If there was anything that I was unhappy about my hospital stay, it was how I was discharged.
It was so disorganized. I was in the hospital for a month until my C. diff cleared and Patient Care Services had ALL THIS TIME to organize this for us with our insurance. Several options were up in the air:
- Air ambulance back to Canada
- Business class flight back to Canada with nurse
- Train back to Canada with nurse
- Drive back to Canada (with nurse?)
- Stay with family in California for two months (until the halo would be removed)
- Care facility in California for two months
Whether we like it or not, hospitals are businesses too. There was no other reason for me to stay and a new patient would bring in much more money (they would usually need surgery) than my standard hospital fees. The moment my stool all tested negative for C. diff, we thought we had some time to organize ourselves for the plan home. My neurosurgeon could not be reached and so we couldn’t ascertain whether I could indeed fly back home. I asked if we could at least wait for him to get a real answer.
The day after my C. diff cleared, we were basically pushed out of the door with no clear path to follow whatsoever. All we knew was that we were going to stay with our relatives near Los Angeles and follow up with the insurance for our flight ourselves. It could take up to five days to arrange a flight home.
And they call themselves “Patient Care Coordinators.”
Here is what the doctor had to say about our discussion:
I thought disgruntled was an understatement for what my husband felt. Outraged was more like it.
Luckily it was Labour Day in the US so we were able to reach my aunt and uncle right away. Our uncle was able to pick us up. We had to pack up everything in our room.
I had asked the nurses over the last couple of days to change my vest. No one knew how to do it so they had to find someone who did ON MY LAST DAY. The stitches out of my left arm weren’t removed until MY LAST DAY. It was such big rush to do everything when we had all this time to do it. Sigh. We were also told that all our discharge stuff would be ready by 4 pm so we asked my uncle to pick us up at that time. Umm, by the time we left it was 5:30 pm. I knew my nurse was doing the best she could but they could have at least given us a realistic time.
It was the first time I had put on a real set of clothes in a month; I wore a loose shirt and loose pants that my husband bought at a discount clothing store nearby. It was also the first time I wore shoes in a month!
I was wheelchaired out of the hospital into my uncle’s car. It felt bittersweet going down the hallway saying good-bye to my nurses. I bid farewell to Michelle, who helped me get some fresh air one day.
Getting into the car the first time with the halo was… nerve-wracking. But I did it. “As long as you do all that they tell you, you’re going to be okay,” my nurse said. I was in tears.
The two-hour car ride home was… also nerve-wracking. My uncle had to be extra careful about all the bumps on the road. At long last we arrived in Rowland Heights. I felt deeply saddened when I saw all the familiar street names. I was looking up those very street names a day before the accident, when we had planned to drive to see them.
My husband and I were welcomed into their large, beautiful home. It had been ten years since I last stepped foot in there. We all sat down for dinner – my aunt, uncle, grandpa, grandma, other aunt, other uncle, and cousins. It was a full house that night. Amongst the food were some pieces of steak. I haven’t eaten red meat since 2006, but at that moment, steak was the only thing I wanted to eat! I went for it.
My husband and I settled into our room. I took some medication to ease the pain and relax my muscles for the night. Although I sometimes woke up in discomfort and pain, it was the best night of sleep I had in a month.