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My Latest Hospitalization
Old 07-06-2011, 05:51 PM   #1
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My Latest Hospitalization

I just got out of Fairfax Hospital in northern Virgina Friday evening after a long two day stay. I slept approx 4 hours out of the whole 48. My room's door was right next to the nurses' station for the whole floor. They were yelling out down the hall all night long like they were out in the back yard having a cookout. During the graveyard shift the midnight Lotharios were out in force, joking and romancing the "Ladies," as they put it. I was there because I had an organ rejection scare. Wednesday evening I had a sudden onset of fever, chills and violent shivering, classic symptoms of transplanted organ rejection. I had had diarrhea all day Wednesday so I was dehydrated. That is not unusual at all anymore. Gastric problems are associated with diabetic gastro-paresis, which is a paralyzing of the gut from nerve damage from diabetes. I'm either constipated or having diarrhea. I called the transplant center at Fairfax hospital, just like I'm supposed to whenever my temperature goes above 101°. They said to come in to the emergency room immediately, like they always do. That's when the cluster you-know-what began. The place was filthy and they couldn't get any of my meds correct for the entire 48 hours. I am on 19 prescription drugs which is an awful lot to keep track of. Transplants are supposed to take their pills on a regular schedule and by the time I got out I was 24 hours behind on some of my pills. I had my first transplant over 15 years ago and in the last 4 years I have not missed a single pill. I spent 14 hours in the emergency room before I was transferred to a bed in the hospital. The emergency room was crowded. The room I was in was next to the decontamination area where they powerwash the bloody gurneys (from wrecks). Some of the water and, yes, debris, blew into my room via under the door. I almost turned inside out from revulsion. I am NOT supposed to be exposed to germs! No transplant or kidney doctors saw me until over 24 hours later. I had all kinds of blood tests and a cat scan and ultrasounds and cultures for all sorts of weird infections but they couldn't find anything wrong. My kidney function measurements were fine from a bloodtest I had had the Monday before. During the emergency room stay they shot up high but that was deemed to be because of the dehydration. After a round of IV fluids they came back down to good levels right away. But until they did we were all worried about the transplanted kidney. The diagnosis is a transient viral infection. No kidney or pancreas rejection whatsoever! So I am greatly relieved. I still have never had an organ rejection during my fifteen years as a transplant. I am considered a compliant (well, with my treatment regimen, anyway) patient.


I have a transplant team. They work for the Fairfax Hospital transplant center. Back in '96 when I got my first transplant, Fairfax was a decent to good hospital and the transplant center was superb. Now, 15 years and lots of cutbacks later, the hospital is a sh*t hole and the transplant center is just OK. I have lots of experience with the transplant center and can get what I need from them using guile and perseverance and knowing the system. I am also polite and respectful when dealing with other people and way more so when dealing with service providers upon who my life may depend.

I have had a bad week - 10 days. Last week I got the news that I have a cataract. I sent to my regular eye surgeon follow up appt and complained that I couldn't see well out of my left eye. He, who I have known for over 30 years, looked in there and said "Well, no wonder, you have a cadillac! I immediately responded with the old punch line "If I'm going to be impotent, I'm going to look impotent!" He laughed and we launched off a round of old black guy joke punchlines. I have to have my clouded lens sucked out and a replacement, artificial plastic lens inserted. I am uncharactically apprehensive about this. I don't like people cutting my eyeball for some reason.

My best friend from college in the '70s, who I'm still close with now, lost his wife to ovarian cancer last week and I had to go to the wake and then a Catholic funeral mass last weekend. The worst part was I had to dress up. I was highly uncomfortable wearing the suit (lifelong aversion to dressing up at all) but the church stuff didn't faze me. I also had two different meet and greets for all of the deceased and friend's family and friends, which included lots of hand shaking, hugs, and from the older ladies, kisses on the cheek. That's why I got sick and had the rejection scare this week I think.

I had a nephrologist appt yesterday and he said I'm "doing great!" He said that the transplant doctors always say it's a transient viral infection when they don't know what it is! So after about 10 days of angst I finally am relaxed and relieved.

So I'm a naturally happy guy and usually stress just flows out of me without affecting me much. But this last period it really took its toll. I'm all better now.

I reread what I have typed and apologize for it being disjoint and not flowing well. One of the casulties of my diabetes induced vascular dementia is the ability to keep a good train of thought while writing and speaking.

There's nothing like that just-got-out-of-the-hospital feeling!

Mike D.
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Old 07-06-2011, 05:57 PM   #2
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Wow, Mike! Glad you are doing okay now. What a nightmare that had to be. My mom's transplant began failing last year, after 8 years of fairly trouble-free life and it has been a nightmare for her with cruddy dialysis clinics, lots of ER trips, and the nosedive in care provided by her kidney docs. You have my sympathy for this nightmare in the hospital but I am very happy you are out where you can get some rest!

I did want to ask, you mentioned your first was 15 years ago-you have had a second transplant? That gives me some hope for mom who is back on the list.

And so sorry to hear of your compound losses in life. A very stressful time!
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Old 07-06-2011, 06:02 PM   #3
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Mike, I was horrified to read about your hospital experience, and especially the fact that they weren't giving your your medications on schedule. There is just no excuse for that! or none that I can see, anyway. And the filth washing in under the door in the ER.... I used to work in a hospital (while in grad school), and I'll just say that heads would have rolled had that ever happened in our hospital.

Glad you turned out to be OK, despite the terrible hospital. Can you go to another one next time, or is this the only one that is reasonable in your case?

Good luck in your cataract surgery.
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Old 07-06-2011, 06:08 PM   #4
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Oh my...when it rains, it pours.

I'm sorry you've had to endure all of this Mike. Hopefully now you can relax a bit and get some good snoozes.
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Old 07-06-2011, 06:16 PM   #5
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Mike, I am glad you are back home and recovering. Tough guy, you are.

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Old 07-06-2011, 06:17 PM   #6
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Mike, sorry about your ordeal. Hospitalization can be hell, and that's from someone who has spent the better part of the last 15 years of practice as a hospitalist.

Some of the issues you describe may be from short funding or short staffing, but a lot of it sounds like very low professionalism. Are you looking for a new transplant hospital/team?
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As if you didn't know..If the above message contains medical content, it's NOT intended as advice, and may not be accurate, applicable or sufficient. Don't rely on it for any purpose. Consult your own doctor for all medical advice.
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Old 07-06-2011, 06:19 PM   #7
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Oh my gosh, what a nightmare. I'm glad you are doing ok now.
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Old 07-06-2011, 06:22 PM   #8
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Wow, Mike, just wow. The description of your emergency room visit and hospital stay is the stuff of nightmares.

Very happy you are back on track...
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Old 07-06-2011, 06:28 PM   #9
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Mike , Sorry about your recent experience . I am so glad you made it through that ordeal . I had Cataract Surgery several years ago and it was the simplest procedure I ever had . Good Luck !
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Old 07-06-2011, 09:41 PM   #10
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OMG Mike, that sounds like a dreadful experience. As Rich said, if I were you I would be checking out alternatives for your future care. Your whole story just underlines how hospitals are dangerous places to be avoided if possible. Those folks really have a quality problem. Have you considered complaining to the VP Quality or some similar poobah? (If they don't have a senior executive responsible for quality and patient safety, take it as a bad sign). I'm so glad you got out of this alive and relatively well, and indeed were able to laugh about it with your ophthalmologist. And thank you for sharing your story.
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Old 07-06-2011, 10:48 PM   #11
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Glad to hear that you are out of the hospital. I try to avoid them at all cost. However, I can see where it was unavoidable for you. Good luck in the future.
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Old 07-06-2011, 11:47 PM   #12
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Mike, sorry to hear about nightmarish experience. I must say you wrote the post very well indeed and just flowed the right way. Last week I spent 3 nights in the hospital accompanying my dad who was very sick and his room was next to the nurses station. They made a lot of noise during the "graveyard shift" and I just had to tell them off as my dad could not sleep for 3 nights.

Don't worry about the cataract surgery - I did cataract for both eyes already - really painfree procedure. Take care and all the best!
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Old 07-07-2011, 03:35 AM   #13
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Glad you are doing better, Mike.
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Old 07-07-2011, 09:12 AM   #14
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Mike,

Sorry to hear about your horrible experience. I live in Northern Virginia so I will avoid Fairfax hospital at all costs. Potomac hospital is closer, anyway and all of my outpatient experiences there (MRI's, X-rays, CT's, etc.) have been fine.
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Old 07-07-2011, 10:38 AM   #15
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Oh, Mike, how horrific! I was nearly killed in the local hospital a few years back, so have a blanket decision that I will NEVER go there again, but to a first-rate place that's an hour or more away. We now both know how dangerous a bad hospital can be. Best wishes, and take care!
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Old 07-07-2011, 12:21 PM   #16
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Mike,

Sorry to hear about your horrible experience. I live in Northern Virginia so I will avoid Fairfax hospital at all costs. Potomac hospital is closer, anyway and all of my outpatient experiences there (MRI's, X-rays, CT's, etc.) have been fine.
Another Northern Virginian here and I'm very dismayed to hear of Mike's horrible experience. Fairfax Hospital is located smack dab in the middle of the second richest county in the nation. What could service be like in poor communities?

Get well soon Mike.
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Old 07-07-2011, 02:50 PM   #17
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Glad you survived the mayhem. Hope if there is another hospital visit it will be a better experience, though no visit to the hospital is to be looked forward to.
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Old 07-07-2011, 07:56 PM   #18
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Another Northern Virginian here and I'm very dismayed to hear of Mike's horrible experience. Fairfax Hospital is located smack dab in the middle of the second richest county in the nation. What could service be like in poor communities?

Get well soon Mike.
Probably much better. Recently, I had to use the ER in a rural community hospital in the poorest part of the USA. I could not have asked for or hoped for better care.
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Old 07-07-2011, 08:09 PM   #19
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Probably much better. Recently, I had to use the ER in a rural community hospital in the poorest part of the USA. I could not have asked for or hoped for better care.
Why do I live here? I feel like a fool.
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Old 07-07-2011, 08:34 PM   #20
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I am glad to hear that you are out. It never should have been that type of experience.
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