Top-Quality Medical Care

Day 11. I’m trembling with adrenaline as I reread my notes from this most horrible day.

I’m going to give Tonya at Senator Tim Johnson’s office a shout out here. This wonderful woman talked me off a cliff on day 11. Way above and beyond the call of duty on her part. I can’t even tell you how amazing she is. She talked to me almost daily for a while. If I didn’t call with an update, she would call me. She would call and say, “I’m waiting for a call back from the Pentagon.” A little awe-inspiring. I had her on speed dial and she never once ever made me feel like a raging lunatic (which I might have been), or a complainer, or a bother. She treated me with absolute kindness and concern for Sean’s well-being.

Livid. Seething. Raging. That is how I would describe my emotions upon hearing the events of day 11.

Sean was woken the morning by his Platoon Sergeant for an impromtu meeting with MAJ Z, Dr. X, Ms. S (a new case manager), and another MAJ whose purpose I do not know.

MAJ Z asked Sean if he would agree to let Dr. X treat him. She said the hospital was doing the best it could and they were providing top-quality medical care. As this illness was serious, it could take a long time to treat. He may need long-term antibiotic treatment. The hospital and Dr. X were willing to go forward with treatment if no more complaints were filed.

Did I hear that right? Treatment could go forward if no more complaints were filed? Does that sound like a threat to withhold treatment should we exercise our right to inquire about the care he is receiving?

Sean was advised to track his fluids and stools himself. He could purchase appropriate tools for measuring such things at the pharmacy and keep a log book. He should make subtle changes to his diet and track those as well. Never mind that the man was on a diet of ensure, gingerale, and crackers. What should he change?

MAJ Z said that no further lab tests or stool samples were needed. If he had fewer stools, then the infection was getting better.

MAJ Z asked why congressional complaints were launched and why he felt the placement was inappropriate. He had not even been on base for two weeks and already he was complaining about their level of care and making them look bad. Furthermore, they had made arrangements to get him necessary medications, and had scheduled an evaluation with a GI specialist, Dr. D. Scheduled, yes, and CANCELLED!

Sean was told that he is not a doctor, and therefore does not know about his medical needs or treatment (this comment from the doctor who had to look up the condition and said he couldn’t treat it). He was told that he was the most agitated patient they had ever met. He was ordered to have a mental health evaluation because he should have been getting better, but was still complaining of symptoms. It was suggested that if his wife came down and spent a few days to help, “relive your tension,” he would get better. He was told directly, “If you stop complaining, we will start treating you.”

When the meeting was adjourned, MAJ Z gave his case file to Ms. S and told her, “He’s all yours. You had better call him everyday or he will complain.”

Sean asked Dr. X after the meeting, “Is it normal to have this abdominal pain, take percoset daily and have so much nausea?” Dr. X said, “No, it’s not normal, but if the diarrhea goes away, then you will be fine.”

Sean spent the night in his room throwing up.


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