By the time I called 911 on January 24th I had hard evidence that I was seriously ill.
If you’ve been following this saga, you know that I was having a difficult time convincing anyone – including a skeptical walk-in clinic doctor – that I didn’t simply have a case of the flu. But I decided to hit 911 after a couple of symptoms surfaced that could not be denied. One of them would make anyone call 911 after likely screaming out loud. So we’re clear – I had good reasons.
The ambulance came quickly and I walked to it, slowly like an elder in the nursing home, and climbed inside. The driver was courteous and took my vital signs. The other guy? Well, he acted like a jerk. He sighed. He was impatient. He asked me, “Couldn’t you have called your family doctor?” I passed out a couple of times on the ride but I was wide awake when he called the ER and reported me as complaining of “general malaise and fatigue.” What I had reported was that I couldn’t stay awake, I had a sharp pain in the middle of my belly (where I now know my liver is) and a few other specific and worrisome symptoms. He actually edited my words down to two generic complaints.
He didn’t talk to me at all on the ride and his body language and frequent sighing told me he didn’t want to be transporting me. It was truly the least of my worries at the time but I couldn’t help but take note of it. When we arrived at the ER he paced and sighed for the perhaps five minutes it took for the transfer. His partner leaned over me once and asked if I was okay. I said I hoped I would be soon and passed out again. I woke up in an ER bay and doctors and nurses were milling around me taking blood and asking tons of questions. The EMS guys were long gone.
All through my 15 day hospital stay the uncomfortable ambulance ride popped into my head once in a while. I knew I had been mistreated and I also knew that when the time was right and I didn’t have a million other priorities ahead of it, I would do something about it.
That time came during my first week at home. I sent an email to the GM of the local ambulance service and just told him the facts. I was very ill but I was dismissed as if I had called for a hangnail. They quickly conducted an investigation and it proved my allegations. The GM apologized and said the offending guy would be “spoken to”. My assumption is that the partner backed me up. I’m betting he was disgusted by his colleague’s unprofessional behavior but it’s not easy to just complain outright. Backing up the words of a “customer” would be a lot easier to do.
All I want is for the poor behavior to not be repeated and I hope that will be the case. Sometimes you can’t tell by looking at someone whether they are ill. After a bunch of my tests came back one of the ER doctors even said I was a bit of an oddball. “You are extremely ill but you don’t even look sick!” That fact worked against me at the walk-in clinic but it should not have had an influence on the EMS professionals who transported me. The service is there for the exact reason I used it. I paid my $45 fee like anybody else. I don’t care if I change the guy’s mind but if my letter shuts him up and keeps him from making a stressful situation worse for another patient, it’s worth it to have spoken out.