What Brought You Here?

Friday, April 10, 2009

This is How I am Going to Die

I am a bipolar iv drug addict and a bulimic and I am dying, but not from either of these things. I am dying of ignorance. I am dying of the pervasive, erroneous belief in the healthcare field that symptoms of mental illness are just desserts, an appropriate punishment for our failure to take care of ourselves properly.

Independent of (and prior to) my real downward spiral into lowlife junkie loserhood, I was denied medical referrals for various symptoms, which were brushed off as "probably a side effect of my weight (loss)," despite a clearly documented history of external pathologies to explain various nerve and joint issues.

As a bulimic, I should have regular labwork done to monitor my serum potassium levels. I should always have a current prescription for potassium caplets.

As an IV drug user, I fear phlebotomists. Especially trainees, who populate the lab at the clinic I used to go to. But I wasn't sure how justified I was in my fear and loathing until I wound up in the ER a couple of nights ago, after a hard couple of days with more hits than misses which resulted in me looking even more of a loser than usual.

They wouldn't listen to my advice. They wouldn't let me have any water- dehydration is awful for venipuncture and the color of my urine specimin made it clear that I was dehydrated. They refused to try veins I knew would work and left me with a nice 5 inch long hematoma on the inside of my forearm. 8th time's a charm?

Apparently, my potassium was 2.7. This is actually a record low for me. The psych floor apparently waffled about taking me but I suppose they remembered how charming I was from a few weeks prior. At any rate, I had faith that whoever was sent up from the lab to redraw me the next day would be better. The last time I'd been on this floor, I'd had labs done by a magician.

No such luck, though. It was a repeat of the night before. This woman refused to draw from my hand, saying literally "because we're supposed to draw from here" (she points to the crook of the elbow, the first veins to be blown by every needle jockey.) Then she tied my arm off until it turned purple, dug around with her needle with no luck, paused for a minute to go out for a smoke break, continued to gouge me until she finally hit a minor vein. She proceded to literally suction the blood out of me for a good minute.

Then she finally released the tourniquet.

This is an excellent way to create a falsely elevated serum potassium reading.

So, at any rate- I'm not going in for regular bloodwork. The odds of getting an angels are pretty damn slim. The odds of getting an asshole who thinks the abusing me is going to anything other than send me after something to block out the pain are pretty high.

And the odds of me being admitted to rehab with hypokalemia? Well, now. That's just downright funny.

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