Thursday, February 17, 2011

Meanwhile: Medical Update

Today's results are... ambiguous.

Pulmonologist says X-rays show marked improvement, however... there are signs of scarring. He's concerned as well that the pneumonia is not completely cleared up, so he's put me on another ten day antibiotics course. He says it could take yet another 10 days beyond that to kill it, given the way he (and I) believe I acquired it [Note to self: do not aspirate stomach contents!] But on the other hand he says there is no sign from smears and blood tests that I have TB, and he doesn't suspect it at all. He wanted another blood test and a chest X-ray in a month.

So this afternoon, I see the infectious disease specialist for the first time. He's quite bemused by the whole affair which tends to lighten the mood somewhat. He says there is no sign -- at all -- that I have TB, but he can't rule it out completely because the skin test was never "officially read." Yes, he says, I clearly have pneumonia, and yes, it is responding to treatment though it is stubborn as heck. Instead of waiting a month for another X-ray, he says that I should have one as soon as I complete the next course of antibiotics, then come back to see him and "we can discuss progress."

Naturally, the antibiotics that were ordered this morning are not ready at the pharmacy, so I may not be able to start taking them until tomorrow. The pharmacy is "behind." Yes, well. This is Kaiser, and anyone who uses them has their own horror stories. Not having a prescription ready is hardly the worst that can happen or has happened there.

Overall, truth to tell, I'm pretty pleased with outpatient care of my condition. It's a bit chaotic to be sure but manageable nonetheless.

For the time being, the IIED suit that I was preparing to take to my favorite plaintiff's attorney is on hold.... heh heh heh.


Note: While I may seem to be cavalier about all this, in fact I know it's nothing to make light of. Even if my healthcare coverage is through Kaiser Permanente, and it may not be the best, at least I have health care coverage, and if I choose to use an alternative urgent care or med clinic, I can afford to do so. That's not the case for many tens of millions of Americans. So I'm lucky compared to many. While I may not be happy at the way I was treated -- and not treated -- at the Kaiser ER a couple of weeks ago, I have seen with my own eyes ERs that do much worse, that cannot handle the crush of patients at all and that seem to thrive on neglecting patients rather than treating them.

There is something deeply wrong with the practice of heath care in America. It goes back many decades, and nothing that's been proposed to date is capable of really reaching, let alone dealing with, the underlying problem. Our heath care system is not set up to deal with patients as people/individuals. It's set up primarily to serve the interests of industry. Hospitals, doctors, administrators, nurses all are served first and foremost. Patients are, for the most part, an afterthought if that. Our health care system, in other words, is upside down, and it has been that way for decades. It's a sad thing to witness and experience, but it's really all we've got -- if we're lucky enough to have access to it apart from whatever happens in the ER.

I resist hospital care because I've seen again and again, and I've personally experienced, how truly appalling it can be for the patient. I know too much of what goes on, how neglect is built in to the hospital care system, and how recovery is essentially impossible in a hospital setting. I don't mind outpatient and clinic care because I have seen and personally experienced how it can be -- but isn't always -- better for the patient to obtain necessary healthcare as an outpatient. Mistakes can be and are made no matter what, but outpatient care is more oriented toward the patient -- even if treatment takes longer and is more complicated to obtain.

But the crying shame is that so many people don't have access to anything but the ER. And they will be lucky to get through that alive and not immediately bankrupted.

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