The Little Bite that Could: A Series of Unfortunate Events

It was 1pm Tuesday and I was hard at work at my home office.  Creativity was flowing and I was super happy working on some exciting projects.  The door to my office is mostly glass, and at one point I looked out my window and right outside my office was a dog.

 

Pepe, the dog we rescued and brought to America from Colombia, has been escaping a lot lately, and many kind neighbors have taken the time to return him to us.  When I saw the lost dog, I figured all I could do was reciprocate the kindness.

I walked outside to try and grab the dog, and it immediately growled and barked at me.  I realized it belonged to the neighbors (the house you can see from the photo).   I started retreating but was afraid to turn around and walk back in fear that it would bite me, and I figured all I had to do was get it back to the neighbors yard.  I slowly started moving toward it and getting it to retreat towards the door, when all of a sudden, 2 other dogs come running out the neighbor’s gate.  The vicious dog looked right, looked left, realized it had a pack, and all 3 of them came lunging, barking, and growling at me.

I held them at bay for a few minutes, but it was 3 against one and I didn’t stand a chance.  I panicked and turned around to run, and all 3 started attacking me.  I was wearing a long skirt and one of them grabbed the skirt and pulled, making me fall on my knees and stomach.

While I was down, the most vicious of the dogs grabbed a hold of my ankle and bit with all its strength.  You know how some dogs bite to scare you, but they don’t really clamp their jaws?  This one was out to kill, and I could feel as it tightened and tightened it’s hold on my ankle, eventually hitting bone.

At that point, the neighbor came out and saw what was happening, but she panicked and froze, and didn’t do anything to help.  I couldn’t move to get the dog off me.  Then Pepe Perez, our Colombian rescue dog, ran out and lunged at the dog and got him to let go of me.  He scared all 3 of the dogs and they retreated, until they realized they were a pack and he was alone, at which time the tables turned and they went after Pepito.  But Pepito is a Colombian street dog and he’s got an instinct for survival, so he turned and booked it, getting the dogs to chase him and away from me.

I got back in the house and away from all the dogs, and for a few minutes, I thought all was well.  The adrenalin was high and I figured it was just a bite and all would be well in a few minutes.  I turned around and kept working, trying to forget it had all happened.

Jessica, my co-worker, was helping me with a project and kept insisting I go to ER.  Her dad is a doctor, so she took a picture of my ankle and sent it off to him.  He promptly ordered her to take me to ER immediately as dog bites are highly infectious and mine looked deep.

When I got to ER at Henry Mayo, a PA (Physician’s Assistant) worked on the wound and decided to stitch it shut.  I got sent home with indications to return if it got red and swollen.  Of course I immediately went to Google University and looked up dog bites, and everyone online said dog bites should never be sewn shut.  I posted on Facebook, and many people agreed that this was against normal protocol.

Wednesday I stayed at home working, hoping it was all getting better, but by the evening, the ankle had doubled in size and was an angry red, and it was very painful and throbbing.  Having seen bad infections before, I knew I had one.

I went back to ER Wednesday night, and a new ER doctor looked at it and said the stitches had to be removed and I needed IV meds.  Due to my fibromyalgia, I have low tolerance to pain, and am very sensitive to medical procedures.  I asked the doctor to numb it before he worked on it, but he refused, stating that it wasn’t necessary.  I asked him 3 times to reconsider, but 3 times he refused.  He removed the stitches, but by the time he tried to clean the wound I was hysterical and hyperventilating from the pain.  He stopped before giving it a good clean. At that point, he said he had to either admit me or let me go, because ER is only meant to be for acute problems.  He suggested I go home and come back in the morning to get another dose of IV antibiotics.

At 8 am on Thursday, I went back for another IV treatment, and unfortunately the infection had climbed higher from my ankle towards my shin.  They gave me 2 more doses of IV antibiotics, and the ER doctor did listen and numbed the wound, cut it open to release some of the infection, and packed it.  He sent me home Thursday afternoon, asking me to come back again Saturday morning to see how it was progressing.

Saturday morning I went back to ER and that doctor (#4) looked at it and immediately decided I needed to be admitted.  She felt it wasn’t getting better, and it was time for me to be in a hospital getting continuous care.  As it was 4 am when I went in (I had hoped it would be a routine checkup, and by going at that time, I’d be home by the time the kids woke up and they wouldn’t even know I had left), they called a few hospitals, but none had beds.  She got through to a doctor in Hollywood who accepted the case.

I told the ER doctor that I would prefer to go to a different hospital which was closer to home and which I’d been to many times.  Her answer was, “I already called and got you admitted.”  I then asked her to discharge me and I’d walk into my preferred hospital’s ER so they would have to admit me there.  She said no because she had already set it up.  I once again asked her not to inconvenience me and my family just because she made a call, but she said she’d already set it up and the only way I could leave is if I went AMA.

For those that haven’t had to deal with medical stuff like I have, AMA means Against Medical Advice.  If you do something against medical advice, then the insurance won’t pay for any of the treatment received.  Having gone through something like that with Nathan in the past when he had a terrible doctor, I didn’t want to have to handle something else on my plate, so I consented.

They took me by ambulance to the other hospital in Hollywood, and from the moment I arrived I knew I had made the wrong choice.  This hospital is a zoo.  Last night they ran out of saline and couldn’t flush the IV’s.  The A/C is broken.  I’ve been here since 9 am on Saturday and I’ve yet to see my admitting doctor.  The monkeys are running the zoo and it’s utter chaos.

They put me on IV antibiotics, but it wasn’t until Sunday morning when the Podiatrist (not the admitting doctor) came to look at the wound.  “You’ll need to stay here for 14 days for IV antibiotics,” he said casually.  I just about fainted.  Unwilling to accept this prognosis, I asked if I could go home with a home health nurse to come in and administer the wound care and treatments.  He said he’d look into it.

In the meantime, the foot was very painful, so they decided to give me morphine for the pain.  Most of Saturday I was totally dazed and confused, loopy from such a strong medicine.  Finally I decided to speak up and denied the medicine, asking for ibuprofen instead.  I’m shocked that they went straight to such a strong medicine when Ibuprofen was a good first step.

Noon on Sunday, they agreed to send me home, and I was supposed to go home on by 2pm.  But 2pm came and went and nothing was set up.  Finally they said early Monday morning.  Monday morning, and they said Monday by noon.  At noon they came by to say they found a home health agency who could do the home IV’s, but they didn’t’ do wound care.  The Podiatrist wouldn’t sign the discharge papers until there was someone in charge of wound care (they need to clean and pack the wound every day).  Another home health agency said they’d do both, but their policy for ongoing IV treatments is to use a PICC line.  A PICC line is a thick IV that gets put in near the neck, and is an easy access port to your veins. Total overkill and not okay.

So my options were:

  • Stay in the hospital
  • Accept a PICC line to use the agency who would do both

I offered them a 3rd option, which was to have them release me and I’d hire a private nurse to do the wound care, but the doctor refused.

They kept waving the “AMA” at me, essentially keeping me hostage at the hospital unless I acquiesce to their dictates.

So now it’s midnight on Monday, and we’re at an impasse.

I gave them until 10 am Tuesday morning to find an agency that can take care of me without a PICC line, and if they don’t have it, I walk AMA.  It’ll be a hassle, but I have so much juicy material for a very nice lawsuit against them for all I’ve witnessed at this hospital, and the incredibly sub-par care.

I’m sharing a room with a lady who’s in intense pain, and the nurses keep forgetting to bring her pain meds on time.  With the broken AC it’s a breeding ground for infection, so I’d be much better off at home or at another hospital.

The foot continues to be red and swollen, but the red is back down and is mostly just around the ankle – it’s not climbing up.  I can’t really put any weight on the foot, so whether the inflammation is causing it or the dog damaged a ligament or something, I don’t know.

Either way, it’s all very scary, frustrating, and just plain ridiculous.  The wifi is not working so I’m working off a couple of bars from the personal hotspot on my phone.  However, as a remoter, I’m used to turning any space into an office, so this has been my office for the last few days.  Please keep me in your prayers, I still really need them.  Thank you!!

 

7/24 Update

I left the hospital AMA this morning.  It was time to leave the circus.  The series of nonsensical decisions and absolute lack of cohesiveness and sanity at the hospital made me more afraid for my health/safety.  I honestly felt that I was being held hostage at the hospital, and when I realized I was being treated like a prisoner with no voice or vote, it was time to leave.  I refused to sign their AMA form and took off in an Uber.

I am going to try going to my PCP to see if they can prescribe home health care, and if not, I’ll have to go to another hospital tonight to receive continued care.  I just removed the bandage from the wound and it doesn’t look much better, so in any case, the treatment has not been working.

This whole thing is starting to truly hit me and I feel worn down, miserable, and really hopeless about the repercussions of this.  I’m hoping whatever the next steps are include a doctor with a modicum of sanity, common sense, and compassion.  I’m nearing the end of my emotional rope here, and feeling quite sorry for myself 🙁  Continued prayers pleaseee!

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