Monday, April 28, 2008

Do what you're told -- or else

Simple Justice has a story of a 74 year old woman in Florida who got tired of being pushed around at an airport by nut cases in uniform. She pushed back. Of course, she was arrested as a result. That's what happens when you refuse to do as you're told these days.

I made a similar mistake of telling a VA cop "No" at the VA hospital in OKC the other day.

The details make for a long story. I went to the emergency room in Cushing, OK because of a difficulty breathing. They couldn't find anything wrong but after them administering oxygen I was feeling much better (a later diagnosis which I concur with is that I was suffering from newly developed allergies).

The hospital in Cushing wanted to admit me overnight for observation (mostly because they couldn't find anything wrong). But the VA was paying the bill (I have a service connected disability) so they had to het approval from the VA in OKC. By this time I was feeling much better and wasn't so sure that staying a day for observation was a good idea. But I went along with it anyway. Then the OKC VA decided I should be transported to OKC for admission to the VA hospital there.

As all this went on I was becoming much less convinced that a day in the hospital for observation wasn't worth the time or effort.

But I continued to go along with it -- allowing myself to be strapped into a gurney and put into an ambulance in a small enclosed space with a steroid using fireman for the hour plus trip over mostly bumpy two-lane highway. That's not an experience I intend to repeat.

It appears that the procedure was fotme to be transferred from ER to ER, then be admitted to the VA hospital from the VA ER. That appears to be the procedure, but it didn't work out that way.

It seems that in the time it took to transport me they'd changed shifts in OKC. The VA doctor on duty who told the Cushing ER to transport me to OKC had left. And the new shift wasn't expecting me. And they had no hospital beds available. And the nurse on duty was actually angry with me about it. Like it's somehow my fault that they're a bunch of incompetent boobs.

I was feeling okay by then and just didn't see much point in hanging around in the hall to be observed by people who couldn't even figure out how to pass medical information along from one shift to another. I thought the best plan was to walk upstairs and see if I could get squeezed into a last minute clinic appointment to see my primary care doctor -- who was somebody whose judgment I trusted.

The ER nurse started telling me I couldn't do that. First I needed to be "situated" by them. I don't know what the hell that meant, but it didn't interest me. Then she told me that she had to remove the IV valve in my arm. I told her that I had received no treatment from her and there was no reason to start now. I'd take care of the IV removal upstairs if I ended up not being admitted into the hospital.

One thing I needed to do before I officially refused treatment was ensure that I could get transportation back to Cushing. The DAV had a van that ran from Cushing to the VA hospital and clinic and I needed to stop by the hospital DAV transportation office to make sure that the van had run that day and find out what time I needed to be ready to go to get a ride back home. If I wasn't going to be able to get a ride back to Cushing until the next day then I was going to be more willing to wait around in the ER hallway to be observed by the clowns.

An ER nurse followed me. I found out later that she was following me so that she could watch me and make sure I didn't use the little IV valve in my arm to inject some unauthorized drugs. Because I'm 59 years old with no history at all of drug problems and you can't be too careful when it comes to fighting the drug war.

Anyway, she was on a cell phone, telling the VA Police where I was at all times while they sent two nut case cops up to get me. One of them was one of these no neck, steroid storage tanks who ended up going completely nuts. He put his face inches from mine (he was a little shorter than me but he jutted up his jaw so our faces were more parallel) and just screamed at me. I don't know any way to describe him other than just insane.

I ended up going down to the little police office next to the ER with them. I was more worried about being assualted by this nut than I was being arrested, although they were threatening to issue me a citation for disturbing the peace, or some such nonsense.

They wanted me to do two things. 1. Return to the ER and have a nurse remove the EV valvle and 2). Sign a form saying I was leaving against medical advice.

I explained to them that I wasn't leaving the hospital, I was just going to another department in the hospital to seek medical advice and I had no reason to sign some form that said otherwise.

But since I was going to get a ticket (and have to appear in a a Federal Court) if I didn't, I agreed to let some ER nurse remove the IV valve. We went into the ER and got the valve pulled out. Then the nurse gave me a form and insisted I sign it. The insane cop had calmed down by then but he also said I had to sign it.

The form said that I was leaving the hospital against medical advice. I pointed out that I was just leaving the ER, not the hospital and suggested we pencil in a change. They told me we could modify the document because it was an "Official Federal Form".

I'm telling you, these people are all crazy. Just flat out insane.

I signed it. It was either that or get arrested. Does that actually release them of liability if they use police threats of arrest to get me to sign something?

I went upstairs. My doctor wasn't in. But I saw his nurse. She suggested that rather than having been having a heart attack that maybe I was developing some severe pollen allergy of some sort. Subsequent experience and diagnosis verified her guess.

That was all a couple of weeks ago. Yesterday I went back to see my doctor. Since it was a late afternoon appointment rather than my usual early morning appointment I drove rather than what I usually do -- take the DAV van.

I was dreading going into the parking lot because they have a guard shack where you have to show ID, etc to a VA cop. You know, post 911 and all that. I just didn't want to have any contact with any of those assholes. But I gritted my teeth and drove in.

He just waved me through. Because I look a lot like Timothy McViegh and I was driving a van, but I'm not Arab.

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