I pis*sed off an ER doc!

My friend Michele just had back surgery, so when she sent me a text Sunday morning telling me she was on her way to the emergency room and asking me to meet her there, I was halfway out the door before reading the whole message. After the wonderful warm weather we’ve been enjoying in New York City, the biting wind was unsettling as I made my way down the block. “I hate hospitals,” I thought. I know; who really likes them?

PatientMichele was in a lot of pain, and waiting for the doctor seemed to take forever. She was anxiously trying to reach her surgeon by phone to ask him for help in locating an on-call doctor in the hospital. What did we do before cell phones? In the meantime, I went into a corridor with better reception to call Michele’s mother and sister with a patient report. When they started crying, I felt tears well up in my eyes. I got so stressed, feeling as if I were the one making them cry. Of course, they were worried about Michele, and at that moment, I was their link to Michele. If I could have reached my arms through the phone to hug them and assure them I was taking good care of Michele, I would have.

Finally, an on-call doctor arrived to examine Michele. He asked a lot of questions and listened intently. Then, he explained to Michele that he was going to confer with her surgeon and that he would be back shortly. Soon, the ER physician arrived to examine Michele. I liked this…just in case one doctor missed something, there was “back-up” to ensure Michele would receive the proper treatment. This doctor, too, asked a lot of questions and listened patiently.

A little while later, the on call doctor, I’ll call him Dr. M because he was male, came in to explain to Michele that she was going to get a painkiller, Toradol, to numb the pain, and a steroid to reduce the inflammation. My mind starting going crazy, but I kept quiet while Michele and the doctor were talking. I thought to myself, “What’s my role here? I love my friend lying in the hospital bed in front of me, but I’m not family. Do I open my mouth and say something?” I couldn’t keep quiet.

SyringeAs Dr. M. turned to leave the room, I asked Michele if she would mind if I asked the doctor a question. I looked at Dr. M. and said, “Isn’t Toradol the drug I just read about in The New York Times? The one former professional football players are suing the NFL over its usage?” OK, I know Dr. M is a busy man and I don’t expect him to read the Times cover to cover, so maybe the question wasn’t fair. He gave me a blank stare, so I started explaining what I had read (you can read the article here).

Once again, the phone came in handy as I looked up “toradol” and “new york times” on my blackberry to confirm it was, in fact the same drug in the article. Dr. M. said it was the protocol Michele’s surgeon suggested and I know Michele trusts her doctor implicitly, so I backed off.

A few minutes later, the ER physician returned, Dr. F (she’s female), to reiterate what Dr. M had said about the toradal and steroids. I figured I was being given another opportunity to question a doctor, so I did. “Isn’t Toradol the same drug used by NFL players and they are now suing because of the damage to their bodies? I continued, “I realize a one-time shot now versus repeated daily/yearly use by football players are two different things, but it concerns me that I just read about this drug and now it is being prescribed for Michele.”  Poor Michele, she was in so much pain and my heart ached for her. She wanted, no, she needed relief fast.

Dr. F looked at me and said, “You mean because of the risks of internal bleeding?” “Yes, I said, and are there others? I mean, if former players are suing the NFL, this must be serious.” Dr. F rolled her eyes at me and said, “That’s all theoretical.” Without hesitation, I looked at Dr. F. and said, “You’re a doctor, of course you are going to say that.” Eeeekkkkk…I hit a nerve. Dr. F. did not like my comment and gave me a look as if to say, “Listen friend in the chair, shut up.”

I feel comfortable saying the people-pleaser in me did not care whether or not Dr. F. liked me, but I did want to be sure Michele was getting the best care possible. So, I spoke up. I reiterated that I understood there is a difference between the repeated use and one-time injection, but said I did want to be sure Michele knew the risks of the drug. Dr. F said there was some risk of internal bleeding, but upon further discussion with Michele, they came to the conclusion that Toradol was right for her.

{FYI – here’s the complete list of possible side effects from the maker of the drug}

Only Michele truly knows how much pain she was experiencing. I may or may not have done the same thing in her condition – taken the drug. In fact, now that I think back, about 20 or so years ago I had to be rushed to the emergency room with a severe migraine. I don’t remember much, except that I did get a BIG needle in my butt, and it might have been toradol. Who knows?

I have great respect for doctors. I pass out from the sight of blood, so I certainly can’t do what they do. I just wish most of them wouldn’t dismiss drug interactions as “theoretical” and the importance of healthy food and lifestyle habits as “hypothetical” information. And, I do believe it is important they explain possible side effects to patients, and let the patient come to their own conclusion, or at least have an educated conversation with the doctor.

I did thank the doctors for taking good care of my friend. And Michele is feeling better as each day passes. I do very much appreciate the doctors’ care.

Next Steps:

  1. Doctor with PatientSpeak up! Ask questions of your doctor.
  2. Value your intelligence and intuition and trust YOU are making the best decision for your well-being.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask for support.
  4. Live in the moment. Enjoy life – it is precious.

If you are concerned about your nutrition and/or your lifestyle habits and know you want to look and/or feel better, please contact me at  or call 1-413-282-7286. At Bravo! Wellness, I work with my clients to create manageable lifestyle changes so they are able to reach their goals and maintain a healthy and fulfilling standard of living.

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