Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My Story Chapter Ten The End

        Every time the doctor would try and remove the ventilator my vital stats would drop and they had to abort the attempt. But I wanted the ventilator out so badly I actually asked (they had a chart with words and letters on it that I could point to with my knuckle) that a tracheotomy be performed instead. For those of you who don’t know what type of procedure this is I will explain; the surgeon makes an incision in my throat and inserts the trach into my windpipe leaving a small tube sticking out of my throat so I can breathe. I was still unable to talk though because the tube let’s air onto the vocal cords. Once the incision healed the tube could be capped with what was aptly called a talking cap but I’d have to wait. The respiratory therapist gave me a small reprieve from my muteness by putting his finger partially over the tube and asked me to try and speak. I barely whispered my first words in faint a weak voice in weeks. I was beyond thrilled to be able to communicate again without having to clumsily try to use my curled finger to point at a tiny chart.
        After the surgery, I still had to have the ventilator hooked up at night because my secretions would clog the trach tube and my stats would fall. Eventually, I had to leave Mercy Hospital and go somewhere that specialized in weaning patients off ventilators and that place unknowingly to us at the time was deplorable. They kept you there until they bled your insurance dry or you died of any number of complications in that substandard, understaffed, and filthy facility called Select Specialty in Latrobe, PA. I would spend the entire day off the ventilator breathing on my own, working with my speech therapist to try and get voice back, and drinking and swallowing water with no problems. Then at night they would cap my trach and shove that damn tube down my throat putting the settings on maximum. Then they kept trying to sit me up at a ninety degree to see if I could pass a swallow test which I couldn’t because I can’t sit up at that angle being paralyzed at the chest. So I have another permanent albeit small scar in my body because of these peoples ineptness. For some unknown reason they couldn’t keep the nasal canula that went down into my stomach from being dislodged. This was how I was being fed and given my medications. It had worked fine at Mercy for four weeks now after a week or so at Reject Specialty it fails? Anyway, I had to have a feeding tube put directly into my stomach. Meanwhile, the bed sores I had became twice as severe there because the nurses didn’t change the dressings as often and I laid in my own filth sometimes for days  The staff there was sooo unqualified to care for a quadriplegic it was both appalling and ridiculous. We should have sued but at least Eric heeded my pleas to get me the hell out of there before I died like my roommate or my insurance was completely depleted.
        I feel I must tell you how my roommate died before I close this chapter of my story because is it so gruesome and cruel. The gentleman I am referring to was not exactly in the same room with me but in an adjacent room. Apparently, he had a bad heart and according the “doctors” in that God forsaken place, nothing could be done and the poor man was going die sooner or later. Being a heart patient he was on an IV drip of dopamine which is a medication that regulates your heart rate. Well, the family was called in and given the mournful news and asked to make a decision about how they wanted to let the man die. Of course they weren’t given proper information about his medications and how long it would take for him die with each of their decisions and so forth. What ended up happening was the man taken off his ventilator but left on his dopamine. What that meant was for three long agonizing days that poor man gasped for air until he suffocated to death with his bad heart pumping away at steady pace until he was dead. After that I was done. I told Eric. He flipped out on the facility administrator and we were OTTA THERE!                  


  1. Oh my goodness, that's dreadful, that poor, poor man. :^( Something should be done about abusive and incompetent facilities like that.

  2. Unfortunately your experience at Select Specialty Hospital is not uncommon. As someone who used to work at one, I have seen substandard care, understaffed units and incompetent nurses. They do not adhere to evidence-based practices, do not deliver the specialty programs they advertise, and base discharge decisions heavily on length of stay...NOT on what is best for the patient.


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