Adventures in the Integris Healthcare System, Part 3 (2015 edition)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one…

I went back to the hospital on January 24, and this is serious. I had trouble breathing and it turns out my right lung was surrounded with fluid to the point that it impeded my breathing properly. The ER doc at Integris Edmond told me I was cyanotic.

At first, they thought my lung had collapsed and were set to reinflate it, then sent me for a chest xray. That and the subsequent CT scan confirmed the fluid around my lung. It was decided that my condition could be better treated at Integris Baptist in Oklahoma City, so I was transferred there via ambulance.

And, what seemed like forever to be seen by someone, a doctor comes in to the ER room I’m in with Tori and Amalia and pretty much confirms what I was told in Edmond: I have a lot of fluid surrounding my right lung, and want to drain it Sunday morning, so I was admitted to Baptist.

Then it took hours to actually get into a room! Sitting on a gurney gets kinda uncomfortable after a while, and I was hungry and tired. But finally, after I sent everyone home, I am actually taken to my room on the 7th floor in the east wing. Too late to get any food 😦

I’m hooked up to oxygen, got the catheter that was inserted in Edmond situated, instructed to ring the nurses station if I needed to use the bathroom, and was left to sleep. However, sleep was just not going to happen right away. A nurse’s aide came in to take my vitals every time I managed to drop off, then I made two unproductive trips to the bathroom, then got various drugs to help my condition via the IV port that was also inserted in Edmond, and some time around 6am, I was out like a light…then I hear, “Ms. Pera, I have to take your vitals.” It was nearly 8 am, and I managed to get two hours of sleep.

Then breakfast arrived. Scrambled eggs (which I’m certain never saw the inside of a chicken), turkey bacon, cereal…this was the “heart healthy, low sodium” diet my doctor had ordered. It wasn’t that bad. The eggs were gross though.

All day Sunday, I’m waiting for this thoracentesis thing to happen (draining the fluid from around my lung), and by lunch time, I’m convinced it wasn’t going to happen until Monday. Meanwhile the family came to visit, and Joey can’t seem to modulate his voice… oh great, everyone within earshot of my room gets to hear my hyperactive, autistic, almost 12 year old nephew go on and on about Nick Toons…whatever that is. He doesn’t seem to get that Aunt Steffi is sick enough to be in the hospital.

I finally get the thoracentesis on Monday, but not before one of the liver docs comes in to sees me, and tells me that at some point, I’ll need a liver transplant. Excuse me, what?!  My liver is that damaged? However, he says, my financial situation has to be a lot better than it is now, and I have to get insurance (duh?)…but he and his team will take care of me.

I finally go for the thoracentesis, and it takes like 45 minutes to an hour to get things set up and drain the fluid. Imagine a 2 liter soda bottle. Two liters is a lot of soda, right? That’s how much fluid they drained from the pleural sac around my lung! No wonder I couldn’t breathe! It would take a while for my lung to reinflate itself, and it might be a bit painful to take a deep breath. But I noticed that my breathing had considerably improved from what it was when I went to Edmond on Saturday. I still can’t believe they got 2 liters of fluid out of me. That just blows my mind!

I finally got discharged on Wednesday and got five of the seven prescriptions I was given filled (one was a controlled substance, and the doctor forgot to put his DEA number on it; the second one wasn’t available at the CVS pharmacy I went to). One of my meds cost over $1000, but the pharmacy at the hospital could fill it for ten bucks, and the other four were filled at CVS.

So now, I follow the low sodium diet plan, take all these meds, work on getting health insurance, and some how find a source of income (SSDI was mentioned as a possibility, since I’m apparently too sick to work.)

And I haven’t even had my 51st birthday yet. Ain’t life grand?


I’m Stef, and this is where it’s @ !~

PS: I set up a GoFundMe account to help pay my medical bills. If you are so inclined, please check it out here, and if you can, please donate. It would be greatly appreciated.


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