I Went To The Hospital and All I Got Was This Lousy Prescription

It always happened in the library. I could feel it coming sometimes and then other times it would hit me like a Mack Truck.  I’m epileptic and as a kid I would have big seizures that would take over my entire body but  I would also just have leg seizures too where my entire right leg would shake uncontrollably

And for some reason, I remember that library days were worse. You’d be in class with all your friends in your bad 1970s wear (dad, plaid pants – really?) and the shaking would start and continue. I’d lunge for the table to hang on while my leg shook and shook and shook and I couldn’t do a thing about it.

What I remember being the worst about this was the embarrassment – that I wasn’t normal, that I didn’t fit in. I had epilepsy. I was different. Luckily, with either my age or the meds or a bit of luck I outgrew the shakes and spent a good part of my life without any epileptic symtoms at all.

Then in my early 30s the cat came back and I decided it would be a good idea to have a seizure in the checkout lane at the grocery store. Twice.  For some reason, the checkout lanes and grocery stores don’ t mix. Luckily, there’s a drug for that and it’s called dilantin and for years and years and years I’ve been happily functioning with the right amount of dilantin in my bloodstream

All that changed about a week ago, I started to feel a bit woozy, for lack of a better term. No seizures, and not really dizzy per se, just weird. Just not right. Being a man, I did what anybody would do: I ignored it. Until last night when I got to experience my very first hospital visit in the USA.

Finally, B had enough of me being weird and out of sorts so off to the Emergency Room we go. In Canada, I had the pleasure of paying a whole lot of taxes and In return I would get free health care. In  the USA, if you don’t  have health care you are hosed. Admitting in emergency in the US is far different, as there’s an extra step in getting you admitted. I call it  the money room.

Now, I’m not up on the intricacies of health care in the United States, but in Canada you have to show proof of your ‘health card’ and that’s pretty much it.  In the US, they want to be certain of your ability to pay. There’s also differences in how they treat once you get in the door and pass the payment screening, but once you’re in they’ll order every test and plug you in to so many doo-hickeys your head will spin (In my case, it already was)

Upon admittance I felt ‘woozy’. There’s no technical term for ‘woozy’ and they didn’t know what to do with me but once admitted – the hospital performed every test they could think of, and I had:

  • bloodwork
  • cat scan
  • chest x-ray
  • ekg

I fear the hospital bill for all this if B had not included me on her insurance plan. One of the differences I found in my very first visit to a US hospital was at the end when the released me I was given a list of specific instructions and who to call, what to take and how to continue now that I’ve been released.

After all the tests, it was determined my dilantin levels to be too low, so they’ve upped the prescription and I’m to call  and make an appointment with an neurologist now that I’m back home to continue with the next step.

The moral of this story?

If you feel ill, get fixed. Maybe it’s the Canadian in me showing through but they have lots of doctors and technical stuff at hospitals and if  you have insurance – go. If you don’t have insurance, I would do my best to get health insurance at any cost in the USA.

Listen to your doctor. A few months ago, I got a call from my new Doctor in the USA after some bloodwork was done and they called and said my dilantin levels were low. I didn’t think too much about it  because I have been taking the exact same dose for years and years – what could change I thought?

Apparently I was wrong and my levels had changed and even though I didn’t have an epileptic seizure, I came close, and made others worry due to my stubborn/stupid self diagnosis. I’m not  a Doctor and I don’t play one on TV either

Lessons Learned:
Do what your wife says.
Do what your doctor says.
Do get help if you feel ill.
Don’t self prescribe.
Bring a book.
Hospitals here have Tim Hortons

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