This will hopefully be my final posting regarding my husband's travel through the health care system in central & eastern Kentucky. I would like to tell you the entire story but I know he would not want me to share his personal information online & I will certainly respect that. Therefore I will do the best I can to tell you the story but I will use the symptoms of another disease that is totally unrelated to what my husband has been dealing with. The only thing that comes to my mind at this time is colon cancer. Please be aware that my husband does not have colon cancer ... this is just the disease I am using in place of what is really going on with him.
The following is a true story. Only the disease & symptoms have been changed to protect my husband's privacy.
My husband has not felt well for quite some time & has been experiencing problems with his bowels, weakness & fatigue. Over the last 3 weeks I watched him get steadily worse with a new symptom appearing ... abdominal pain. We recently learned that there is a strong history of colon cancer in his family (his mother & 2 brothers). He had an appointment with his regular doctor on 9/22 & told her about this new symptom of his & about the family history. She was not concerned. She said she didn't think it had anything to do with colon cancer but to call her if there were any changes.
On 9/23 my husband began having rectal bleeding. This continued on 9/24. On the morning of 9/25 I heard a loud crash & found him on the floor of the bathroom. He was unconscious & sweating profusely. When I was able to wake him he was very confused. He did finally agree to let me take him to the local emergency room. His regular doctor is not connected with the local hospital but the hospital where she practices is 1-1/2 hours away & I felt it was important to get him seen as soon as possible.
The ER staff asked many questions & did a preliminary examination. I made sure they knew his health problems, the course of his symptoms, & the family history. They checked his blood & sent him for 2 standard tests, the results of which were normal, & then indicated he needed to be admitted to the hospital for further testing & observation. Someone did tell me that his doctor would probably order a rectal exam for him.
He was sent for 2 more tests on his first day of admission. The hospital assigned a doctor on staff to take care of him. This doctor was a specialist but not an oncologist (a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis & treatment of cancer), nor was she a proctologist (a doctor who specializes in diseases of the rectum & anus). She was instead a gasterenterologist (a doctor who specializes in problems related to the gastrointestinal tract which includes the large & small intestine).
On the morning of Day 2, the gastroenterologist's assistant came to talk with John to tell him that the previous day's tests were also normal. She told him that he had one more test procedure to undertake that afternoon & then the doctor would meet with him after she received those results. This "one more test" was not a rectal exam. I told the assistant that someone in the ER had mentioned to me that the doctor would probably order a rectal exam for him. She said she knew nothing about that. I then told her of my concerns ... how I've been seeing him get worse over the past 3-4 weeks, & about the strong history of colon cancer in his family. She just said that the doctor would order any tests she felt were appropriate.
On the evening of Day 2 we received a visit from the gastroenterologist. She told us that she would release him to go home ... all the testing results had been negative. She then very flippantly said "He probably just has some hemorrhoids." I was in such shock that for a moment that I couldn't speak! When I could speak, I told her about how I have watched him get steadily worse over the past 3-4 weeks & about the family history. She said she did not see anything to be concerned about & advised us to follow up with her in 3 weeks.
The nurse then came in to talk with us & said to make sure to call my husband's regular doctor the following day & schedule a followup with her within 1 week. She also said to call the gastroenterologist's office to schedule a followup in 3 weeks. We then went home.
The following morning my husband was not feeling well. I called his regular doctor's office & spoke with the nurse. I explained to her that he had been in the hospital & that he had been advised to follow up with his regular doctor within 1 week. I told her what they did & didn't do for him at the hospital & my concerns because of the family history. She said she would request that the local hospital fax his discharge summary & test results to the office right away & stated she would give them to the doctor to review & then call me back.
When she called back she informed me that the doctor found nothing stated in the discharge summary indicating that my husband should follow up with her. She said all the tests they performed were normal, all the blood work was normal, & he should just follow up with the gastroenterologist in 3 weeks. She said if there were any changes to his condition then I should take him back to the local ER.
I was dumbfounded! Because I have personal experience with medical records sometimes containing errors or omissions, I decided to send a fax to this doctor explaining exactly what happened that led me to take him to the local ER & the care I witnessed being given to him there & while in the hospital. I told her about the family history of colon cancer & that the symptoms John was having were the same as the symptoms his one brother had prior to being diagnosed with colon cancer. I told her that no one bothered to do a rectal exam so how could they pass off his rectal bleeding as being "just hemorrhoids." I told her I was with him at all times in the ER & in his hospital room & never once did anyone do a rectal exam. I stated that of course I was not with him during his testing procedures or in the middle of the night but it was doubtful they did a rectal exam at those times. I told her of my concerns, how I've watched his condition deteriorate recently, & asked her to please consider ordering a rectal exam for him. I said this would at least ease our minds about the hemorrhoid diagnosis.
I sent that fax more than 36 hours ago. I have not received a response.
I want to thank all my followers who expressed their concern for my husband & me these past few days & for all the prayers that were said for us. That means more to me than you will ever know.