Hospital Nightmare and Escape!

I ended up in the hospital with an infected foot. Last Friday, I went to get some NPH insulin because I still didn’t have good Levemir. Novo Nordisk replaced the 2nd bad box with the same lot number and that was also bad. They wouldn’t ship it Friday because my area doesn’t have Saturday FedEx deliveries – it was going to be Tuesday until I could get it.

I don’t know if it was the NPH or something else, but I gained 3 pounds between Saturday and Sunday and another 5 pounds between Sunday and Monday – and no, I wasn’t snacking on Christmas cookies! I was really swollen and when I took the bandage off my foot Monday morning, my foot was getting red. I “thought” it was because my bandage being tight when my foot swelled up. I didn’t think it was infected because my blood sugar was doing really good (other than the bad Levemir and testing out NPH). I didn’t feel good but I thought that was from being exhausted – that was day 8 of taking insulin every 2 hours and I was really to drop over.

Tuesday morning when I went to get my shower, I took the dressing off and the red had spread so I knew it was infected. I called my mother to come and take me to the ER. We went to the local ER at Conemaugh Hospital. The doctor agreed it was most likely infected so he did some blood work. My SED rate and white blood cell count were both up and he wanted to admit me. I didn’t want to be admitted there because I go to the wound center at Ohio Valley General Hospital in Pittsburgh and since it was a wound related problem, wanted to go there. They were great in calling Pittsburgh to get me transferred there.

Even prior to the final verdict (which I knew how it was going to come back!), I sent my mother to get some stuff for me. I have a d-go-bag but it didn’t have insulin in nor did I have other things I would need. When my sister and brother-in-law got back to the hospital with it, I discovered that my mother had put the wrong insulin in – she sent the bad Levemir instead of my Apidra. I only had about ¼ of my Apidra pen left and since I was using that as a basal, didn’t think I had enough to last till someone could get more for me.

The doctor thought they had enough time to go to my mother’s house to get the key, get to my place and back to the hospital but the ambulance got there before they did. The one guy was pretty nice about waiting but the driver wasn’t – I told her I wouldn’t go without my insulin. The nurse said they could call someone else if need be. The driver went out to call her boss and I guess he figured he would rather wait a little than lose the money to another company.

For some reason, the doctor I see at the wound center wanted me to go to their ER and be admitted that way. The hospital here worked to get that changed, but when I landed in Pittsburgh, I still had to go to the ER. The triage nurse there said he would get it taken care of to get me a room. Someone else recognized my name and they did have the paperwork to admit me but it was for the next day. It was 9:15 PM until they took me up to a room.

I guess I started off on the wrong foot because I said I wanted the orders to do my own insulin. They weren’t happy with that! A supervising nurse came in to talk to me. By that point, I was ready to drop and didn’t feel great so didn’t have good responses to her but stood my ground.

She of course said it was a liability for them to let me do that. I know other people in the DOC have signed papers to release the hospital from the liability – I was willing to do that but didn’t think of it until the middle of the night. I had explained to the one nurse what I do with my insulin – no one gets gastroparesis and they don’t understand why I take a bunch of little shots as opposed to one big shot. The supervisor nurse asked me what doctor told me to take my insulin like that! It wasn’t a doctor but the DOC and I knew she wasn’t going to like that answer. If someone ever asks me that again, I am going to say Dr. Bernstein!

Right before the supervisor came in, another nurse came in trying to figure out the doctors orders for insulin. I had my I:C ratios on my sheet. Someone from the hospital called when I was still in the ER at Conemaugh to ask what that meant (not a good sign!). My I:C ratio for dinner is 1:15 – the nurse at Ohio Valley thought they were supposed to give me between 1 and 15 units. The most I took during my stay there was 2 units at a time and that was with food. The highest my BS went was 128. There probably isn’t enough glucagon in the world to bring me back if they injected me with 15 units at a time (my TDD for both basal and bolus is about 25-30 units)! And yet they would be liable if I did my own insulin!

That night, my eyes and nose were super dry. I use Restasis for my eyes because I don’t produce any moisture on my own at all. I didn’t get any at all and had to start pushing for it the next morning. I now know to put some Restasis and OTC stuff for both my eyes and nose in my bag.

When the doctor came in, he told me that he did order the Restasis – the nurse said he didn’t but being in hospitals before, I am sure that he did. He left my foot unwrapped for a nurse to wrap. After he left, I had to go to the bathroom so buzzed to get it wrapped so I could go. About 45 minutes later, the nurse’s aid that came in when I buzzed popped her head in. Right before the doctor came in, she had put a clean gown and towels for me to get cleaned up and she was checking to see if that happened. I pointed to my foot and said I was still waiting to get that wrapped so I could go to the bathroom.

About 20 minutes later, I was at the point I really needed to get to the bathroom. They had a notice on the wall that if you needed immediate medical attention to dial zero – I did that because hitting the buzzer seemed useless. The person that answered couldn’t hear me so I just hung up. I hit the buzzer but that was ignored so I started screaming – that finally got their attention!

Right after that, the nurse came in with my Restasis and an IV bag with Vancomycin in – that is an antibiotic. I was relieved to get something in my eyes. About 1 or 1:30, the cleaning person was in and she noticed a pill container with 2 pills in on my dinner try. I have no idea who put them there but I am guessing the nurse that brought the Restasis did and I was so excited about that, I didn’t hear her say about those pills.

I didn’t know what they were so buzzed the nurses again. I buzzed at some point later and that was also ignored. Late that afternoon, I felt weird and I realized I didn’t get any of my normal morning pills – I take 3 thyroid pills split during the day and 1 Furosemide. I again tried to buzz them and that was ignored. The nurse’s aids did come in to check but then you would hear, “I will let your nurse know” and that was the end of it.

By that point, I was really frustrated. I asked if there was a supervisor. I told the nurse’s aid that came in that I felt like I would be better off if I checked myself out and went out to the parking lot and dialed 911 to get an ambulance to take me to another hospital! He went to get the nurse and now she checked the pills – 4 hours after I asked. They were 2 thyroid pills but only 1/3 of what I normally take.

They had also given me potassium twice – once the night before and once on Wednesday. It must have had gluten in because it really did a number on my stomach. I asked if they had another brand and was told no. I was told that I needed potassium because that was low and it was a danger to my heart but they couldn’t get me any. One of the aids saw me crying so she went to get a supervisor.

When that woman came in, she had been told I was refusing medicine. I don’t see how you not taking something that you have a problem with is refusing medicine. The other stuff I didn’t take because it was left there and I didn’t know what it was. It could have something for the person in the room next to me for all I know.

I also asked about some heating type thing that they had brought in the night before and I was told the doctor ordered it. The nurse that night said it was supposed to be on 20 minutes and off 30. They left it on almost 50 minutes and it was never put back on again. I didn’t want my insurance billed for something that was sitting there not being used. The person that said there wasn’t an order for it.

The supervising nurse ended up calling the pharmacy and they had a liquid form with no gluten in. I could also hear her tell the regular nurse to call my doctor about the Furosemide (that wasn’t prescribed) and my thyroid meds. I could hear the nurse on the phone with the doctor and she asked about the thyroid meds and the Furosemide. Then she came to my room and told me he approved the thyroid change. I asked about the Furosemide and she acted like she didn’t know she was supposed to ask.

Later that night, I asked about the Vancomycin. The doctor made a point in coming back to my room about an hour after he left and told me that he ordered two bags per day. I had one that morning and now couldn’t get the 2nd one. Of course I was told by the nurse that lied about the Furosemide that it wasn’t ordered. Sure it wasn’t!

The final straw was about 2 AM. I woke up soaking wet from sweating. My BS was in the 80s and I had checked an hour before and was in the 80s. I can’t imagine that I dropped low enough to sweat like that and back up all in an hour so not sure why I was sweating. I buzzed to get a dry gown and she brought that right away. After I got changed, I realized that the sheets and my pillow were also soaked. When I buzzed her again, I apologized for not knowing the first time I buzzed and I was met with, “what do you want me to do?” I told her that I guessed I could sleep in the hall!

At that point, I had enough and decided I was leaving. I wanted to do that after the Vancomycin incident but thought maybe once I had some sleep, I would decide it was better to stay put. I got dressed and sat in a chair until about 7 then I buzzed them for the form to check myself out. I didn’t have my walker with me so they took me down in a wheelchair.

While I was waiting for my ride, I called the person that I referred to TuDiabetes – I had called her the day before to see if they had a form I could sign relieving them of liability if I did my own insulin. She had stopped in to see me and said she would be back that day. She came over to the lobby and then went to get someone in customer service. That person happened to see the Director of Nursing for my floor walk past. Everyone was apologetic for what happened but and said it shouldn’t have happened. The Director of Nursing told me if that happens in the future to ask for the Director of Nursing.

On Wednesday, I talked to my mother to see if Novo Nordisk had sent the Levemir. They sent Novolog instead so I had to call them from the hospital to get that straight. I was told they couldn’t overnight it! I was fuming – they overnight what they knew was a bad batch (they told me Friday they ended up pulling that from distribution) then overnight Novolog as a replacement for Levemir but you are going to tell me you can’t overnight Levemir now?

I made it home in one piece. I called my PCP Friday morning but he wouldn’t call in an antibiotic without him seeing it. I went to a walk-in clinic to get some antibiotics. I also finally have some good Levemir so am getting caught up on my sleep!

 

Comments

  1. Oh, Kelly, I just HATE the misery you are going through. It reminds me of the time I spent 12 hours lying on a urine-soaked pad because no one bothered to check it — and they SHOULD know that no one can hold their urine after the catheter has been removed!! But that’s nothing compared to what you went through. I am anxiously awaiting an update — I remember the hell you went through when you had a foot ulcer before, and I just hope this one has a happy ending too. And Christmas is such a lousy time to be going through this! I think you are going to have to celebrate an unChristmas when you’re better — leave up your village for it, OK? Hugs!

    • Thanks Natalie! I know you didn’t have fun in your stay either. I am hoping this has a happy ending – I am more than ready for it! I should leave my village up for awhile because I really didn’t get to enjoy it.

  2. Holey smokes, what a ride. I’m so sorry that you had to go through all of that. With everything going on, did you get what you needed for your foot?

  3. Oh Kelly – just getting caught up on everybody now. Terrible, just terrible. You and I were having some identical experiences. Communication at my hosp was just dreadful. I had 7 specialists working on my case, and all the superegos were butting heads. I was completely out of the loop.
    And me making my own insulin decisions? PPPPPFFFFFTTTT!!!!!
    I also had the liquid potassium but drank it straight (without dilution) and then immediately threw up, along with all my other pills I’d taken. Had to have it i.v. which burned like a son of a gun.
    Got a bad allergic reaction to a drug and my skin started to peel off. Had to take prednisone to lessen the inflammation and my bg was over 500 for three consecutive days.
    No one had time to help me with a shower so I figured out how to turn off the bed alarm and did it myself. The nurse didn’t seem to notice that I was towel drying wet hair when she came into the room.
    I FLIPPIN’ HATE HOSPITALS. They are no place for a sick person to be.
    So, how is everything at this point? I hope improving.
    And I hope the New Year brings some stability to your health. Love ya, sister!

  4. Wow, I’m sorry you went through all of that!! It makes me so upset to hear everything that was done wrong. I’m so glad that you stood up for yourself when you needed to and made the decision to get yourself out of there!

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