The other day I posted about my drama over being sick part of last week and over the weekend. After an assortment of shots and medications I thought I was on the mend. I started feeling better Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. By Sunday night, however, something was changing, my throat was getting a little worse and my fever was back. By the time I crawled out of bed on Monday morning my throat was so swollen I could barely swallow well enough to even get water down. In somewhat of a panic I made a trip to St. Anthony's Emergency Room.
After a thankfully short check in process I was moved to a newer part of the hospital that was their minor emergency area. The ER physician looked at my throat for about two seconds and told me I probably had a peritonsillar abscess, an infection in the tissues of the throat next to one of the tonsils. An abscess is a collection of pus that forms near an area of infected skin or other soft tissue. The doctor on duty said they would have to do some tests first to verify this was the case before they went probing into my throat near the carotid artery. Specifically he wanted to do a CT scan of my head. When my mom asked him how much this would cost, knowing I don't have insurance, he seemed absolutely offended to be asked and replied rather shortly that he didn't know and it didn't matter as it had to be done. The guy was a complete jackass, but in my many years of experience with doctors I wasn't surprised. Fortunately he was the only bad experience I had in the entire ordeal, if one can have a good experience at a hospital.
So I experienced a lot of firsts yesterday. I had my first IV, my first CT scan (the iodine they put in your IV is a wild sensation), and my first taste of morphine. After the tests were completed it was confirmed that I had an abscess and I was handed over to an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist and thankfully was finished with Dr. Douschbag. The procedure for removing the abscess is by having a long needle injected into your throat and draining the puss out. I've actually had this wonderful procedure done one other time in my life at a doctor's office. It was one of the most painful and horrific experiences of my entire life. Naturally I was terrified to have to go through this again.
After some more waiting and another round of steroids the ENT doctor showed up and went over the procedure with me. He was extremely kind and seemed genuinely concerned with pain management through the ordeal. They began by hooking me up with some morphine and spraying my throat with a topical anesthetic. After I was good and numb he then injected me with another numbing agent near the area where he would be draining my abscess. The last time I had this procedure done the previous doctor did not do this last part. No wonder it hurt like a mother fucker! After I was good and numb he injected a needed into the swollen area and began extracting the puss, I actually got to help by pushing on the swollen area of my throat to help fill the needle. Not getting much out he switch to a lower gage needle and was finally able to get some result. By the end of the procedure he had taken out 11 cc of vile nastiness from my throat. Almost immediately I was able to swallow normal again.
I hung out for a little and then was eventually released to go home. I skipped the administration office on my way out, screw them, they can bill me. Those of you have insurance consider yourself lucky. If I had had insurance I would have had my tonsils taken out that day if not a long time before, as was offered by the doctor. I asked him how much it was cost and he laughed and probably said a whole bunch of money. Eventually I'll have them removed. The majority of the time when I'm really sick it has something to do with my tonsils.
So that was my lovely Monday experience. I'm glad I made the decision to go to St. Anthony's Hospital. With the exception of the ER physician, everyone was extremely nice from the specialists to the nurses to the girls in the X-Ray lab. The ENT specialist and nurse during my minor procedure seemed to be really concerned with my pain management and I really appreciate that as not all health care providers seem to make that a priority.
So in reference to how much things cost when visiting a doctor's office or hospital, don't you think they should have some vague clue as to how much certain procedures or test cost? Would you take your car in for repairs and have them do the work without not knowing what the cost would be until after the work was done? Maybe patient access to medical costs should have been part of our illustrious health care reform last year! I'll report back on the costs after I get a bill just for the fun of it so everyone can know how many hundred of dollars my bag of saline cost.