Three years ago I went to County USC Hospital complaining of chronic stomach problems. In that three years I've been to four free clinics. Now at the place I go regularly that runs on donations, they are just now realizing the stomach problems I've had all this time are really serious.
Here is the scenario: In 2007, after sitting in the ER waiting room about 12 hours, honest, I finally got to see a doctor who told me, sorry, if it’s a chronic problem we can’t help you. This is for emergencies only.
I got irate. I started hollering, Why didn't they tell me that when I got here twelve hours ago.
The doctor shrugged and went to leave. I got mad. I started crying and babbling in confusion.
They said, straighten up, lady. Do you want us to put you in the hospital?
I said, Yes, Yes put me in a hospital even though what they meant was a psych ward. In 1987 when I checked into Thalians at Cedars Sinai near Beverly Hills, they gave me a series of medical tests in the periods of time between Art Therapy and Group. So I thought I'd finally get tests I needed on my stomach at the psych ward.
Not when the county locks you up.
They kept me for six days in this horrible place with one beaten up paperback book and a TV room for therapy. I had to stay six days because the doctor who could release me was on vacation. Not once in those six days did they order any medical tests. When it became obvious my stomach is bad, they gave me Immodium. That made me nauseous so they gave me an anti-nausea drug. Then the nurses would go back and sit in their station and I'd go back to the ward and read the one bent up paperback book.
They filled me with psych meds so by the time I did see a doctor the sixth day, I’d forgotten about the diarrhea I’d had for a year and a half that brought me to County in the first place, I just wanted to get the hell out of that ward, where genuine crazy people followed me around, one lady collected her mucous and then chased me around the ward trying to smear it on me.
I showed them. I took that paperback book with me when I left.
Anyway. Point is at that place, no one checked into the stomach problems that brought me to County to begin with. And it got worse. Since then I've been to a few other free medical places around the city, and no one seemed even to be alarmed at a person having diarrhea every day for two years, then three years.
Diarrhea is part of having PTSD, they all told me.
Now this date it’s four and a half years of pretty much liquid shit every time I eat a meal, unless it’s plain rice, which means probably what I need to do is switch to just eating rice…
So finally at the Free Clinic last February I went to get the muscle relaxant that helps me stop the other problems I've got.
Every three months when I go to the Free Clinic for my geriatric care checkup, I mention the chronic diarrhea and no one thinks it’s an issue.
What, do I look like I'm lying maybe?
Wait a minute, why would someone lie about a thing like that?
Anyway. Finally at the Free Clinic last February they order a smear test, which I think a decade or so back was part of your first visit to a doc office, but now it’s what they think of two years later. So I did the smear test last visit, and they got alarmed and ordered another one. When I saw it, I got alarmed too and said, please contact me right away if there’s anything wrong with test results.
No one called.
So I waited patiently for my next three month checkup to talk about the results instead.
That was yesterday.
I go and find out the results are alarming and they want me to go right away for a colonoscopy and possibly surgery.
Guess where they're sending me.
County USC Hospital.
I'm thinking, why couldn't they have just given me this test three years ago, why did I have to live with this horrible pain and symptoms for three more years and also let the condition get three years’ worse.
What if it was a tumor three years ago that is now cancer? The arrogance of medical people in the world of no health insurance is horrible.
Three years ago that doctor who shrugged at me could have had me do a smear test, one little smear test, and gotten me started finding out what's wrong with me three years ago.
The arrogance. It’s like, if they aren’t going to get paid as much as the Beverly Hills doctors, they don't want to bother with you.
It’s like, anyone who looks healthy and complains of a health problem must be lying.
See I don't look sick. Whatever is wrong with me, it doesn't show. Plus I've learned to fake a positive attitude and happiness as it produces endorphins and really does make you feel better. So even when I'm in so much pain I can barely walk but I have to take Metro for some reason, sometimes I have to argue and fight to get someone to give me a seat.
They say, you don't look disabled.
It’s not just doctors who don't give a damn about old women who have no money.
Soon after that debacle of being locked on a psych ward for six days with no medical attention to the stomach problem, I was back home and heard on the news about the woman who died in the ER at Martin Luther King hospital here in L.A. They described how she was moaning and groaning even lying on the floor, complaining of stomach problems. At one point a medic there dressed all in white actually stepped over her while he was in the process of ignoring her. And she died, right there on the floor of the ER waiting room.
It made the news.
The County of L.A. responded right away.
They closed down the ER at ML King Hospital and created nothing to take its place.
Nobody cares about health problems of people with no money.
They are letting me die right here on the floor in front of them.
I can’t stop thinking that's what's happening.
As soon as I saw the statistic last year during the health care political debates, I knew.
They said, 44,000 people will die next year from not having health insurance.
I knew right away when I heard the number, that I was going to be one of the 44,000. (Then ran to the bathroom to squirt.)
Whatever was wrong with my stomach in 2007 HAS gotten worse, I can feel something wrong inside. I used to teach Advanced Hatha Yoga, I know I'm sick I can feel it.
Yoga and Dance is also why I have muscle tone and strength, so when you look at me, you don't see a sick person but I can feel something is wrong in me.
I know there were about a hundred opportunities for doctors to do something about my stomach in the last three years, and none of those salaried, insured medical employees at any of the centers I went to wanted to take the time to give me a simple smear test.
Now I'm supposed to go to LA County Hospital for further testing and if needed surgery.
County Hospital on the East Side, the only place in all of L.A., with all the movie stars and producers and Charlie Sheen types making a million dollars a month, and there is no place on this side of town to get a free colonoscopy. It's going to be great when I'm finished with the test that puts a tube all the way up my a-- coming home afterwards on a three hour bus ride.
I may not even bother to do the test.
Because County will then send the results of the test to the Free Clinic who will then just ignore them anyway.
I almost would rather just get sick and die like people used to do before the miracle of modern medicine. I'm scared I'll end up in surgery at County hospital where I'll contract some other worse disease. I wish the Chicago Archdiocese would get around to giving me a settlement, as that's the only hope I have, and as far as I know the Church thinks they don't have to help me either.
I had health insurance on my last real job, the one I lost in 2006 after flipping out when I saw Deliver Us from Evil and realized the Church could have stopped the pedophiles decades ago. I got fired for crying too much at my computer while I was working.
Now I've learned, when you're poor and show up at an ER with an unusual health problem, like ones that develop from prolonged PTSD, they don't know what else to do with you but lock you up in a psych ward.
With that PTSD diagnosis, they can ignore everything else wrong with you, say it's just the PTSD.
(Whoops, wait a minute, gotta run again to the---)
You can’t go through an experience like this without feeling like the world just sees no value in you at all. My health is not worth the trouble to waste some cardboard and five minutes of a lab tech’s time to give me a smear test when I first presented to County with Chronic stomach problems in 2007?
Well, maybe diet and Yoga will keep me alive. I don't want to turn my health over to these people, so they can lock me down in a hospital bed and continue to neglect me.
I'm really distracted by this, and the fact I'm still running to the bathroom four or five times an hour. It’s become worse gradually, I'm just now realizing how bad it’s gotten over the past three years, me thinking it must not be anything wrong or one of those doctors I spoke to about it would have done something.
NO, they don't. Free clinic doctors are distracted, not listening, pissed at the endless flow of untended humans.
People don't want untended humans around. In L.A. you have to find a way to tend yourself, no one is going to do it for you.
Yoga and diet. Screw County USC hospital, they're not getting my body again.
What should I do? Where can a 62 year old gal get a good colonoscopy in this part of town?
Wish I could join the new L.A. trend and go to Mexico for health care.