Today, while doing the first appendectomy out of four consults seen the night before, our surgeon commented on the patient from last week who had delayed treatment.
Apparently, the patient had done so much 'cupping' that there were petechiae (puh-tee-kee-eye: small hemorrages in the skin seen when platelets are dysfunctional or low) all over the skin.
The Eastern Medicine treatment was done for some time after the onset of pain. At least six days.
The appendix ruptured.
What had been a simple, forty-eight hour hospital stay with surgery (unruptured appendix) turned into a one-week long, PICC line (long term i.v.), and ten week course of home antibiotic therapy to clear the infection.
The question the surgeon posed is: if someone was wondering how they were going to pay for all this, wouldn't it make sense to seek early treatment first?
Well, yes and no. The surgeon, who is a life-long vegetarian raised by vegetarian parents, is a delightful, hard-working, conscientious person from Western medicine practice. The patient, is from Eastern medicine tradition.
I think it would be best if we took the strengths of both, and educated everybody on what works and what doesn't--East and West! Wouldn't you agree?
Here are some times to head straight to the hospital:
- worst headache of your life (hemorrhage in the brain)
- a sense of 'impending doom' (even that one scares us, clinically--it is often right)
- abdominal pain so bad you can't jump up and down at all (peritonitis)
- a cold foot (when the other one is warm--there is no blood flow to the cold one)
- any infection of the groin that is getting bad fast, especially diabetic (Fournier's Gangrene)
- sudden weakness on one side or inability to speak (stroke--if treated in six hours can reverse)
- chest pain that radiates to left arm, shoulder, or jaw--pressure like an elephant is standing on you (heart attack-men)
- any strange sensation that is new in the chest, or like one you've had before but is not going away, and/or shortness of breath sitting still (heart attack--women)
- throwing up blood, pooping blood, or having thick coffee ground throw up or thick poop like tar (gastrointestinal hemorrhage)
- sudden pain in one lung and shortness of breath (spontaneous pneumothorax--needs a chest tube)
- coughing up tons of sputum, especially if creamy colored (pneumonia)
- any blunt or penetrating trauma
- any broken bone (you will know by a huge bruise and or a deformity--limb bends weird)
- sudden abdominal pain whether you jump up or down or not (ischemic bowel)
- a hernia that won't pop back in (bowel can die if you wait too long)
- an elderly female aged 60-70-80 with sudden right upper quadrant (under right rib) pain--the gallbladder can spin and turn into gangrene
- you can't pee
- any inkling of infection in a baby less than one month old (they have no immune system)
- loss of consciousness
This is a short list of the kind of things we see in the operating room every day.
People have died from a tooth that went 'bad'--blood poisoning and death.
So if it's fixable--do it! You are more important than any bill that you might get! Remember, there are 'cash' discounts, payment options, and also certain types of insurance coverage that one can get from the county and state even once you are in the hospital.