Dying To Be Heard: Surviving Health Care in Florida

Reaching down to put my French horn away I was suddenly hit by excruciating shooting pain on the left side of my abdomen. I had just finished playing a good show with the alternative rock band I played in. I wondered if I had eaten something I shouldn’t have. If this was a gastrointestinal event with potentially embarrassing outcomes prudence told me to get out of there and gasping from the pain I limped to my car. I had difficulty driving home. Had I blown my horn too hard?

I didn’t sleep at all that night. The antacids I kept taking were not working. By morning I had a vague memory of kidney stone pain that seemed similar to what I was experiencing. I needed to be seen by a doctor. And of course it was a Saturday. I would have to go to an Emergency Room.

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Choosing a small hospital not too far away, in Orlando, Florida, I planned to get in, get out, and get on with my life. I could not drive myself. While being registered they asked me if I had been kicked by a horse? (What?!) Within just thirty minutes they discovered the source of my discomfort- a hematoma on my left kidney artery.

Soon I was admitted into a room. A doctor I didn’t know came and saw me later that day and said that they would use a ‘wait and see’ approach. Just moments later the worst pain I had ever felt in my life tore from the left side of my abdomen to the right side. I was sure a Thanksgiving turkey might feel like this if it had been carved open with a knife while it was still alive. Screaming and writhing overtook me.

Before I knew it I ended up in intensive care and was hooked up to a morphine pump that delivered relief at regular intervals. One day quickly turned into six. At this point I had already been given three transfusions. The really strange thing was that while I was experiencing all of this internal bleeding, none of the blood was leaving my body but was instead filling up my abdominal cavity. My lips turned blue and I was bloated like a pig.

The doctor insisted that doing nothing made sense.

A profusely bleeding major artery suddenly and magically deciding to stop bleeding on its own with no medical intervention on a perfectly healthy woman made no sense to me whatsoever.

But no one listened to me.

Family and friends alike agreed with whatever the doctor said. As a patient in a bed I had somehow lost my voice. I was in some bizarre twilight zone where no one beside me could hear the words coming out of my mouth. I kept asking for my primary care physician who had just given me a clean bill of health two months earlier. He didn’t come. I didn’t know why.

When a nurse came to give me a fourth transfusion I protested. She asked “Are you saying that you don’t want this transfusion?” Gathering what little was left in me I screamed at her “No! I am saying that I DO NOT WANT TO DIE and YOU ARE LETTING ME DIE!!!

Within moments I found myself in the back of an ambulance and on my way to a bigger (and hopefully better) hospital. As I was laying there listening to the siren screaming and watching the blur of lights passing by I felt relief.


Catherine Han founded Murals Plus in 2017 and is currently the managing editor of the media website. She is also a content writer, editor, blogger and a photographer.

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