Sunday, July 19, 2015

It Began on April 12th

I have been attempting to write this post for about six weeks. It is rather long. It is the story leading up to my hospitalization and weeks recovering in rehab.

I believe that I need to begin with a bit of background. About 10 months ago I went to the Veterans Affairs hospital emergency because I could not urinate. The diagnosis was “an enlarged prostate.” I was fitted with a catheter and sent home—without any instructions about its care or use. Of course, I read everything I could find about catheters and in large prostates on the Internet.

About 10 days later, I again could not urinate and again went to the VA hospital emergency room. Unfortunately, I had to wait about six hours in an empty waiting room before I was admitted. My catheter was removed and a new one was inserted. I was sent home.

A couple of weeks later, this catheter became clogged again and I could not urinate. I decided not to go to the VA emergency room; instead, I drove myself to Norton’s Brownsboro hospital, which is only eight minutes away from me rather than the twenty minutes it takes to reach the VA hospital. In the next six weeks I had three more clogged catheters.

After informing the VA urology clinic of this ongoing problem, they arranged for a home health care company to change my catheter. And, in case it became clogged, I was to telephone them at any hour to have a nurse come to my apartment and change the catheter.

The first time this was necessary, the nurse who came informed me that she is a psychiatric nurse and knows little about changing catheters. She used her cell phone to speak to another nurse who instructed her on the process.

This brings us to April 12th.  About 2 AM I was awakened in pain and realized I could not urinate. I telephoned the agency and was told that the on call nurse would be sent out immediately. She did not arrive until approximately 8:30 AM. She was not happy to be there; she spent a lot of time in deriding me about receiving home health care.

The first catheter she inserted was the wrong size; she blamed the VA for having more than one size in the large box of materials they provided. When she inserted the correct size, she inflated a balloon that holds the catheter in place to the point that it ruptured/exploded. The pain I felt was horrendous and I and the nurse were covered with my blood.

The nurse became hysterical and screamed, “What do I do?” I calmly told her to use her cell phone to telephone 911 for an ambulance. At my request, I was taken by ambulance to Norton’s emergency room. This was the first of three ambulance trips I made to Norton’s hospital on April 12th.

At the ER, my blood flow was stopped, I was cleaning up, and a working catheter was inserted. Then I was sent home by ambulance. I could not return to my bed because it was covered in lots of my blood. So, I had the ambulance personnel place me in my lift chair.

I realize that I was lightheaded; I also realized that my cell phone was across the room and that I should have it with me in case I needed to call for help. So,
I took a cane and walked toward the door beside which was my cell phone was located. The flooring of doorway into my apartment is linoleum and then carpeting, with a metal strip holding down the carpet. As I walked, the tip of my cane caught on the metal strip and I fell, sliding headfirst into the door.

As I lay on the floor with blood dripping from the top of my head onto my face and into my eyes I realize that all I could do was call for help. Thankfully, the eight-year-old son of a neighbor heard back rise and informed his father, who telephone 911. Thus, I had my second ride of the day in an ambulance to Norton’s hospital. There, they cleaned the blood off of my face and put 10 Staples into the top of my head. They then sent me home by ambulance.

Again, the EMS personnel transferred me from the stretcher to my lift chair. About half an hour later I realized that I needed to use the bathroom. When I stood up, I tripped over a tarp the EMS people had left beside my chair. Again fell forward, getting my head on the table that holds the Kitty kids meal dishes and water bowl. I had my cell phone in my pocket; I dialed 911 and had my third trip of the day by ambulance to Norton’s emergency room.

I do not remember that third ambulance ride. I remember nothing until about six days later when I came out of a coma and found myself in Norton’s intensive care.

So this is my story of April 12th. A lot has happened since then which I shall share with you soon.


  1. Omg that is just awful nick.... Tiffany ex house keeper

  2. That's just horrible, Nick. I cannot believe more was not done at your home to help you, like cleaning up your bed and seeing if you needed anything, food and/or drink. These are supposed to be trained health professionals! I would have expected more. Those simple but vital things are part of their job!!

    1. I have been dependent on the VA for too long and too much, Tracy. What I have gotten most of the time is incompetence.

  3. I'm sorry you've had such a rough time of it, Nick. I'm rootin' for ya!


  4. I'm so sorry you went through all this, Nick. Lots of love from Bertie and me in Sicily. xx

  5. Thank you, Pat & Bertie, I really appreciate your love.