My Aneurism Scare - An Emergency Room "Horror" Story

The emergency room - not just for emergencies.
The emergency room - not just for emergencies. | Source

The Rush to the Emergency Room (ER)

September 8, 2014 was a Monday morning I will never forget. I was suffering on day three of an excruciating headache. All weekend previously, I was treating the headache like it was a migraine, but nothing worked. Anyone who has ever suffered from migraine headaches knows the symptoms. Aside from the pounding and the nausea, there is no way to describe migraine headaches to those who only get minor little headaches that can be treated with a couple of aspirin. By Monday, my headache was worse than a migraine. In fact, it was the worse headache I have ever experienced in my life. When I mentioned that to a friend who also happens to be a nurse, she suggested I go see my doctor. Her concern was that it could be an aneurism. I took the urgency in my friend’s voice seriously because in the past two months I know of three women who suffered from aneurisms. Two of them passed away and one survived.

I called my doctor’s office and the attendant wanted to schedule an appointment for next month. Next month? I told her I couldn’t wait that long. She suggested I rush myself to the Urgent Care Center. So, my husband drove me to the Urgent Care Center. I checked in and waited almost two hours before speaking with the doctor for five minutes. He said my condition was potentially life threatening and suggested I get to the hospital as soon as possible.

Enter the Emergency Room

Well, the hospital is only one building over from the Urgent Care Center so I walked over and into to the emergency room. It was the most crowded room I have ever seen. There were sick and injured people in every square inch of that waiting room. After checking in at the front, I was directed to a little area at the front of the waiting room and had my “vitals” taken by an attendant who checked my blood pressure, temperature, and oxygen level. Then, the attendant handed me the blood pressure cuff and asked me to keep it with me. He said I would need it throughout my visit.

Blood Pressure Taken So Many Times

I can't even remember how many times the nurse took my blood pressure during my ER visit.
I can't even remember how many times the nurse took my blood pressure during my ER visit. | Source

He wasn’t kidding about that. While sitting in the waiting room, the attendants would constantly call patients to the vitals station so they could check the patents’ vitals every half hour. That was the strangest thing I have ever seen. People come to the ER because they are sick or injured and now you keep calling them up to the front desk to have their vitals taken every half hour. One patient was a quadriplegic and in a wheelchair. The person who wheeled her into the waiting room left after about half an hour. So, every time the attendant called this patient’s name, the patient would yell out, “I can’t get there!” And, the attendant would come out from behind the station and wheel the patient over to the vitals station. This went on for hours. At some point, the other patients started taking turns wheeling the patient to the vitals station. Ludicrous!

When I arrived at the ER there was one guy there who came in because he was suffering heart pain and had difficulty breathing. A neighbor found him and rushed him to the ER. He was still sitting in the waiting room when I left. For all I know, he could still be there… waiting to be seen by a doctor. It’s sad.

I must say, in spite of the long wait, during my adventure, I met some really nice people in the waiting room. In fact, the waiting room became quite the social scene. People were sharing the events that lead them to the emergency room. In fact, some people became so friendly they exchanged phone numbers and set up luncheons for when they recovered.

Cut to the Chase!

I’ll shorten the story and get to the stupidest part of my excursion. I had a CT scan and some blood drawn. The nurse said the doctor would review the tests and call me when a bed became available. I was sent back to the waiting room to wait.

As I sat there in the waiting room I saw a sign posted on the wall that read something like, “Patients are seen by the severity of their injury; not in the order they arrived.” That made sense. I could get behind that concept. But, as time went by, the waiting room became fuller and fuller. Three hours later it dawned on me that I came into the emergency room because the doctor at the Urgent Care Center thought I might be experiencing an aneurism. Surely, they understood the urgency of that condition. Surely, they have reviewed the tests by now. I deduced that they must not be concerned or they would have found me a bed by now. I decided that after all this time has passed, and the doctors have not placed much concern over my headache, then it could not possibly be an aneurism. It’s just a really bad headache. After talking it over with my husband, he went up to the attendant and asked what was going on. The attendant told him that the doctors have reviewed the tests and although she could not give an official answer, unofficially she could tell him that the test results are all normal. My husband told the attendant that I wanted to leave. The attendant said she needed to see me and talk to me before she could let me go. So, I went up to the attendant and told her I wanted to leave. I had to sign a waiver that stated I would not sue the hospital if I left the hospital and died as a result of not staying to finish my appointment. I went home with a very bad headache.

Phone Calls From the ER

Not seen by a doctor at the ER, but at least they called.
Not seen by a doctor at the ER, but at least they called. | Source

Leaving the Emergency Room

While I was en route home, the ER attendant called and left a voicemail message to let me know that if my headache became worse, I should come back to the hospital. Now, I ask myself, “Why would I do that?” The next day, the attending doctor in the ER called, but I couldn’t pick up the phone in time to catch his call. He left a message that said my test results were normal and he apologized for calling so late (i.e. the next day). He urged me to come back to the emergency room if things got worse. I asked myself again, “Why would I do that?”

I still had a headache. It was not as bad as it was on Monday. I hoped that by the end of the week it would be completely gone.

I am glad that all I had was a really bad headache. At the same time, I cringe to think that if this was a real emergency, I might have died in the emergency room. I hope other emergency centers are more attentive than the one I visited. I can't imagine an emergency room run with less efficiency. Can you?

After my emergency room horror, I planned on visiting my regular doctor. After all, technically I had not seen a doctor about my headache and it was still there.

Hospital Band Identification for Waiting Patients

My hospital band to signify my hospital visit.
My hospital band to signify my hospital visit. | Source

Hospital Horror Story Follow-Up

Tuesday, September 9, 2013 (one day later)

This new medical plan... the one we are forced to pay for... it's not working. I just thought I'd get that out in the open. After waiting for hours in the ER, I finally left before seeing the doctor. I can have a headache at home just as easily as at the ER. I called my doctor's office the next day to schedule an appointment to see the doctor and was told that the next available appointment wasn't until October 1. I was told the doctor would not be in the office until Wednesday and the attendant I spoke to suggested that I just do a walk-in. She said the doctor is in on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. She said the best time for walk-ins is in the morning because the doctor gets busy as the day goes on. By Thursday, my headache was still bothering me, so I walked in and when I got to the doctor's office the attendant tells me, "We don't take walk-ins." "What?" I said, "I called!" "Plus..." the attendant continued, "We don't take walk-ins when you're following up from the ER. You have to go back to the ER." What? That doesn't make sense. Why would I go back to the ER? That's for emergencies. The attendant rambled on about how if I went to the ER for a specific condition, then I needed to go back to the ER for the follow up. She said she was sorry, but that was standard policy. No wonder the ER is so crowded. I needed some serious headache eradication strategies at that moment. I told the attendant that with any luck, I'll be able to cancel the appointment for October 1. She just kind of smiled like she knew it was stupid to have to wait. But what can you do? It's policy.

Take Charge of Your Health

As citizens of the United States, we are required to pay for medical insurance or face escalating fines for not doing so. Doctors, medical centers, and hospitals all exist for our health benefit, but it doesn't matter much if we can't get in to see them. As I see it, we are paying for service that is, for the most part, unavailable when we need it. It's my opinion but I think that's ridiculous. Nevertheless, this experience has taught me to take more charge of my health. It has taught me the importance of doing as much research as possible and get second opinions (assuming I can get a first opinion to start with).

My advice to everyone is that you follow up on every appointment and stay on top of every illness to your satisfaction. Don't stop trying to find solutions, because even if you get better and even if all of your test results turn out to be normal, if you are still feeling sick, there is obviously something wrong. With their limited resources (either limited experience or equipment), the doctors simply have not identified your illness yet. Unfortunately, you will need to do your own research to find out what the problem might be and what the solution might be. You want to be sure there are no hidden issues. Regardless of whether or not you find a probable cause and solution, if you are not a medical professional, whatever you discover, it is wise to take your discovery to a professional to help you determine a final decision for your overall outcome.

Doctors are human beings, therefore they are not perfect. And, as I have discovered, neither is the medical system designed to help us get well. The best suggestion for better health is for us to take charge of our own health.

Do you have an emergency room horror story?

© 2014 Marlene Bertrand

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Comments 32 comments

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 11 months ago from Northern California, USA Author

Hi RTalloni. Yes. I hope I never have that experience again. I wish there was a way to have a choice between hospitals. But, in my area, there is only one hospital and everyone goes to it. That, in fact might be part of the problem - patient overload. I think the other problem is staff not caring enough to get people through the process efficiently.


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 11 months ago from the short journey

Sharing stories like these is important for both patients and medical professionals as each needs to learn more about causes and solutions for ER situations. I can't imagine an ER situation being good, but it shouldn't be a nightmare. People scout out local schools for their children to attend before moving to a new area. Scouting out one's hospitals before and emergency strikes would be an excellent idea.

One of the worst things I've seen in an ER was a security entrance where a person's things had to go into bins through X-ray machines, everyone had to go through a metal detector, and guards with gloves that were not changed between patients handled people and their things. Imagine the kinds of germs/diseases that could be spread that way, well, I'm sure were spread that way!

Now, in the current health care climate, rising costs for everyone and bogged down services creating European backlogs here in the US are beginning to give us more yet horror stories. It would be interesting to see a site that everyday people could use to document the issues.

So glad you improved and I hope you never have that experience again.


MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 17 months ago from Northern California, USA Author

Hi Suzanne Day. Yes, I do suppose now that the ordeal is over. Looking back, the experience is indeed fascinating. I just hope I never have to endure anything like that again. But from what I hear, I'm not alone.


Suzanne Day profile image

Suzanne Day 17 months ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Hi Marlene, this was a fascinating story to read. It also sounds like the health system is completely broken. If you were suffering a heart attack or something known and urgent, there is not much choice except ER, but with funny things like migraines, sprained injuries, flus and more you'd expect to see a doctor in a reasonable time frame to get it eliminated.

Over the last few years, I have found many treatments from doctors to be ineffective or useless (but not all). I took it upon myself to research with Dr Google and try out any natural remedies that are considered harmless to the body. I discovered quite a few good ones that actually work and noted them in a little medical book for myself. This means that I can avoid the doctor wherever possible. I urge other people to swap knowledge about these things too, it could help cut out some of the running around and suffering going on.

Voted interesting and up! Thanks for the wonderful read.


MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 18 months ago from Northern California, USA Author

Hi justmesuzanne. At least at your hospital the attendants were friendly and efficient. You are so right, more knowledge means better results in how we recover from health issues.


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 18 months ago from Texas

My ER experience when I broke my wrist was very pleasant and efficient, and I will NEVER go to the ER again unless my guts are falling out on the floor (or something similar). At the time, I didn't know anything about healing a broken wrist. Since then, I've done lots of research and written a couple of articles about it. IMO the ER did everything they could to jack up the cost of my treatment. They didn't do me a bit of good, and what they did do actually ended up complicating my recovery, but they were very polite and efficient about it!

If I had known then what I know now, I would have ordered an air cast online and kept my wrist in an Ace bandage for the few days while I waited for it to arrive. I would have used rest, ice, compression and elevation and gently stroked my wrist into place, worn my air cast for a couple of weeks and proceeded with my own PT program (the program I actually did use after having my multiple splints and casts removed). I would have gone to my GP for ongoing x-rays.

My results would have been much better than they were with the dubious help of the ER and an orthopedic surgeon, and I would not be paying a huge medical bill out of pocket right now. You see, I live far below the poverty level in a red state, so I fall through the cracks in terms of health care coverage. I pay a huge percentage of my self employment income into social security and Medicare (my tax rate is higher than that of a billionaire or a corporation) but I get absolutely nothing in return.

Interesting article! Voted up and useful! :)


MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 21 months ago from Northern California, USA Author

Hello manatita44. It's good to see you. Well, with not much thanks to the emergency room staff, my health is fine. I'm learning to relax and just live life as it happens.


manatita44 profile image

manatita44 21 months ago from london

How are you, my Dear friend. It's me again. How's your health now? Let us know here or by e-mail. God's peace be with you.


MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 21 months ago from Northern California, USA Author

Hi Mohamed. You do have a very good understanding of what was going on in my mind. Your answer was, indeed, helpful.


Mohamed 21 months ago

Anxiety can be understood as the emoniotal and physical consequences of believing that a threat is present or likely. It can be very useful when it motivates us to get out of danger, resolve issues or address what is important.Sometimes, people can begin to feel anxious in situations that they have not previ Was this answer helpful?


MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 2 years ago from Northern California, USA Author

Hi SusanDeppner. Yes. I'm keeping that October 1 appointment. I'm going in even if I do feel better. Thank you so much for your well wishes. I'm glad your ER trip turned out to be resolved in the end.


SusanDeppner profile image

SusanDeppner 2 years ago from Arkansas USA

That really is a horror story, but I'm certainly glad you're doing better. I hope you'll follow up (do you still have that October appointment set up?) and let your doctor rule out potentially serious issues in a more relaxed setting. We've been fortunate and have really only one ER story. It ended okay but should have been better (the ER doctor jumped to one wrong conclusion; a follow-up visit at a walk-in clinic yielded an almost instant correct diagnosis - guess I still get riled up when I think about that). All the best to you!


MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 2 years ago from Northern California, USA Author

Thank you for the well wishes, MsDora. I am resting more and working my way back to normal health.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean

Marlene, glad that you survived the horror, and hope that you will continue to get better all the way back to satisfactory health. Thanks for sharing your observations and suggestions.


MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 2 years ago from Northern California, USA Author

Yes ChitrangadaSharan. It is kind of scary when you don't know what's wrong. Thank you so much for your well wishes.


MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 2 years ago from Northern California, USA Author

Thank you, vkwok. My headache is better, so it looks like I'm going to live through it all.


ChitrangadaSharan profile image

ChitrangadaSharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

Sounds quite scary and painful! Sorry to hear about your troubles. I hope you are fine by now.

Health problems must be addressed promptly. Wish you the best of health and everything!


vkwok profile image

vkwok 2 years ago from Hawaii

Glad you're doing okay, Marlene. It certainly is scary when you think something is wrong with your health.


MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 2 years ago from Northern California, USA Author

Hi pstraubie48. I think you might have topped my horror story. To lay on a gurney overnight is not even a bit fun. I'm glad you made it through and hoping all is well now.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 2 years ago from sunny Florida

It's crazy..the whole ER thing. Even if you are brought in by ambulance sometimes you wait and wait.

Years ago my bp went sky high, I was transported via ambulance with the EMT's telling my daughter to

'hurry' as they were that concerned.

I did get immediate attention but the hospital was so crowded I stayed on a gurney in the er overnight...not fun. The next morning I was admitted.

There are other horror stories much like yours. So glad to hear you are ok... I do know about migraines and constant headaches.

Angels are on the way to you ps


MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 2 years ago from Northern California, USA Author

Hello AliciaC. While I was never able to discover the reason for my headache, today I woke up and the headache was gone. Yes, the way things are set up for receiving medical care is ridiculous. Oh well, what can we do?


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

This is an interesting hub that is also worrying. What a strange setup at the hospital! I hope you found the cause of your headache and that you're better now.


MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 2 years ago from Northern California, USA Author

Hello momsdoworkathome. I am so glad your father is doing better. I know I need to slow down, too. Thank you for your well-wishes.


momsdoworkathome profile image

momsdoworkathome 2 years ago from Michigan

My father went through something similar recently. He really had to slow down, and is doing a lot better now. Thank goodness you are ok.


MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 2 years ago from Northern California, USA Author

Hi DDE. Yes. This headache is really slowing me down. But, I'm working through it. Thank you for wishing me well.


DDE profile image

DDE 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Sounds too painful too me. A headache can slow you down hope all gets well with you.


MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 2 years ago from Northern California, USA Author

Thank you for your prayers, Faith. I do plan on seeing my regular doctor in the morning. I'm already preparing for a long day since I will be visiting the office as a "walk-in."


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

Oh, Marlene,

I am praying for you right now! Please do not wait any longer, especially being it has been going on for so long now. Maybe go to your regular physician, who can then admit you right away, if necessary, I believe.

Emergency rooms are horrors for sure, and it does make one wonder if you are doing anything but harm in going and sitting there waiting. Maybe should call an ambulance? There was only one time I went to an ER when there was no one there!

Hugs and blessings. I do hope you are better soon and that it is not anything serious.


MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 2 years ago from Northern California, USA Author

Hi manatita44. Yes. These things happen even in America. And, I was wondering why the attendants kept making people get up to go to the station. But, after thinking about it today I guess it could be because the waiting room was filled wall-to-wall with people. It might have been easier to get people to come to them then they go to the people. But, you are right, I do need to make sure I am truly alright. I'm doing a "walk-in" early Thursday morning to see my personal doctor.


MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 2 years ago from Northern California, USA Author

Thank you Bill. Yes. I still have a headache. But, the fact that it is getting better and the sound of the computer keys don't make me jump with pain tells me I'm getting better. I work through the pain because just laying down thinking about the pain keeps the pain on my mind. I'd rather be working than just vegging out on the couch suffering. I'm going in to see my doctor on Thursday even if I'm better. I do want to make sure all is truly well.


manatita44 profile image

manatita44 2 years ago from london

You're in America? Strange!

Anyway, I take Bill's approach. Be very careful and check this thing out properly. Read up on this or get a second opinion. Maybe an MRI scan will help.

I am a nurse, Emergency rooms have monitors which are either fixed or mobile ones brought to you. You do not go to them every half and hour! What do I know? Peace.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

You still have a headache? That's a mighty long time for a headache young lady? I'm not all that confident in those tests...unless it is something like a pinched nerve that is causing the pain....anyway, I'm sorry you had that experience. I have nothing to even come close to matching it. Feel better soon my friend.

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