Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Not Really Appropriate - Part One


By "Not Really Appropriate" I mean that this is not the appropriate blog for this subject.  But, since I have WAY more readers on this blog than the "Nothing Technical" blog, and since I feel the need to get information out, I am using my technical blog.  There!

A long time ago, my step-son developed Phlebitis, an inflammation of the leg vessels.   Eddie was both a high-line worker (HV lines that run across the country) and later a truck driver, and this was extremely painful, but he endured it for many years - after all, he was a Country Boy and everyone knows that Country Boys are tough.  Eventually, he had to quit both jobs because of the pain and seek treatment.

Since he did not have health insurance, and, at the time, I had a bit of extra cash, I tried to pay for his treatments.  I even found a clinic in Southampton, UK, where they specialize in this one problem.  But he was fiercely independent and he went to a "Charity" hospital in Monroe, Louisiana, where he could get treatment and not have to pay for it.  It was there where a "quack" doctor from India ripped out the clogged veins.  He agreed to the procedure because the pain was excruciating and the doctor had assured him that this was the only solution.  Unfortunately, that was not a good idea.  It was a TERRIBLE idea.

He still had the pain and now his left leg would swell up to twice the size of the right leg.  It was normal size when he woke up in the morning but from the time that he got up and walked to the kitchen for coffee it had swollen and pain started for the day.  "The Pain" was constant and there was little relief, not even from the machine that they provided that "squeezed" the blood from heel to knee.  He had to wear size 3X running pants and his left leg filled up entire leg part in the left side.  It was a miserable life.  They (the quack doctors in Louisiana) gave him Hydrocodone 5, three times a day, for the pain but never did "fix" the legs.  But the Hydrocodone 5 didn't cut it.  That stuff is just a bit stronger than asprin.  He asked for more or something stronger but they said that they did not want to get him addicted to the pain killers.  (I take Hydrocodone 10 for migraines and it is not addictive!)  So, in his own youthful wisdom, he supplemented it with Jack Daniels three times a day.  Not what you would call  a "drunk" or even a "drinker" but not good when mixed with pain killers and cirrhosis.  

For many months he lived hand-to-mouth and with assistance from myself and his mother.  Finally, the State of Louisiana declared him to be disabled and he began to receive about $650 per month.  This barely covered his rent, gas for an old pickup, and food.  No movies.  No going out to supper.  No dates.  None of that.  Whenever I had a good month, which was frequent during some years,  I gave him what I could in cash. I tried and his mother tried to get him to move to Fort Worth where he would live with and the rent and food was free, Texas has MUCH better doctors, etc.    But, he had many friends out where he lived in Farmerville, LA, an he really loved living on the lake.

Eventually, as his health began to deteriorate, his mother bought a mobile home and moved near where he lived so that she could help take care of him when he needed it.  After about living there for three years, Eddie finally had to move in with his mother so that she could take care of him.  His weight over the years due to water-retention went slowly from  225 to 250 to 300 to 350 and, near the end, something over 400 pounds.   At the end, he could not walk without a walker to help him get around.  I won't bore you with the details, but eventually he had to be hospitalized for his problems again.  And, again, his mother cared for him even in the hospital because the hospitals there were pretty much third-world quality.

The State of Louisiana did send a technician around once a week to check his vitals and, on one visit, the technician told his mother that if Eddie did not get to the hospital right away he would die.  After many rounds of antibiotics  and bed rest, he made it back.  But the doctor told his mother that he probably would not live out the year due to the cirrhosis problem.  Sure enough, about three months later the paramedics had to take him to the hospital again where he lived only until the next morning.  By this time his kidneys had shut down completely and he was not in his right mind.  He never regained consciousness while at the hospital; which was a blessing for both him and his mom.

What was the solution?  First, not hiring quacks at public hospitals.  Secondly, had they given him enough pain killers (Norco-10 or equivalent) he might have developed a dependency on it but he would not have had to turn to Jack Daniels for help.  Think about this for a moment:  I am dependent on Metformin 1000mg twice daily for my diabetes - am I addicted to Metformin?  I sincerely believe that had they counseled him correctly, given him enough pain medication to kill the pain (or severely reduce it) then he might have lived a much longer, much better life.  I still believe that the doctors in Louisiana killed my step-son.

So, what should you take away from this little diatribe?  Don't trust doctors!  Get a second or third opinion if one of them recommends any kind of procedure that involves cutting anything on your body!  This includes backs, knees, necks and any other part of your anatomy.  Secondly, pain killers are here for a reason - to reduce pain.  When my wife had her knee replaced, they kept her on pain killers in the hospital, again in the rehab facility and still some more here at home.  The new theory is that you cannot heal as quickly while you are in pain.  Lower pain means faster healing.  Had those quacks in Louisiana followed that line of thought for Eddie, he might still be alive and very well today.

And, yes, there is a part two of this diatribe which will come later.  But, for now, trust no one!  Especially doctors who do not speak English very well or who look like they should be in high-school.


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