Tag Archives: Healthcare

My Latest Medical Hell In The ER

TW/CW: Discussion of medical symptoms, bodily fluids, and ableism, violation of bodily autonomy, disrespect of my humanity.
In my lat blog post, i wrote about a recent scare i had when too much fluid was once again taken off of me at dialysis this past Tuesday. I got so afraid, because i could not eat or drink a thing, a huge painful gas bubble was in my upper abdominal cavity, and my urine was a dark brown color. I was also having slight dizzy spells.
I had my caregiver, Sam, take me to the hospital, to the ER, that evening.
This blog is about the ableism that occured, mainly from the first doctor and the two ER nurses i dealt with while there.
For one, i was greeted with a triage nurse who was not rude, but who wasn’t that friendly either. He took my history, my symptoms, and vitals, and let me know what all my vitals were, except for when he told me my temperature, he said it in metric form, and would not let me know what my temp was in Fahrenheit form. Then a registration person (female-presenting) took my info as well. They were friendly.
When Sam and i went back to the ER area, that was one hot mix of both bad and good. We waited like 35 minutes to be taken back to the ER room.
My first nurse was nice enough. Until later. (More on her in a bit!) But firstly i was put in an ER cubicle that was shared, not one of their many private ER rooms. And there was a woman in the first bed, along with a male presenting person who was standing and holding a 3 year old boy, who was running right into my area, and then crying so loud i could not hear my nurse or doctor. Okay, disclaimer, i love children, but the loud noise of the little boy’s crying was triggering me, as i was already a ball of anxiety and nerves, and i had to leave and get placed into another non-private ER room with two beds.
Okay, while i was still in the first ER room with the crying boy, a doctor, Dr. J., came right in, and upon haring my symptoms, he, without first asking me, reached over, grabbed my t-shirt, pulled it up, and began feeling my entire abdominal area. Then an unneccesary argument ensued when they wanted to put a catheter in me to check my urine, instead of the toilet hat they use for us fat folks that cannot do a conventional urine sample (pee in the cup). I refused the catheter, and they consented to the toilet hat.
I had Sam wheel me into the restroom, but we were unable to get the hospital wheelchair in to the restroom, so, the nurse proceeded, without warning, to lift up my legs, roughly, again, without first asking me, to move the wheelchair’s leg rests off to the side, so i could get out ad walk into the restroom. I reacted instantly by snapping at her to ask me first before just touching me. And let her know she was hurting my legs. I let her know i had lymphedema, and that her roughness could cause leg ulcers to break out on my calves where she was lifting them up.
She was not that friendly either. And she talked too loudly, so that everyone else in that whole area could hear what was going on. Isn’t that a violation of the new HIPPAH laws?
The following are copied and pasted from an actual survey i got in my email this morning from that hospital. Re-edited for clarity.
I dealt with a total of two ER nurses that night…St., and Ch.
Both nurses I dealt with were mostly condescending, and when i explained I am autistic and have certain ways I need for things to be, sensory issues, etc., (my accomodations for my disability of autism) they were both dismissive, and instead were quick to defend the rude nurses I had in a previous stay, over my valid complaints. I felt unheard, and talked down to.
In addition, when my first nurse, St, took me to the restroom, she handled my legs roughly, and without first asking me when helping me to get from the wheelchair to the bathroom.
ALL of ANY hospital’s staff needs to ask us first whenever they need to touch and move us. I believe in treating patients with utter respect and courtesy, and this means respecting our bodily autonomy. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ASK FIRST! And if we go to tell you things, do not dismiss us, and defend your staff over the feedback we give on them. That too, is dismissive.
I saw two doctors while there in their ER. The first one Dr. J, came right up and pulled the front of my t-shirt up without first asking me, to check (feel around) my abdominal area. This was invasive and a disrespect of me. While I realize he needed to check my abdominal area, he still needed to ask me first. Again, the entire ER staff need to learn to ask patients first, before you touch us. It shows respect and care for us as the human beings we are.
My second doctor, Dr. Sh, showed respect and was kind to me.

The lady dressed in a bright red pantsuit who came to draw blood for my labs was friendly and respectful.

The male-presenting individual who came to do an abdominal ultrasound, was also friendly and cool, and showed me respect.

However, I was only given partial information about my possible condition, and no one has since bothered to follow up with me from your hospital as to the FULL RESULTS of all blood tests, or the ultrasound I had while in your ER.
I was quite impressed with the courtesy and respect that both ultrasound person and person who came to draw my blood showed to me. They even asked me if i wanted the overhead lights kept off, to which i said yes, because bright overhead floursecent lights bother me greatly.

However, none of them would barely talk to, or acknowledge my caregiver and friend, Sam.

The reason I marked very poor for privacy is that I was put in two non-private ER rooms.

I was never visited by a hospital leader.
In addition, both of my nurses, which again, were St and Ch, never bothered to give me the TV Remote/Call Button, until I finally asked for it, and was given it only after I had asked for it, a full two hours after I came to the ER.

I was never offered water to drink, or a blanket, or asked if I wanted the room temperature lowered or raised. I was cold the entire time I was there.
In addition, when nurse Ch came in with Dr. Sh and a second Doctor, nurse Ch reached over and shut my entire TV OFF—–AGAIN, WITHOUT ASKING ME FIRST IF IT WAS OKAY IF THEY COULD HAVE THE TV MUTED so that we could talk. I would have been more than happy to mute the TV myself. It would have shown respect again, for my autonomy and me, as a human being whose feelings mattered to them.
Considering the overall manner I was treated by staff when i visited your ER on April 3, 2019, no, I would not recommend this ER to anyone.

I felt most unwelcomed there, like most of your ER staff that was on that night, just did not care.
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In closing, i am writing this, because my local hospital needs to train their staff to do all they can to make each and every visitor feel welcome in that hospital campus. The entire medical field needs to change and realize we who come seek medical help, are human, our bodies our ours, and they need to listen, hear us, and be patient and kind to us. Don’t manhandle our mobility equipment, don’t talk loudly so the whole facility can hear, and give us the choice of whether we are okay with being in a non-private ER room or not. I will wait for the private ER room, because our local hospital has a majority of their ER rooms as private.
It was strongly recommended that i be admitted that evening. But i refused, because of how i was being treated in their ER that evening.
P. S.~~~As for my condition, i recovered the next day. I could once again eat and drink, and my urine has been clear since then too. So it was dialysis related, them taking too much fluid off of me, that caused me to get sick.

A Frank Talk

TW/CW: Discussion of dying, death, and chronic illness, also ableism by medical staff at a hospital. And yes, i do discuss my faith, and belief system (mention of Christianity and Jesus, but i promise it is non-preaching.)
Last June, my world came crashing down. I was hospitalized on June 16th when my then caregiver, K, came and i was almost passed out in my chair, weak, and unable to move much. My lymphedema leg lump that is on my left inner thigh, had become red hot infected. And when i got to the ER, after they did labs on me, they said i had a severe infection in the leg lump—and—end stage stage 5 kidney disease. I was hospitalized for a total of three weeks.
Two days later, i had surgery to implant a chest catheter at the right side of the base of my neck, which goes into my heart, in order to start immediate kidney dialysis.
I’ve been on dialysis ever since, starting in the hospital, and then in center when i got discharged from the hospital July 5th.
At first, i was so devastated—and i actually went through what people go through when a loved one dies, several stages of grief—denial, anger, sadness, depression, etc. I cried alot, and often out of the blue, i would burst into tears. This was so new and terrifying to me. I even called one of my siblings and left them a long message to let them know, i don’t hate them, and why i felt led to tell my story online in 2010—that my intention was not to put them on blast to hurt them, but to make them aware of how the way i was treated had a great profound, sadly, negative affect my life, and to educate others going through the same with their families, and to show others they are not alone.
But right away, i was met with a team of two nephrologists, who talked to me in depth about what i was to expect. Since my labs were stable, i was allowed to still eat mostly normally, just go light on foods with phospherous, potassium, and sodium. They told me they would have my back, and that the kidney center i would be going to for my dialysis would have my back.
I loved going to dialysis right off the bat. Most of the staff have been so supportive of me, and i have even made many friends and allies among them. I even created a cool new imaginary friend out of my dialysis machine, to help me to cope with having to go there for 4 hours three days a week, who is also a real ally, even though she is not real.
Okay, let’s get to the point of this story. Kidney disease IS a killer. It is eventually fatal. The dialysis machine, our second kidney, acts as our kidney, when our kidneys can no longer do their work to cleanse the toxins from our bodies. But with kidney disease, comes the risk of heart attack, cardiac arrest, stroke, infection of the access site, whether chest catheter, fistula, or AV graft, and damage to other internal organs.
Twice now, during dialysis, i have experienced an episode where i get a weird feeling all over, a huge gas bubble forms in my upper abdominal cavity underneath my breasts, my urine turns dark brown, and i cannot eat or drink a thing until the gas bubble and nausea slowly passes. This happened a month ago when they took off way too much fluid for my body to handle, then it happened again yesterday.
Lat night i felt i needed to go to the ER. There, i was treated to first one doctor and nurse, who without asking me first, pulled up my shirt to feel my abdominal area. That is a real invasion of my own body, to get touched without first asking. Doctors and nurses do this all the time, and it is downright disrespectful. Then the first nurse, also without asking me, lifted my legs from the wheelchair foot rests, was rough about it, and i told her to stop and ask me first, and to be gentle with me.
I stayed there for over four hours, only so they could get a urine sample, which by the way, never got tested, then blood was drawn, six vials in all. They also did a complete ultrasound of my entire abdominal area. But the way i felt like i was being unheard by the nurses and the first doctor, i refused to let them admit me. If i need to go back to a hospital, it won’t be this one in Santa Maria, it will be one in San Luis Obispo that has an excellent patient centered reputation. I just didn’t feel like i would be accomodated this time at our hospital…so i had Sam, my caregiver and friend, bring me back home.
I am able to sip small amounts of water now as of this morning. And update: I ate an entire Solo cup of Rice Krispies with 2% lowfat milk, and a sliced apple. my urine looks clear and light-colored again.
The prospect that i could die soon, is once again hitting me hard—and it scares me shitless. While i have never turned my back on my faith and Christianity (Jesus), since i have been woken about so many things, i no longer feel it is respectful or appropriate to those with different beliefs and faiths, and those who aren’t into faith, to proselytize. I never was a Bible thumper, but i did used to post alot of Christian themed memes when i first came onto Facebook, mainly out of guilt that if i didn’t post them i wasn’t a true believer—that i was denying my faith is Jesus. I still profess Jesus as my savior who died for me so i could have eternal life, but i also respect all of you who believe differently, are Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or no faith in any God at all. I was hurt greatly in so many churches i went to, and i never want to be that kind of person who hurts others. I bring this up, because of the fact that i know i am dying, and there is a huge part of me that fears i may go to hell when i die—because i still cuss like a sailor, i still get pissed off, royally pissed. But ya know what? I now know anger is a valid emotion, and some people do not deserve our forgiveness. I know hell on top of all of the earthly hell i have already been through, would be the unwanted icing on the cake for me.
Sigh—-i don’t know where i am going with this talk. I just know i am real, and i just want to know that i made some kind of a difference in other people’s lives before i do leave this earth. And i want to live on after i die, in a happy place–whether it be Heaven, or in a new earthly life. Knowing that, would help to alleviate much of my fear of dying.
And i would rather die where i feel safe dying. Not with harsh nurses that don’t give two fucks about me, but with the people who i love, who love me. Like my now caregivers, Sam and Iris.
To all of you, my friends here on Facebook, to the ones who are not on my friends list now, but who i still remember with love and gratitude, to the few local friends i have, i thank you all for the love and support you’ve all given to me, for having my back, and for helping to wake me the fuck up about so many things i used to believe in, but don’t anymore because i now see so many truths that i didn’t see before. I have been awakened to the knowledge that i am both bi-sexual and non-binary/queer. I thank you all for enriching my life so much, for the true treasures you all have been and still are to me today.
I love you all, friends. Each and every one of you. To the moon and stars and back, i love you all so very very much. Your light will shine on me forever and ever and ever.
I wish i had enough time left to help bring this nation we live in to a place of true love, peace and well-being for all of its people, including our most vulnerable, elderly and disabled people, People of Color, LGBTQIA, Neuroqueer, Autistic/Disabled, Muslim, Jewish, Black, Latinx, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Asian, everyone. A place where healthcare is a fundamental human right. Where disabled people start being truly accepted, included and accomodated and part of the national conversation. Where gay and transgenders can feel safe walking down the street. Where an elderly grandmother can know she can get her meds, pay her rent, monthly bills, or stay in her home that she still owns, where Muslims and Jewish people can worship without fear of a mass shooter gunning them down. Where there is no more gun culture, period. Where no more Black youth get shot and killed. Where hate is stamped down. I would work for a nation that is no longer thought of as a cruel nation.
In the meantime, i am not dead yet. As long as i still breathe, i will spend my very last spoon defending my friends and my community. I will hold space for all of you. I will do what i can to spread the causes of love, truth, and justice.
Love and peace and light,
Melissa Fields, Still Here

What I Posted For This Year’s Disability March

The following is a blog post i posted for this year’s Disability March. I hope you will give this a read, and share.

Thanx!! 🙂

http://disabilitymarch2.com/?p=475

An Open Letter To The US House Of Representatives

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Dear US House and Senate both,

Re: Tax Reform Bill

My name is Melissa Fields. I live in Santa Maria CA. This is my story.

I am 57 years old, and #Disabled. I am Autistic and also physically disabled due to debilitating hip, back, and knee pain, plus chronic lymhedema on both of my legs. In addition, I have a large lymphedema lump on the inside of my left thigh that is literally larger than the size of a basketball. It is every bit as firm as a basketball too. This greatly limits my mobility.

I am disabled by many Autistic sensory issues, to certain types of noise, touching certain things/foods, harsh lighting, certain music, and being around people when they are rude and unfriendly. I am also disabled because I can barely walk and badly need more than just my quad cane and walker to get around. I also have issues with executive functioning.

I have never been able to work at a job my entire life because my above disabilities have prevented me from being able to secure and keep a job.

I have lived on SSI, then Social Security Survivor’s benefits my entire adult life. In addition, I also depend on both Medicare and Medicaid for my healthcare, and in home caregiver that comes to help me six days a week.

In addition, the Olmstead Law has allowed me to be able to enjoy living in my own small cottage. My Section 8 Public Housing Assistance helps me so I can actually afford to pay my rent each month. A CARE discount that I get each month also allows me to be able to afford to pay my monthly utilities. I am proud that I have been able to live on my own without much undue hardship for the past 30 years of my life. Before my lymphedema got bad, I even drove and had a car from 1990 till 2012.

I am writing this on behalf of myself and all of my friends in the Disability Community who, like me, either cannot work, or who are going to school or through Vocational Rehabilitation, in an effort to gain employment.

I am writing on behalf of my Disabled friends who already are working, but still need help with healthcare, necessary medications, mobility equipment and personal care so they can keep their jobs.

I am writing this on behalf of all veterans who have fought for this country who need services.

I am writing on behalf of senior citizens who depend on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Housing, and other vital programs that help with their quality of life. And yes, I fall into this category now.

Please don’t let this tax bill become law the way it is written. If it does, you will be forcing all of us who are poor, Disabled, elderly, etc. into grave undue hardship, homelessness, and death. Many will have to drop out of school, and stop working, and those of us who cannot work, who depend on our social safety net for our very survival, will be plunged into utter devastation and despair. Many of us, like myself, have no family to help us if this should happen.

If i don’t have personal in home care, I will cease to live.

Please. I urge you to think of the millions of real human beings this tax bill will be hurting. Please don’t cut Medicare and Medicaid. or Housing. Or tax those of us who can least afford it.

I am all for tax reform—but only the kind of tax reform that is truly just and fair for ALL of us.Me on September 27, 2014-2