Today’s prompt for Day 17 of the Wego Health Activist Writer’s Challenge is, “Learned the Hard Way. What’s a lesson you learned the hard way? Write about it for 15 today.”
I grew up believing that you should trust your doctor. A doctor was someone that you should respect. I learned the hard way that a doctor needs to earn that trust. When I was going thru my foot wound, the doctor at the local wound center did another culture followed by an MRI. He told me that the infection was gone. I believed him.
He placed a wound VAC on my foot to help close the wound. A wound VAC is not supposed to be used with osteomyelitis (an infection in the bone). My infection was “gone” so that shouldn’t be a problem.
After the wound VAC was placed on my foot, things started going downhill. After an almost fall, I was having a lot of pain in my foot. The wound become macerated and we thought it was because one of the home nurses put the wound VAC on wrong. The doctor performed surgery on my foot to clean out the wound. Although it was done at the hospital in the OR, I was only given a local and remained awake for the surgery. The doctor was going to do another culture but forgot to do it until after he had put something in my foot that would have invalidated the culture. He felt that it wasn’t really necessary to do the culture. He also told me that the bone was fine. That was on a Friday.
The following Wednesday, I saw him at the wound center. That day, he told me that the bone was soft. When I came home, I was very upset because I did not understand how Friday my bone could be fine and on Wednesday it was soft. I called my sister and said that I wanted to change doctors. My sister is a nurse and she called to the wound center and talked to my nurse there.
That was when we found out that the MRI stated I still had an infection. The last MRI was actually the fourth MRI I had on my foot. Even when my sister called me and told me about her conversation with the nurse, I still wanted to believe that the nurse just looked at the wrong MRI. After all, the doctor told me that the infection was gone.
That night, I ended up in the hospital because I was really sick. My sister got a name of a doctor in Pittsburgh that someone she knew had taken her mother to. The doctor I had been seeing told me that I was not allowed to go because I had a hole in my foot. I had to check myself out of the hospital to go.
The new doctor wanted copies of records so I started that process while I was in the hospital. I came home on Sunday and Monday morning, my mother went back to the hospital to pick up the records.
What I discovered was that the nurse did look at the right MRI. It clearly stated that I had an infection. Besides the MRI, the culture I had before he put the wound VAC on my foot also stated that I had an infection. However, the doctor decided that I did not have an infection, stopped treatment for it and put a device on my foot that should not be used with an infection.
Besides the infection, I was also very anemic. I was never given iron until I went to Pittsburgh. When I was scheduled for surgery in Pittsburgh, they were very concerned about how much blood I would lose. Besides the concern for loss of blood, I learned that being anemic hinders wound healing – yet my being anemic was ignored by the doctor at the first wound center. I was on iron while in the hospital and given a prescription for iron when I left the hospital.
My protein levels were also very low, another thing that hinders wound healing. They knew that and did talk to me about my levels being low but never once suggested a protein supplement. My sister discovered that right before I went to Pittsburgh. I am not a doctor or a nurse and that is something that should have been suggested to me. I did not know that protein supplements even existed. When I went to Pittsburgh, they not only suggested a protein supplement, but worked with me to get one that did not mess up my blood sugar.
The doctor at the hospital I checked myself out of cut off my salt telling me that I was in “danger” using salt because my sodium levels were elevated. When I got those tests on Monday, I discovered that my sodium levels were flagged as low because they were below range, not high or above range. Putting me on a no-sodium diet only made that problem worse.
What I learned from that experience is a doctor needs to earn my trust. I need proof that what they tell me is true. I need to see copies of every lab test before I believe what they said is true. I will always question everything that I am told by a doctor. Had I not started questioning things, I would not have my leg today. Unfortunately, there will always be a part of me that believes that I was deliberately being set up not to heal. The doctor certainly did not do anything to help that process. He ignored many test results. Was he really that incompetent or did he want to make sure he had a patient coming back every week?
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