Chapter Two - The Hospital
2004 - Mom is 55, Scott is 30, I am 27
This is the second time Scott has ended up in the hospital, ready to die. It has been 3 days since he took his water pill because he ran out and didn't tell anyone. He has been eating bratwurst and ham and everything salty for a week. He is in full congestive heart failure. His skin from the neck down to his knees is infected with some sort of staph infection, and is hard as a rock to the touch - inflamed and overfilled with fluid. He's bigger than I've ever seen him, swollen beyond control.
We are at the Newport Hospital - the place we hate, and that seems to hate us back. It is early in the day, and my brother's ER doctor is Dr. Frazier. He is a wicked, insensitive, evil man. I have encountered him here several times before, and he is beyond mean and vindictive. I am with my brother, who is crying silently, waiting for someone to help us. I adjust his bed a little so he's more comfortable, ask if he wants some water, steal another pillow and a warm blanket from the nurse's cupboard, and rub his feet a little.
Scott's been through a lot today. At home, he finally divulged how sick he was to my Mom and I. He had been avoiding us and hiding out in the garage, afraid of us, afraid of the hospital, afraid of the humiliation. He could no longer stand and walk. His blood pressure was sky-high. He could barely breathe. We called the ambulance. And, once again, had to tell them to bring extra manpower, and the big stretcher. My brother weighs 678 pounds. It takes 9 grown men to lift him into the ambulance. The fire department had to come to help. But he's here, finally, in the emergency room, cold from shock and humiliation, tears sliding down his nose, afraid that this is it.
We were here about 8 months ago, similar situation. They released my brother from the ER about 5 hours after he was admitted. I begged them to admit him to the other part of the hospital. They wouldn't. I begged them to help him. They let him lay in that bed for the first two hours after giving him a massive dose of a diuretic (water pill) to make him pee off some of the fluid he was retaining. He was hooked up to a few machines and couldn't get up. He was peeing in the bed because he had no choice. His own urine was burning his body, a rash between his legs. He was in excruciating pain, and they just let him sit in it and suffer. After that 2 hours, they finally let me back to see him. I've never been so angry in my life. Scott was bawling, ashamed, scared to death. When he told me what had been happening, I lost it. I marched out to the nurse's station and started screaming.
"WHAT KIND OF DOG-AND-CAT HOSPITAL IS THIS???? DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH PAIN MY BROTHER IS IN??? DOES ANYONE CARE? OR WOULD YOU RATHER THIS FAT MAN JUST DIE??? HE'S SITTING IN HIS OWN PISS, YOU ASSHOLES, HIS OWN PISS!!! AND NO ONE CAN HELP HIM? WHAT DO YOU GET PAID FOR? WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE???? SOMEONE HELP ME CHANGE HIS BED - NOW!!!!!!!!!"
"I'm sorry Miss, but please stop yelling. We gave him a urine jar to use." This male nurse better do what I say and not give me any shit or he's gonna need the emergency room himself.
"HOW IS HE SUPPOSED TO USE A URINE JAR, YOU IDIOT? HE CAN'T REACH DOWN THERE! CAN'T YOU SEE THAT, OR ARE THEY HIRING BLIND NURSES THESE DAYS??? HAVE YOU CHECKED ON HIM IN THE LAST TWO HOURS? DON'T YOU REALIZE THAT GIVING HIM A DIURETIC WILL MAKE HIM PEE??? JESUS CHRIST, WHERE DO YOU PEOPLE GET YOUR TRAINING? AT THE FUCKING BACK-ALLEY SCHOOL FOR DUMB-SHITS???"
"Miss, yelling and cursing isn't going to get you anywhere. Please calm down."
"BEING NICE HASN'T GOTTEN ME ANYWHERE WITH THIS STUPID FUCKING HOSPITAL - OR YOU STUPID FUCKING PEOPLE, SO DON'T FUCKING TELL ME HOW TO ACT! YOU'RE KILLING MY BROTHER! HAVE YOU SEEN HIS BLOOD PRESSURE?!?!? HE'S SO STRESSED OUT FROM THE PAIN AND HUMILIATION YOU ALL ARE CAUSING HIM, HE'S GOING TO DIE!!!!!!"
The male nurse doesn't say anything more. He goes back to the nursing station, goes in a back office, whispers something to some other stupid people and never comes back. Two other nurses come to my brother's curtained-off area about 20 minutes later. Scott and I are both crying, holding hands. I am standing next to him, out of breath, and leaning on his chest, stroking his arm and telling him it's gonna be okay, I love him, I'll take care of it. In the 20 minutes it took for the nurses to get there, I have already found some super-human strength, and hoisted my brother's lower half up off the bed, removed his sheets, found some new ones, cleaned him with some warm water and paper towels, helped him to pee in the jar, covered him with a warm blanket, and now here we are, with nurses ready to help, and nothing for them to do. That was the first visit.
Now, here we are again. Dr. Frazier comes up to talk to Scott, asks him how he's feeling. Scott says, not very good. Dr. Frazier looks him up and down, says he thinks he needs a shot of diuretic and then we'll run some tests. I tell Dr. Evil that unless my brother has a catheter in, they are absolutely NOT giving him a shot of diuretic. They MUST put a catheter in first, so we don't have a repeat of the last visit. I am trying to remain calm. Dr. Death says he has a urine jar for Scott to use if he can't make it to the bathroom. I calmly, but firmly tell him "He can't reach down there, in case you can't SEE that. The JAR will not work. We've been down this road before. I WILL NOT HAVE MY BROTHER SITTING IN HIS OWN PISS AGAIN. DO NOT, AND I MEAN UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, GIVE HIM A SHOT UNTIL HE HAS A CATHETER IN. Understand? And the doctor says he understands, but we have to get some of this fluid off him soon. I say, then you better get the catheter guy here soon so we can get going on it. Another doctor comes by a couple minutes later. He's compassionate, an old hippie in sandals and socks, with long hair and glasses perched on the end of his nose. I like him. We discuss what I just told Dr. Asshole and he agrees that a catheter is an urgent first step to treating my brother. I feel better. I have to make a phone call, so I tell the new doctor that I'll be right back, and to please make sure Scott doesn't get any shots before the catheter. He assures me everything will be fine, and goes off to find the catheter guy.
I am outside for a total of eight minutes, maybe, when a nurse comes out to get me - tells me my brother is asking for me. I race back inside, and the look on his face is pure terror.
"What's wrong, what happened?"
"They gave me a shot. And I've gotta pee - RIGHT NOW."
"OHMYGOD!" I don't have time to yell at the nurses and doctors yet, I grab the urine jar, hoist up my brother's belly, find his penis, and point it at the jar. "Scott, the jar is almost full. Can you stop for a sec so I can get another one?"
"I'll try, but hurry." I set the full jar down, run to the nurse's station, yell URINE JAR - NOW!, and head back to Scott who's chanting, "Hurry, hurry, hurry, gotta pee, gotta pee, hurry please, hurry." When the second jar is mostly full, Scott finally stops peeing, but I know it is only a short-term reprieve. I grab both jars, tighten the lids, and storm out to the nurse's station.
"WHERE'S DR. DIPSHIT, DR. FRAZIER??? SOMEONE BRING HIM TO ME SO I CAN HOLD HIM DOWN AND CHOKE HIM WITH THIS!!!" I hold up and shake in the air, the product of this doctor's malpractice and ignorance. "WHERE IS HE?? AS GOD IS MY WITNESS, I WILL SUE EVERY LAST ONE OF YOU FUCKERS FOR THIS - EVERY LAST ONE! AND DR. FUCKING FRAZIER IS GOING TO DRINK EVERY DROP OF THIS URINE IF I EVER SEE HIS FACE AGAIN! KEEP HIM AWAY FROM ME, KEEP HIM AWAY FROM MY BROTHER, OR I WILL KILL HIM, MARK MY WORDS - NO HOSPITAL WILL BE ABLE TO FIX WHAT I WILL DO TO THAT SLIMY, SICK FUCKER."
A nurse I actually like, and sort-of know from the bar scene comes up and brings me another urine jar. She says she'll make sure Dr. Frazier doesn't come back and find out where the catheter guy is. I thank her and ask her to please hurry. Scott needs help, please hurry.
"Juuuliieee," I hear my brother, urgency in his voice, and I know he needs me again. Jar number three is full to the top when the catheter guy finally gets there. But it isn't the catheter guy, it's the hippie doctor, and he hasn't done a catheter in a long time. But he's going to do this one, because he doesn't want to wait any longer. I help him hold Scott's belly out of the way, he sterilizes Scott with iodine, and takes a deep breath. Scott grunts a little in discomfort, but within two minutes the catheter is in and he is comforted. Five minutes later, it is time to change the catheter bag for the first time - it is already full. The fluid that has been crushing his heart and filling his lungs, is finally making it's way out of his system. We are both tired. We are both relieved. Something, somebody, is finally going to help.
Another nurse comes in a few minutes later with discharge paperwork. I look at him like he's an alien. I don't understand. Scott is very sick and needs to be admitted to the hospital, I tell him. He's not going anywhere. I look at the paper, Dr. Frazier's name is on it. I grab it out of the nurse's hands, tell him I know it's not his fault, and that he better get out of my way, and out of this area, unless he wants to be strangled.
"ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE???" I hold up the discharge paperwork, take my cigarette lighter out of my pocket in front of the nurse's station and light it on fire. "GET A DOCTOR TO ADMIT MY BROTHER TO THE HOSPITAL RIGHT NOW OR I WILL BURN THIS WHOLE FUCKING HOSPITAL TO THE GROUND!!!"
The nurse I like grabs the burning paper out of my hand, throws it in a sink, and grabs me around the shoulders, just as I collapse on the floor, sobbing uncontrollably, muttering help him, please help him, please, I love him, he's gonna die, why won't somebody just help him, please help him. And then I can't even speak. The nurse is rocking me in a pile on the floor, stroking my hair, telling me it'll be okay, telling the other nurses to find the doctor, call the doctor, help, help, help.
Forty-five minutes later, Scott was admitted to the hospital, where he stayed for 9 days, and lost almost a hundred pounds - 75 of it was water-weight.