I was really agitated at this point and just hoping somebody would come back. I was getting more and more concerned that I was abandoned because people thought my problems were all made up in my head (intrusive negative thoughts being a mainstay of my anxiety disorder). I pressed the nurses button several times I said “hello? hello? somebody come back” but I did not get up out of the bed, my anxiety had me nearly paralyzed. The more time that passed, the more anxious I became, the more my mind was telling me I had been abandoned and that they all thought I was crazy, and that they were never going to give me help.

I was in full-blown panic mode at this point. Hyperventilating, I got down onto the floor. I also kicked over a chair and banged my head on the wall several times. Logic was gone from my mind, at this point the only thing I was concerned about was making the panic attack stop and in that state the idea that if I just smash my own skull in the bad thoughts would have to stop.
That's when two security guards came into the room along with the nurse. The nurse bent down on the floor got right in my face and started asking over and over “what's wrong? what's wrong? Calm down! calm down!” I asked her once to please back away I needed her to get out of my personal space as she was making my panic worse. She didn't listen. I asked again and again for her to back off. My thoughts of self-harm were morphing into more violent urges, thoughts I did not want to act on. I was biting my hand to keep them in but eventually told her if she didn't leave I might kick her.

That got her attention and she jumped back saying "well forget this! I'm out of here!”. I felt so horrible I just burst out crying. After she left one of the security guards sat down in a chair a few feet away and talk calmly to me. This got me somewhat calmed down and the violent and self-harm feelings started to abate. I was still very scared but the guard seemed more calm and he was not in my face and that helped. The panic attack stopped and the tears were slowing... until the nurse came back.

I was told that I would need to be moved to another room. I was told I could not walk to this room and that I had to ride on the bed. I was still crying as I was wheeled off. Nobody told me where we were going and a whole new set of fears began to set in. I hurriedly texted my husband: “come now. I had a panis attack and they’re taknng me placed[sic]

The room I was taken to. Cozy and comforting, isn't it?
I arrive in a small room with a door with a locking keypad. They locked away all the cabinets in the room then told me I had to change my clothes into the hospital paper clothes that they gave me. I complied but I was sobbing and terrified. I was watched by the tech who had made my splint as I undressed. I asked him if I could at least keep my underwear and he said “okay” although clearly this was not something he was used to supervising. I was not allowed to keep my socks or necklace, but surprisingly I did get to keep my cell phone. None of this made sense nor was the purpose ever explained me. I sent my husband one more text message “I’m so scared”.

After I changed, a social worker came into the room. At first it seemed like I was finally getting the care I had asked for, however it became quickly apparent that she was more concerned about defending the actions of the hospital rather than hearing and validating my concerns although I stopped crying when she first arrived, her argumentative tone her accusatory manner had me in tears again quickly. She just kept asking what was wrong with me, and then contradicting me when I tried to explain what I felt had happened. Because she was making matters worse, I asked her to leave several times. I told her that she upsetting me and making me feel panicked. I asked again and again for her to leave. At some point during this interaction another woman came in who I had not met. She handed me a pill which she said was Ativan. I told her I already taken some but she firmly told me I had to take more, and handed it to me with a cup of water. I took it. To this day I have no idea what the dose I was given was. It is not mentioned in my discharge papers at all. It made me super loopy. I've been on Ativan for over a year and have never felt that loopy before.

After the social worker left I was left in the room alone, but with the door open with the second security guard sitting outside. I struck up a casual conversation with him, talking about his shoes and getting him to laugh made me feel a bit more human. Then husband then arrived, they returned my things to him and then I was able to go home where I immediately went to bed and cried myself to sleep.
My hand the next day at urgent care.

The next day I went to urgent care and was taken very good care of. I got a new brace for my wrist, pain medication, and proper care instructions. (it turned out to be a bone bruise with a small bone chip and has since almost totally healed) I talked to my psychiatrist later about the ordeal and she was both dismayed but also sadly not surprised. Apparently ERs are notorious for this type of reaction to any sort of emotional distress. I will never ever go to an ER again if I can avoid it. And I will always bring an advocate. I recommend the same to anybody else with anxiety.


2 comments:

  1. Ugh, what a nightmare. I'm sorry. Glad your hand's better though.

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  2. Wow that is absolutely insane what you had to go through. You were definitely treated poorly! I would have put you into restraints far earlier than they did, and put you on 1:1 self-injury observation, while setting up a psychiatry consult and placement. You obviously are not well treated for your mental disorder and its a shame you are able to put yourself into harms way over such small actions. I wish you luck. Just remember, no one has ever died from an anxiety attack, and the ED knows that, so cut them some slack, some people actually are dying.

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